Is It Art? – The Great Debate

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I have been thinking a lot lately about Graffiti and Street Art – is it vandalism or art? The topic came to mind during one of my lectures (its the basis for one of my photo projects), and it sure is a fiery one.

There’s almost too much information on the internet about the debate, however I did discover some interesting news from my hometown of Reading. Graffiti artist’s are facing some tough times as the local council are taking their clean up plans into action, as many designs can be seen on the side of buildings as far as the skyline itself. Too many it looks awful and ‘degrading’ of the towns popularity, though I don’t see it this way…

I take into account that firstly climbing up a 20 story abandoned office block is a feet in itself, but then I realize that the people ‘tagging’ the building must be incredibly dedicated to what they do. ‘Tagging’ refers to when street artists simply spray their name or mark onto a public building, almost as if its their zone. As stated before many people view this as defacing a public building, but I think Banksy hits the mark with the following quote –

“Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.”

I think this is a debate that will rage on for many years to come, and its all down to personal opinion. Nothing is better than seeing a well crafted piece of art framed or on a canvas in an exhibition, but I don’t think seeing art on the side of a building is any less worthy of praise. Sure there’s a difference between ‘Joe Was Ere!’ and the likes of Banksy, but should Graffiti be outlawed to the extent it is today? If anything its some food for thought!

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One Response to “Is It Art? – The Great Debate”

  1. There is no question in my mind that some graffiti qualifies as legitimate art. For me, the more important question is whether a graffiti artist, or any other type of artist for that matter, has the right to impose their art unilaterally into the public space. If we liberally condone graffiti art, what about commercial art, billboards, advertisements? The right to regulate public space and the appearance of public space really belongs to the community.
    It’s also more difficult to justify when such art results in damage to the building or structure. For example, most communities are very tolerant of sidewalk chalk artists as it’s temporary with no lasting effect. Graffiti art, of course, typically results in a permanent change.

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