Art that is crime

brianvds

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Through the ages all manner of art has been treated as criminal, but I'm thinking of a specific example here. For all manner of reasons I have recently taken an interest in graffiti. Like many, I feel a bit ambivalent about it: on the one hand, I want to lock away the young punks who take it upon themselves to decorate private and public property without permission; on the other hand, many of them are genuinely talented and I enjoy a lot of it for its raw, vibrant energy.

Looking around on YouTube I noticed that there are a bunch of documentaries about the issue. But the thing that really struck me: there are huge numbers of videos uploaded by illegal graffiti artists, of themselves spray painting buildings and trains. I'm surprised this sort of video doesn't get deleted by the powers that be as fast as they are uploaded. Here's an example:


Now apparently, post-9/11, new security measures have made it difficult indeed for people to gain access to trains in any other way than buying a ticket and boarding as passenger. But these youngsters go to great lengths, often putting themselves in discomfort, and often not inconsiderable danger, to get to empty trains and then turn them into canvases. I was somewhat surprised to see youngsters, particularly in as placid and passive a place as Europe, who still have the energy, drive and courage to do this sort of thing. Perhaps it is actually a hopeful sign, rather than a sign of the end of western civilization. :D

Anyway, not trying to make any profound points here; just noting something art-related that struck me as interesting. :)
 
I know I have seen places in pix and live where graffiti is deliberately allowed and encouraged. Sort of a pop up people's art gallery. And in those settings I not only approve, but I've seen some very good work.

The rest of it, no matter how visually appealing, strikes me as just vandalism fueled by vanity. And for property owners and law enforcement in many places it's actually considered fuel to the fire of gangs.

So you take your pick as to which side you fall on. For my money, graffiti is an art form for sure, but on someone else's property where it is not wanted it's defacement.
 
Breaking the rules is the point, right now most of the worlds look is regulated by rich few assholes, so breaking the law is the only way to leave imprint on it, to feel something real. Graffiti and breaking da law is a way for poorer to make themselves heard, to show solidarity etc. All countries are bad by design, and if you look down on breaking the law then your art probably wont say anything interesting, i am getting depressed looking at threads like these.

Not even remarking of the dystopia of communication being controlled by few rich people on youtube.
But whatever none of you is going to change, bootlicking and cuckoldry are just that popular, your position must be very comfortable... for now.

Getting bored of the forum to be honest
 
You spend your entire fucking life perfecting the art of still lifes and flowers and then make with it nothing that matters, while people try to live their fucking lifes, change something, show a fragment of self awareness, pretend you are a human.
 
That's just what they are, punk. It's the exact meaning of punk, and that's why it's great. ;)

So the question now becomes whether they feel lucky... :)

clint lucky punk s.jpg
 
exactly .. punk or whatever .. used the proper channels and if you can't then find a legit way to do business.

Another documentary:


This one starts out with a guy filming his own illegal spray painting. But then he starts to tour the world to talk to other graffitists, and it becomes an exploration into legal work. He visits many cities, talking to whole teams of people who do it legally, on invitation. They do large scale work, all very impressive.

This made me start to wonder what exactly the difference is then between graffiti and mural painting, and it seems to me that the difference is that graffiti is, sort of by definition, illegal or at least transgressive.

But is there a difference in the actual art work? In the above documentary, the legal pieces are certainly very impressive, at least technically better than the illegal stuff, perhaps partly simply because the artists can work in daylight and take their time. They're all very sophisticated, working together to decide on designs, then often first doing the designs in a computer before transferring it to the wall etc. Almost like modern-day fresco painters.

And yet, at least to my liking, there is also something missing in their work. It is all slick and professional. But there is something of the art-by-committee in it too. It seems to lack the raw energy and brutal honesty of a lot of graffiti.

Our society has become very good at bureaucratizing everything. Even our "challenging" or "controversial" art, the moment it enters the gallery system, becomes part of a well rehearsed performance. Predictable themes (i.e. whatever the fad of the moment is), predictable angry complaints, and predictable rebuttals.

There is none of this in graffiti. The artists are mostly entirely anonymous or work, perforce, behind pseudonyms. They're never going to sit in a moodily lit TV studio defending their work or ideas, or engage in debate with learned professors of art history. And thus, they do whatever they like, art-wise.

What I find striking about the better examples of graffiti that I have seen thus far, is the virtual complete absence of obscenity - no puerile phalluses and swear words and stuff like that. In some ways, they are actually quite serious artists, though I suspect, and indeed, in one interview one of them openly admits, that they do what they partly for the adrenalin rush rather than to make any grand creative statements.

By the above, I am by no means arguing that it is okay to break the law or that they should not be prosecuted. In fact, given that they do it partly for the rush, I suspect many of them don't want it legalized either, because it would turn their dangerous hobby into boring entertainment!

