We have seen all different forms of art, ranging from the simplest to the most complex, even with graffiti. Can graffiti be decent art?
It depends on who is being asked the question. If anyone asks me, graffiti can represent both an art expression and vandalism.
Overall, graffiti has many connotations with the hip-hop phenomenon being one of the top ingredients besides the break dancing and rapping. Of course, we have seen graffiti in better known locations, such as the railroad train boxcars with bulky lettering. This is definitely common among groups who want to identify the territory.
In the history of graffiti, especially during the 1960s, it became popular by the proclamation, “Yossarian lives!” Joseph Heller referred this to one of the main characters in the novel, Catch-22. In this time period, as in May 1968, the students protested and as a result had seen political slogans in Paris such as L’ennui est-revolutionnaire, or “Boredom is counterrevolutionary.”
However, there is a downside to graffiti. It is also used for the purpose of claiming a territory or a “turf” by tagging a building to let the opposing gangs that they exist. The tags will often have the name of the gang affiliation. Also, this is a warning that one of the gang members will be a target by embedding the street name of the gang member and crossing it out, or by tracking down the member’s tags and omitting them.
If a member of a gang writes over the opposing gang’s tag, then there is a possibility that they are preparing to take control of that particular territory and/or aggression toward the gang. Many cities are trying to combat this dilemma, as in washing and whiting out these tags.
There are some graffiti supporter that see it as a positive way of utilizing public space and/or promote his/her creative abilities. Of course, there are others that think of it as an undesirable headache and as a very costly form of vandalism that requires much property rehabilitation.
We can look at graffiti with two perspectives: as a form of art exhibition that has meaning, as in a mural. At the same time, it can be viewed as a community nuisance that will cause crime to become increased. In other words, it depends on the beholder.