Aaron Heng used to work for Arts Queensland. He strongly supported the work of Jugglers Art Space and our on going attempts to validate the form and medium [aerosol] of graffiti within our legal self – managed private space in the Valley [Brisbane]. Sadly he died of cancer within the last three years. This past week I was given a short piece he wrote “We don’t care if graffiti is considered art or not.” Here is a precis of that piece for your reflection. RIP Aaron Heng.
“The art/not art debate is a distraction from the debate that we should be having about graffiti – is freedom of speech for everyone or only a select few? Advertising companies continue to use visual communication as the cornerstone of almost all campaigns. Advertising is a form of communication and free speech should apply to corporations as much as to anyone. The problem is that the right to contribute to our shared, common visual environment is limited to a select few.
We believe that our shared visual environment is a forum for the exchange of ideas and statements. Let us examine the components that make up this forum. The components are: Advertising, signage, fashion/personal appearance, architecture, landscape/nature and functional/utilitarian objects. Of this list only fashion and personal appearance are accessible by individuals although even this has restrictions. To change or contribute to our shared, visual environment requires either – or both – money or legal authority.
Without money or legal authority, the only avenue available to an individual to contribute to the visual forum is the clothes we wear and the way we present out body. We have been forced into the role of a passive audience for visual messages from those with financial power or institutional authority.
We believe that everyone has the right to participate in the public forum that is our shared, public visual environment. We believe that when denied legitimate means to exercise ones rights illegitimate means are acceptable. We believe that selective removal of contributions to the shared, public visual environment by government authority is censorship.” ©