by: Ashley Brayley
Reason.com published an article on “How Graffitti Empowers Big Government” at the end of January. It was obviously written by someone who is in the mindset of supporting corporate rights of advertising instead of the idea of empowering individuals who deserve a voice. I am disgusted by the idea of “good graffiti” vs. “bad graffiti”. Who has the authority to decide that any work of art is good or bad?! And “…artless scrawls of talent-less 12 year olds…” ?! Whoa…that’s a lofty and judgmental statement. There are many places where graffiti is not as regulated, such as Chicago, and you don’t see tags on doorways of Starbucks-type companies. I was recently in Israel and graffiti there seemed to be very well-received in public spaces. I cannot find a link to any website that reveals Israel’s graffiti laws by city, although some of the spaces used were designated for street artists and some were not, I did not once see an acid tag or spray on businesses which were open and well-maintained by store owners. Sure, the rolling doors on kiosks in the shuk (the open-air market) are painted (at night when the shops are closed the market becomes a beautiful makeshift gallery), but there seemed to be a sense of respect and understanding between the public, the vendors, and the artists. Why is this the case? It is a FACT that when felt-tip markers and other tools become labeled as objects of graffiti paraphernalia that folks (of all ages) often move on to acid tagging on windows or even reverse graffiti (the use of cleaning materials to create graffiti on dirty walls) in order to continue their passion using materials that do not carry suspicion leading to fines or arrest. In America the policy around graffiti seems to be about censorship of anyone without deep pockets. But when there is a greater commitment by local government to abolish the artform instead of embracing it they are only generating more fuel for the secretly outspoken and stoking a fire that will never be snuffed.