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« Elsewhere (105) | Main | Friday Ephemera »

November 19, 2013

Comments

Joan

The graffiti was painted over before it could be formally celebrated, and supporters said they would hold a vigil Tuesday night.

It would take a heart of stone...

mojo

Van Goth painted over canvases all the time. Money was tight and nobody was buying.

David

And it’s worth noting where the New York Times’ sympathy seems to lie. I suspect that anyone who’s had to repair their property after a visit from graffiti “artists” might take a less charitable view. Unless of course we’re supposed to believe that of the 1,500 sprayers and their various sobbing cheerleaders not one has ever sprayed someone else’s property, and that championing graffiti as an edgy art form doesn’t encourage more of it?

[ Edited. ]

Jim Whyte

Exquisite. And dadaistic.

Hal

. . . . So there are some people who do graffiti on a really, really, large scale and cover the entire building.

Yes, this happens.

Jimmy

This should be spun into a zen moment for the 'artists', ala a sand mandala.

Elrond Hubbard

You want your art preserved? Don't paint someone else's property.

I guess that's the lesson here.

Ed Snack

They simply don't get the completely transgressive and artistic nature of a totally white ungraffitied building in NYC. How utterly uncool and unhip of them. White is the new black !

R.Sherman

I, for one, appreciate the owner's work. I laughed; I cried; it became a part of me.

Mike James

“We are supposed to be the vandals, but this is the biggest rag and disrespect in the history of graffiti,” said Marie Cecile Flageul, an unofficial curator for 5Pointz.

It's not grafitti if one owns the building. That warehouse isn't a museum, you are the curator of nothing, you smelly little slunktrader.

Col. Milquetoast

Some people have no respect for other people's appropriated property.

I hope all of the graffiti artists whose work was painted over without even asking their permission or even a word discussion know where the New York Times building and its bare walls are located.

scott

magnificent !

difference between art and vandalism....?

permission

David

Exquisite. And Dadaistic.

It’s a thing to savour. The tears, the hugging, the indignation. The sudden demands for property rights from people who repeatedly violate the property rights of others just because they can. The sheer obliviousness.

I hope all of the graffiti artists… know where the New York Times building and its bare walls are located.

Absolutely. Or the homes of its editor and the writers of the article, Cara Buckley and Marc Santora. You’d think they’d have the courtesy to publish their home addresses and times when they’ll be out. I’m sure their properties have plenty of nice clean surfaces just waiting to be enlivened. But it’s always the way with such people, whether it’s graffiti, squatting, coercive ‘occupation,’ even rioting. It’s all very thrilling and countercultural… provided it’s being done to someone else.

NateWhilk

Obviously the owner has realized and become enamored with the possibilities inherent in virgin white space. With a courage born of the most profound respect for the enigma of the imponderable, he has produced an immense canvas in which there exists solely an expanse of pregnant white. http://books.google.com/books?id=orz0SDEakpYC&lpg=PA599&dq=expanse%20pregnant%20white%20cartoon&pg=PA599#v=onepage&q=expanse%20pregnant%20white%20cartoon&f=false

carbon based lifeform

The owner of a building in Queens used a crew of painters to work overnight and paint over graffiti

I thought the art world loved transgression?

When Man-Children Weep

Great title.

David

Great title.

But it’s what they are, isn’t it? Un-grown men.

Furor Teutonicus

Only one way to get rid of a Graffitti vandal. BLOW ITS BLOODY HEAD OFF!

David

Over at Metafilter there’s a post on this story and some predictable comments: “This is the reason I left New York. Seriously, I just cannot see myself living in a city that doesn’t allow for this sort of thing.” Because property rights and building places for people to live and work – including, it turns out, 1,000 jobs and 210 affordable homes – is less important to the welfare of the “local community” than “street art.” Because street art will house and feed your family.

Another commenter says, “I kind of think that if you’re going to insist on making your art on a canvas that someone else owns, you should probably think of it as ephemeral, and accept that this comes with the territory.” He adds, “This is an unpopular opinion in the arts-adjacent circles I frequent.” Which probably tells us something about those arts-adjacent circles. Again, the home addresses of those arts-adjacent people aren’t being volunteered as an alternative venue.

