Thursday, 8 March 2007
It seems graffiti has well and truly become synonymous with vandalism. For years goverment officials and police have lumped graffiti in the same category as acts of wanton and violent destruction on public and private property. In the UK, it is considered an Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) and subsequently is associated with crimes like mugging, begging, drunken disorder and criminal damage. This has created an idea in the public mind that graffiti is dangerous. The Home Office claim that people feel unsafe in areas covered with graffiti, one official described it as "visual mugging". The irony here is that most areas that have a high concentration of graffiti, usually lack the funds to clean it up and are typically places where there is already a high level of crime. It is also important to note that it was born in areas of New York and Philadelphia that were already very delapidated and dangerous; its practitioners usually poor and frustrated youth. Surely graffiti was artistic expression carried out by kids who had no other means to do such things. During the eighties, Mayor Koch of New York stated that these kids should involve themselves in the arts available at school, yet during that time he consistently made cut-backs on art facilities in public schools. There is a vicious cycle emerging, the authorities clamp down, the writers resort to more drastic measures to continue producing their art. As trains are cleaned almost instantly, some have even begun smashing the windows of all the trains in a yard to make sure their painted train is forced to run. Are the authorities producing a more and more frustrated group who are beginning to engage in these acts of violent and destructive vandalism?