When I visited Athens for the first time in 2016, I had many expectations. As a life-long “fan” of Ancient Greece, I was very excited about visiting the Greek capital for I knew I would come face to face with many of the structures, monuments and buildings that I had read about so many times and as many seen in pictures and videos. And I was not disappointed. However, I was shocked to find the incredible amount of graffiti all over buildings, private and public and as well on some of the ancient sites.
I will not show those pictures because I do not want to glorify vandalism. Defacing private or public property is a crime. And I will no longer use, or tolerate the word “graffiti” as a descriptive adjective of that, which is in effect, a criminal act.
It is vandalism. It is not street art. It is not graffiti. It is a criminal act perpetrated by those with no respect for the property of others. I don’t care if some are done with great precision and obvious talent on the part of the offenders, or if some are mere lines and scribbles. None of it is art.
In Valencia I have seen plenty, as I’ve seen in so many European cities. It is sad to see beautiful facades suddenly made ugly because someone has chosen them to paint on. Here are some examples of how neighbourhoods look like when the authorities do not stop the ones committing this filthy vandalism.
I truly cannot understand how anyone can think they’ve the right to deface someone else’s property in that fashion. And I cannot understand why the police does not take more overt action against these scribblers. I also think that neighbours, in those areas, as well as business owners, should take a more aggressive stance to protect not only their properties from vandalism of this sort, but to protect and keep the beauty and integrity of the neighbourhood. Here are some more examples, and these are just in some areas of Valencia, the city is full of this vandalism.
I remember New York City back in the early eighties and how full of these lines and drawings you would see, especially on the subway trains. They were so full of this scribbling that there was hardly room for any other one and they would impose the new ones on top of the old ones that would be fading away.
But that all ended by the late eighties. New York cleaned up. The painted up trains were replaced with new ones, security cameras were installed, new laws were enacted to allow the city to impose large fines and even jail time to the offenders and now you do not see a single scribble on any New York City subway train. And as well, you do not see the city vandalised as European cities are.
I can only say that as an artist I enjoy and encourage all forms of expression, especially artistic expression but I do not like to see buildings, statues and monuments defaced with vandalism. It is unfair to the community, to our visitors, to everyone. I cannot imagine anyone that is pleased to see this nonsense everywhere.
I have seen and heard about how in some cities, they have chosen neighbourhoods and areas and designated walls and other structures…sanctioned by their owners…for artists, usually young persons, to demonstrate their talent with spray cans of paint. They have created beautiful murals. I am all for that. That is not an act of vandalism, it is art. Because no matter what definition of art one subscribes to, one cannot justify art as a criminal act.