Anna

“This is the reason I left New York. Seriously, I just cannot see myself living in a city that doesn’t allow for this sort of thing.”

Wow. Talk about being precious...

David

Wow. Talk about being precious...

Isn’t it just. She’s so fabulous she simply couldn’t bear to live in a city where private property, housing and jobs take priority over graffiti.

Watcher

I have noted over the years that there is an unspoken 'law' among graffiti artists; thou must not spray over another's creation.

The upshot of this is that as graffiti fades, fresh walls must be found. Perhaps, I admit, that spraying of someone signing themselves "Society Hater" might prompt the original sprayer to come looking for revenge on the fresh-can upstart (and his spray can is bigger than yours), but generally all the misspellings and hatreds and narrow-minded stupidities have to be left untouched.

Those "free the whatever four" slogans have long since lost their urgent edge as the the whatever four were in fact as guilty as hell and anyway, they served their time and are long since rehabilitated or happily learned new skills in clink. But they stay to remind us someone once cared about freedom, and the freedom to paint big words on someone else's wall.

AC1

I title the pristine work "Tears of the constant toddler"
"An anti-anti-capitalist piece that explores the dynamics of rights in our broken window society".

Which isn't very good, but I think those more in the know about POMO artwork explanations/titles can now show me how to do it.

David

What’s also interesting is the obvious lesson for those who indulge graffiti practitioners. If, like the owner of the warehouse above, you allow such people to do their thang on your property, you at most buy a few years peace. After that, you become a villain, The Man, The Enemy Of Art. When the time came to redevelop the site, the owner of the building found himself faced with howls of protest and attempts at legal obstruction by graffiti “activists.” Some imaginative souls wanted the place declared a protected landmark, a cultural shrine, on account of its graffiti. So much for it being a temporary art form. And not much of a thank you for the owner’s decade of indulgence.

Patrick Brown

But it’s what they are, isn’t it? Un-grown men.

Well, at least one of them, the one quoted, is an ungrown woman.

But if you read the whole story, it turns out the owner did give the artists permission to paint grafitti on his building. He's painted over the grafitti because he's going to demolish the building and he'd feel worse demolishing it with the artwork visible, and when he rebuilds, he's going to include a 60 foot wall for them to paint on. Unfortunately, if you go out of your way to accommodate some people, they just take it as their entitlement and demand more.

David

Patrick,

Unfortunately, if you go out of your way to accommodate some people, they just take it as their entitlement and demand more.

Which was the preferred dynamic of the Occupiers, one demonstrated repeatedly.

Reading the comments at the New York Times and elsewhere, what’s striking is the prevalence of a colossal sense of entitlement, bordering on delusion. One idiot says the owner’s legal use of his own property constitutes “violence” against the poor, helpless graffiti artists, and that “art is a human right.” Not just art of course. By implication, this “human right” - to graffiti - also extends to the unlimited use and appropriation of other people’s belongings.

Gunga

About a week ago a colleague gave a discourse on individuals with a fascination for their own feces that is so strong that they can't bear to part with them. I wonder why I thought of that...

Gary from Jersey

To be fair, this "artwork" is a lot better than the crap "artists" painted on subways, buses, trucks, buildings and whatever else moved or didn't in NYC in the '70s and '80s. But I don't remember anyone pulling about those ugly messes being painted over. Funny how art changes lives.

David

As Heather Mac Donald has pointed out more than once, the loudest advocates of graffiti as deserving artistic protections are rarely the people who have to deal with graffiti on a regular basis. Say, when their neighbourhoods are degraded by territorial scent-marking and made to look ugly and unsafe. Neighbourhoods that may then become less safe, thanks to antisocial misfits who think they’re being edgy.

