Sometimes I think using art to make a political statement is a dangerous business and can even undermine what art should do. Using art to make a specific political statement makes the art itself ephemeral; if it achieves its goal of changing the status quo the work ceases to have any value.
Yeah, I know it’s not even close to that simple.
The more I look at this particular work too the more I realize it’s not a simple political statement. There’s a level of ambiguity here. Is the artist calling for fewer guns and more love, or saying that if there were fewer guns there’d be more love? Correlation doesn’t always mean causality.
What’s even more interesting to me is the placement. Here’s where I found it:
This particular railroad overpass that marks where Wrenwood Drive becomes Nebraska Avenue. Technically they’re one street, but Nashville is one of those cities where sprawl has led to a lot of spots where one street simply turns into another and renaming them and fixing the maps is a political matter.
I got the close-up by standing in a parking lot and using the zoom feature on my camera. Standing out in the road is a bad idea under any circumstances but this is also an area where cars zoom through. That brings to my mind how much art is a matter of life and death. Depending on how you look at it there’s no such thing as an apolitical work of art.
That reminds me of a joke: two Romanians are sitting in a bar. One of them says, “Fifty-four” and the other laughs. Then the other says, “Ninety-six” and the first one laughs. The bartender overhears this and asks, “What’s with the numbers, guys?”
One of them explains, “Under Ceaucescu we had all these political jokes we couldn’t tell without getting arrested. We gave the jokes numbers so we could share them without telling them.”
The bartender smiles and says, “Oh, I get it. Hey guys–twenty-seven!”
They look at him blankly and then one says, “You know, it’s not the joke so much as how you tell it.”
Seen any graffiti? Send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know if you’d like to be credited or if you’d like to remain completely anonymous. It’s all in how you tell it.