8.25.2005

"getting up" block party

Props to Mark Ecko for putting together the "Gettin Up" block party and giving a space for the, often misunderstood, graffiti community to showcase their talents. New York Times had an article today about the event. The day allowed for an intergenerational mixer for old and new school graffiti writers, showing how this youthful art form provides a space where Some dope pictures from the event can be seen here. I wish I would have been there to witness this momentous day for hip hop, luckily we can hear a converstion between Jay Smooth and Joe Schloss here. Though, this event was very close to being shut down due to New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg (peep the New York Times article). And, even after the event, folks are still questioning the legality of such an event, as well as arguing against the legitimacy of graffiti as an artform. Staten Island DA, Daniel Donovan wrote of the event:

"This sad spectacle, which unfolded on W. 22nd St. and 10th Ave. yesterday, is an unfortunate reminder of the days when our city was facing 2,000 murders a year and law-abiding citizens could not venture out after dark."

Donovan must fail to realize the failed policies of abandonment alienation that existed during the late 1970's and early 1980's that created such a social environment, which would eventually lead the youth culture to create hip hop as a response to a dominant force that failed to acknowledge their needs and creating a voice for the voiceless. Policies that took the ideas of broken windows theory as a response to graffiti was shown to be a problematic response to a growing culture that found this medium as a means to combat hegemonic ideologies.

And this return to a war on graffiti, or should I say a war on the youth, continues on both coasts, with graffiti prevention squads rising up all over, with LA task forces even cracking down on legal murals (courtesy of Jeff Chang). Often times, these crack downs on graffiti and even gangs fail to recognize the wider social impacts that contribute to their rise. Declining social conditions and recessions create the breeding ground for individuals to engage in activities that go beyond socially constructed norms and mores. But more than this, what is constructed as deviant is decided and created not by the individuals that face the wrath of unjust social policies, but is instead decided by those in power. Graffiti has been documented in the art world throughout as art, but when will mainstream ideology finally accept this idea?

btw, happy birthday to me.

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