Graffiti as a from of street art and citizen participation

Lie Lie Land (London 2017)Love over hate (London 2016)Self portrait (London 2012) Work in progress (london, 2016)Happy couple (Brussel 2012)Solving mistery (Brussel 2012)New year party (Brussel 2012)Creating peace (Barcelona 2016)Same direction (Manchester 2012)Gigantic display (Manchester 2012)Brown, James brown (Brighton 2012)Common knowledge (Paris 2012)

Often seen as street art, graffiti nowadays becomes a symbol of fashionable neighbourhood. Graffiti, without a doubt, can be integrated with and beautify the urban environment. Take the example of London Shoreditch where many visitors are attracted by the fast changing graffiti displayed in the area. Graffiti artists compete to use the ambiguous public and private space as a canvas for their artistic and, sometimes, political ideas.

As a milder form of political participation, graffiti is used to communicate ideas, values, and information about many issues in society including grievances and disputes. Thus serves as a platform for micro-level political activism by marginalised persons. Particularly those who are politically apathetic or without access to institutionalised forms of political participation.

I photographed dozens of graffiti portraying these thesis in several cities in Europe between 2012 until early 2017. Majority of them were placed on doors, walls and fences. Some looks very cheerful and colourful, depicting the optimism of urban lives. The rest uses strong language but nevertheless telling the truth. As you may have noticed, the exemplary works in London is more political than the ones in Manchester or Brussel. Presumably the lives in the megacity is less glamorous than expected.

Reference:

Waldner, Lisa K., and Betty A. Dobratz. “Graffiti as a form of contentious political participation.” Sociology Compass 7.5 (2013): 377-389.

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