The Westminster Law & Theory Centre warmly invites you to a lunch time talk by Professor Alison Young, University of Melbourne

The Laws of Enchantment: Image, City, Space

Room 2.14, The Law School, University of Westminster


Attendance is free but places are limited. Please contact Victoria Brooks at [email protected]

Abstract:
Cities are sites of cultural and aesthetic production, engaged in a continual process through which they refine their self-image. One urban intervention that seems to invoke anxiety about social decline and disorder is the production of uncommissioned urban images in the form of graffiti writing and street art Such activities tend to result in the criminalisation of its practitioners and a great deal of social policy dedicated to ‘responsibilising’ citizens in the prevention of illicit images. However, the encounter with the street artwork can evoke more than the criminalising or governmental impulse. This paper reads urban spaces as productive sites in which the appearance of an illicit word or image may mean that a crime has been committed but can also indicate the existence of alternative conceptualisations of property, authority and ownership. Furthermore, such encounters bespeak a contest between competing aesthetic paradigms, through which texture, composition and placement are subjected to the litigation of spatialising practices. The paper’s aim is to suggest that the illicit artwork in public space shows us how legal frameworks relating to property, crime and public order in city spaces can be re-read, drawing on the work of Jane Bennett, as produced by the laws of ‘enchantment’.