Every day I pass by a certain electrical box and pole, and on it are a bunch of stickers. It's the exit I get off of on the highway, but those few seconds where the stickers are visible enough for me to read is my favorite part of the drive. Simple self expression, and some of them cover up some spraypaint as well. Advertisements for small companies, political opinions, and logos for a genre of music you like. It's simple, but it makes what is usually a grey monolith of metal that the eyes would gloss over a lot more cooler and memoriable to anybody who passes it by.
However, there's always been something more than just the "heh. cool." reaction most people have whenever I pass by graffiti, whenever it's the stickers I just talked about, spraypaint, or any other form of it. It doesn't require any training or practice to scribble a dick onto the highway sign. That's a good thing, because it's actually a much more accessible form of art for people to get into if you don't count the fact that it is also illegal in most parts of the States. It can be as simple as a silly dick on the sign, or something built up over hours, a name in a silly font, or whatever Banksy has been up to. Public graffiti is a genre of its own in the art universe, a seperate field, and while I am not a part of the field, I have a major appreciation for it.
Dare I say that graffiti is the most pure form of art?
Pure, unfilterated, the art of the general public. Art that requires no skill, yet has as much skill as a professional could on a canvas with paint. Art that is everywhere. The bathroom pen wall phone number is art. The pencil Cool S on your desk at school is art. It is art that covers every spectrum of the political compass -- one of the reasons why it is illegal is because it lets the unheard be heard, and in a pretty way people will notice. Even if the political shit is disagreeable and very often schizo, it's still an outlet for what would not be seen without. You see a business' phone number on the side of something on the street and call it, or you see somebody's SMS handle written into the wood, and follow it. Free advertising. Graffiti is a pure art form, untouched by the formalities of the art world.
Art is everywhere, but most art is unnoticed. Graffiti is made for somebody's smallest expression to be noticed. A living can be made off of it, too, but most people don't do that. Public murals. "Socially acceptable" graffiti. It's shallowed down from on the other side of the wall -- every man for himself, fighting for a page on a concrete canvas. Fighting to live. Fighting to live, and not just survive, when even surviving becomes harder and harder by the day. To let out what bubbles in the head can be done through words, art, and to be heard. Graffiti is art to be heard. Public vandalism, subtle, yet showing, glowing, powerful art. Young men and women put into jail just for the crime of creating on a surface that they don't own, a 8.5x11 pad of paper where nobody has to see it. To scream one's art into being forced to be seen is powerful. It is no longer subtle, yet, for most, it is something to look at while you pass, and look over. Just some rebellion, nothing special. A subtle art of public vandalism.