Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Why tagging is bad

Tagging, the (bad kind of) evil cousin of graffiti, is a scourge - a plague - that offends my senses.

Years ago, when I could still afford to risk engaging in illegal activities, I spent some wonderful times creating graffiti with friends. There was the excitement that came from "breaking the rules" - but there was also delight in creating something, in transforming the space around us. With our graffiti, my friends and I always tried to either say something or create art in unexpected or unapproved spaces.

[Graffiti photos] A couple of weeks ago I came across a graffiti scrawl - next to some tags - that I found myself laughing in agreement with. It had an arrow pointing to the tags and said "A fine example of useless s***".

Tagging doesn't amount to anything positive - it's just ugly scrawls that express nothing more than laziness and disrespect. Taggers can't even be bothered to say anything. I'd rather see an ugly scrawl that says something - even if I disagree with what's being said. I mean, if someone's going to go to the effort of scrawling on a public space, they might as well do something meaningful with it.

 There have been some wonderful stencil graffiti art pieces going up in Calgary over the past few couple years, and there's a long tradition of artful, poetic and challenging posters pasted, graffiti-style, to all sorts of 'unauthorized' surfaces in the city. The unfortunate thing is that many lump this wonderful art in with the taggers - decrying it all as just vandalism. Maybe if the taggers stopped being stupid navel-gazers and put a little thought into their work, we might be able to see graffiti emerge as a strong and positive force for dialogue in our community and for the transformation of the isolating structures of the city into something less oppressive.



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