Manifesto: the right to the surface is the right to the city

The right to the surface is unique but manifold, its energy is singular yet its traction comes from multiplication. The right to the surface is a right to visibility, inclusion and participation: the right to be clear and to be here. The right to the surface is a right to appropriation and use, irrespective of ownership entitlements and property certificates: its authority lies in shared urban experience and sociability. A right to spatial production and enactment of dissent, and an enfranchisement for the urban inhabitant in front of corporate and institutional interests.

The right to the surface is a contestation of private property and a production of spaces for collective use. It is a moral and political claim to access and participation, hijacking and appropriation. It is a right to break the law. The right to the surface is additive and productive, not selective and exclusive: it is the right of more, of all, to write, show and be seen – instead of none or a selected few.

The right to the surface should not be institutionalised: it is claimed, not granted. It is direct and not representative. The right to the surface does not depend on aesthetics or harmony. It is processual and formative, it seeks change and movement, not stability and permanence. It is a right to risk, not to safety. The right to refuse and confuse ideas about beauty and value; and to produce an active surface politics. The right to surface territories as political achievements.

The right to the surface is a right to write, to create, to produce oeuvre. It is a right to non-reconciliation and disagreement. It is a right of power and not of immunity: it grants the authority to inscribe and it does not offer protection against inscription. It is a liberty right and it entitles confrontation between subjectivities: the sticker, the crack, the writer, the scrawl, the message and the hybrid alongside the title to govern, the owner, the fence, the law and the capital. It is a right against spatial enclosure and privatisation, a right of action and not of suppression.

The right to the surface is a right to discourse and sociability, it is a right to stay name-less and uncategorisable. The right to the surface is a right to sign and a right to the sign. It is an expression of possibility, potential, alternative, heterogeneity and future. A right to struggle and belonging, to simultaneity and encounter. A right to incoherence.

The right to the surface is the right to produce urban art, to decide the image of the city and to contest its regimes of regulation. It is the right to become and to remain minor, mundane, category-less and an-aesthetic. The right to the surface stacks, delights, annoys, undermines and empowers. The right to the surface is a right to unpoliced displays and to value surfaces as archives of urban cultures. The right to the surface is the right to the city.

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