Alison Young – Street Art and the Contemporary City

Event Date: 31 January 2013
Room B36, Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

The Birkeck Institute for Social Research presents:

Street Art and the Contemporary City

Professor Alison Young (University of Melbourne) – Street Art and the Contemporary City

What is street art? Who is the street artist? Since the late 1990s, a distinctive cultural practice has emerged in many contemporary cities, involving the placement of uncommissioned artworks in public places. Sometimes considered to be a variant of graffiti, sometimes conceptualized as a new art movement, its practitioners engage in illicit activities while at the same time the resulting artworks can command high prices at auction and have become collectable aesthetic commodities. Street art thus presents challenges to the commonplace taxonomies of culture, law, crime and art. This paper will present findings from a research project funded by the Australian Research Council examining the intricacies of street art as a cultural practice and the motivations of street artists in cities such as New York, Rome, Berlin, London and Melbourne. It will consider the impact of uncommissioned art within the contemporary city, and suggest ways of thinking through the paradoxes of a cultural practice existing at the borders of art and law.

Professor Alison Young teaches and researches in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She has an LL.B (Hons) from Edinburgh University and a Masters and PhD in Criminology from Cambridge University. She is the author of The Scene of Violence (2010), Street/Studio (2010), Judging the Image (2005),Imagining Crime (1996), and Femininity in Dissent (1990), as well as numerous articles on the intersections of law, crime and culture.  Her key research areas are law, art and public culture; cinema and crime; and image studies generally. From 2012-2014, she is carrying out an ARC Discovery Project examining the reception of street art in the cultural field, focusing upon its transformative potential in urban space; its reception and interpretation in the domain of fine arts; and its impact upon the socio-legal regulation of public spaces. She has served as Editor or Associate Editor of a number of journals, including Social and Legal Studies, Feminist Theory, Australian Feminist Law Journal, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, and Griffith Law Review. From January to March 2013, she will be visiting the University of Westminster’s Centre for International Law and Theory.

Introduction by Professor Sasha Roseneil (Director, BISR).

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