Human 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. The 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.
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. 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.
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.