Toronto’s graffiti plan


in Daily updates, Rants, Toronto

Generally, I think graffiti is great. While there is certainly a lot of it that is made without skill, much of it consists of skillfully executed art and social commentary. The fact that graffiti is not approved – and that creating it carries a certain risk for the artist – contributes to the degree to which it is artistically and politically interesting. To an extent, graffiti reveals the true thoughts of a city, as opposed to the comparatively inert and uncontroversial thoughts normally reflected by officially approved public art.

Given all of that, I object to Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s new graffiti reporting plan:

[H]e’s going to charge small businesses to remove the graffiti on their walls, even if the graffiti in question is a beautiful mural that everyone, including the business-owner, approves of

I have photographed graffiti in a wide variety of places, from Vancouver to Helsinki to Marrakesh, and much more often than not what I have seen has been an improvement over the blank wall that preceded it. I certainly don’t think that graffiti should be removed just because one person with a smartphone app complains to the city about it. In particular, if the owner of the property where the graffiti was made approves of it, the graffiti should have the same protection under the law as a blank coat of paint would.

The only sort of graffiti that I really object to is when someone artlessly scrawls their name or some banal slogan on a wall or – even worse – on a nicely executed piece of existing graffiti. That and blatantly offensive graffiti I would not object to seeing removed. As for the rest of it, I recommend leaving it where it is.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan April 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm
Milan April 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm
alena April 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

Many of the graffiti photos you have treated us to are quite striking and interesting. I really love this form of expression and always find it a treat when I turn a corner and run into a colorful depiction on a wall. Some graffiti can be violent, racist or sexist, but so are other forms of artistic or literary expression.

. May 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

New Mural Ordinance Delayed

Eager to see the latest draft of a law that would allow more murals in L.A.? You’ll have to wait.

Angelenos who were hoping this month to see the final draft of an ordinance that would once again allow murals on private property will need to keep waiting, according to Tanner Blackman, a planner in the Los Angeles City Planning Department.

Blackman has been serving a liaison between community members and city hall as Los Angeles has attempted to draft an ordinance that would legalize new murals and decriminalize existing ones.

The city has prohibited the painting of murals on private property since 2002.

After holding several community input meetings throughout the city—including one in Eagle Rock—the city released the first draft of the ordinance at a ceremony in Boyle Heights.

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