Lucas M Visconti’s study “Street Art, Sweet Art? Reclaiming the “Public” in “Public Place”, it says “Dwellers and artists are increasingly demanding the beautification of cityscapes, targeting distressed urban areas with the ultimate goal of smoothing socioeconomic inequalities encumbering local communities”. Dwellers, art experts and government officials may actually look at street interventions as acts of beautification or even public art (think of Banksy or Haring) but also as the ultimate defacement of urban order.” The purpose of this paper is to give a clearer understanding of the mixed opinions that residents around the globe have when the topic of street art and graffiti is being discussed. The information provided by this piece achieves its aims in showing what may be seen as the positive sides to the argument.
“To me, street art is a way to experience the deep soul of urban places, a kind of tribal conscience… like going and meeting the people who have really lived the towns. They develop something in their rooms they later bring outside into the streets. In this sense, it may be an experience even more authentic than going to visit the MoMA, where paintings are collected for everywhere”.
Street Art can be seen in many different ways, some see it as a way of spearing a form of happiness within their communities. These pieces of Art that appear on walls within the streets attract a vast amount of people to the area such as tourists that can boost the reputation and create a sense of community. Not only does the paper cover the positive sides to the argument it also highlights the negative opinions that also comes along with the discussion of this topic. It is important to look at both sides of the argument from residents that are going out their way to give their opinions on the street art and graffiti that is situated within their own communities.
“When I first saw all those terrible and ugly signs on the shop windows close to my house and around the station, I thought that only young kids who are vandals would do that. Yesterday I told my son, look at this and listen to me! Never do that! If I see you doing something similar, you won’t have a motorbike or a computer!”.
Depending on the angle in which you view Street Art, it is essentially classed as breaking the law within many countries. These are only a few quotes that have been highlighted as somewhat valuable from the information that was gathered that managed to show the differences within the opinions on how street art is truly seen within different settings in urban communities. The information allows the reader to clearly differentiate both sides of the argument, meaning they can’t shut down one sides views and opinions over the others which would make it unreliable and unfair.
Rafael Schacter’s ‘An Ethnography of Iconoclash’, discusses the impact that the location in which the art is placed within the community can have an impact on the citizens and how they view it. Around the world, in any neighbourhood that you set foot in you will find some form of street art. It can range from something small to something that stretches across the whole of the side of a building. It can be found in all different places such as hard to reach places like high bridges, narrow dark alleyways, and in the more dangerous and neglected part of the communities it can be found on the side of public transport such as trains cargo carriages. “As soon as graffiti moves inside, however, into a gallery space or the home, it becomes acceptable, it becomes unpolluted”. Street artists have been known to go from one extreme to another when producing their works. Often, they put their own life at risk to place their pieces in a spot that they know will be seen by a large number of people that are travelling by. It costs thousands every month by councils to ‘clean’ up after the artists whether it is removing the art of covering it. This is done because many council members still see these artworks as vandalism. An anonymous street artist gave the statement – “I have often spent hours with a brush and a pot of paint, painting an illegal wall, and if anyone does say anything, it’s positive. But the moment I shake up the can of spray, all heads turn, and the public gets nasty.” This helps to highlight how residents in communities truly react when they are presented or hear any street art being produced within their community. It shows the argument from both sides clearly as the residents love the murals that are produced and spread across their own communities. However as soon as the material used to create this art is changed to a spray can, the views on the works change and they are no longer happy with these works being all over their community. Their views then turn negative towards something that can have the same concept and finish but is done with a different type of medium. This makes you think, if all street art that is produced across the globe is done with a paintbrush and a tin of paint would this change people’s views on the work or would their opinions still stay the same.
