Screaming Public Art: Tonalities of Agonism in Planning Politics and Practice

Friederike Landau-Donnelly, Jason Luger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this brief intervention, we sketch a conceptual framework to grasp the diverse political tonalities of art placed in public space. With this exploratory framework of screaming public art (SPA), we add nuance to understanding the multi-layered relationships between art and planning. In particular, we push for more context-sensitivity to understand specific histories and traditions of urban planning. We argue that it is important to be more mindful of how planning rationales influence the concrete content, function, value, beauty, extent and priority of community engagement and the commissioning of public art. Public art, under which we subsume street art and graffiti as well (Ross, Citation2016), can appear as solicited (e.g. commissioned murals, sculptures, soundscapes etc.) or uninvited creative contributions (e.g. graffiti, temporary occupations, interventions etc.) in the public realm. While understandings of publicness remain contested, leaving planners and urban dwellers alike to wonder who and what is allowed in public space, we consider public space as a crucial domain to negotiate political and democratic belonging, presence, absence, and therewith, power. Furthermore, we depart from a notion of public space as conflictual and contingent (Landau et al., Citation2021) to stake out the crucially contextual local geographies of culture-led urban planning as marked by spatial manifestations of conflicts about belonging, political agency and critique. We argue that by investigating the visual materializations of conflict, we can advance understandings of the 'glocally’ entangled politics of public art (Zebracki & Luger, Citation2019).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-399
JournalPlanning Theory and Practice
Issue number3
Early online date4 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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