Wednesday, 02 September 2009

Graffiti: can authorities do anything other than outlawing or assimilating? I like the way public art is up for discussion these days, but democracy has never quite sussed its role in relation to public space, public art, and public value. An article by Caroline Davies in today's Guardian tells us that 'Bristol city council is planning to let the public vote before murals on buildings, walls and fences are scrubbed clean or painted over. If citizens decide they like it, the work will remain.' And via Bristol graffiti I learn that 'the Council will produce a new street art policy, which will seek to define and support the display of Public Art, where people tell us that murals or artworks make a positive contribution to the local environment and where the property owner has raised no objection.' I wonder whether one-person-one-vote is quite the right model here. But what interests me most is how this sets up some curious counter-moves in the dark rat runs of democratic behaviour. How does the self-respecting tagger respond? Obviously your credibility is out the window as soon as you're assimilated with a Yes vote. Acceptability is unacceptable, it's not a risk you'd want to take. So - it's a drag I know but you've got to mobilise all your mates and family to vote against you. Which could be more trouble than it's worth, especially when you have to take account of competitive taggers spitefully putting in votes in your favour. So maybe you just move to another city, one where they show appropriate disregard for delinquent lack of respect.

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