September 13, 2008 by Colin
I saw a brand new van driving down a nearby thoroughfare* today, freshly painted and wrapped with graphics for a local graffiti removal firm.** This is Ottawa. We do not have a quantifiable graffiti problem, no matter what resident associations, politicians or the police would argue.***
Not to sound too Marxist, but the creation of a private graffiti removal firm can be interpreted as catering to the petty prejudices and simplistic tastes of the suburban bourgeoisie.
Considered and creative graffiti can make a statement about the economic, political or social situation in any urban area – even boring, quiet Ottawa.
It certainly makes a statement about the level of engagement between community activists, artists and residents. A knee jerk opposition to graffiti can belie a knee jerk preference for order and restraint – to the expense of debate and criticism.
NolaRising, a blog championing New Orleans’ recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina through the use of public art, pointed to a very creative and constructive application of graffiti: the appearance of several Banksy pieces in the Louisiana city in the weeks leading up to the third anniversary of Katrina’s landfall.
Now THAT’s graffiti that demonstrates a sympathy and empathy for the city and its citizens.
*what’s the difference between a thoroughfare and a street? One is full of stupid people that drive too fast. And fast food restaurants. The other has no restaurants.
**can you appreciate the irony that a graffiti removal company feels the need to cover every inch of their van with graphics in order to make an impact on a society besieged by commercial messages every second of every day?
**although some property owners certainly do have a right to complain about poor graffiti and vandalism on their property.