Saturday, June 18, 2011

Graffiti Vs Street Art -There is a difference!

I went to an artist talk/forum at the University of Queensland a couple of weeks back to see the travelling show 'Space Invaders'. Space Invaders is a National Gallery of Australia travelling exhibition featuring their collection of street artworks collected over the last 10years. I was lucky enough to participate in an artist talk given by Ghost Patrol and Miso (two well known and established street Artists in Australia). 

It was interesting to hear their perspective of graffiti and street art, describing the difference and explaining the ideas behind their art process. Whether or not you agree that what they do is morally right or wrong is your own opinion, however in the eyes of the Australian Law, this type of art is typically done illegally therefore classed as vandalism. Putting the law aside for the moment, it is interesting to take this artform for what it is and better try and understand it, as once you come to understand an artform you can become more understanding of how and why something happens.

Ghost Patrol and Miso made it clear that what they do is Street Art and it does not necessarily fall under the umbrella of Graffiti. They are two different yet similar art styles. Street Art, though still is illegal, is more about the artists creating art and then displaying it for the public to freely see and enjoy. They get pleasure out of sharing their art, however, they still pertain the copyright of their art.

Graffiti is done more for the thrill of the action -doing risky stuff and not getting caught. Graffiti becomes territorial and some is more about 'tagging' then about art. It is also done usually and 'hidden' places such as alleyways where the focus isn't on the public necessarily viewing it but other gangs.

It was interesting to talk to Ghost Patrol and Miso about their view on what they do with their art. They explained that where they are from , Melbourne, it is more prominent and accepted as part of the city's culture. However, somewhere like Brisbane, the council very much stamps down on Graffiti, and it is not ridden in our streets as described by the duo in Melbourne. 

They don't feel like they are 'vandalising' the city or the community, if anything, they defend their actions by saying they are sharing their creativity with the people for their enjoyment for free. This type of art makes cities interesting and creates an artistic community. They describe it as beautifying their city.

Miso is so spiritual in her artistic process. She describes how she loves her work being ephemeral, and that something that was made on paper and glued as a 'paste on' somewhere is not permanent. That over time the artwork deteriorates until it is no longer or another artist has stuck their work up. Though she says, unlike Graffiti artists who deliberately overtag other's art, she says street art is very much respected by other street artists and to create over another's work is disrespectful.

Then there is the issue of copyright. People think because their artwork is placed around in public (freely) that it is there for the taking. Some can argue that it is due to it being unlawfully displayed and knowing shared for 'free' while others will argue it is still copyrighted no matter the circumstances -it is still artwork which needs to be protected and values. But, like I said, copyright is another issue.

Since hearing their talk, I did feel more of an appreciation for what they do -street art- and that by understanding it better, I can now see their point of view and don't necessarily look at it like it is vandalism anymore. They said they are conscious of where they place their art and ensure they do not display it so to damage private property ie shop owners walls etc. I agree with their ideas of displaying their art for all to see...and for free, which helps make a city culturally aesthetic. I however don't understand how they could part with their art so freely? As artists we value our work, protect it, and not just give it out. And that is what they do. Each and to their own.

Please bare in mind, the text is my opinion in relation to my knowledge about graffiti and street art, and paraphrasing information from an artist talk I attended. I do not pertain that the information in my article is a correct recount of the artist's opinions. I have to the best of my knowledge and understanding interpreted the artist's talk into my own meaning. 

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