Spatial Justice and Street Art

Nordic Journal of Law and Social Research, 1:5, 117-130 (2014)

13 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2020

See all articles by Peter Bengtsen

Peter Bengtsen

Lund University

Matilda Arvidsson

University of Gothenburg - Department of Law

Date Written: June 27, 2014


This article presents the notion of spatial justice as a way of considering the relationship between law and street art in a manner beyond the legal/illegal dichotomy. Through a series of empirical examples, it is demonstrated how street art literally takes a place already taken and imposes itself in an already appropriated urban public space. Street art thus ´redefines the space in contestation to law. However, street art is ephemeral and its taking of space is not permanent. Street art points to an alternative spatial definition, one of spatial justice, before – and, indeed, while – withdrawing from the space it occupies. Street art creates a rupture in the lawscape which makes explicit the presence and claims of law, thereby also making the need for law’s other – justice – pronounced. The question of relationality between law and street art which we bring forth in the present article plays itself out as a production of space and spatial justice in an exchange of place-taking, withdrawal and pronunciation, law and street art. Spatial justice, as we perceive it here, is thus a way of thinking about law and street art not simply as polar opposites, but rather as co-dependent and bound together in an ongoing process of oscillation, mutual reinforcement and creativity

Keywords: Law, Graffiti, Spatial Justice, Street Art, Justice, Art, Banksy

Suggested Citation

Bengtsen, Peter and Arvidsson, Matilda, Spatial Justice and Street Art (June 27, 2014). Nordic Journal of Law and Social Research, 1:5, 117-130 (2014), Available at SSRN:

Peter Bengtsen

Lund University ( email )

Box 117
Lund, SC Skane S221 00

Matilda Arvidsson (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - Department of Law ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30


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