Friday, 20 November 2009

Review, Part 1

The first book that I decided to talk about is entitled “Wall and Piece” and is created by one of my favourite artists, Banksy. The book consists of photographs of the author’s street art as well as examples of his studio work. Another vital element of this is the fact that, many revolutionary ideas and concepts the society usually rejects found a platform on which they could be freely discussed. Banksy gives us as his audience a chance to get to know him better for the person he is, rather then a graffiti artist/criminal he is known for.

Initially, when my interest in Banksy’s work was just starting, I did not realise how much attention he dedicates to issues of highest importance such as: making a stand against war, terrorism, racism, homophobia, holocaust and the consumptionist culture we leave in. This list could go on and on however it is best to focus actual example of his graffiti that illustrate the style and subject matter of the artist.

“Graffiti is not the lowest form of art”, this sentence is a part of the introduction to “Wall and Piece” and in my opinion, it proves why the book was published in the first place. The author is trying to convince the reader that graffiti has a purpose, a much bigger and deeper role then just vandalising private and public property. It is free for anyone to see, and furthermore no one makes any real profit from it. Maybe this is the factor that makes street art the most honest and accessible form of art, in general? I guess the answer to this question as well as many more unravels itself further into the process of analysing different forms of graffiti and classifying them into art and crime categories.

One of the issues highlighted by the author is the Broken Windows Theory. It’s hypothesis is rather easy to understand: small crime, just like graffiti, attracts and encourages more serious crimes to take place in that area which is quite shortly considered as deprived. The next step in the vicious cycle is the birth of new gangs that then spread into neighbouring areas making the entire part of the city dangerous. As a solution, the authorities of New York City decided to take a zero-tolerance attitude toward any kind of graffiti without ever looking back or reconsidering it’s potential artistic value.

As a example that goes totally against this theory I would like to present an extract from an email sent to Banksy:

“(…) I am writing to ask you to stop painting your things where we live. My brother and me were born here and have lived here all our lives but these days so many yuppies and students are moving here neither of us can afford to buy a house where we grew up anymore. Your graffiti is undoubtedly making those w****** think our area is cool.”

The quote above shows an impact that is quite opposite to the one that the authorities suspected to be true. This proves that every argument has two sides, therefore positive graffiti exists and has a considerable impact on our society. It is not always wrong to go against the rules, because sometimes the rules were established out of lack of knowledge or belief or both…

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