“Graffiti” is a loaded term, almost a call to war! “Art” is a warm fuzzy word. Graffiti is a sharp terrorism for a large sector of the Australian population. In the latest Big Issue featuring Amy Whinehouse [August 11 – 29] the “Orstralian Kulture” article is a warm fuzzy graffiti story about the chalked “Eternity” , a word plastered around Sydney by Arthur Stace in the 50’s and 60’s. This word and its text now has Tradmark ownership over it by Sydney City Council. “Eternity” is iconic. On ABC Radio National Art Nation today [August 21, 2011] I listened to a a fascinating story about Yarn Bombing – knitted graffiti being “put up” by all kinds of people who knit and crochet who then hang their works around the city in public places without formal council permits. On line ABC feature “The Drum” last week featured a thoughtful piece on a teacher getting a smack in the mouth by a group of kids he challenged who were tagging the back of a train in Sydney’s West. He was not taking a neo Nazi zero tolerance approach to this art form but did posit the question about how we respond to this activity as a society. Cultural values around the arts are developed by the people, the market, the artists, the government arts departments and law enforcement agencies over generations. What is it about graffiti that is ok for some but not for others that we need to change or accept? Why do so many people want to be at our place [Jugglers] for events, to paint, for photo shoots? What is it about this last bastion of freedom of speech, as some have suggested, that evokes such a divide?
Legal graffiti and public taste