The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, June 16, 2005


STC has written about taggers being motivated by vengeance, rather than to show off their tags for any length of time.

I don't agree that pay back is the main motivation - although I haven't tagged myself I have some acquaintance with tagging and taggers indirectly, through members of my family who are involved with the Wipe Out Trust, an organisation on the North Shore that paints over tags (or rather organises for youth offenders to paint over tags).

I reckon tagging is about several things:
1. Boredom - there is some truth to that saying "the devil makes work for idle hands." I like to call this the Denny's Phenomena, because I first experienced it when waiting an inordinate length of time for food at Denny's. Basically my friends and I destroyed everything on the table, despite the fact that we were by and large "good" kids and not Those Young People Today who Grey Power like to complain about.

2. Power - when you tag something you have some control, some power. You have left your mark. You have made someone "listen" to you, you have made them do something (even if it's just curse and paint over your tag) - you have had an influence on their lives. For many young people, who feel they have no power at all, this must be a seductive feeling.

I strongly dislike tagging - I think it makes our city look messy and cheap. I would dearly like councils to employ as many people as necessary to paint over any tag within 24 hours of it going up, whether it's on private property or public.

And while we're at it, let's have more public works of art and murals around the place - and decent spaces for public notices too, where anyone can do a paste-up except the Corporate Advertising Armies(tm). That would be a fine move towards a city that is more about people than cars, buildings and roads.


tze ming said...

Come on man. So it's okay if tagging is transformed into 'street-art' validated by galleries or city councils, but taggers aren't allowed to get any practise on the real streets? How do you think all the big-time graf-artists started out? Elam?
With regard to your point 2, tagging is good to see precisely because it is a site of resistance, or at least, an expression that people are actually alive. Get down with your intellectual leftward blatherings - must I make you recall your James Scott, your Weapons of the Weak, your Domination and the Arts of Resistance, your hidden transcripts, your dancing palimpsests? 'Messy and cheap'? You sound like an old lady! Also, tagging is way better to look at than advertising.

span said...

so spray painting your nick on something, with no artistic merit whatsoever, is somehow resistance or art?

i actually like graffiti, which is quite different from tagging. it's more than just scrawling your mark as quickly as you can and running away.

i don't think the public spaces that should be put aside for art do need to be validated by galleries or the council, far from it. i don't think they should be controlled as such, except to make sure that they don't get taken over by commercial advertising. i have visions of walls and bollards put aside for anyone to just go for it on, as long as they're not advertising anything.

span said...

anything corporate that is. the painting over of those power boxes in Auckland City looks great, but it has reduced the amount of cheeky poster space available for the likes of GPJA, International Women's Day etc.

tze ming said...

I repeat: old lady!

You're on shaky ground in more ways than one here, but blog-comment challenges are not my game. And I guess you really didn't read your James Scott.

span said...

i'm on shaky ground all the time, i'm afraid my blog is not particularly intellectually rigorous. but if you don't tell me why i'm an old lady i'll never find out. besides i know you always love to make me feel stupid.

STC said...

Just so I am not taken out of context - and ironic that my post has no comments but yours gets many - but I suggested this as one possible reason why it would be bad to force owners of private property to fix the damage caused by others.

It will give unscrupulous people of all ages a tool to use against other people.

Apathy Jack said...

If we set up more art projects to get bombing into the community, then I might not have had to spend two days of my long weekend repainting the desks in my classroom.

Just saying, is all.

Lucyna said...

I hate tagging too. My neighbour's fence got tagged last year. I'm so glad it wasn't mine. I've since painted mine - that was 10 hours of work there, and if the bastards tag it I'll be furious. My fence is a work of art right now.

span said...

so Lucyna you don't subscribe to the idea that other people might think your fence is "unfinished"?

STC - i don't think I would have got any comments if Tze Ming hadn't got stuck in

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