Monday, June 2, 2008

Graffiti - Commentary, Propaganda Or Vandalism? Tane

Graffiti Artists: Social Commentators, Propaganda Artists or Vandals?
Tane Richardson
“People label graffiti tags vandalism, but good graffiti is the work of artists and social commentators, and there are actually certain guidelines and morals to the creation of graffiti art.” -RICH

On Social Commentary
The graffiti artist Banksy comes from Bristol and caused heated debate as to whether his graffiti, often featuring amusing satirical messages, was art or vandalism. Thankfully Bristolians and the city council support all forms of art and many of his works have been kept around Bristol with only the odd mistake where it has been removed or painted over by accident. He painted a ghost sailor on the hull of the Thelka Social boat which was painted over allegedly by the Harbour Master much to the disgruntlement of the owner of the Thelka. He threatened to sue as he'd quite liked Banksy's work. Many of his pictures are painted using stencils although no-one really knows how he does it or his identity.

On Propaganda
As advertising and graffiti rely on the amount of coverage or penetration, coupled with the quality of the delivery, it is easy to see how these two entities are so much alike. "As commercial logos lose their shine and cities start to look the same, graffiti street signs and logos become a symbol of individuality, fulfilling man's basic urge to leave a trace on the world" -MANCO.

Obey Giant for example, is one such case. Artist Shepard Fairey came up with the original idea of turning an image of Andre, a Russian wrestler into Andre the Giant and adding the Obey caption, which is intended to play with people's perception of reality. Some people upon looking at an Obey Giant image are unsettled by it and perhaps a little scared. They feel uncomfortable because they expect it to be an advertisement, and so find it hard to make sense of why it's there. Fairey also produced political propaganda for the Big Barack himself.

On Vandalism
The following is a passage from, a christian teen site... i could never bring myself to write this point of view!
The latest Wordpower Dictionary says graffiti is “unauthorized writing or drawing on a surface in a public place.” It includes the horrible scribble you see painted or scrawled on fences, bridges, in subways, on the sides of buildings, houses, and elsewhere (also called tagging). Most of it is garbage that looks like 5-year-olds have done it. But some of it is colorful and might look artistic if it hadn't destroyed someone's property. It is a crime, like stealing, because it steals the property owner's right to have their own property look clean and nice.

Some graffiti vandals say they are improving the look of fences or walls by doing colorful paintings on them. This is disputable, because they don't ask the property owner whether they can do it. It is not up to you or me to change or destroy someone else's property without their permission.

Every point of view is legitimate and understandable. However, I believe graffiti is either all of these (social commentary, propaganda and vandalism) or none. It certainly depends on the writers motives. And to some graffiti writers, they do it as art, nothing more. Of course, opinions may find their way into the piece (social commentary), or need recognition as an artist (propaganda); and it can always be classified vandalism, apart from permission works.
Again, all or none. I lean towards the art side of it.

Sources... - 20k -

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