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Graffiti Gets Philosophical
31 ago 2003
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
In today's Los Angeles Times (where I happen to be this week) there's an interesting commentary by Crispin Sartwell on the relationship between graffiti and advertising:
Defacing ads should be allowed. The medium is the billboard and the message is freedom.
By Crispin Sartwell

"Graffiti and advertising have many things in common. Both convey messages by occupying public space; indeed, both are omnipresent and unavoidable. At the upper reaches of excellence both are arts, though they are more often merely puerile and annoying noise. But there are some key differences.

Advertising is designed to manipulate people, whereas graffiti is essentially a pure mode of self-expression. Advertising is encouraged or courted by the authorities. Graffiti is illegal. And here is the difference that makes sense of all the others: money. All the legitimacy of advertising derives from the money that is paid to post it and the revenue it generates.

On the other hand graffiti is, in every sense, free and hence criminal. In fact, law enforcement is often called on to defend advertisements from graffiti.

Advertising is the public expression of wealthy people and organizations. Graffiti is the public expression of people who are more or less broke. And that is exactly why advertising is authorized and graffiti is eradicated.
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