Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Commentary: Pat O Dea
Conservative politicians, local and National, are figuratively tearing
their hair and rending their garments in impotent rage over graffiti.
Whether we love or hate graffiti. In my opinion the visceral hatred
from the "the powers that be" to graffiti is centered on two things;
1/ Protection of property rights, (which is a serious concern to
those who actually have property, a decreasing minority in NZ)
2/ The monopoly of all means of public expression by the privileged.
The taggers, with their incomprehensible, inarticulate, messy and
destructive petty vandalism, have a message for us all to read, if we
The message writ large and often ugly, is one of alienation, anger,
boredom, societal breakdown and increasing inequality and lack of
resources at the bottom of society.
This is a message, that more privileged members of our increasingly
stratified society would like to see suppressed at all costs.
(Like the builders of the potemptkin towns of medieval Russia they want
to project the facade of a decent all inclusive society.)
What are the choices?
Suppression or engagement?.
More and Harsher punitive laws, greater and more aggressive enforcement
and repression. (Which I believe as well as being expensive will be
futile.) Or Engagement with the taggers.
The so called Labour Government, automatically rushes to extremism and
harsh repression, with out considering any other alternatives,
One alternative could be to try and bring taggers and their sub-culture
into the open, let's try and encourage and harness these creative
urges. This could involve government sponsored lessons in art, and
creative expression, with competitions and recognition of the talented
daring and creative.
The creation of public spaces to be made available where tagging is
acceptable. Suitably specialist structures could incorporate a challenge for city
planners and architects.
To begin with a large public wall, in the most public space possible,
(not tucked away in some remote spot as conservative councils might
agree to.) Should be built 50 cubits long and 10 cubits high. (the
height being necessary to challenge the more inventive and daring taggers.)
Architects at university should be challenged by their lecturers to
design specialist multi functional structures for this purpose.
Lots of other outlets for these young people's creative urges could be
explored and properly funded.
Who knows? a new type of acceptable People's Baroque city decoration,
complete with giant multicoloured balloon letters might result.
That art training and engagement with the tagging culture try to
encourage a taggers code of conduct, were the defacing of home owners
private property comes to be seen as dishonorable and beneath the
contempt of their tagging stars and peers.
I remember all the millions of dollars given by this labour government
to the rich America's Cup contestants for their priviledged pastime.