The local paper publishes a pro-graffiti letter every few weeks, so I decided to weigh in recently with a counter argument. My letter made it into the paper, but with a few cuts. I know that they have to edit them as space is limited, but I do wish they'd left these red bits in:
In response to Gilbert Grace (2 April 2009) that "Removing graffiti is not the best option", I ask whether the recent scrawling of multiple tags saying “semen” and “rsol” (arsehole) on public and private property in Five Dock is “witty and creative”, and why they should not be removed. I also ask whether someone who draws numerous penises over equipment in children’s playgrounds should be described as an “artist”.Most graffiti removal efforts are directed at removing tags that are offensive, puerile and utterly without artistic merit or a spark of creativity or wit. Face it, there is only one “Banksy”, Mr Grace, and he does not live in the inner west. Most of the graffiti “artists” in this area are so talentless, they couldn’t get a job demonstrating colour-by-numbers booklets to infants.
I thought it was important that people understand what the tag RSOL means. It might have been chopped for being offensive, but if that is the case, why are so many property owners accepting of having it splattered all over their buildings?
As for the bit about Banksy, I get a quiet chuckle out of his work. I appreciate it for its creativity and wit, and I do think it has a lot of merit. In my opinion, it is art. Whether it deserves to be left untouched on private property is another matter, but the guy does have talent.
However, he is one in a million, and just because he has the touch, it doesn't mean every other jumped-up wanna-be "artist" should have free rein to deface property that is not theirs. I don't see the merits of graffiti as an argument about art - I see it as an issue of property rights. If that wall over their belongs to you, and you can prove that you have title, put whatever you want on it. If it belongs to someone else, keep your cotton-pickin' fingers off it. It's not yours to fiddle with. You have no right to interfere with somebody else's possessions.