keynote abstract and bio

Professor Alison Young (University of Melbourne) will give the keynote address, “Mainstreaming the Street: The Cultural Value of Illicit Street Art,” on Friday, March 6, from 5:30-6:30pm at Pratt Institute (room TBA).


Recent years have seen the practices conventionally described as ‘street art’ become increasingly familiar in the cultural mainstream. The work of street artists such as Banksy, Nick Walker, Swoon and D*Face have sold at auction for high prices, and are now regarded as highly collectable art. Museums and galleries in cities such as New York, LA, London, Paris and Melbourne have held exhibitions featuring works by street artists and many have purchased street artworks for their permanent collections. Street art, when placed on private property without permission is still illegal, and the very similar activities known as graffiti are still considered to be ‘vandalism’ or ‘anti-social’ and are seldom categorised as art. This lecture will think through some of the consequence of street art’s increasingly mainstream status in contemporary society, particularly for graffiti writers and artists who continue to work illicitly in the street.


Professor Alison Young teaches and researches in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She has an LL.B (Hons) from Edinburgh University and a Masters and PhD in Criminology from Cambridge University. She is the author of Street Art: Images to Live By (forthcoming 2016), Street Art, Public City: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination (2014), Street/Studio (2010), Judging the Image (2005), and Imagining Crime (1996), as well as numerous articles on the intersections of law, crime and culture. She is currently completing an ARC Discovery Project examining the reception of street art in the cultural field, focusing upon its transformative potential in urban space. She is currently co-curating (with Lachlan MacDowall) an exhibition on the history of style writing in Melbourne for the National Gallery of Victoria, to be exhibited in late 2015.