Smoke and Mirrors

Well it is no secret who the best and most well known graffiti artists are in the world for the last number of years. There are a lot of talented painters and thinkers out there, the pinnacle though says a lot. If you take prolific artists like Banksy and Lush you can see social commentary and critiques in action. What is surprising though is how well they reflect our society, a place of injustice where wealth is in sharp contrast to human misery. This pinnacle though of miserable aesthetics punctuated with clear messages is not a cause of celebration or overcoming but mirrors western societies own self loathing at its excesses and mediated self consciousness. There never was a cause for celebration or so we tend to think now, modernism was simply an error of understanding, we have always been spoiled brats ruining culture through power and privilege. The whole of history was probably another grand delusion and to really understand how far we have come just look at the shit art on display glorified in its own swill. Don’t get me wrong I can appreciate the bigger picture status and even the aesthetics but I want to believe in beauty even if it is something forever out of reach and wankified. I suppose that is why I like Shida maybe Twoone is a bit too decorative still love Vulcan, Phase2, Blade but it isn’t the rep but just the work. There is beauty out there but we need a mirror to look back into as well and it is pretty ugly.

By thinking it

My post about violence really opened a can of worms, so may people have been effected by it at some point but it seems a lot of writers from back in the day were targeted with aggression. Because my crew had a reputation you would think that every person in it was some sort of psycho but that wasn’t the case. Once you knew who was a psycho you just didn’t stay in those circles. Most guys who were a bit mental were not that creative and would get into crime because that was where they were at. I suppose I see the creative pursuits to be the true focus but there was undoubtably a lot of questionable activity. I gave a lot of guys a chance because everyone deserves one but once they started acting crazy I moved away letting them take their own path.

Some guys I would preach to, mostly the guys who seemed to be misguided and seemed to turn to aggression to find a balance. But you can’t balance violence with violence, the truth of the real is it’s inherent chaos. The real is just constantly moving and once you start seeing an order or feel you can create a balance you have probably lost sight of it. The chaos though is just the largely unprocessed information and stuff that is out there, you can’t just find balance by thinking it though it seems to do the trick better than actions. In a lot of ways there is a lot you can think yourself out of rather than just feeling justified to act in a certain way.

 

Matthew 7

6. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

I always love the way a quote from the Bible out of context can really hit the mark, although if given to the wrong person could be bad.

3. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

The above reminds me of a comedy like the Three Stooges or Monty Python, but I get the point. Watch out for the plank in your own eye before you start observing specks!!!!

Being positive

When I started graffiti I was very naive, remember in 86 on the train meeting another young writer who lived in Auburn when near Petersham. I met him a few times and we seemed to be getting along so I said lets do more graffiti together and hang out. I was a dork at the time and sometime later I was hanging with some dudes and a few other guys and was on Newtown station. Most of the bigger crews were on the station and then some guys from another crew rocked up and the guy I met was with them. He instantly recognised me and I went to say hello and he immediately took a hook to my head which I ducked and I was stunned. He immediately started pulling me toward the tracks toward an oncoming train. A more prolific writer stopped him and helped me up, he told me he would look out for me and said don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The whole time I was in shock, never before had I been attacked for no reason than being a bit of a dork which in the 80s was a considerable offence punishable by death. Even guys I hung with would punch me in the head if I was a little smart with them it really was that stupid. I met so many agro guys that would just bash anyone for no reason. Luckily I had a growth spurt and I started getting ok at graffiti ignoring the aggression. Most of the guys who were agro left the graffiti game for criminal activities and I was lucky to just keep in the right crowds. I learnt pretty quick who was a head case and some guys you could see the look in their eyes, they were cold and intimidating. In the late 80s I went tagging usually layups and the like and this other writer who could be agro but he never bothered me personally. I was always scared as he lay into someone on the train once again for no reason at all and it was so pointless. While I tagged the back car I would hear the muffled noises of a few punches. Obviously I stopped hanging out with him as I was too busy running around painting pieces and I felt sorry for the people he harassed.

In the last decade or so people talk of targeted attacks which were of course quite common but from what I experienced a lot of the violence was just there on the street and people would use any excuse to feel justified in bashing innocent people. I can only imagine that with the one punch crimes today how many go unreported like so much violence. The crimes of these people especially from the past has cast a dark shadow on a lot of graffiti from back in the day, the most violent got busted and did their time. Violence is unacceptable in my books and I stopped hanging in graffiti circles by 93 doing my own thing. What I remember is the fun times from the late 80s painting cartoon characters and the like in abandoned buildings. I think what saved me was compassion and my love of art. I always felt that things would improve even in stressful times and I never harassed young writers who were up and coming. If you think it is cool to be agro check your head because what survives is the positive.