I suggest a compromise in which we keep it illegal, though with mostly somewhat token punishments, in return for which they use chalk or water-soluble paints, so their masterpieces are easy to remove, and will be gone anyway next time it rains. :)
 
Breaking the rules is the point, right now most of the worlds look is regulated by rich few assholes, so breaking the law is the only way to leave imprint on it, to feel something real. Graffiti and breaking da law is a way for poorer to make themselves heard, to show solidarity etc.

As I note in another post, many are just engaged in a thrilling game, like the artistic equivalent of sky diving. :)

In any event, the same bloke who made the film Amadeus, whose name has temporarily slipped my mind, made another and far lesser known film titled Goya's Ghosts. It was even more misunderstood by critics and public alike than Amadeus - like the latter, it wasn't really a biopic.

Instead it explores how art has been used, abused and misunderstood through the ages. More to your point, it explores both the power and the limitations of art.

Art is often not the best way to change the world, and to the extent that it does have that power, it often resides not in the grand, "controversial" works that so much public debate is about, but in far more humble stuff. When I think back over my life thus far, the art I remember best, and that had the most profound impact on my entire being, have been the illustrations in the children's books I read in my youth, rather than the latest controversial painting or installation by one of the famous names.

Even so, its impact was probably somewhat limited. To some extent, any and all art is propaganda, but there are limits to what propaganda can do.

In some ways I share your frustration with polite, decorative paintings - they're kind of impotent, bought to some extent simply as badge of the buyer's wealth, and then hanging there on the wall, doing nothing and indeed not even being noticed anymore. The first time anyone ever notices the painting again is when grandpa dies and the kids have to decide what to do with his collection - and then they don't look at the art so much as at the signature. (The only exception happens when an artist happens to visit the family - we always notice and look at all the art on the walls!)

And so: paintings are "mere decoration." But then, is there not something perfectly honest and respectable about that? What's wrong with decoration? Given that even the most transgressive and controversial art is really just so much shouting against the storm, it may be that there is little point to getting all worked up about the merely decorative. The problem isn't the art, but the twaddle that gets talked about it in an attempt to make it seem less like a "mere" craft and more like an important intellectual pursuit. Physics envy has been the death of the humanities. :)
 
I understand both sides, but I do not think true graffiti artists should be punished. I think it should stay illegal, but why "punish" something so trivial when others are murdering, raping, or robbing each other? Those criminals are actual criminals, not artists.

As for this forum being too boring for you Paupka, I'm sorry to hear it, but like life, one has to weed through the mundane and find what speaks to them. Please stay if you can find a bit of that here. If it's all crap to you, then feel free to move on, but personally, I like you here and wish more original personalities like you would show up more often. If everyone were anarchists, then that would be the common denominator, and what would be left to rage against it? Comacazie politicians and billionaire gorilla warfare? Yes, more of the same...
 
So the question now becomes whether they feel lucky... :)

View attachment 39017
I dont feel lucky i was caught by security for stealing i said here ^^

As I note in another post, many are just engaged in a thrilling game, like the artistic equivalent of sky diving. :)

In any event, the same bloke who made the film Amadeus, whose name has temporarily slipped my mind, made another and far lesser known film titled Goya's Ghosts. It was even more misunderstood by critics and public alike than Amadeus - like the latter, it wasn't really a biopic.

Instead it explores how art has been used, abused and misunderstood through the ages. More to your point, it explores both the power and the limitations of art.

Art is often not the best way to change the world, and to the extent that it does have that power, it often resides not in the grand, "controversial" works that so much public debate is about, but in far more humble stuff. When I think back over my life thus far, the art I remember best, and that had the most profound impact on my entire being, have been the illustrations in the children's books I read in my youth, rather than the latest controversial painting or installation by one of the famous names.

Even so, its impact was probably somewhat limited. To some extent, any and all art is propaganda, but there are limits to what propaganda can do.

In some ways I share your frustration with polite, decorative paintings - they're kind of impotent, bought to some extent simply as badge of the buyer's wealth, and then hanging there on the wall, doing nothing and indeed not even being noticed anymore. The first time anyone ever notices the painting again is when grandpa dies and the kids have to decide what to do with his collection - and then they don't look at the art so much as at the signature. (The only exception happens when an artist happens to visit the family - we always notice and look at all the art on the walls!)

And so: paintings are "mere decoration." But then, is there not something perfectly honest and respectable about that? What's wrong with decoration? Given that even the most transgressive and controversial art is really just so much shouting against the storm, it may be that there is little point to getting all worked up about the merely decorative. The problem isn't the art, but the twaddle that gets talked about it in an attempt to make it seem less like a "mere" craft and more like an important intellectual pursuit. Physics envy has been the death of the humanities. :)
See i think you somehow overlapped my defence of graffiti with stuff like Gustav Klimt putting paintings of naked women in exhibition and that being controversial. Graffiti is in fact humble and it can just tell people living in the area theyre not alone in their struggle, here i often see antifa and acab graffitis and think that, or see sickle and hammer and think "cringe ass german tankies bitches" Graffitis are quite literally a way to speak to each other on these issues. Im not against decorative paintings so much as im against conformism and flat following of authority, like law. You have a really powerful cognitive dissonance over here.

