It started as a joke. I noticed a fair amount of graffiti as I was out walking around and I thought it would be fun to take pictures of it and write about it in a tongue-in-cheek critical way, adding references to art history and art criticism. I’ve always kind of wanted to be an art critic, and have written some serious pieces for magazines, although there’s a lot of art out there that I just can’t take seriously.
And then something happened. I started to see graffiti seriously. I started to realize that there were people behind these anonymous works that popped up in different places, and they were people with something to say. A lot of them have no other place to say it. They don’t have studios or even necessarily enough money to buy the materials to put their ideas on canvas, and even if they did they wouldn’t reach as wide an audience as they can by putting their work out there in public spaces.
I’ve stretched the definition of graffiti since I started doing this more than a year ago but I’ve tried to keep one thing consistent: whether it’s really graffiti or not I’ve tried to write about works that are publicly visible, that potentially anyone could see. And it occurred to me that a lot of the artists who share their work are giving the city, the world, a gift. I hope by highlighting that I’m giving something back.
I always really enjoy your graffiti critiques. The art is always compelling and thought provoking–more like “graffarti”. When we were in Iceland, we saw some amazing pieces, many with Viking themes, that really captured something about the culture, which is what good graffiti does.
That is really fascinating that Icelandic graffiti would capture the culture in that way. And that is what good graffiti–I’d even say good art–does. Just a few months ago I heard about a city mural project that employed local graffiti artists to create something special for the city, to reflect the local culture. A lot of people see graffiti as a nuisance but it can lead to some good things.
Every post you publish is a gift, Chris. Thanks for this one.
Thank you for the gift of this comment.