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Getting Up

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There's a street party for Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure today on 22nd St between 10th and 11th Aves, from noon (meaning it's already started) to 8 PM. I'll be heading down there in a bit.

I've been thinking about Getting Up, though, including the furor over its purportedly encouraging graffiti-as-vandalism (which is distinct from graffiti-as-art - rue the day when everyone has to use hyphenated disambiguations of meaning, like free-as-in-beer) and the license/permit for the street party being denied by the Mayor's office. I like Bloomberg, and I see part of the point about graffiti-as-vandalism, but I think there's a larger point that gets swept under the rug.

The classic correlation is between the amount of graffiti on the walls in a neighborhood and the level of crime and violence, suggesting that graf artists are at least an indicator of a criminal element. I think this is backwards. I think graffiti is an outlet born in economic dispair/futility. Those without aspiration (or comprehension, like middle-class teenagers in peri-urban and suburban areas) will scrawl mindless nonsense in the most accessible places - the contemporary equivalent of "Kilroy was here" (which I don't get). Those with consciousness place their tags in hard-to-reach places as a reminder that their oft-overlooked human ghetto does exist, that the world isn't the harmonious commercial symphony presented in commercials and glossy magazines and so forth.

So I'm sympathetic to Getting Up. So I'll go downtown and see what's up, and let you know what I found when I get back.
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Another big issue with graffiti is that most people don't understand the difference between "hip hop" graffiti and "gang" graffiti. Hip hop graffiti is supposed to be about cultural expression and reclaiming urban public space (though most of the kids tagging out there probably aren't aware of the history behind it), whereas gang graffiti is more akin to animals urinating to mark their territory.

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Drew_Benton
Back yet?!

Posting an update right now.

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Also is that the same Ecko as the clothing designer?

Yep, same Marc Ecko, of Ecko Unltd and Complex Magazine.

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Will F
Another big issue with graffiti is that most people don't understand the difference between "hip hop" graffiti and "gang" graffiti. Hip hop graffiti is supposed to be about cultural expression and reclaiming urban public space (though most of the kids tagging out there probably aren't aware of the history behind it), whereas gang graffiti is more akin to animals urinating to mark their territory.

Excellent point. I'll keep that in mind as I continue to explore hip-hop graf culture.

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Excellent point. I'll keep that in mind as I continue to explore hip-hop graf culture.


If you're looking for some good reading material Bomb the Suburbs and No More Prisons - both by William Upski Wimsatt are both great reads.

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