Friday, April 23, 2010

Get Up, Stay Up

"Graffiti is a freedom crime, beautiful and revolutionary, suitable for revolutionaries.
On that road seldom travelled by the multitude, remember this when the cops come to fuck with you..."

- Looptroop Rockers

Graffiti is seen by those that control the city as a gateway crime. It is the broken window that supposedly other crimes stem from. It is vandalism that destroys communities and gives the okay for greater crimes to take place. Where I live, any sort of graffiti crime over $200 is considered a felony, and many find themselves caught up by the cops or locked in a prison cell for the crime of changing the color of a surface.

Why do we love and write graffiti? For one, is a culture and an art form that comes from us. From the urban poor. The working class. The criminal element. It is an activity that we do because we enjoy it. It is something that we have made ourselves, and despite every attempt to commercialize it, it stays illegal and autonomous from corporations and the rich. But, in order to become a graffiti writer, you need to act. To engage with the streets. To be up and stay up. Graffiti is not something you can be based on what you say, how you dress, or how you talk - it is only in action that can you be respected or be part of anything.

Graffiti does not ask for space. It takes space. It is the same as when skaters take over an area to skate board. When people occupy a park to hold a party. When people take over a vacant building to live in. When you shoplift in order to feed yourself. When you steal from your boss at work. Graffiti is not about dialog with those who run the city. It is about taking without asking from those who are not of the working and lower classes. It is about imposing what you need on a system that wants you to simply be a silent worker, a passive consumer, and subservient to the whims of the police, bosses, and politicians.

Graffiti is about feeling good in spaces that often make us feel bad. We live in environments policed by our enemies. Designed by upper class bosses, politicians, planners, and capitalists. We are bombarded with advertisements for everything from politics to skin cream. Graffiti is about rupture against this spectacle. It is about leaving something behind that we enjoy. It is about communication in a world that thrives on silence. It is about what we want, what we find beautiful, what we enjoy.

Graffiti is about not being afraid to attack what is ugly in this city. It is about not being afraid of the pigs. To go out and write. To engage with our environment instead of just letting it effect us in ways that it wants to. Graffiti will never be stopped because you can't stop the passion to live. To destroy. To create. Get up, stay up.

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