Through Stack I get a new magazine every month. I know very little about graffiti/street art, but a few months ago the delivery included an issue of Very Nearly Almost. I flipped through it, and a lot of the work featured wasn’t to my liking. Then I came across ROA’s rabbit and was stunned.
The building’s owners had granted the artist permission to create the piece, but they have been served with a removal notice by Hackney council, warning that unless they “remove or obliterate the graffiti” within 14 days, a council contractor will paint over the wall and charge them for the service. (…) Hackney council said in a statement: “The graffiti … is clearly visible from the road and, whilst it is not the council’s position to make a judgment call on whether graffiti is art or not, our task is to keep Hackney’s streets clean.”
In other words, there’s no question of someone illegally spraying on someone else’s wall. The owners want it to be there on the building. It’s purely a question of aesthetics: this is ugly, we can’t have anything of that here, so we’re going to order you to take down the art you put on your wall. Which is, I imagine, terribly hypocritical: if Hackney is anything like every other urban area in the world, it’s filled with ugly-ass ads from major firms which residents can’t help but look at if they dare to venture outside. Reminds me of what Banksy has to say about ads:
Advertising makes people feel inadequate and worthless. Graffiti doesn’t do that. Graffiti doesn’t emotionally blackmail you, graffiti doesn’t make you feel fat and graffiti doesn’t make you rush out and buy things, except maybe high strength cleaning products. [In reference to one of Banksy’s pieces:] I don’t know what next door is complaining about — their building is so ugly the ‘No Trespassing’ sign reads like an insult.
Hypercapitalism at work: if you’re a big company with loads of money, you can put up as many huge billboards with ads that make us all feel worthless and inadequate (unless we purchase your product) as you want. If you’re a little guy and own a building, you can’t even put a painting of a rabbit on your wall. Got it.Oct 26, 2010