Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When writing meets art: graffiti

Most people think of graffiti as scrawled tagging that makes little sense to anyone except those who know how to read it. Then there's the giant penis and breast jokes. It has connotations of the gangster, derelict and addictive lifestyles. Yes, there are aspects of these lifestyles involved in graffiti but to say it is solely connected to them then you'd be mistaken. There are many artists, truly talented artists, who create stunning graffiti. In these cases the only difference between art on a canvas and art on a wall is the type of paint and the surface used.

There are many times when graffiti should remain on the wall and it can be said to be not only a shame when it's removed but an insult to culture.

Clever: Keep.

Clever: Keep.

That said, I don't mind at all when the scrawled tags are removed. If it isn't artistic, shows no skill or talent, then it shouldn't be for public viewing. That's how it works in the standard art world. So should it work in the world of graffiti. What stays and what goes shouldn't be made using blanket concepts like graffiti is bad or good. It should be made on a case by case basis. Art should never be completely banned from an art gallery nor should just anything be accepted.

There are many out there who will say it is defacement of property but defacement can be fixed with a lick of paint, annoying though the work may be. It is assumed that graffiti is always a petty crime done by one person on another's property but sometimes the graffiti is wanted, requested and sometimes done by the owner of the property.

Sweet: Keep.

Thoughtful and punchy: Keep.

For those inconvenienced, I apologise for seeming to make light of your situation but I still hold the position that good art should be kept wherever and whenever possible.

And all this without mentioning that graffiti often holds a message of action or peace intended for the largest audience reachable. There are also tributes to people both of importance to millions and of importance to a few, all for the most part worthy of notation. There are people currently on this planet and throughout history who do not deserve remembering fondly, for one reason or another, but it would be wise to think carefully before scrubbing any tribute.

Tribute to a person (reflects love and life): Keep.

Tribute to a person and their work: Keep.

These, on the other hand, should be scrubbed off the wall:

Seriously? All round bad...

Argh! Spelling...

Just plain mean, rude and prejudiced.

Ditto on this one. Add in murderous.

An example of bad graffiti that should stay:

Amassed messages: Keep
This might be bad but I vote for it to stay. This is an example of cultural graffiti. Scribbling on the toilet wall is standard everywhere in the world and should remain so for a good laugh and entertainment if stuck (for whatever reason).

1 comment:

  1. My favourite bathroom graffiti was seen in a pub. Somebody wrote "Fitness First Sucks!" on the wall. Someone else had written below it in different pen, "Yeah but I bet you still wear the bag on your back."