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Placing post-graffiti: the journey of the Peckham Rock

[journal article]

Dickens, Luke

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Abstract This article is about the intersections between contemporary forms of urban inscription, art and the city, as they come to be configured through an emergent `post-graffiti' aesthetic practice. Exemplary of this movement is the self-proclaimed `art terrorist', Banksy, who has earned a reputation recently for his audacious interventions into some of the most significant art institutions in the western world, as well as for his politically charged stencil and sculptural work in the everyday spaces of the city. Focusing on the artist's Peckham Rock, a fragment of concrete that he surreptitiously stuck to the walls of the British Museum in May 2005, this article uses the methodological device of `the journey' in an attempt to place the connections and disconnections between a series of elite and institutional spaces, social relations and mediascapes through which `the rock' passes as its `life' as an artwork unfolds. Existing research, including that by geographers, has examined graffiti in terms of urban identity politics, territoriality and transgression. While such work has generated important insights into the nature of particular kinds of urbanism, it is often limited to a focus on graffiti `writing', a subcultural model of urban inscription originating in New York and Philadelphia in the late 1960s. In contrast, this article explores a more recent style of inscribing the city, as set out in a series of art publications and conferences, and unpacks what such a model might indicate regarding contemporary urban processes and experiences.
Keywords graffiti
Free Keywords art; Banksy; city; post-graffiti; urban inscription;
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 471-496
Journal Cultural Geographies, 15 (2008) 4
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)