I am archiving older pieces I have written on other sites, making this the definitive home for all my work. This is one of several I am porting over from my GameDev.Net user journal. Enjoy!
There's a street party for Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure today on 22nd St between 10th and 11th Aves, from noon (meaning it's already started) to 8 PM. I'll be heading down there in a bit.
I've been thinking about Getting Up, though, including the furor over its purportedly encouraging graffiti-as-vandalism (which is distinct from graffiti-as-art - rue the day when everyone has to use hyphenated disambiguations of meaning, like free-as-in-beer) and the license/permit for the street party being denied by the Mayor's office. I like Bloomberg, and I see part of the point about graffiti-as-vandalism, but I think there's a larger point that gets swept under the rug.
The classic correlation is between the amount of graffiti on the walls in a neighborhood and the level of crime and violence, suggesting that graf artists are at least an indicator of a criminal element. I think this is backwards. I think graffiti is an outlet born in economic dispair/futility. Those without aspiration (or comprehension, like middle-class teenagers in peri-urban and suburban areas) will scrawl mindless nonsense in the most accessible places - the contemporary equivalent of "Kilroy was here" (which I don't get). Those with consciousness place their tags in hard-to-reach places as a reminder that their oft-overlooked human ghetto does exist, that the world isn't the harmonious commercial symphony presented in commercials and glossy magazines and so forth.
So I'm sympathetic to Getting Up. I'll go downtown and see what's up, and let you know what I found when I get back.