Graffiti, art or vandalism? The question is so much more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. Especially when using the term graffiti, which is as general and subjective as art itself.
Graffiti is not just one form, style or medium. Graffiti includes but is not limited to wheatpaste poster art, stencil art, full wall murals, smaller scaled ‘pieces’ and of course the ubiquitous and notorious ‘tagging.’
Graffiti is diverse; it can be anything from a full and beautifully executed mural, a simple cartoon character, a political statement consisting only of type or an elaborate abstract spray painting of somebody’s name. The end result can sometimes be awe inspiring and breath taking, thought provoking, or ugly and pointless.
If we are to simplify the question , then the answer is also simple, the answer is both.
Graffiti can sometimes be art, but it can sometimes also be destructive vandalism. It all depends purely on the individual behind the work and their intentions.
The street artist that I have chosen to cover in this weeks blog is the artist known as ‘Swoon’. I chose her because when looking into the artists listed in this weeks choice to blog I recognized some of her work from street art I had seen and documented when I was in Oaxaca city, Mexico. Then when I started to study her, I gained a lot of respect for her and what she does. As well as her many humanitarian projects, she spends a lot of her time creating wheatpaste posters, mainly of people, trying to lift the curtain on inequality. In her works she is trying to display problems she sees extending deeper under the surface of society.
Having studied traditional art at the prestigious Pratt Institute, it’s definitely hard to deny this woman is anything but an artist. Swoon chooses abandoned buildings as a main showcase of her material, which brings me to my next point.
If a building has been disowned, how can the space be considered private? Why can artists not use the space to express themselves creatively in or on that space if the previous owners no longer care for it or what happens to it?
To wrap up, my personal opinion as a creative person studying design, is obviously going to lean towards the argument that graffiti is art.
The argument that the images invade our vision and space is benign when compared to the constant advertising and propaganda that is in our face at all times. In an age where billboards constantly bombard us without our permission, why not then can an artist display their works or opinions in the same arena?