Streetography: on visual resistance

Hagi Kenaan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers a philosophical account of a range of urban phenomena that are integral to the visual fabric of the modern city and, at the same time, external to the visual order administered by the city’s rulers. Explaining why the common terms of “graffiti” and “street art” are too narrow for discussing the plurality of the illicit visual forms that populate the city’s space, I coin the alternative term “streetography” and aim at a new understanding of its visual efficacy. This is done by showing that the key for deciphering the streetograph’s unique visuality is its form of embeddedness in the street and, in a corollary manner, the form of visual experience—the kinds of viewing—that the street opens for the urban viewer. Streetographs always operate within the city’s given visual order and as such the question of their efficacy is addressed here in terms of the streetograph’s relationship to that hegemonic visual rule whose basic traits are also clarified. Developing an understanding of this relationship, the article thus addresses the following questions: What kind of resistance can streetographs provide to the kind of optics that governs the modern urban space? Can streetographs evoke an alternative kind of spectatorship that disrupts the sovereign’s imagination? And, more specifically, in an epoch in which streetographs are regularly absorbed into capitalist aesthetics—advertising, cinema, social media—how can they allow us to rethink the possibility of resisting the measure of a global capitalist visual system?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-166
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2016


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation


    • Baudrillard
    • Heidegger
    • Merleau-Ponty
    • Street art
    • de Certeau
    • embodied vision
    • gaze
    • graffiti
    • image
    • phenomenology
    • resistance
    • screen
    • streetography
    • urban space
    • visuality


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