GRAFFITI AND STREET-ART: BETWEEN PUBLIC ART AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM (Graffiti i 'street art': na pograniczu sztuki publicznej i ruchu alternatywnego)
The main goal of the article is to describe some features as well as examples of street art and graffiti practices. Those phenomena are presented in a wider social, cultural and political context. The author employes the metaphor of a 'field' between 'poles' of public art and non-artistic alternative movements to highlight the difficulties in formulating an exact and strong definition of graffiti and street art either in relation to the above mentioned phenomena or to each other. Both practices bear some resemblance to public art-distance to the institutional art world, capacity to create a public sphere and a culturally critical approach. However, they stay far more anti-insitutional, independent and self organised than public art. Graffiti and street art should be rather considered as examples of the 'culture of resistance', a part of practices that can be described as 'semiological guerilla' or 'culture jamming'. That aspect draws them nearear to non-artistic social activists movements which nowadays employ methods resembling artistic approach more and more often. The author proposes to use the name 'graffiti' in regards to those urban graphic activities which are related to America hip-hop culture and which are their visual manifestation. Performance of those activities contributes to the process of group identification as well as to the constitution of pluralistic public space. Alongside with popularisation and commercialisation of hip-hop culture, graffiti developed into more universal form often called 'postgraffiti'. Whereas in the authors interpretation street art is a complex of urban graphical practises which are aimed at articulating resistance to the domnant neoliberal world. It is also important to highlight the illegal, anonymous and humoristic aspect of those practices (which from that point of view can be called 'Groucho-marxism'). The article outlines a brief history of graffiti street-art. As concerns the latter of these are political attempts to articulate resistance as well as avant-garde techniques like situationist detournment. It also describes some of the sub-genres of street art, which are, e.g., subvertising or snipping, and focuses on the work of renowned contemporary street artist 'Banksy'. The final part of the paper contains some reflections on the potential of graffiti and street-art to constitute the pluralistic public sphere. The author applies to Chantal Mouffe's notion of agonistic public spaces and her remark that public art is one of the most important factors in that process to his interpretation of graffiti and street art.
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