Years ago, I worked at a recording studio in Nottingham. After a couple of years, graffiti appeared across the front of the building, which was repainted and had windows replaced - only to be defaced again days later, and again after that. Soon the place looked like a war zone. Not the best impression to make customers feel welcome. And this repeated vandalism sends a message to the victim and to others in the area – “We have violated your first line of defence – i.e., social propriety.” To some, this is an invitation to further transgression, further violation. Several attempts at burglary soon followed. It’s a common pattern.

Despite this, champions of graffiti rarely acknowledge the broader social fallout and the signals graffiti typically sends, especially in poorer neighbourhoods. Apparently there are no victims of graffiti to consider and no-one’s life is ever made miserable or more dangerous by its enthusiasts. Instead, people like the Guardian’s Lanre Bakare talk of “graffiti meccas” as vibrant attractions for other graffiti practitioners and fellow radicals. The fact that graffiti more typically repels business and investment passes unremarked. It’s all about the “scene,” man. It’s épater le bourgeois. Über alles.

How very progressive.

pst314

The owner painted over the graffiti to head off an attempt to have the building declared a landmark, a move that would have made any redevelopment impossible.

This reminds us that "landmark preservation" has become a force for theft and oppression.

pst314

“art is a human right.”

Okay. Then I have the "human right" to walk up to any of these pretentious twits and spray-paint their faces and clothing with whatever message I want. Also their homes, cars, and most cherished possessions.

Islam is a religion of intolerance and violence, but it pales in comparison to modern leftism.

Hal

Those "free the whatever four" slogans have long since lost their urgent edge . . . .

FREE THE INDIANAPOLIS 500!!!!!!!!!!

bgates

I just cannot see myself living in a city that doesn’t allow for this sort of thing.

One suspects it is precisely the allowance, the freedom of the property owner to determine whether the graffiti should stay or go, which this person despises. Let the new mayor declare that all warehouses must have their exteriors maintained in a pristine painted condition, the color to be determined by the city, and watch the support for the vandals prove as ephemeral as the vandalism itself.

T.K. Tortch

Another commenter says, “I kind of think that if you’re going to insist on making your art on a canvas that someone else owns, you should probably think of it as ephemeral, and accept that this comes with the territory.”

I was about to say something like this. When I was a young, naive, first-time visitor to a really big city with lots of graffiti I just assumed that the prospective total destruction of the artwork was part of the deal - part of what the art was, at least partially, all about. Enjoy it while it lasts!!

It never occurred to me that any of the artists actually had to nerve to feel a proprietary interest in their artwork superior to a property owner's interest in doing what they liked with their property. When I learned how widespread that attitude was amongst the graffitzi, it took the edge off my admiration.

I guess I can see why you might fall into that mindset. Whether you like what they paint or not, some of those graffiti artists are technically very talented and put a lot of work into their pieces.* You might get attached to your more impressive achievements. But if you want it to stick around, buy the building and put up a fence.

*Dollars to Donuts graffiti artists have stronger technical chops than your average art school graduate. After all, they're producing works to be looked at by people who want to look at them. The better graffiti artists get street recognition and more respect; other graffitzi tend to leave their work alone. Griffiti artists don't go the trouble of signing their pieces because they don't care if anybody knows who painted it.

Lucklucky

Well the white grafitti brought the soft and of course understanding female side of the artist, the open mind, the color poetry of all possibilities...

Jeff Guinn

The owner painted over the graffiti to head off an attempt to have the building declared a landmark, a move that would have made any redevelopment impossible.

Which is the lede for the rest of the story. The building's owner bought the property in the mid-70s. Eventually it was abandoned. The owner kept it, seeing long term potential.

While it was abandoned, the owner encouraged graffiti artists.

Fortunately for him, property trends went the way he expected them to, and the land became valuable for redevelopment.

Unfortunately for him, some people decided the decades long tradition of graffiti warranted making the building a landmark, which would have destroyed the owner's investment.

The owner, in fact, wanted to have a ceremony honoring the graffiti, but decided the risk of getting landmarked was too great.

I hate graffiti as much as the next person, since it is almost always vandalism.

