Street art in urban space: location and perception in Ukrainian cities

Keywords: city, urban space, street art, mural, public space, location, perception, Ukraine


Purpose. The purpose of this research was to analyze the thematic orientation, drivers, location and perception by residents of street art in Ukrainian cities. Accordingly, the research questions are as follows: where and which street art pieces are located in cities? what are the main triggers of their spread in urban space? how city residents percept street art? what dwellers think about impact of street art on socio-cultural space and should street art be regulated in cities?

Research methods. The study is based on an analysis of media reports on street art, the results of in-depth semi-structured interviews with Kyiv residents, and the authors’ observations on the streets of several Ukrainian cities. Twelve semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with Kyiv residents in April-May 2021, which included blocks of questions on the perception of street art, its subject matter, location and the need to control and regulate their creation and distribution. The authors conducted observations on the streets during 2017-2021 in the cities of Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Odesa, Poltava, Kamyanets-Podilskyi, and Kramatorsk.

Main findings. Based on the previous research, the main forms of street art and their place in urban space are analyzed. The analysis of street art pieces in Ukraine showed that in general there are tendencies of decentralization of their location in the urban space and regionalization. In other words, street art is spreading from the city center to the periphery, and along with the capital city and the main regional centers, street art pieces are becoming common elements of the urban space of other cities and towns. The vision of the residents testifies to their demand for the conformity of new street art pieces to the socio-cultural environment, the appropriateness of placement, and “embeddedness” into the urban space.

It was revealed that key drivers of street art booming in Ukraine are urban art festivals, mega events, socio-political events and social troubles, developers` initiatives, as well as participatory budgeting programs. At the same time, the methods of implementation, thematic orientation and location of street art can cause conflicts and protests from individual residents, social movements, and municipalities as well.

An analysis of the attitude to the thematic orientation of street art showed that the topics of nature, images of prominent people with an unblemished reputation, representatives of the most important professions, national, patriotic and social topics that encourage reflection, as well as texts of famous poems and quotations are most welcoming for Kyiv residents. The attitude to political issues accompanied by various appeals is distinctly negative. It has been confirmed that the local context of street art objects is considered as more important. It is shown that with the generally positive perception of street art, city dwellers are interested in the need to control and regulate the location of new murals and other street art pieces taking into account the public participation principles. In a relatively short period, street art have become a common practice of renewal, "beatification" and "Europeanization" of the urban space of many Ukrainian cities.

Scientific novelty and practical value. The article develops the understanding of the place of street art in the urban space revealing the main peculiarities of the location, distribution and perception of street art in Ukrainian cities. The practical value of the study lies in the focus on identifying prospects for the implementation of the principles of participatory urban planning in the context of the creation of new street art pieces as a mean of improving public spaces.


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Author Biographies

Nataliia Provotar, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

PhD (Geography), Associate professor

Yuliia Olishevska, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

PhD (Geography), Associate professor

Kostyantyn Mezentsev, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

DSc (Geography)

Kateryna Kravchenko, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University

PhD (Geography), Associate Professor


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How to Cite
Provotar, N., Olishevska, Y., Mezentsev, K., & Kravchenko, K. (2021). Street art in urban space: location and perception in Ukrainian cities. Visnyk of V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Series "Geology. Geography. Ecology", (55), 216-231.

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