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Abstract

My project explores how graffiti writers in Chicago interact with public space in order to determine the sites of their work. Through the process of my project, I came to the conclusion that writers utilize a framework of foot traffic, hard to buff areas, public spaces, and risk in order to determine prime tagging/writing spots. However, in the search for this framework, I also discovered contradictions to these rules pertaining to commissioned and legalized graffiti. Graffiti commissioned by the Chicago municipal government and corporate entities does not incorporate traits that interest graffiti writers such as risk, and increases other traits such as hard to buff. The conflation of the formal qualities of graffiti with the social site produces a version of beauty that relies on state antagonism in order to satisfy its social value. However, through commissions by the City of Chicago and companies, graffiti's beauty becomes defined by the state and corporate understandings of beauty, and is removed partly from the social aspect of its beauty.

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