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Graffiti vs. "Contemporary Street Art"
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
Graffiti vs. "Contemporary Street Art"  Reply with quote  

(Skip to the bottom to get my actual question.)

Hey friends, I am starting to write a script for a short film, and I'm trying to do a bit of research. This is the place I frequent that probably has the closest connection to graff culture, so I thought maybe y'all could help.

I feel like the debate over graffiti most often concerns the ethics and legality of vandalism, "what is art?", etc. Interesting questions, but we've had this argument too many times perhaps. I'm also familiar with this phenomenon of graff outsiders being like "I really like the big colorful pieces, but tags are just ugly!" So clearly there is this in-group/out-group perceptual shift that's happening, and it's especially complicated due to the explosion of popularity and expansion of forms of street art over the past decade.

But what I want to know about is the in-group perception of graff artists (I mean 'traditional' [i.e. backpack full of spraypaint at the train yard in the middle of the night] graff artists) toward the growth, mainstreaming, commercialization, dilution (if you see it that way), of "street art."
What I mean is, I know anecdotally that some graffiti artists have contempt for stencilers, art school kids with wheatpaste, etc. There's also criticism of 'real' graff artists doing gallery shows and legal work. I want to understand it more. Can anyone share with some insider knowledge? Links to articles/forums/rants, etc. would be appreciated as well.
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:01 pm
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mancabbage



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 9263
Location: london
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google banksy vs robbo and try and find a torrent of this

</object><p>Graffiti Wars from LDNGraffiti on Vimeo.</p>


its good, this site is also a good read http://www.thelondonvandal.com/
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:24 pm
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
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Following up on Robbo vs. Banksy, I found this:


Quote:

Bansky is a careerist one joke Mcdonalds generation sloganeer who appeals to the disaffected think theyre hip mediochrity who try to gain kudos off him by wallowing in his shallow pseudo political messages. Graffiti has always been about individuation with the form out weighing the message. Real graffiti artists live their art and arent out to make pretty pictures for the masses. Bansky gives you what you want Robbo gives you what you need. Unfortunately the majority of you inbreds fail to see this and confuse this with the ego. Unfortunately we live in a capitalist society where people can only see worth in something that is a service to themselves. "What does it do for me" mentality, everything demoted to a mass produced template. The polished faultless production line creation , sterile ,easily valued mass produced becomes more worthy than the handmade. Wake up people, Robin always wanted to make fools of you and you all fell for it.. all the way to the bank, suckers. Garffiti will always be a political powerful tool when it remains ugly and illegal not some nice forgetable fad slogan on your t-shirt to be marketed and tainted. so kids take a pen and baptise yourselves on the streets write over what you have been forced to endure, reclaim your view from what is essentialy ugly ie man made.become like nature. remember real people dont use masks.


which is kind of what I'm after.
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:11 pm
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mancabbage



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 9263
Location: london
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yeah man check that graf wars doc - its exactly what you want, i don't know how you could see it in the US without a torrent though as it was a one n done kinda thing for British tv, theres a torrent floating about thpough
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:31 pm
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
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mancabbage wrote:
yeah man check that graf wars doc - its exactly what you want, i don't know how you could see it in the US without a torrent though as it was a one n done kinda thing for British tv, theres a torrent floating about thpough

On it. Thanks for the heads up.
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:46 pm
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mancabbage



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 9263
Location: london
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you seen style wars yee? The whole movie was on youtube last time i checked
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:02 pm
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Neuro
A champion of Kurtis SP


Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 7801
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there was a graf movie documentary i had just seen recently but i cant think of the name, i watched it free online too, give me a few and i'll hunt it down, you'll love it
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:16 pm
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Neuro
A champion of Kurtis SP


Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 7801
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here it is

http://www.bombit-themovie.com/


watch it here free streaming

http://www.babelgum.com/clips/4002581

Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:20 pm
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
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mancabbage wrote:
you seen style wars yee? The whole movie was on youtube last time i checked

Definitely, a couple times. But in this instance I'm more interested in graff artists' perceptions of, say, the type of stuff often on Wooster Collective. People have been making illegal public art for a long time, but It seems like from the 70's to the end of the 20th Century, the dominant form was spray-painted, stylized text. I want to know how the purveyors of that form, and members of that culture, feel about everything from cutesy animal stencils to stuff that's explicitly political or 'subversive' but doesn't align with graffiti culture aesthetically.
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:20 pm
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Confidential



Joined: 23 Jan 2004
Posts: 2040
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I'm not quite the insider because I can't hang with the life and inevitable legal issues of it all. But I think about this and know people who are in it.

Where I live, graff ain't really nothing to fuck around with. There are parts of the culture that high culture types would think of as savagery. Growing up, there was a thin line between tagging crews and gangs. A crew could be formed, and along with the paint missions came drinking, drugs, (often petty) territorial disputes, fights, getting jumped, getting your older gangster cousin to back you up, eventually reppin' the gangster click.

I actually think the wheat pasting, and general evolution of street art is nice. And I don't hate when artists get paid. One trend that does bother me quite a bit is not so much the change in medium, but the institutionalization, legitimization, and management of graffiti. I find this to be contradictory to the autonomous nature and rebellious spirit of graffiti.

