Vandalism Museum and the Museum of the

Vandalism and graffiti making are both categorised under the same sub-heading, nonetheless there is a very thin line between graffiti making and vandalism. Legally it all boils down to permission if you don’t have the permission to write or paint, it is a crime. The law does not distinguish between a Rembrandt-calibre painting and an intentional act of vandalism. There are two types of graffiti: “bombing,” which is volume-based, with writers aiming to tag as many places as possible, and there is “burning,” which is an artistic enterprise. Young kids who paint on the walls are in some way screaming to be heard.

Modern graffiti is widely acknowledged as art. It has been exhibited in museums and art galleries across the world since its earliest stages. Street art has become wildly marketable and is celebrated by institutions like the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of the City of New York. Graffiti has come a long way since the 1970s when fly-by-night taggers sprayed their work on bridge abutments or subway cars then slipped away before the authorities arrived.

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These days, fashion labels use it in their photo shoots. Huge corporations include it in their ad campaigns. In museums and auction houses, it has been rebranded with a classy new name: aerosol art. Cities should work to create and preserve legal venues where aspiring artists, who want to stay safe, can work and paint. The explosion of art adorning 5Pointz brought tourists to the area and international acclaim.

5Pointz was a rare collaboration between a real-estate developer and a group of street artists. In 1993, when Long Island City was beset by crime, the developer, Jerry Wolkoff, allowed a crew of taggers to decorate his buildings at 45-46 Davis Street with a wild array of colourful, swirling murals.For 20 years, 5Pointz was an offbeat tourist destination that not only attracted thousands of visitors, but also helped transform Long Island City into the thriving residential neighbourhood it is today. 5Pointz eventually became “the world’s largest open-air aerosol museum,” in the words of Eric Baum, a lawyer for the artists, but its existence was always predicated on Mr. Wolkoff tearing it down and developing the complex, which he ultimately did in 2014. Before the demolition, the artists tried several times to stop it — asking city officials to grant the complex landmark status, even attempting to buy 5Pointz themselves, Mr.

Baum said. They filed suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn shortly after Mr. Wolkoff destroyed their art, sending in a team of painters to whitewash the graffiti.

The arbitrary nature of how graffiti is removed or preserved highlights an interesting dissonance: the social-political oligarchy rejects the artist, and the conditions that create the art, unless the art is somehow accepted on the establishment’s terms. Enter Banksy: a British street artist, and self-described vandal, who has become a celebrated figure in the world of elite art.Banksy’s work has unintentionally reignited the “art or vandalism” debate: though the British government has been vigilant in removing his trademark stencil art, labelling it “vandalism,” his original works and knockoffs have price over the last decade. His work is often highly satirical of establishment rules and politics. John Lindsay, the progressive New York politician who served as mayor from 1966 to 1973, declared war on graffiti in 1972.

He understood that graffiti signalled that informal social controls and law enforcement had broken down in New York’s public spaces, making them vulnerable to even greater levels of disorder and law-breaking.The truth is that despite the acceptance of graffiti, it needs the law so that it can function outside of it. This is where innovation is born, and this is what pushes the art to evolve. Somebody has to question the status quo – or we’ll grow stagnant. Some people may not like the message, or how it is manifested, but that doesn’t mean the message – and the medium – don’t have value.


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