06 September 2007

Art or Vandalism

Lauren and I have been seeing some pretty miserable graffiti around our neighborhood - Longfellow in South Minneapolis. It seems to get worse every week. This brings up the debate for me - of is it art or is it vandalism. Being involved in the underground culture on the East Coast you learn a certain respect for Graffiti.

It is similar to the "Art or Pornography" debate in some ways - aside from the vandalism portion. For a long time, the best definition I had of pornography was the classic "I know it when I see it." In a class I took at seminary about women in the Old Testament, I heard the best definition I have ever heard: "Pornography is the commodification of a person's sexuality." This allows us to see nude paitings as art, and advertisments for Victoria's Secret as pornography when it is.

So what aside from my "I know it when I see it" feeling about Art vs. Vandalism feeling with graffiti, how do you define the difference between something like this:

That simply soils a place that the public uses (what we are seeing in our neigborhood). And something like this by Banksy:


The difference to me right now would have to be with the intent of the piece - is it to better the neighborhood - to bring a smile to some one's face or make them think? Or is it to claim your turf? Don't know, but it is definitely a scourge in our neck of the woods - no creativity there.

1 comment:

Daniel Ehniss said...

I agree with your suggestion about the difference between beautify public space and marking turf. although even beautiful pieces (like the one from banksy) is considered vandalism by some. I don‘t like the vansalism part (similar tags are found in my neighborhood) even though I am into streetart myself.
peace.