Surface reflections: personal graffiti on the pavement

Megan Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are personal inscriptions on roads and sidewalks everywhere – artworks, romantic longings, political rants – and yet this kind of graffiti often goes unnoticed. In this article I peruse the pavements to see what the writing there might reveal. I find that, like the graffiti on vertical surfaces, pavement inscriptions are declarations of identity, but they often lack a sense of deliberate subversiveness. Many have been written by ordinary people overcome by some momentary preoccupation, but their choice of pavement as canvas is not arbitrary. It seems that beneath the everyday world there is another one, familiar but strangely distorted like reflections on a wet roadway. My explorations suggest that pavement inscriptions float on the surface between these two worlds. Like marker buoys they indicate the presence of unconscious aspirations and anxieties submerged below.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-382
Number of pages18
JournalAustralasian journal of popular culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • graffiti
  • streets
  • pavements
  • collective unconscious
  • Eternity
  • city


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