Street Art and the Changing Nature of Beauty
Do you remember when graffiti was considered ugly, vandalism and a blight unfairly inflicted upon business and residential premises by unseemly elements existing on the fringe of our society? Well, "the times they are a changing" and I think that’s great.
One great move that local councils have taken is to set aside certain public spaces as open air canvases for graffiti artists. The work is contained within these areas and folks come there, very much like an open air art gallery, to appreciate the work. What’s more these places are organic and ever changing. As work fades it’s painted over with new pieces continually refreshing the laneways and walls. This notion of renewal is a key component to contemporary street art.
Tagging Is For Twits
It’s great that talented artists have appropriate spaces in which to work and display their art. And it’s also great that this work is easily accessible to the general public. I love to see residential houses with gates and fences that feature quality, well designed contemporary art produced through agreement with the owners of the property. However, it still bothers me when I see tagging on private property. And beautiful graffiti that’s tagged is, to my way of thinking, the secular equivalent of a sin.
The above photo was made in Hosier Lane, one of the most famous sites in the Melbourne CBD for graffiti art. This is quite a new work, so I was keen to photograph it before it’s vivid colors began to fade. I was running a small photography class in the city and decided to take the group on a photo walk that included Hosier Lane. It’s debatable whether the tagging diminishes the power of this photo, but it remains a disrespectful act of vandalism and, as you can see, is totally at odds with my own, reverential approach to photographing this beautiful public artwork.
In the Spirit of Collaboration
Congratulations to local councils who have acted proactively to diminish the scourge of vandalizing private property with poorly crafted tagging. I fully support the encouragement of contemporary street artists to be able to produce and display their art in safe and appropriate spaces. It has helped to protect residential and business properties alike; and provided freedom of expression, albeit within contained spaces, to contemporary street artists. As many of us have benefitted visually and spiritually from that policy councils and street artists alike need to be recognized and thanked.