In this case, it wasn't. What deserves hatred is landmarking other peoples' property. (BTW, this is the use of the term as a synonym for "theft".)

David

When I learned how widespread that attitude was amongst the graffitzi, it took the edge off my admiration.

It’s curious how an approval of graffiti – not just of the occasional display of talent, but the antisocial method, the violation of property – has almost become politically correct. There are people who feel obliged to say that not only do they like a particular example of street art, they like the idea of it – usually with some burbling about “the reclamation of urban space” or something similar. These things can even be said with an air of moral piety. Which is odd, given the implicit belief that something they’d most likely find aggravating if done to their belongings can nonetheless be applauded when done to someone else’s.

WTP

if the ghost of da Vinci manifested and grabbed spray paint to create a work on par with Mona Lisa masterfully on the side of a business, then that would have the same status as the Mona Lisa, at least in terms of being art or not.
...

One common objection is that graffiti is not art because it is vandalism and hence a criminal act. While it is true that it can be vandalism and a criminal act, these facts would not seem to have a bearing on its status of being art. The mere fact that something is illegal or classified as vandalism hardly seems sufficient to make something fall outside of the realm of art. After all, imagine a state in which music was a criminal act and labeled as a vandalism of the public sound space. It would hardly follow that music would thus cease to be art. As such, this objection fails.

http://aphilosopher.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/is-graffiti-art/

Tim Newman

"Clandestine whitewashing"

With a 60ft cherry-picker.

David

Talking of Poe’s Law…

While reading that, this popped into my head. I’m obviously a tool of the advertising industry.

Tom Foster

This is off-topic, but it just goes so nicely with the title of the thread.

Behold, a weeping man-child:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/21/be-that-guy-movement-end-violence-against-women

'And what are we afraid of? We're afraid of our fathers, our brothers, our friends, our potential to be our fullest, best, most authentic selves. We're afraid that we won't do a good job, that someone won't like us, that we'll look weak. We're afraid to say, "I love you", or "I'm sorry", or "I can't", or simply, "Hey, dude, can you please stop catcalling random women on the street?"'

(Don't you just love that Guardian 'we'?)

David

Don’t you just love that Guardian ‘we’?

The psychological problems that bedevil Guardian contributors are apparently endless.

KevinB

And this repeated vandalism sends a message to the victim and to others in the area – “We have violated your first line of defence – i.e., social propriety.”

This echoes the NYC police chief who actually cleaned up much of Manhattan (can't recall his name). His application of the 'broken windows' theory was that if a neighbourhood was allowed to slink into physical disrepair - broken windows, boarded up buildings, and yes, graffiti - crime soon followed. Manhattan may not be everyone's cup of tea, and there are still many places I'd prefer not to wander alone at 3 am, but it's a heck of a lot better than it was in 1985.

It always amazes me when that you mention the 'slippery slope', you are looked on with disdain and/or told it's an 'invalid' argument. Funny, we've been sliding down the predicted slopes since I was a kid; NYC is one of the few cases where I've seen it reversed.

David

More on this from Matthew Hennessey at City Journal:

Gotham’s spray-can vandals and their admirers decried the move as the heartless act of greedy capitalists. The New York Times reported that those participating in a candlelight vigil at the site on Tuesday “reeled in shock” at what one mourner called “a really big slap in the face” to as many as 1,500 street artists whose work was erased. French-born artist Marie Cecile Flageul told a reporter for 1010 WINS that the Wolkoffs’ act was equivalent to “murder” and “genocide.”

A woman of deep thought, obviously.

Runcie Balspune

When I worked near Whitechapel some wag had thousands of little stickers printed with "tagger scum" which were liberally applied to any "street art" in the vicinity.

akornzombie

There are some truly talented graffiti artist's out there who create absolutely stunning works. However, that doesn't mean that they have the right to spray paint these pieces on the side of someone else s property.

Flying Tiger Comics

Next time they steal their paint why don't they steal cameras too? That way they can take pics of their efforts. If it's good enough for serial killers, it's good enough for less intelligent criminals.

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