In contemporary society there are two contradictory points of view concerning graffiti: it is vandalism; it is art. In the cities graffiti is treated ambiguously: negatively, quietly or with interest and approval. The reasons for this may be both in citizens’ tastes and in the characteristics of the graffiti itself. Why do citizens consider some graffiti acceptable and some not? This work deals with the research of the legitimacy of the graffiti in the historical center of Saint-Petersburg. The purpose of the research is to reveal the foundations of the legitimacy of illegal graffiti in the historical center.
The empirical basis consists of half-structured interviews analyzed with the thematic coding. The results show that a positive or negative reaction on the illegal graffiti appears during the discussion on the representational qualities, surface and content of the graffiti. The legitimate graffiti in the historical center of Saint-Petersburg has a connection with the history of the city and famous people, and it is also considered as a creative asset that transforms dilapidated surfaces. The results of the research may be used for the resolution of the conflicts between the citizens, graffiti creators and government officials providing the basis for a dialog on the common usage of the urban space. This work is also intended for the researchers of urban space, cultural city landscape and in sociology of art.
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