YIKES! Am I being stalked? Last week the tag in the above picture, reading “if this were art you’d be in a gallery right now” appeared just up the street from my place. I am not sure, but it certainly feels like it is referencing my film The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal, and it’s literally a block away from my house in place where i could not miss it.
There has always been a small, yet vocal, group of people who absolutely hate this movie. My assumption has been that these people are young graffiti dudes who have never actually seen the movie but have a very hostile, knee-jerk reaction to the title. You can find their rants in graffiti chat rooms and websites, and in the occasional nasty email that someone sends me out of the blue. They usually say something along the lines of “I’ve never heard of anything so retarded in my life” or “this sucks you’re gay” (these are direct quotes) and they clearly don’t realize that the movie is pro-art and pro-graffiti.
UPDATE: SEE THE COMMENTS BELOW FOR MORE EXAMPLES!
The funny thing is that there are some very well-known graffiti artists who love the movie, and it’s actually been featured in several ‘street-art’ group shows along side artists such as Barry McGee, including the totally awesome Beautiful Losers program that Aaron Rose curated. I think that anyone who has seen the movie and has half a brain can pretty much figure out that the movie is not anti-graffiti.
But this new message puzzles me. I can’t tell exactly if it is pro or con, and whether it is directed at me or a broader audience. It kind of seems like it has to be directed at me, because the statement clearly falls within an already established context. Unless, of coarse, the writer is being completely self-referential, and not making a statement about graffiti removal but graffiti itself. It could be that the fact that a buff serves as the backdrop is little more than artistic coincidence, and the writer is making a statement that graffiti itself is not art.
Or, it probably is just all in my head. But still, it creeps me out. If you haven’t seen the movie, or maybe you just don’t remember it, here is an excerpt:
The project initially started as collaboration with my pal Avalon Kalin. He was the first to label the buffs as an accidental art form, originally calling it subliminal art. Our conversation continued for several months, and we quickly realized that the aesthetic interpretation of graffiti removal served as an incredible metaphor for so many things; from official/social control of the visual landscape to the ‘authoritative’ anointification of what is art and what isn’t. The funny thing is that the film really isn’t about graffiti at all, but rather the need for independent thought when it comes to interpreting the environment around you.
*While on the subject of graffiti removal, I must make note that I believe there is an exciting new movement happening down in Woodburn, Oregon. I was there just a couple days ago and noticed some buffs that couldn’t quite fit into any of the stylistic form categories I list in the film (symmetrical, ghosting, and radical). This new category might be best described as “organic” and consists of traits found in both symmetrical and ghosting while also portraying a clearly natural, nearly life-like quality. Very amoeba like!