Art or Graffiti?

Dialogue:______read aloud in pairs

A: Why is graffiti so often equated with vandalism?


B: That’s because a lot of what you see in city suburbs or on railway land, amounts to vandalism.


A: What about the street art in Venice or Florence? Aren’t you just showing prejudice towards a particular art form displayed in places where people will see it?


B: But I didn’t say that all graffiti is vandalism. It’s a question of quality.


A: Quality is subjective.... Not everybody likes the same.


B: Tastes vary...yes...but a consensus does exist, even among graffiti artists. They know what is nasty and what is a masterpiece. They recognise a rushed job. They use the term “bombing” to describe paint-spraying and tagging done with little care.


A: Yes, a good graffiti crew plans their work and has an eye for a suitable site. But there is also good graffiti which is done quickly. Neither bombing nor a masterpiece, but “throw-ups” in a single colour.


B: Let’s face it. Much of what we see shows no evidence of a distinctive technique. The worst is clearly offensive. It’s just done to shock.


A: Would you ban art just because it shocks? What about Picasso’s Guernica?


B: I wouldn’t ban that from art galleries, but I’d not want to see a mural showing the horrors of war from my living-room window.


A: But surely there’s a place for street art which makes social or political comment.


B: Well, a lot of Banksy’s art is satirical and quite humorous, so I can see that it could please without offending.


A: Freedom of expression involves offending. Both Sophocles and Shakespeare presented their art in outdoor locations.


B: Yes, and when the plays were too brutal or political, the authorities closed the theatres down. But seriously, Sophocles and Shakespeare did not deface property. They also had a little more talent than your average tagger!

The above wall was soon covered by the "throw-ups" you see below.

-----© Ted Power