Flooding culture: street art and graffiti as means of opposition

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This paper examines the use of street art and graffiti to oppose and attempt to change public policy. The case under discussion is Doel, a small village near Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium. Since the 1970s, Doel has been under threat of demolition and flooding to allow the expansion of Antwerp's industrial harbor. As a consequence of the plans, the village is today almost entirely abandoned. In December 2013, only 188 official residents remained, and most buildings had been sold to the government. According to the network Heritage Community Doel & Polder, the “government [has done] everything to leave the properties they [have] acquired susceptible to decay and plunder”, and this has given “rise to the argument that ‘polder’ heritage is without worth and can be torn down”.

Street art and – especially – graffiti have often been associated with vandalism and neighborhood decline (e.g. the highly contentious broken window theory). In Doel, however, the effect has been partly different. As inhabitants have moved out, graffiti writers and street artists have decorated the numerous empty buildings. This has led to many tourists traveling to see the artworks and, by extension, becoming aware of the controversy surrounding the village. Rather than being perceived as signs of urban decay, the artistic interventions – most likely contrary to the intentions of authorities – have created positive attention, and added cultural value to Doel. They have become part of an effort to oppose and change public policy and preserve the village.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Konstvetenskap


  • gatukonst
StatusPublished - 2014
Peer review utfördNej
EvenemangLondon Conference in Critical Thought 2014 (Aesthetic Refusals) - Goldsmiths, University of London, London, Storbritannien
Varaktighet: 2014 jun 272014 jun 28


KonferensLondon Conference in Critical Thought 2014 (Aesthetic Refusals)