Tuesday, September 10, 2002

quality of life

The Village Voice looks at three books about transitory art and New York City in a review called American Graffiti. Is graffiti art, or is it a scourge upon society? Maybe that depends upon who is holding the aerosol can. I liked this quote from the review:
But everyone seems to agree that graffiti's perpetual removal catalyzes innovation and ingenuity. Its countless deaths generate countless rebirths. Austin points out that when the MTA repainted its entire fleet in 1973, it launched a golden age of style. In graf's status hierarchy, piecers who don't bomb barely rate. ESPO sums up the ethic nicely: "Illegal work has to say 'fuck you.' It can't say 'hello,' or 'how ya doing?' " In other words, what makes graffiti an art form is the ability to dangle itself over the abyss—and occasionally fall in. Graffiti needs to be championed, its practitioners seem to say, but it doesn't need to be saved.
It's possible that every mayor who is ever elected into office in NYC will make graffiti removal their own personal mission. Even when the city was going through bankruptcy a few years back, 20 million dollars was found to remove the work of subway artists. Do random acts of art lead to random acts of violence? Is the Broken Window Theory described in the article on the right track? How many artists were inspired by the drive-by spray paintings of graffiti creators?

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