Good article on the Grauniad on Saturday entitled: ‘Dim, cloned conservatives’. The story is a tirade against modern Graffiti or ‘art brut’ as it was once referred to. The general crux of the article is ‘it ain’t what it used to be’ and I am forced to agree on this angle.
Although there is some great examples of Graffiti out there (and I do not wish to get involved with the vandalism issue as this is a separate point all together, and an answer that lies in offering communities support as opposed to punishing them for about the only creative output they have) generally the quality has become over stylised and conceptually dead. This leads to over rationalisation of the material and a further decline of the central message, which is essentially a quasi-political statement aimed at creating a dialogue (or ‘non-dialogue’) between maker and viewer.
The article goes on to say that the main problem with Graffiti is that it has been acknowledged by the art world and thus ‘Graffiti can only be interesting as art if it lacks art’. Not a point I entirely agree with, the term art has been existentially fucked since Marcel Duchamp did the ‘ol toilet back in 1923. Infact you have to feel sorry for the Dadaists, in thier attempt to create anti-art, they simply achieved to create on of Art’s great movements. Thus I think its a little irrational to conclude that an art form can be debased when that form can not be defined in the first place.
But anyway, went a bit tangenty there, but essentially Graffiti does appear to be losing a lot of the vibrancy that won it so many attractors in the 80s. All that seems to pass for Graffiti these days is a sort of literal marking of territory, or simple wanton destruction. No real statements, dialogue or communication that was essential in the form’s early manifestation. I even saw one kid the other week, sticking pre-prepared tags onto windows. How lazy is that. Further some local roughians graffitied the term ‘Gibson Garden Gangster’s in our building. Maybe not out of place in downtown Detroit or Compton, but this is polenta munching, hippy, grauniad reading, liberal, ‘tony’s (used to be) my best mate’ north London.
Maybe Graffiti was too much a victim of its own success, all that is left is the residue concept of urban decay perpetrated by those outside the system without any of the flair, a genuine need to express creativity and communicate (or protest) with those that are outside one’s social spectrum.
Actually, just realised after re-reading the entry, I did infact getting involved in the entire issue of Vandalism. Hey-ho.