Personal Opinion of “Judge Rules Developer Must Pay 5Pointz Graffiti Artists $6.7M”

https://hyperallergic.com/426658/judge-rules-developer-must-pay-5pointz-graffiti-artists-6-7m/

While I am not a lawyer nor claim to be, I would argue ownership of building property as artistic surface/media and the right to said property not to be defaced, quality of work notwithstanding. Unless, the current owner also owned the property and/or at that time permission was granted to said artists. I do not see graffiti as protected. Paint on my car without my permission, etc. I own the canvas, for example. Even the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) excludes “covering” as a work of visual art and Graffiti is defined as “Drawings that have been scribbled, scratched, or painted illicitly on a wall or other surface, often within public view.” Note the word “illicit,” which means “unlawful [or] forbidden.”

Also, as an artist, I would be bound to the truth of the event, not so much to the painting itself, where the medium is also the message and how that plays itself out pro or con to my initial argument. I believe the surface, using another person’s property, stealing, in effect, the wall upon which to produce my work assumes a temporary impression, a single performance for as long as it may last as understood and agreed to. Also, given I have now been exposed, I may be in danger of arrest and conviction for vandalism.

Still, I would argue under the circumstances given governmental suppression of free speech and economic warfare against the American People by the government and corporations, oligarchs, and dictators, etc., that the public sphere may now belong to The People, and where they have been so delegated as to be unable to express themselves due to disenfranchisement, they may now be granted permission by default to communicate what is “appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.” See Declaration of Independence, shifting sands doctrine.


3 comments

  1. As you point out, this is a difficult issue. Where exactly do we set the borders between art and vandalism, between freedom of expression and authoritarism? In Barcelona there is a special long wall for the real art of graffitti (a photographer friend of mine has taken increible shots). Yet vandalism is still there on the street. Next morning you get out of your home and there is horrible graffitti on the facade. As for freedom of expression I think there is a current parallelism between the situations in Trump’s U.S. and in Spain/Catalonia. In both places we have an authoritarian democracy where basic human rights and freedom of speech and expression are at stake. Look at what is happening to our rappers. Pablo Hásel: http://www.catalannews.com/society-science/item/court-sentences-catalan-rapper-to-2-years-in-prison-for-lyrics-and-tweets and Valtonyc: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/to-prison-for-singing-spanish-rappers-to-serve-time-for-their-lyrics/2018/03/17/d8e4b88c-18cd-11e8-930c-45838ad0d77a_story.html?utm_term=.dc32b735c35e
    And this is as far as artists while our Catalan politicians and the two leaders of the main pro-independence groups remain in jail or exiled.
    Teachers like me are also being prosecuted:
    https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/catalan-teachers-singled-out-after-hate-speech-accusations/
    Now we finally have been able to swear in a new president in Catalonia but he is being closely watched by the Spanish oligarchy. Our conflict needs to be constantly internationalised. Patience, persistence, nonviolent fight and in the end we will recover the lost freedom.

    • Very good response. You are clear and informative. The issue of freedom of speech in the US stops at the incitement of violence, but the Declaration of Independence implies a right to health and happiness, for example. Corruption has to be dealt with as a crime against The People. These rights cannot be covered over by the truth. Such coverage is violence. Such violence is suppression. Government must serve the people not themselves.


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