The threat of graffiti comes from the collective stamina of the culture

4.40If there is one thing that most anti-graffiti acts and reports have in common, it is the inflammatory nature of their approach, which seeks to remove, cleanse and eradicate graffiti, just as you would fight a mutated virus which has spiraled out of control and infected the body of the city beyond containment. The corporal metaphor is not incidental: these missions are so determined, that they conflate graffiti with human and animal excretion and waste, with litter and carcasses, and other such masses which are not accepted as part of any civilised urban environment, and represent a threat to the quality of life within it. A complete repudiation of the cultural value of graffiti was the only way to legally frame a practice so exuberant and unpredictable, that it could not fit under agendas of order and control under any manageable circumstance.

4.41Alternative scenarios of prevention, integration and welfarism were proposed and adopted, in an attempt to describe acceptable types of graffiti practices, support them, and continue with the punishment of everything else. Acceptability only happens on the management’s terms, so independently produced, disorderly, unregulated wall-writing practices would remain unwanted and accusable. You cannot recognise the cultural merits of a practice that is fundamentally defiant of an entire value system that regulates society, as this would undo the authority of the system, and undermine its ideological underpinnings. Moreover, this practice is not a single discourse, but an assemblage of political and stylistic multiples, a cacophony of stuff on walls which is the collective result of independent initiatives. Between crime and art, this autonomy allows some inscriptions to eschew legal definition and cultural appropriation, and to redesign public order by ad-hoc rules which are the very writing on the wall.


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