(Provocative urban graffiti by Banksy, found at: http://seamartin.wordpress.com/banksy-the-urban-graffiti-artist/
In one of my past blogs, I posted some examples of urban
graffiti with commentary.
groups on Linkedin
, I posed questions about
urban graffiti for the professionals on this site.
All of the responses were heartfelt and many
were eloquent; varying from statements exclaiming its social message of
graffiti to stating it was vandalism and against property rights.
are some of the selected comments in one location:
Only if it is actual
art and not just people writing their names or an insult. Glasgow is covered in
graffiti a portion of which is the latter. I wouldn't mind lots of funky art! I
just don't want to know all the local kids names or what they think about the
police. If they want to protest they should learn how to produce proper art...
smART protesting only please!
To an artist spray
paint can be a medium, not the statement. Picking a disused, dismal or ignored
corner of a city to work with can be the message: "Hey, look here! You've
been walking/driving by this corner all year -- do you even know this place
matters?" Curated, sanctioned public art is usually more decorative:
"Isn't this pallet more pleasing than the dirty bricks and cement
underneath?" You can same the same about public sculpture cast in steel or
bronze versus assembled out of less permanent or valuable materials. It's not
the point of the exercise.
Hmmm...interesting thoughts. There are probably more
questions than answers in the article which would open up several topics for a
master's thesis. For instance, is there a population density at which this
happens? If so, why are only a small cohort of the citizenry involved? Should
advertising in public spaces be banned? Should there be a limit imposed on
population density? Should there be constraints imposed on morons who vandalise
private property? Should we open up advertising spaces for graffiti?
I guess that we could
say that these people were using humour to perform a public service, but can we
say the same thing about the mindless tagging etc that is claimed as art?
…space is increasingly
devoted to commercial messages and advertising – communication that is
exclusively one-way: the public is being spoken at, in areas where the social
expectation is one of shared interactions between people, so the same is
expected of the shared visuals of the areas. So the one-way visuals and
communications of the city run in opposition to the instinctive behaviour of
people in the city. Therefore people are increasingly reversing the
communication streams of the city and are communicating back.
Graffiti - which is
mostly an urban phenomenon - is the outcry of some people. Legally seen is
unlawful. From the art-oriented sight, it is art (bad or good). Additionally, I
don't "judge" the emotional or mental condition of graffiti people, as
respectively I don't "judge" the emotional or mental condition of
famous painters or famous sculptors who gave us fantastic art crafts.
shouldn't be viewed of as an either/or situation (good/bad, public art/not), it
would e helpful to think about the causes of it. One point to keep in mind is
that urban graffiti is also a form of expression of those who feel silenced or
have no voice in the bureaucratic/political system surrounding them.. it can be
an informal form of engagement by communities and individuals. I agree that
defacing public/private property is unlawful, but when there aren't resources
for, or these people aren't satisfied with the current environment of things,
they need a form of outlet, and some take to this because it's either what they
feel they can immediately do, or be a part of, have a sense of control over. An
interesting documentary to look at is a documentary called "Style
Wars" which looks at urban graffiti (and subsequently the hip-hop
movement) in a more in-depth manner.
Sometimes art is
destructive. But just because something is art doesn't mean it should be
granted impunity. Civil disobedience is at the soul of graffiti, and all of the
graffiti artist I know have been arrested. Os Gemeos started out painting
illegally on public infrastructure before they were commissioned to do it
legally. However, there is value in these works of disobedience. While some
works of graffiti tastelessly deface property, others are placed on vacant
properties in disrepair or on large works of public infrastructure. Some
governments, like São Paulo, have commissioned artists to cover their plain
cement walls with art. But in my mind, this really detracts from the spirit of
graffiti artists, which is essentially a protest to the established
institutions. Many graffiti artists state that they began tagging buildings
just to say, "I'm here." I found much of the graffiti covering the
city of Rio de Janeiro to be provocative and beautiful.
So to answer the
original question, yes. And all we have to do for that to be a reality is start
appreciating the good ones.
Vandalizing private property is never art...it is a crime and should be
Check out the movie
"Exit through the Gift Shop". There is a difference between graffiti
and street art and when it is done right, it can be extraordinary. What I loved
about this movie was that shed light on the most public - but anonymous - form
of self-expression. It is a quirky movie, but fascinating. Also, Philadelphia
has a non-profit called the Mural Arts Program that paints amazing murals on
buildings throughout the city. (“Exit through the Gift Shop” is a documentary
by Banksy )
Each safety-wall put
up by a private developer, during construction, chould be offered as a location
for a graffiti competition
Art is something
created by an artist, public art is art that has been created in a public space
with the permission of the public authority and/or the owner of the property.
Taking to private property with a spray can without the owner's permission is
criminal vandalism and demands punishment.
It is a waste of time
and paint but graffiti is like cancer; it spreads. I agree. What is the
point of wasting time by doing an act that is illegal and destructive,
and will be removed within 14 days?
So who wants graffiti all over their city? Not me. I feel that the more
we stand up to graffiti, and work together to find solutions to deal
with it, the cleaner and richer our city would be for everyone.
Graffiti spans from
the banal to the truly artistic. The evidence of graffiti signals that
the general society and particularly that in urban areas is experiencing
economic and social chaos. Those that are amateur or professional
graffiti artists are expressing impromptu protest against government and
a society which they feel is alienating them and the general public. It
is meant to provoke. A local government may clean the walls of graffiti
temporary, but until social and economic issues are addressed by local
and national governments, it will always return. Essentially, most
citizens and governments want to 'whitewash' the underlying problems
behind graffiti because it is simplistic and means that they do have to
deal with the underlying societal and governmental issues.