R.I.P PHASE2

Side note on current affairs:

If you are desperate keeping yourself afloat, how then can you look after other people?

<BEGIN> A NOTE FROM OUR SPONSORS: 

[There is the problem of ice junkies. An ice junky eradication program has been put in place by the federal government. Graffiti artists are also enemies of the state having been known for political leanings and delinquency. They will also be eradicated.]

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Something that I heard today in a podcast was the idea of ‘stylewriters’ as professed by the late Phase2. This challenges the status quo and the idea of graffiti/rubbish that is used to describe an important movement of youth culture from the 1960s and beyond. I used to love the term graffiti myself because it played on low art and delinquency but the problem is it doesn’t challenge the stereotypes surrounding graffiti. Stylewriting as a term elevates the culture to an art form but does it really? Do people in higher positions use it? Would for example an academic use the term? That is the whole point in fact, they wouldn’t because they are positioned in a place of privilege. Also it is still a term used within the culture to describe itself. Chorboogie was in the podcast and said that some people prefer the term graffiti as they feel they like to ‘get dirty’. Phase2 was a proponent of elevating the artform beyond its roots. He was ahead of his time. Can anyone though outside of the culture congratulate those in the ‘lower art forms’ for inventing styles that already were part of comic book vernacular? Of course they can’t, yet the desire to use other materials that were not commonly used was the brainchild of youths in New York City in the late 60s and early 70s that was beyond the idea of style. What about the idea of ‘wild style’, Where lettering becomes a barrage of visual noise?

Style though was the individual touch of graffiti and the most important element, maybe more so than content. Though there was content and various political and social commentary used to highlight events or current affairs as well. The individual approach of an artist was a throwback to Modernist ideas of innovation and individual genius. That was what Phase2 was all about. He was a genius of the visual art form he and other youths invented. He was highly innovative and unique in his approach to his art. That was why he disliked the term graffiti which seemed to discredit his own creations and output. Personally, I used the term graffiti because I thought of my own work as not so much about style but anarchist vigour. I always wanted my work to sit somewhat uncomfortably away from the idea of genius and challenge ideas of normality. Graffiti is good in that it doesn’t expect to be taken seriously but it is there on the street anyway. I have also described it as background noise. Phase2 was never about background noise. Most of what he did drew attention to itself and was powerful. Not everyone can do this. My own work can easily be ignored or overlooked because it doesn’t push the artform beyond its limits. That is my problem though. I hung onto ideas of tagging and walking the streets aimlessly as the epitome of graffiti, whereas the opposite is true. It needs to go beyond all expectations and be something so amazing that it arrests you.

Phase2 was an innovator and deserves the praises for his output. He has passed away relatively young yet left a great legacy behind. He influenced aerosol culture and changed it forever. He was a style writer through and through.

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