Contentious Walls

Inscribing Conflicts into Vancouver’s Chinatown Murals

  • Friederike Landau-Donnelly Radboud University, Netherlands


In diverse cities, dense cities, cities full of different bodies, buildings, and places, artwork in the public realm elicits a variety of reactions: appreciation, awe, celebration, critique, disgust, indifference, outrage, protest, vandalism. The motivation or rationale to install artwork in public spaces ranges from the commitment to commemorate collective grief, loss or trauma (Burk 2006), but also the expression of collective joy, celebration and pride (Sharp et al. 2005). In short, public art appears as a complex trope in urban space (Pollock and Paddison 2010, 2014; Cartiere and Zebracki 2016). Public art encompasses various artistic means and practices, including (but not limited) to sculpture, monuments, audio and light installations, frescos and wall art. Public art can be temporarily or permanently inscribed in public spaces; it can be commissioned by state-led, arms-length or private local actors and agencies. Besides public art commissions, public art – or the more encompassing term street art – can take many different unsanctioned creative forms (Avramidis and Tsilimpounidi 2017; Ross 2016).

How to Cite
Landau-Donnelly, F. (2021). Contentious Walls. CAP - Public Art Journal, 3(2), 28 - 41.