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Spatial justice and street art

Journal article
Authors Matilda Arvidsson
Peter Bengtsen
Published in NAVEIÑ REET: Nordic Journal of Law and Social Research
Volume 1
Issue 5
Pages 117-130
ISSN 2246-7807
Publication year 2014
Published at
Pages 117-130
Language en
Keywords Law, graffiti, spatial justice, street art, justice, art, Banksy, gadekunst, gatekunst, Juridik, gatukonst, graffiti, rättvisa, street art, konst, Banksy
Subject categories Law and Society, Art History


This article presents the notion of spatial justice as a way of considering the relationship between law and street art in a manner beyond the legal/illegal dichotomy. Through a series of empirical examples, it is demonstrated how street art literally takes a place already taken and imposes itself in an already appropriated urban public space. Street art thus ´redefines the space in contestation to law. However, street art is ephemeral and its taking of space is not permanent. Street art points to an alternative spatial definition, one of spatial justice, before – and, indeed, while – withdrawing from the space it occupies. Street art creates a rupture in the lawscape which makes explicit the presence and claims of law, thereby also making the need for law’s other – justice – pronounced. The question of relationality between law and street art which we bring forth in the present article plays itself out as a production of space and spatial justice in an exchange of place-taking, withdrawal and pronunciation, law and street art. Spatial justice, as we perceive it here, is thus a way of thinking about law and street art not simply as polar opposites, but rather as co-dependent and bound together in an ongoing process of oscillation, mutual reinforcement and creativity.

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