The Gestures of Street Art: A Global Tale from Two Cities, Athens and Rome
International Conference on the Arts in Society Paris, France 2017
Abstract:Within the contemporary realm of street art, graffiti rises from covert gestures of defiance by fleet-footed commandos who often have unique, recognizable, visual styles, yet who remain shielded behind anonymous tags. Overnight their artwork receives a public audience. It may remain for a day, year, or decade. It may fade or be covered. The gesture of creating graffiti and the disposition of the artifact may have legal consequences for the artist, both criminal and material. Ultimately it may be appropriated by galleries, museums or patrons, with or without credit or compensation to the artist.
An extensive literature review documented the historic explosion of graffiti from the mid-1980s to the present. Special emphasis was placed on a perceived continuum spanning the view of graffiti as vandalism to the legitimization of it as social commentary, from defacement to cultural heritage.
Photo-journalistic forays were conducted through select neighborhoods in Athens, Greece, and Rome, Italy, to document the variety of, and sanctity afforded graffiti and the evolution of more formally endorsed street art within these cities.
This paper highlights works of the Italian artist known as "Blu." It explores contradictory civic politics that destroy graffiti in public while celebrating it in art museums.
Keywords: Public Arts, Politics of Art, Art Museums Stream: Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts
2017 Special Focus of Conference: Gestures That Matter