Miami Art Basel 2013 Streets

Wynwood, MiamiHuman markings extend back to the caves of uncivilization and the pyramids of Kemet, but in the early 1970s, they were baptized in the streets of the ghetto and became known as graffiti. Its evolution as an art form developed alongside b-boying, mc-ing, and dj-ing, creating the 4 elements of Hip-Hop.  Hip-Hop emerged as a reaction to civil and social injustice, or reactionary art.  120513_8526skramThe graffiti element originated as part of the visual dissent against accepted norms or an act of freedom.  However, these markings, scrawlings, and writings, in attempt to gain fame or notoriety on the physical infrastructure of society, are outlawed and punishable by prison.


Freedom, negotiated by a capitalist society that rewards elitism of few; conformity by most, and simulacrum of the whole, is what all are running towards, but in different directions.  But, what happens when these acts of resistance (or freedom), saturate a market or are accepted or patronized by those same interests it intends to offend?  Is it still graffiti or is it….art and is that okay? To some, the boundaries of art remain in the walls of the gallery, while for others that is where it ends. Miami Art Basel is where these two worlds collide.120513_8338contest

The bomber’s spirit is ominous, incorrigible, and intrepid.  Though it requires the least amount of technical skill, it is the backbone of graffiti culture. 120413_0170sh The adrenaline junkie seeks windows of opportunity to conquer a space with the stroke of a pen, ever so closely to civil invigilators, inherently endangering their freedom. This proclamation of ownership or defiance, not only challenges the constitution of that space, but also reorders the hierarchy of power. I believe the passive, but violent taking of the space strengthens the core and heartbeat of its constituents, both the radicals and the conservatives.120613_0119refill

While the bomber’s moniker is quickly scrawled in a single-colored paint, the piecer’s sobriquet is carefully and thoughtfully designed with an assortment of colors or range of tonalities.  However, what might take the piecer 10 hours to produce can saturate the area of a small city for the bomber.

Is either more effective if the object is to gain notoriety?  Though the standards for judging each category might differ tremendously, the hyper-visibility and litany of work of a dedicated bomber might be equivalent to the technical prowess of highly dexterous writer.120513_8414sh

Despite this theory, the upper echelons of graff consider the bomber to be expendable, lacking creativity and ambition. “The bomber should aspire to develop their handstyle and creativity”, insists seasoned vets.  Abstracted letters, animated characters, photorealistic figures from life, social and political statements are all accepted areas to configure and reconfigure on walls, but what about different mediums, like wheat paste, or using projections? 120513_8311sha copyThese works produce consternation amongst spraycan purists as they encounter the unconventional means where it has long been considered their unrightful domain.  With the gradual sophistication of spraycan art (attaining permission from owners of walls; sponsorship; and gallery representation) these street artists are now placed in new positions of negotiation.  The transformation of and inclusion to the art theoretical landscape shifts the policing to the unlikely characters.  When wrong becomes right who are the deviants and who are the police?120713_9776

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-shady P.

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