In response to the argument are graffiti social commentators, propaganda artists, artists or vandals; I don’t see the response as being a black and white argument. Yes some street artists work can be considered art, the works of Tom Civil are a good example which I’ll go into further detail however I don’t consider the practice of “tagging” to be consider art. Id be more inclined to categorise it under the side of vandalism, simply because the practice appears to be less about art and more about marking territory and getting your name out there for everyone to see. Tagging on symbolic or sacred objects is a prime example, often done by misguided youths however rather then graffiti artists.
Now the works of Tom civil is an interesting case for this argument because it sees him on both sides of the scale. He started off his street art career stenciling at the end of 2001 in the streets under the alias “Civilian” and was featured in the film Rash (2005). Civil has several art works exhibited in gallery’s but doesn’t feel comfortable in those settings, he prefers to display his work in the form of “empty shows” – illegal exhibitions held in derelict buildings. Now if these buildings are run down and derelict why not cover them with art?
In 2003 the police caught Civil at one of his “empty shows” no charges were laid by the police. Despite his run in with the law he still believes that “street art is an important and necessary part of society.”
April 16, 2014 Civil was commissioned to paint a mural on the walls of Crisalida child, adolescent and family therapy clinic in Thornbury, Melbourne and a second mural located walnut street, Melbourne. The council allocated $25,000 for the first work in an attempt to save money by cleaning up little acts of graffiti, mainly acts of tagging. The idea was by painting a large mural in the problem area it would stop these acts but whether they meant to or not they also brightened up the area, which a lot of Tom Civil’s work do.
I feel the council commissioning Civil to paint a piece of street art to cover up acts of graffiti reflect my view, in the sense they willing hired a renowned street artist to cover up less acts of graffiti such as tagging.
In conclusion the works of Tom Civil have convinced me there is art in the act of graffiti ….. to a degree.