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Lawful Misuse

Introduction to Literary and Cultural Analysis 2021/22
A student putting a poster on a wall in the street.

Is it ethical for these businesses to be taking up this space?

Lawful Misuse is a public intervention that aims to critique the amount of space that law firms are taking up in residential areas in the midst of a housing crisis. Is it ethical for these businesses to be taking up this space?

While law firms still mainly occupy their regular office space, throughout the city of Amsterdam there are several buildings owned and used by the aforementioned law firms for a “more casual meeting/work environment”. In order to bring attention to and address this issue, we created a website which could be accessed through a QR code explaining the issue as well as showing how many student rooms could be accessible using that space. The QR code along with the map and a poster were then hung around the city on such buildings where people could scan it and find out more.

Cultural space is not just about physical areas but also about the values and priorities of a community. The project therefore brings attention to the cultural values that influence urban planning decisions, questioning whether the city’s priorities align with the needs and values of its residents. Using posters as a medium is a form of art-activism and aligning with the concept of cultural and urban space as platforms for expression and criticism.

Post-Fordist cities undergo a major restructuring, shifting from industrial centres to service-oriented hubs. The project’s focus on large law firm offices in urban areas ties into this restructuring, reflecting the changing nature of economic activities in the city. This project is an attempt to expose power imbalances within one of these systems by questioning the priorities that allow for the expansion of certain sectors while neglecting critical issues like housing. We wanted to express our agency and our potential for resistance against dominant narratives.

two students seen putting up the "Lawful use of violence?" poster