You probably see some everyday but rarely mind it. On the sides of bridges, on walls in vacant lots, beneath your very feet as you walk on the pavement. Graffiti really can be found anywhere and everywhere. Some consider it a symptom of the degeneration of society, as eyesores that debase the value of properties and are a sign that “the neighborhood just isn’t what it used to be”. Some see it as a means of expression, to rebel and shout out against a society that they feel misunderstands or mistreats them, used when the words that come from one’s throat just aren’t enough. Some even see in it a new art form, a way to show the world their talent and their skill.
I personally believe it depends on the author as much as the audience. Truly I have come across Graffiti which by any definition should be called masterful, with styles and colors that even the high minded would find appealing on a canvas. Is the mere nature of base then enough to change the nature of the work? Should the fact that an individual chooses, whether by volition or by necessity, to work on gravel or concrete rather than paper or stretched cloth make him any less of an artist? On the other hand there are also those who do not use it to please the eye but rather to do the very opposite – to make obscene what once may have been clean and pure in the hopes of social commentary or desperate expression of inner angst. I have often seen tagging on the sides of buildings in more abandoned areas that seem to echo with a sense of loss of hope, with dread and disappointment, with the idea that there is no other way to communicate the turmoil inside.
Modern graffiti of course is characterized by the use of spray paint – whether in a myriad of styles or just your basic black – depending on the message you’re going for really. But historically the term refers to any work produced by scratching an image onto a surface. I suppose that means that bar/pub bathroom stalls are probably the most frequent hosts of graffiti. But these are usually more than incoherent ramblings, obscenity, names of ex/current girlfriends or stickers for indie groups. Hardly as sweet as the tags on the sides of buildings or on garage doors. I can imagine that it must be quite a thrill for some to tag a site, knowing that hundreds if not thousands of people will see your work (at least before the city or owner of the same decides to paint over it). If and when I own my own home though I think I’d like to hire a good tagger to do my living room wall. Who needs to hang a painting when the whole wall is one?
My parting thought is of one particular work of graffiti that has stayed with me through the years and not just because I’ve seen it so many times. Those of you taking the underpass right after South Ex-II Market in New Delhi may remember it as well. It was a spray paint message from some guy to some girl. It simply read “I’m Sorry. I want you back”. It wasn’t a work of art. In fact even the sad face drawn along with it was rather shabbily made. But still its one of my favorite graffiti sitings ever,possibly just because it struck some sort of chord, who knows. I’m not sure if its even there anymore, but I’m sure now if you ever pass it, you’ll notice it if you haven’t before (but if you’re driving please don’t notice for too long ; p).
DISCLAIMER: Vandalism is an offense and I do not personally encourage any of you to participate in such activities