The nonsensical ideas of the so called Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) just got even more annoying and once again showed that McVicar and his group are increasingly removing themselves from the reality of life.
Today is was revealed by the SST that the Children’s commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro made a submission to the Law and Order Select Committee hearing submissions on the Summary Offences (Tagging and Graffiti Vandalism) amendment Bill. And in that submission was the admission (indeed genuine observation) that tagging for some is a valid artistic expression/art.
First of all 10 points to Dr Kiro for saying what many around the world already know, that is unless you are of the nonsensical Sentencing Trust. The world itself comes from ancient Italian word graffiato meaning to scratch. Indeed Rome it was well known about the place (political protest in it’s earliest form), and indeed Monty Python used it in The Life of Brian.
Latterly one of the greatest producers of graffiti was the good old GI Joe, whom sprayed “Kilroy was here” with the accompanying nose over the wall doodle. This dated from the end of WWII through to the Korean War.
More recently however Graffiti has become synonymous with the youth culture that emerged from NY, not withstanding the rise of the Punk culture in the UK where the band Crass’ logo was everywhere along with the iconic Anarchy lgoo (as recently sung about in Nightmares on Wax song 70s/80s).
Jean-Michel Basquiat a Puerto Rican – Haitian from NY (b1969 – d1988) along with Keith Harring are possibly tow of the more well known and popular graffiti artists, whose works fetch have fetched as high as $14million USD. Indeed both of their art hangs in the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, along with dozens of other galleries around the world.
These examples of street artists crossing over into the mainstream are relatively rare, but they did provide a point in which graffiti art changed in the States. Here in NZ we have our very own home grown examples of street artists crossing over into the main stream, and thus being very influential for young street artists. Otis Frizzel, the son of the artist Dick Frizzell, began as a rapper musician and graffiti artist. Over time his art has become more mainstream, and is now hung on the walls of galleries across the country.
Many of the meanings behind graffiti involve belonging, identity and of course protest. These are wonderfully epitomised in the work ‘Behave’ by Mike Weston and Otis Frizzell ($2000+), as seen below.
If we are going to get past any of this ‘victim’ and ‘blame’ game that the nonsensical sentencing trust play, we need to encourage these street artists, give them the tools, means and reasons to produce their art in a non destructive way.
I have no doubt that graffiti is damaging, and not all of it is art, however, there is a reason it is done and while these are varied, they are not insurmountable. The ‘lock-em-up’ approach of the SST is counterproductive and only creates an use and them situation. For instance in their press release they decried that “Graffiti and vandalism are entry level crimes and must be treated seriously” and continued to bleat on about serious violent youth crime.
Speeding along state highway 1 at 120km/hr is an entry level crime, however to be as stupid and divisive as to suggest all drivers who hit 120km/hr are on the road to car conversion or carjacking. The SST are sensationalists whom more often than not bring little to the table in the form of solutions which don’t hark back to the good ole days.
Not all graffiti artists are young, not all graffiti artists are vandals, just as not all graffiti is art, but one thing it is not and that is, Graffiti is not the slippery slope to a life of violent crime as suggested by the SST. We heard this arguement in the late 1960s with LSD, which apparently if one took this evil drug we were all going to jump out of windows and destroy our selves.
How about understanding the problem (much much deeper than paint on walls) and find solutions. How about a SST graffiti competition, in which boring industrial walls around Auckland are designated as art zones and a weekly/monthly competition is run. Throw some money at it, create a web site and give them the national and international recognition that they aim for, and at the end of the year produce a year book. How about a bloody scholarship to help their artistic leanings along.
Stop yelling at the bloody kids you old and increasingly marginalised fogies. You’re doing everyone a disservice.
Final thought, I have commented on this in the past. Why is corporate vandalism in the form of advertising posters plastered all over walls acceptable and youth art not? Hypocrisy?