Does street art have any effect on the violence that occurs in urban communities or is there a specific type of street art that affects the behaviours of people in these places that leads it to be blamed for the crimes? “91% of people distinguish a difference between ‘tagging’ (which was seen as negative), graffiti’ and ‘street art”. When comparing art done by a graffiti writer and a street artist you can see a distinct difference in their works, street artists would often choose to place their works in areas that their works are going to be seen by a larger audience specifically the residents within the community. They normally produce something that is going to be appealing to look at by the residents. On the other hand, graffiti writers produce their pieces with mainly only themselves in mind, there are reasons for this such as; going against the law and reclaiming the public spaces that were once the communities from the authorities. This shows they are creating these pieces to clearly show that they are rebelling instead of creating pieces that are visually pleasing and don’t cause any disruption within the community. “Community gardens, and other neighbourhood–level organisations like block clubs and arts groups, aren’t typically viewed as direct solutions to violence. Decades of “broken window” policing persuaded many cities to adopt top-down crime-prevention plans focused on punishing small offences. This clearly shows that current laws in force don’t have the positive effect which they are meant to have within these communities. The ways which are used to remove these pieces need to re-looked at, this could mean that councils need to change the way in which they view and how they act towards laws that are in place to make things somewhat easier that will therefore cause fewer disagreements in the long run. “ Recent research, however, indicated that this strategy had the opposite effect”. Street artists know that their works do not have a long life span and they won’t last forever, they tend to make their works not for the effect that it has after it is finished but for the feelings that they receive while they are making them. “The work is often ‘for-the-moment’, for the experience, for the freedom”. The “broken window” theory created by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling argued that, “Crime was the inevitable result of disorder and that if a broken window in a building is smashed but not repaired people walking by will think no one cares. Then more windows will be broken, graffiti will appear, and rubbish then gets dumped. The likelihood of a serious crime being committed then increased dramatically as neglect then becomes visible”. This clearly states that researchers believe that this information is enough evidence to link violence happening in the streets, vandalism and general decline within communities to street art.
“Art in development aids this socially divisive process by aestheticizing it – and a little controversy over art is sometimes not unwelcome if it distracts attention from social issues; but in ignoring the social impact of development, art is complicit in the consequent social fragmentation”. Properties market values have been sent rocketing due to the restoration of the communities that have been hit hard by street art. This is causing a problem with residence that is already living there as they struggle to sell their own properties to move to other areas. “Gentrification usually concerns neighbourhoods that can easily be defined by some form of appropriation of characteristics, like SoHo’s iron architecture and Covent Garden’s open spaces”. However, the decrease from taxation that was put in place for the public benefit may not be successful in restoring a neighbourhood to its original form. A good outcome could come from this as it could generate more jobs however, other people will be brought in and given these jobs rather than creating these jobs for residents who are already there and in need of jobs. This could end in disaster with changes that were to make a significant difference not going to plan, meaning that it will be leaving the situation a “corporate enclave isolated from its geographical surroundings”.
“ Advertising, I would argue, symbolises such a particular societal ‘secret’, the complicity of private property that informs our ‘public’ opinion, the ‘common-sense’ analysis that advertising hoardings and posters are a ‘normal’, acceptable use of public space, all essentially due to the fact that they are regulated by capital. Graffiti, on the other hand, estranged from the commercial sphere, confronts this ‘rational’ conception of space and intrudes on this ‘aesthetics of authority.”
Martha Rosler research into the area of street art discusses how, in specific urban developments, street artists are popping up and bringing with them their “wealthy clients who follow them into newly chic neighbourhoods”. Due to this, there are changes happening in these communities that many don’t see as the best. Local shops are closing after many years of serving the public and then being replaced with what is now known as a ‘hipster bar. This is leaving many of the citizens within the community feeling like they are being pushed out, that the community that they once knew and loved is being taken over by things that they don’t want or need. However, “Public art can be seen to contribute to the production of an innovative or creative milieu”. This all considered means that you end up with what is called ‘urban reorganization’. This is where street art has had some form of impact on the status of a place as creative, “Transgressive or overtly critical public art, such as graffiti and street art (operating) as signs that attract rather than repel investors”.