I'd like to argue a bit on the topic of graffiti, tagging and the overall culture of damaging other people's things. I have to say that even though I'm way over thirty, I haven't looked kindly upon these ugly scribbling escapades even in my youth. Quite the opposite. Maybe it's because I can't even draw a sun myself... However the braindead idiots that take a spray can and deface just about any wall with ugly tags and scribbles, I'd shoot without mercy. The case of defacing Charles Bridge really ground my gears. While I may disagree with a lot of what's going on in the Arabic world, one thing I find pretty nice, they chop off hands for stealing... shouldn't we take inspiration from them?
Please take this with a grain of salt. If we lived by the motto "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", there would be a lot of mutilated people running around, the state would be unable to pay out all the disability benefits, and good-hearted volunteers in the subway would be even more annoying with begging us to donate to the poor handless people. Because they won't do it again... of course they won't, they don't have hands to be grabby with!
However, when two Germans get drunk and decide to deface one of our most important, significant monuments, many possible punishments were popping up on my mind, and none of them were humane. Have I ever told you that I'm in favor of the death penalty? But I'm getting off track here.
When I visited Dubai for the first time a long time ago, I was surprised at what a safe place it was. When you forget your camera somewhere on a wall, you can be sure that it will be there in three days, because here they chop hands off for theft. It's true that they'll also stone you to death for cheating and if you by chance aren't covered up from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, they consider you a prostitute... a slightly odd culture, but so what...
I just don't think that a fine and expulsion is sufficient. How do you even make sure expulsion is upheld when we have open borders? You can get an instant fake ID pretty much like at the post office these days. Jail sounds nonsensical to me, that would cost us taxpayers money. Honestly the hand chopping seems to come out of it best... And then I'd also have them clean the wall! With that one remaining hand...
They travel to Prague to have fun, we're still a cheap East European country to them, where alcohol flows freely for barely a couple Euro. But I ask - what gives you the right to spray on Czech buildings, walls, or anything else?! "Well, we were drunk and didn't realize what kinda monument it was..." That's a load of bull. What if I got drunk and decided to destroy your newly bought home with some nice scribbles and then said "Oh sorry, I didn't know this was your house, I was drunk". What'll you have to say to me about that, I wonder?
In conclusion, no one's got the right to destroy anything. There are many legal graffiti walls in Prague. Exactly !35!, where these creatives can express their artistically tortured souls! Lennon's wall is an example. You can find really lovely pictures there sometimes. When somebody's talented, their graffiti can look nice and say something, when the talent's lacking, just draw a heart and write a hippie line. "Peace" and "Love" has never offended anybody... if it's on a legal wall, that is.
And notice that every time a Czech monument is defaced, the culprit tends to be a foreigner.
The Banksy phenomenon
When there are real artists whose street art costs unreal money. I'm talking about Banksy. He's just great! No one knows who he really is. Look at his Wikipedia article, they're hinting at three different identities. He sprays all over the world incognito. Photos of his art get auctioned off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. When a new piece of art of his springs up somewhere, it's even guarded overnight so that somebody doesn't "steal" it or destroy it.
In cities like London, Berlin or New York they do city tours where you only look at graffiti. And you admire it! It has its culture and history. I attended a tour like this in London and I have to admit, some things fascinated me. It doesn't have anything to do with simple vandalism. It's art.
In Toronto there's a whole graffiti street, you can walk there every day and encounter something new that will make you stop, look at it and think. What did the author want to say by this, how did they feel, what will this mean for me? Joy, sadness, or will this picture simply make me smile? These exact feelings is what art should invoke. These two Germans have never been to an art gallery in their life, I think, otherwise they'd have at least spray painted a Charles IV onto that bridge...
Passion bordering on obsession
There is a Czech artist going by Sany. She was fourteen when she first picked up a spray can and wrote her first message to the world onto a wall.
"It's a passion bordering on obsession,"
says this now 33 years old woman about spraying trains, subway cars and industrial areas. She made a document titled Girl Power about graffiti and women that do it all over the world. Naturally it garnered controversial interest. Not even this feat made her abandon illegality. She's aware that what she does is not compatible with the law. But at least she doesn't deface historical sights!
What I admire about this girl, though, is that even though she balances on the edge of crime, she tries to use her art to help others. She organizes workshops for seniors and handicapped children, for example. She's teaching them to spray paint. Anyone who dedicates their time to the old, abandoned and sick, holds my respect and admiration.
At the end I'd like to know your opinion on this form of art. What do you think about street art and graffiti in general? How'd you deal with these two smartasses that defaced our historical monument?