On September 11 2018, AOTS took a break from our usual home at the ICA to host a summer session at The Old Truman Brewery in the heart of Shoreditch – the hub of London’s street art scene. This was a free event open to the public.
LACHLAN MACDOWALL (UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE) asked, “how, under the new conditions of heavily mediatised streets, do we understand street art’s alignment with the right or alt-right, for example in controversies about the anti-semitism of a mural by Mear One, Lush’s embroilment in troll and meme cultures or LA artist Sabo, dubbed “the rightwing Banksy”?
ERIK HANNERZ (LUND UNIVERSITY) presented his work on “vandals in motion – tracing graffiti writers’ movement through urban space.” He draws on extensive fieldwork, including the GPS tracking of how writers move through the city, to point to a plurality of movements, each mobilizing distinct subcultural motions, identities, emotions, ideals and activities.
ENRICO BONADIO (THE CITY LAW SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON) asked “whether – and how – street artists and graffiti writers can oppose the destruction of their works by using the legal tools offered by moral rights laws.” Bonadio will discuss some recent cases, especially in the US, where artists have started lawsuits aimed at preserving their street pieces or anyhow objecting to their erasure.
AIDA WILDE (LONDON) inspired an artist-led backlash against the rapid gentrification of London’s iconic Hackney Wick. A widely renowned printmaker and artist, active in the studio and on the streets, Wilde recently curated the Lord Napier project for Hackney Wicked, and A Hackney Wick Funeral, uniting countless artists in homage to Hackney Wick’s vibrant artistic past. Her powerful text based street interventions incorporate social media terminology as a tool for activism.
CLAIRE MALAIKA TUNNACLIFFE (THE BARTLETT, UCL) explored how activists create a sense of place through interventions in the urban environment. She examines queer practices of placemaking (as viewed through graffiti, street art, direct actions and interventions) as a way of exploring LGBTQI+ visibility, heritage and belonging in public spaces.
PAUL HARFLEET (LONDON) plants pansies at the site of homophobic abuse; he finds the nearest source of soil to where the incident occurred and generally without civic permission plants one unmarked pansy. The flower is then photographed in its location and posted on his website. The image is entitled after the abuse. Titles like, “Let’s kill the Bati-Man!” and “Fucking Faggot!” reveal a frequent reality of gay experience, which often goes unreported to authorities and by the media.
SUSAN HANSEN (MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY) examined the graffiti and street art produced during the 2017 postal plebiscite for same sex marriage in Australia, including activists’ creative visual responses to the hate speech that proliferated in urban and suburban areas during this highly charged period.