In reference to last week’s post, the discussion will go further into what counts as vandalism, and what isn’t. The subject featured is one of Lincoln’s more prominent graffiti taggers, Juice. This artist has been the subject of many articles in the media and many incidents of vandalism. Police forces have gone as far as to ask for information in regard to this artist after larger stunts have taken place, in aid of finding them.
The scale of this artist’s graffiti is only shown in this post in its quainter form, however, some pieces have caused a serious dent in the taxpayer’s purse in their removal. Not only costly in a financial sense, but also in a serious aesthetic damage, with there have been some instances of the artist tagging noticeboards within one of Lincoln’s green areas; Hartsholme Park.
First of all, it should be said that this post is not condoning vandalism of public property, simply discussing the line between society’s idea of ‘art’ and ‘vandalism’, as the two are completely different things. The difference between the two can be hard to judge, with some likely to agree that all forms of graffiti on public property are vandalistic acts, whereas others might not have any problem to artwork being emblazoned on state owned, or even private, properties.
Juice seems to be an artist that either has little concept of private property, nor respect for it, or th opinion that their artwork takes a stronger priority over the cost of removing it. Street art, like any creative medium, has no rules, however, unlike others, it merges a canvas that has strong rules of ownership; property. It can be difficult to find out who owns what in ever growing cities, in particular when there are a multitude of owners; government, council, private owners or even letting agents.
Some are clearer than others, these being in smaller or simpler areas, such as the above. A pipeline crossing of a river, that is cordoned off and presumably only accessible by the local gas or water companies. In built up areas, it may be difficult to know if a park fence or wall is privately owned or state owned.
Why is this an issue though? Some artists, as seen in a previous post, may have preference to abandoned areas for ease of creating, or having respect for active properties. The above photography is within a privately owned car park, or the alleyway to a back entrance of it at least. Could this be argued to be in need of renovation or brightening up to avoid antisocial activity being prevalent? Or would artwork perform this renovating act?
Examples of artwork having a positive effect can be seen in the graffiti of Banksy, arguably the most prominent graffiti artist of recent times. His pieces have brought many to see the area, and rejuvenated the area. Another example being that of the Berlin Wall’s East Side Gallery. The area previously being a remnant of the divided city, and now attracting a large music venue, hotels and many office buildings in the last two decades.
Is there a correct place for graffiti in our society without adding more areas specifically for artists? Or is there a need for a state run division to clear up graffiti and vandalism? A lot of questions are being raised, and returning to the example used throughout this post, Juice is one of the many taggers breaching the gap of tagging both public and private property. Due to this, the artist has been dubbed as ‘notorious’ and a ‘culprit’, nothing that would be deemed as positive when reading further into media attention around them.
As stated before, some of this artist’s pieces cannot be condoned. Costing thousands to the taxpayer and causing damage to property is not something that anyone would like to experience in their lives. Contrasting this, some areas like the piece below can be seen alongside many other tags, bringing the question of; when does graffiti cross the line?
This question is individual to everyone, please feel free to express your opinion below in the comments. The government’s and council’s stance is quite clear in not allowing graffiti of any kind without the property owner’s opinion. From a more logical perspective though, if it is not causing physical harm to anyone or damage to functional property, then is it an issue?