Tag Team

To the Editor: I would like to make a formal complaint about the irresponsible, contradicting and factually incorrect article on graffiti in last week’s Cynic. My first point of contention is your lack of distinction between tags and graffiti and the purposes for both. A tag is simply a means to get your name out. For people to successfully do this, their names must be seen in as many places as possible so as to establish a reputation. Many taggers get their names out to achieve street recognition, but are usually better known for their murals. A mural takes much more time than a tag, and is to be executed as quickly and inconspicuously as possible. A good mural is usually planned far in advance and is often a collaboration of several artists with a common vision. Trains are popular places to throw up murals, because at night they are unwatched and remain in the train station. When you say that graffiti is important for “A small demographic of urban residents,” I am going to have to disagree with you. Graffiti is a global form of expression that can be found in nearly every country in the world. It is an inexpensive medium for getting your message out and is employed by all classes, often to express a political position or a social rebellion of an established norm. As of yet I have not mentioned the link between hip-hop and graffiti, but I feel it must be understood that as corporations adopt hip-hop heads for sponsorship of their products, there is not only a co-opting of their style but also their culture, which includes graffiti. It is impossible to watch television and not catch a breakbeat, rap or graffiti-inspired font on the tele. Thus, this style has expanded to impact more than just the urban areas where it was invented; it has become a global entity and representation of a distinguished sub-culture (See www.zulunation.com for more info). You say, “It is made by artists…without an accepted gallery presence.” I’m going to have to ask you to spend some more time researching artists like Basquiat, Keith Haring, Futura 2000, Doze Green, Shepard Fairey, David Kinsey, Banksky, Barry McGee and hundreds of other artists who all started doing work on the streets but evolved their styles and gained acceptance in galleries. True, many of them have incorporated graffiti into more traditional mediums, i.e. canvas and paints along with aerosol and bricks, but the influence is impossible to ignore and it would be wrong to ignore it. In Woods saying, “There is no inherent desire to sell their art,” again there is a sweeping generalization, and to believe that artists are truly romantic and enjoy being poor, broke and hungry is just as much of an ignorant stereotype. As far as tagging on campus to advertise a new literary publication, although it may be an eyesore to many, are you suggesting, Andrew, that there should not be an alternative press? You seem to encourage the proliferation of this medium (graffiti) but discourage its very purpose, which is to remain a dynamic and engaging medium for conveying alternative information. For more information on the history, place and development of graffiti and the artists in New York, see the film “Wild Style.”Stephen NaberClass of 2003