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Essay

‘Porn’ graffiti in public space

Between moralization and agonism

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden porn, graffiti, public space, street art, morality
Auteurs Prof. Dr. Lucas Melgaço
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Sexualized graffiti has emerged on walls in Brussels since the beginning of 2013, generating fierce debates. Perceived as street art and a welcome challenge to heteropatriarchy by some and as obscenity and vulgarity by others, these pieces highlight the inherently contested character of public spaces. The controversies around the presence of these paintings in public space relate to what in the literature has become known as moral geographies, that is, the spatial aspect of morality. What should one do about these supposed ‘porn’ pieces: regulate their existence and control potential tensions and conflicts, or let frictions emerge between the partisans and the opponents of such urban interventions? Who gets to say what should be tolerated and what should be regulated in public space? In this opinion piece, I situate this issue between two ends: an agonistic one, in which contestation is the rule; and an excessively regulatory one, in which public space is over-rationalized and normalized.


Prof. Dr. Lucas Melgaço
Lucas Melgaço is werkzaam aan het Department of Criminology van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
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