Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

In this photograph, the irony of the admonishment stands juxtaposed to the resistance message.  Another irony, that except for on the sign, I didn’t see any other graffiti in the area. Did the perpetrators of the writing intend to make a humorous statement? So, what is going on here?

Sometimes the first reaction to graffiti is revulsion at the idea of defacing property, and certainly that is a concern. My point is not an advocacy for vandalism and the eyesores that graffiti sometimes creates. But a thoughtful analysis has to consider many more complex issues. Writings on the wall have stood as symbols of resistance to control of government and big corporations, challenging prevailing views. Graffiti allows voice to those who feel they have no voice or no mechanism to express their opinions. We could argue if we have to put up a sign, perhaps that is the first sign that there is a lack of general consensus from the community on the issue. How would a sign even serve as a deterrent? Maybe the sign inadvertently says, “bring it on!”

Graffiti sign

 

Comments on: "Graffiti as Symbol: Weekly Photo Challenge" (15)

  1. Graffiti is an artistic expression and oft times more appealing then any attempt to cover it up, or the void it filled. And I think you right, the sign screams, “Bring it on!”

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  2. Graffiti can be unsightly (random, incoherent tags) or beautiful. I love how some cities allow artists to work on derelict buildings.

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  4. You bring on a whole raft of meanings by your photo: seeing what’s there, as expected of a photographer; the refusal of space to protest; the aesthetics of graffiti; the sign as control. I love how a photographer’s vision can make what they frame more visible to others. Also the sign points out differences in graffiti, from the humble tag (as above) to the sublimities of Keith Haring’s art. One could ask, which is the graffiti, sign or tag?

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Right, there are many complexities to graffiti. On my way into Philly to a Occupy protest years ago, I saw that someone had written a message on the inside of one of the overpasses: How can I make a living when all I do is work.

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  5. Such a great question about whether a sign can deter anything! I love this thoughtful insight post.

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