I understand both sides, but I do not think true graffiti artists should be punished. I think it should stay illegal, but why "punish" something so trivial when others are murdering, raping, or robbing each other? Those criminals are actual criminals, not artists.

As for this forum being too boring for you Paupka, I'm sorry to hear it, but like life, one has to weed through the mundane and find what speaks to them. Please stay if you can find a bit of that here. If it's all crap to you, then feel free to move on, but personally, I like you here and wish more original personalities like you would show up more often. If everyone were anarchists, then that would be the common denominator, and what would be left to rage against it? Comacazie politicians and billionaire gorilla warfare? Yes, more of the same...
I am generally pro rehabilitation more so than punishment, as punishment demonstrably doesnt work in any way at all to prevent "crime".

Im not challenged artistically or on my ideas, no one talks about shortcomings of my paintings, no one is affected by them, come on you saw previous art post i did was formatted like a cry for help and everyone said flowers look nice.
And no if majority was anarchist there would be more points of view not less, because there would be no authority to stop your thought processes for. Every group of people would have their voice strengthened without bland homogeneity forced upon us today.
 
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Quick question how much do you think youre influenced from living in post apartheid south africa, like most graffiti artists arent melatonin deficient
 
I understand both sides, but I do not think true graffiti artists should be punished. I think it should stay illegal, but why "punish" something so trivial when others are murdering, raping, or robbing each other? Those criminals are actual criminals, not artists.

Yup, instead of punishing them they should perhaps simply be made to clean it up again.
 
View attachment 39033
Quick question how much do you think youre influenced from living in post apartheid south africa, like most graffiti artists arent melatonin deficient

Not sure what you mean. Around here where I live I seldom see any graffiti. I see much more in and around Johannesburg; I have no idea who makes it or what their level of pigmentation is. But I do like the art work.

Tell you what I do see absolutely everywhere here, and that I really do find kind of annoying (though it also makes me laugh a bit) - this kind of thing, pasted up absolutely everywhere, including right in front of the local primary school:

Penis_Enlargement_Sign_in_Johannesburg.jpg


Way too mass produced to my liking; I think I prefer graffiti. :D

As for how much I am influenced from living in post-apartheid South Africa, it is difficult to say, seeing as I am right inside it, i.e. too close to make objective judgements.
 
Puakpa- You spend your entire fucking life perfecting the art of still lifes and flowers and then make with it nothing that matters...

Perhaps you might better say, "You spend your entire fucking life perfecting the art of still lifes and flowers and then make with it nothing that matters to you." And who are you? What makes your opinion worth one iota more than that of those who make or like paintings of still lifes or flowers?
 
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Yep Brian, I have to agree that commercial advertising, billboards, signs, etc... are far more hideous and clutter up much more of the landscapes and cityscapes than any examples of graffiti that I have seen.

I might point out that graffiti is nothing new. It was being studied in art school decades ago. Well before Basquiat you had Conrad Marca-Relli (one of the Abstract Expressionists)...

MarcaRelli-The Harem.600.jpg
t

... and Dubuffet inspired by graffiti:

artwork_images_140275_274074_jean-dubuffet.jpg


I just recently stumbled on this ancient Roman example of graffiti... with the obligatory penis like I'm always having to wash off my art room tables. :rolleyes:

SECVDINVS.800.jpg
 
I just recently stumbled on this ancient Roman example of graffiti... with the obligatory penis like I'm always having to wash off my art room tables. :rolleyes:

View attachment 39064

And here I argued that graffitists are serious artists who mostly avoid obscenity. :D

Then again, in Roman times it might not n necessarily have been considered obscene.

In Europe, or at least in the Netherlands, I did see some hideous graffiti, mind you. Not even obscene - just meaningless scribbles, sprayed absolutely everywhere, on all those grand old buildings they're so proud of. We remarked to a Dutch guy that we were somewhat shocked to see all the terrible graffiti, upon which he snootily informed us that we would perhaps find the Dutch more tolerant than we were used to.

Maybe one should have fairly draconian laws against graffiti, then you eliminate the riff-raff and only the serious artists remain! :D
 
In the mid 1980's I was a cleaner at Heathrow's Terminal 2.

In an airside toilet cubicle, someone had scrawled, in ink.....
'Dear World, sorry about Ronnie'.

I left it on there. . .
 
In an airside toilet cubicle, someone had scrawled, in ink.....
'Dear World, sorry about Ronnie'.
I once saw 'Steve stole my idea' written next to an office door in Edinburgh. It was at least 15 years ago and I still think about it.
 
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