| Graffiti-holic Donna Haden has posted a most excellent article on 'Covid' Street Art Pieces - which also, not coincidentally, illustrates the direction 'graffiti' is taking in this 21st Century. Her recent article on Redbridge Council's collaboration with graffiti artists appeared on one of our favorite graffiti websites,
Graffiti Street <link>.
As might be inferred by our headline, 'graffiti', much like the American Mafia, has in recent years "gone legitimate" - at least in part. Graf artists are now busily presenting the 'legitimate' side of their collective face to the public. In the case of the Mafia, they have diversified into legitimate businesses like real estate and other above-the-board enterprises. Likewise, graffiti's new 'respectable face' (read: commercial) has manifested itself through open-sale of reproductions of their works, displaying their works in museums and art galleries, auctioning them off in auction houses, doing profile interviews for newspapers, periodicals and documentaries, and presenting at exhibitions and contests on "legal walls" set up by the townships themselves, and even hiring out to ad agencies putting up 'commercial' wall art.
So, "Why?"... How could Graffiti - Planet Earth's last, and perhaps only, truly unfettered, uncensored form of expression, have become so grievously compromised? How could, you ask, the apple have fallen so far from the tree? Surely the artistic aspects of spraycan art have not diminished, but throwing up on 'legal walls', or putting up murals for The Man? Who can deny the sense of loss, of betrayal, of abandonment of principles? Disappearing rapidly is much of the truly creative graffiti art - the colorful, twisted, irreverent, vulgar, disturbing, esoteric, thought-provoking, outrageous 'raging-against-the-machine'... Alas, the answer to 'Why?' is as it has always been; 'When in doubt, follow the money." -Graffiti artists who have sold out to commercialism, have also bought into self-censorship.
"Graffiti artists who have sold out to commercialism, -
have also bought into self-censorship."
The 'Graffiti Community', which once was defined by groups or "crews" of two or more graffiti artists stealing through the night (whose identities were known only to one another), is now something quite different. Today's Graf Community is now busily redefining itself - no longer do they purvey 'graffiti', it is now called 'street art', or 'art brut'. The graffiti artists themselves have 'come out' - no longer known by just their tags. Their real names are now known to the public, many referred to in the Press as 'famous' or 'renown'. They, and their works are further legitimized in the Media with gushing 'spin-terminology' - such as : 'raising awareness', 'culture', 'beautifying', 'engaging', 'community pride', 'creative', 'transformational' (whatever that means), 'amazing works', etc. - the gamut of adjectives and superlatives.... The word 'Vandalism', it seems, is now proscribed. Their larger works, no longer 'thrown up' in the dead of night, are called 'murals' and are put up in the light of day with the help of heavy construction equipment, usually supplied by the townships. Do not the 'commercial' graf artists of today feel, at the very least, a visceral sense of embarrassment?
However, that having been said, in the instance at hand, the social media presence @ilfordvillage (Twitter, Instagram) have coordinated with the Borough Council of Redbridge in East London to bring on two 'renown' graffiti artists, 'Ben Eine' and 'Dotmasters', to put up two completely legal works with a 'Coronavirus' subtheme. We, through excerpts, have highlighted these excellently executed 'murals' in this issue.
Bangkok Eyes adheres to a single, comprehensive definition of Graffiti :
"Unauthorized, often illegal markings on another's property."
Bangkok Eyes does not support or advocate any illegal activity. Content herein showcases the ongoing controversy over Graffiti in our Society and is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only.