Sunday, 16 May 2010

Can Graffiti really be considered ART?

Graffiti...vandalism to some...artistic self expression to others...
The images in this blog were taken at the Sunbury Cross underground subway that crosses the major roundabout at the bottom of the M3 (motorway) into London. A plaque was present which explained that this graffiti was part of a community youth project as in opposed to vandalism. I have however put my own twist on their art and present it here as my impression of their work. 

In my opinion, I feel that graffiti has its place in the art world. From the random vandalism acts of frustrated teenagers to the well thought out artistic expressions of true graffitists, like those I have captured here;  graffiti seems to give a voice to its author and then communicate that voice to the world in a way that I can only describe as pictorial poetry. With each stroke and image you see every emotion and thought, every hope and dream transfered from the graffitist' soul to walls of the world. A seamless transmission, often under the threat of danger in being caught for some, or the pressure of failing to truly transpire their depth for others. 

For many observers, the cities walls are not viewed as a suitable gallery to exhibit art therefore it is labeled as others, raw artistic expression in the urban environment is what art is really about. I am of the opinion that a balance is required and I really feel that the council in Sunbury has found it! Providing public wall space and organising art projects that allow for this type of artistic expression in a central place whilst notifying local residents and making them aware (therefore their attitude to the graffiti they see when they use the underground subway changes) allows for graffiti to be viewed and appreciated from an artistic perspective rather than being viewed as vandalism. This is a visionary step  which is a more positive approach to tackling illegal graffitist's rather than the traditional approach of arresting them which drives them to take unnecessary and dangerous risks including hanging over bridges to create their art on its face which could even lead to deaths.

The term Graffiti has been applied to an arrangement of institutionally illicit marks in which there has been an attempt to establish some sort of coherent composition: such marks are made by an individual or individuals (not generally professional artists) upon a wall or other surface that is usually visually accessible to the public. The term "graffiti" derives from the Greek graphein ("to write"). Graffiti (s. graffito), meaning a drawing or scribbling on a flat surface, originally referred to those marks found on ancient Roman architecture. Although examples of graffiti have been found at such sites as Pompeii, the Domus Aurea of Emperor Nero (AD 54-68) in Rome, Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli and the Maya site of Tikal in Mesoamerica, they are usually associated with 20th-century urban environments. Graffiti range from simple marks to complex and colorful compositions. Motives for the production of such marks may include a desire for recognition that is public in nature, and/or the need to appropriate public space or someone else's private space for group or individual purposes. Illegitimate counterparts to the paid, legal advertisements on billboards or signs, graffiti utilize the wall of garages, public rest rooms, and jail cells for their clandestine messages. This illegal expression constitutes vandalism to the larger society. [

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