, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 210–237 | Cite as

Revolution is the New Black: Graffiti/Art and Mark-making Practices

  • Ursula K. FrederickEmail author


In recent years there has been a strong resurgence in the production and visibility of graffiti/art in Australian cities. This paper considers what we may learn about this practice by adopting an archaeological approach to its study. The results yield interesting insights into two contemporary phenomena of graffiti/art production that offer intriguing links to Australian rock art. The study considers the significance of contemporary mark-making and explores how this practice may inform our approach to rock art research.


Graffiti Art Contemporary archaeology Australia 


Ces dernières années il y a eu une recrudescence forte dans la production de graffitis ou d’art pictural dans des villes australiennes. Cet article considère ce que nous pouvons apprendre de cette pratique en adoptant une approche archéologique de son étude. Les résultats rapportent des aperçus intéressants dans deux phénomènes contemporains de la production de graffitis et d’art pictural qui présentent des liaisons intrigantes à l’art du rock australien. L’étude considère la signification de ces projections de marque contemporaine et explore comment cela peut informer notre approche du rock et de la recherche.


En los últimos años se ha producido un fuerte renacimiento de la producción y la visibilidad del arte del graffiti en las ciudades australianas. Este trabajo trata sobre lo que podemos aprender de esta práctica adoptando un enfoque arqueológico para su estudio. El resultado proporciona interesantes perspectivas sobre dos fenómenos contemporáneos de la producción del arte del graffiti que tiene sorprendentes vínculos con el rock australiano. El estudio plantea el significado del dibujo contemporáneo y analiza cómo podría conformar nuestro enfoque sobre investigaciones del arte del rock.



I wish to thank Katie Hayne, Belinda Stewart, Sally Stewart and Lee Syminton for their assistance in site selection, recording and illustration. My mother, Jeanette Avins, continues to help me in understanding graffiti and I thank her for helping me with measurements. Pip Deveson, Nicholas Hall and an anonymous referee deserve special mention for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper. My gratitude to the editors for their work on this volume and in convening the 2007 Australian Archaeology Association conference session where this paper was first developed. A final thanks to all of the graffiti artists whose work I drew upon for insight and inspiration.

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Copyright information

© World Archaeological Congress 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research School of HumanitiesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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