An example of what I am talking about can be found in local non-profit organizations in my area. these organizations, often involve youth services and attract young taggers through referrals from probation departments, schools, etc. They allow the kids to do their graffiti in legitimate venues - eg art shows, canvas, murals. My problem is not that I'm opposed to art shows, but that the non-profitization of youth culture, to me kills the spirit of it all and exposes the youth to a system of censorship and control. The adults, often in collaboration with local police ("look at what a good job we do of reforming these kids!") get to set the parameters of what, where, and how is legitimate graff, what is art.

I don't mean to romanticize street culture, however, the vandalism aspect is part of it. Despite the institutional attempts to manage and sanitize it, I think the cultural and social change of graffiti, sometimes ugly and sloppy, is most exciting when it is outside the purview of controlling institutions.

I recommend a documentary called Infamy. You can watch it here http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/infamy/#
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:48 pm
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
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Confidential wrote:
I think the cultural and social change of graffiti, sometimes ugly and sloppy, is most exciting when it is outside the purview of controlling institutions.



What about non-institutional co-optation? Like the assimilation into white/middle-class/mainstream culture at large? This has always happened in and around the culture itself, but now it seems like hipsters and art students want in on the fun on their own terms--not to join the culture, but just to taste the safer end of subversion.

See now I sound like I'm inserting my own critique, but I'm trying to be ethnographic here...I'm moreso repeating things I've heard. Am I making up the idea that kids who can get stabbed over their art feel resentment toward kids who stencil balloons onto stop signs?
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:57 pm
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mancabbage



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 9263
Location: london
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TurnpikeGates wrote:
mancabbage wrote:
you seen style wars yee? The whole movie was on youtube last time i checked

Definitely, a couple times. But in this instance I'm more interested in graff artists' perceptions of, say, the type of stuff often on Wooster Collective. People have been making illegal public art for a long time, but It seems like from the 70's to the end of the 20th Century, the dominant form was spray-painted, stylized text. I want to know how the purveyors of that form, and members of that culture, feel about everything from cutesy animal stencils to stuff that's explicitly political or 'subversive' but doesn't align with graffiti culture aesthetically.


yeah gotcha, that first doc is all about that, got one guy in there who's been nicked a shit loada times for graffiti, so he moved into street arty stencils n stuff... time passes and now he has david cameron giving obama his paintings as gifts and is invited to number 10 to eat kit kats, all very bizarre. Had to mention style wars though cos... yeah, its good init.
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:00 pm
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
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mancabbage wrote:
Had to mention style wars though cos... yeah, its good init.

Yeah, it's great. Pretty much my favorite moment is this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXjVMVk1cRg

(Ed Koch at about 2:15)
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:08 pm
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Jesse



Joined: 02 Jul 2002
Posts: 6166
Location: privileged homeless
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Confidential wrote:
One trend that does bother me quite a bit is not so much the change in medium, but the institutionalization, legitimization, and management of graffiti. I find this to be contradictory to the autonomous nature and rebellious spirit of graffiti.

An example of what I am talking about can be found in local non-profit organizations in my area. these organizations, often involve youth services and attract young taggers through referrals from probation departments, schools, etc. They allow the kids to do their graffiti in legitimate venues - eg art shows, canvas, murals. My problem is not that I'm opposed to art shows, but that the non-profitization of youth culture, to me kills the spirit of it all and exposes the youth to a system of censorship and control. The adults, often in collaboration with local police ("look at what a good job we do of reforming these kids!") get to set the parameters of what, where, and how is legitimate graff, what is art.

I don't mean to romanticize street culture, however, the vandalism aspect is part of it. Despite the institutional attempts to manage and sanitize it, I think the cultural and social change of graffiti, sometimes ugly and sloppy, is most exciting when it is outside the purview of controlling institutions.
I'm with this so hard!
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:40 pm
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Confidential



Joined: 23 Jan 2004
Posts: 2040
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TurnpikeGates wrote:
Confidential wrote:
I think the cultural and social change of graffiti, sometimes ugly and sloppy, is most exciting when it is outside the purview of controlling institutions.



What about non-institutional co-optation? Like the assimilation into white/middle-class/mainstream culture at large? This has always happened in and around the culture itself, but now it seems like hipsters and art students want in on the fun on their own terms--not to join the culture, but just to taste the safer end of subversion.

See now I sound like I'm inserting my own critique, but I'm trying to be ethnographic here...I'm moreso repeating things I've heard. Am I making up the idea that kids who can get stabbed over their art feel resentment toward kids who stencil balloons onto stop signs?


Well, I think its a little more subtle than the basic in group/out group or privileged white suburban/ underprivileged youth. These distinctions are indeed present, however, I think the boundaries are not always clear. There is often some form of exchange. In some cases, the raw forms of the art may take from the more "refined" aspects, while still maintaining some of the street code. I get where you are coming from ethnographically, and it is valid, it isn't usually articulated in the culture in ways we might expect. And the power relationship between social classes might be negotiated by either side. Nowadays, a tagger likely to be more hipster than gangster in appearance. The music tastes of the insider and outsider are probably very similar. The street kid with talent who is offered a place at the institution but can't leave his old ways is a familiar narrative. As is the overprivileged, yet alienated youth who flirts with crime.

In the real world the political arguments that I might make- that graffiti is an autonomous rebellion from institutions, that liberal mainstream hipster culture co-opts the art, and that the graffiti writer refuses at times this co-optation and other times negotiates it may be real. But the key is to allow the subtleties to emerge in their own ways, without such overtly mediated analyses.
Post Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:36 pm
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