Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



While unauthorized graffiti has been historically associated with crime, vandalism, and property damage, the visual incursions of corporate advertisers on urban landscapes have been mostly exempt from criminal characterization– by purchasing private and public spaces for cash, upfront. The persistent transfer of capital to the private sector, and by extension commercialization of public spaces and services, invades individual privacy by intensifying exposure to relentless, unsolicited advertisement. Guerrilla Art thus emerges as a force challenging the favoritism of consumer culture vis-à -vis the agency of ordinary citizens to utilize the urban fabric as a medium for expression and public discourse. Every year, governments spend millions of dollars to procure and obliterate unauthorized graffiti scribbles, just to cover them up with additional coatings of paint. However, if a building, alleyway, or ditch is left to abandonment, why spend taxpayer dollars to paint over paint? Using Jacques Derrida’s theory of Deconstruction, this thesis examines the legal framework that unconditionally protects property against the conjectured menace of unsanctioned graffiti, of laws that privilege junked estates even when they blight the city, or present safety concerns. Furthermore, it calls into question the intransigence of New Mexico state statutes and Albuquerque city ordinances to negotiate the shared utilization of public space with graffiti artists. The unilateral indictment of all forms of graffiti is a démodé exercise in both control and futility, simultaneously suppressing and dulling the creative brilliance of everyday city life.

Project Sponsors

Office of Graduate Studies, Latino/a Fellowship, Graduate Resource Center, Graduate & Professional Student Association



Document Type


Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Isaac, Claudia

Second Committee Member

Ramirez de Arellano, Adriana

Third Committee Member

Romero, Levi


graffiti, art, Guerrilla Art, legal, public spaces, agency, community, architecture, Derrida, New Mexico State Statutes, Albuquerque City Ordinances

Included in

Architecture Commons