Street art as aesthetic protest

Hansen, Susan and Flynn, Danny (2014) Street art as aesthetic protest. In: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting 2014, August 16-19, 2014, San Francisco, USA.


This paper examines the dialogue and transformation of public space that occurred after Banksy’s Slave Labour was removed without notice from a wall in North London, transported to Miami and listed for auction. Despite the high-profile media coverage of the ‘theft’ of Banksy’s piece, the explosion of new works provoked by its extraction was for the most part simply erased as they appeared. We argue that the excision of Slave Labour provided a ‘gap in the sensible’ (Rancière 2004) and the conditions of possibility for the emergence of a lively local intertextual visual dialogue, which transformed this otherwise apparently unremarkable London side street into an arena for aesthetic protest and critical social commentary.

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