Street Art as Political Communication

photography by user “Id-iom” taken March 2nd, 2011

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JgB3UTNAOAIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=Street+art&ots=0TEjo6ArgU&sig=A0z6Y2ldLq_V5Wryl32IjeYeAPw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Chaffee, Lyman G. Political protest and street art: popular tools for democratization in Hispanic countries. Westport, Conn. u.a.: Greenwood Press, 1993. Print.

Chaffee highlights the potential of street art within the Hispanic world as an important medium to communicate political messages or ideals publicly from individuals who often have little voice or influence within their communities. This idea of a public, anonymous voice giving power to the common man is at what I believe to be the core of graffiti culture. Beyond uniting communities through art and decorating wall space the way street art does, graffiti empowers anyone with a message to stand against unfair legislation or abuses of power. In application to my own argument, I believe that there is an important distinction between decorative art, and political pieces, the latter of which are less likely to be found within thriving interconnected communities. Political graffiti stems from an entirely different if not opposite school of thought than traditional street art; it is meant to create upheaval within the space it is placed within. Graffiti as a tool of political unrest is incredibly powerful as it’s images unite communities under one banner similarly to how decorative street art can establish bonds through common connections within their given space. Most importantly outlined within this article I find, is the idea that street art/graffiti finds no need to leave itself neutral or impartial on the events it may be reporting or critiquing. All of these ideals are integral to my argument on the inverse relationship between vandalism and the placement of “professional” street art within a space, because the fundamental reasons for utilizing urban art are drastically important to how they affect their space. Purposefully, government sanctioned art pieces create a much different environment than the art of outraged revolutionists. Focus on the “why” behind art, and the state of it’s space will reflect this.

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