Michael Ondaatje wrote, “Everyone has to scratch on walls somewhere or they go crazy”. I think this quote is best exemplified by Pilipinas Street Plan’s works. I grew up seeing how certain people, rudely and crudely, marking their territories through vandalism. Pristine white residential walls claimed by street gangs and their haphazardly sprayed labels liked TST, or a curse, a bleeding profanity – marked territory, I always thought. It was ugly. It was a distraction. And it was destruction. The motivation was to taint the canvass. Not to paint.
PSP’s work, on the other hand, is art, not just some hapless creation by people with spray paint and a few things to say.
Often beautiful, crazy, moving, animated, and thought-provoking, their inspiring street art adorns the urban gloom of a city’s grey walls and dusty divisions. In a country where the walls are more often plastered by blasphemous political campaigns, artworks like this, remind me there is still the good kind of insanity that brings color and meaning in this world.
The debate on what constitutes vandalism, and what makes graffiti art is tightly intertwined with the politics of freedom. I am not in the position to discuss the legalities of the subject. But I do know what is beautiful when I see one. I think we all do.
Human beings are predisposed to beauty. And where color bursts from the dull seams of a locale, it’s easy to see beauty against the contrast. Urban spaces are increasingly becoming tangible avenues for expressions and advocacies. Street art should make us think outside the conventional notions of what is artistically beautiful, and challenge the views we hold of our we utilize of our space.
“You think graffiti is ugly? Gigantic posters of ridiculous photo shopped guys in their underwear, advertisements for companies that exploit children in the third world, signs prohibiting your movement and telling you what to do, that’s what’s ugly to me. Advertisers and governments want to control you, graffiti artists just want to let you know they exist.”
- Inspiring Graffiti Street Art from L7m (downgraf.com)
- What is the difference between street art and vandalism? (rhysevans1992.wordpress.com)
- Graffiti (patriciajay12.wordpress.com)