I am writing in response to response to the article “Protecting our public spaces” in issue 14, published this spring in it, the author claims that “all graffiti is public spaces.” I would like to point out that many people believe that graffiti is an art from that can benefit our public spaces just as much as sculpture, fountains, or other, more accepted art forms.
People who object to graffiti usually do so more because of where it is, not what it is. They argue, as your author does, that posting graffiti in public places constitutes an illegal act of property damage. But the location of such graffiti should not prevent the images themselves from being considered genuine art.
I would argue that graffiti is the ultimate public art form. Spray paint is a medium unlike any other. Though graffiti, the entire world has become a canvas. No one has to pay admission or travel to a museum to see this kind of art. The artists usually do not receive payment for their efforts. These works of art dotting the urban landscape are available, free of charge, to everyone who passes by.
To be clear, I do not consider random words or names sprayed on stop signs to be art. Plenty of graffiti is just vandalism, pure and simple. However, there is also graffiti that is breathtaking in its intricate detail, its realism, or its creativity. It takes great talent to create such involved designs with spray paint.
Are these creators not artists just because they use a can of spray paint instead of a paintbrush, or because they cover the side of a building rather than a canvas?
To declare that all graffiti is vandalism, and nothing more, is an overly simplistic statement that I find out of place in such a thoughtful publication as your magazine. Furthermore, graffiti is not going anywhere, so might as well find a way to live with it and enjoy its benefits. One option could be to make a percentage of public space, such as walls or benches in parks, open to graffiti artists. By doing this, the public might feel like part owners of these works of art, rather than just the victims of a crime.
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