Putting tags on things / News / The Foreigner

Putting tags on things. Tagging is a form of urban calligraphy, and is an art form as old as Time. Whilst some view it as art, others see it as pure vandalism. Who has the most valid viewpoint? “We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding graphic art/graffiti in the centre of Stavanger,” Karl Søyland, director of Stavanger Sentrum AS (STAS) – an organisation that represents businesses in the centre of town – tells The Foreigner. STAS wants to clamp down on tagging (a.k.a. graffiti), and to see it banished. But although Søyland claims that the problem has increased since Nuart – an annual international street art festival – has been using house-walls as their canvases, Martyn Reed, the festival’s director, believes the opposite is true.

martyn, reed, nuart, tagging, graffiti, stavanger, sentrum, karl, soeyland, art, festival, ban, censor



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Putting tags on things

Published on Monday, 23rd November, 2009 at 10:10 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Tagging is a form of urban calligraphy, and is an art form as old as Time. Whilst some view it as art, others see it as pure vandalism. Who has the most valid viewpoint?

Logan Hicks
Logan Hicks
Photo: Ian Cox/Nuart


The art of crime

“We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding graphic art/graffiti in the centre of Stavanger,” Karl Søyland, director of Stavanger Sentrum AS (STAS) – an organisation that represents businesses in the centre of town – tells The Foreigner.

STAS wants to clamp down on tagging (a.k.a. graffiti), and to see it banished. But although Søyland claims that the problem has increased since Nuart – an annual international street art festival – has been using house-walls as their canvases, Martyn Reed, the festival’s director, believes the opposite is true.

Reed thinks this type of statement – reminiscent of the one used by the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani – is out of date, claiming the same is true of STAS’ anti-litter campaign.

“They claim that a litter/graffiti-free city is a safe city. It’s like saying that ‘if you don’t pick up your litter, you’re going to get mugged’”.

He goes on to argue that this form of clampdown breeds more, rather than less crime, and has evidence that “legal” tagging – which, he says, is not a crime but an art-form – has a preventative effect.

“In 2003, I produced a stencil work on canvas on three of the walls of the skateboard shop for young people called Session, and they’ve never been tagged. Before I put them up the shop got tagged every week. Strangely enough, the same goes for the properties represented by STAS, but that are owned by those who commissioned works to go on the side.”

Ignorance

Søyland says their 1½ year-long anti-tagging campaign stems from what they call last summer’s flourishing of unwanted tagging on houses that should be preserved for their historic value. Whilst STAS has no opinion of Nuart themselves, they believe this form of expression to be unwanted.

Martyn Reed
Martyn Reed
Ian Cox 2009/Nuart
“I think STAS is ill-informed as to what Nuart does, and believe we are fighting against a level of ignorance. Instead of just making assumptions based on their personal opinion alone they should get some assistance, do some research, and get some expert advice,” says Reed.

He goes on to say that Nuart has a fantastic dialogue with all the clothes shops, cafés, youth-culture stores, and SR-Bank.

“I know our clients’ opinions, and don’t think STAS represents those who use the city. And anyway, graffiti has been used to sell everything from cars to bras.”

Who’s the vandal?

However, Søyland couldn’t say what effect tagging and Nuart have had on shopping, believing that it’s not possible to measure one way or the other. He also didn’t have any suggestions as to where either Nuart or tagging should be allowed.

Reed suggests a way forward, believing it dangerous to cut all art that isn’t sanctioned by the state.

“STAS should sit down with Nuart and talk about it, rather than trying to find solutions to problems that they think Nuart creates. They should also raise funds to support Nuart productions further, thus legally-commissioning our work in the centre. And as to whether tagging is vandalism or art, I don’t see any reason for the two ideas to be separated. Is vandalism art, or is art vandalism?”



Published on Monday, 23rd November, 2009 at 10:10 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: martyn, reed, nuart, tagging, graffiti, stavanger, sentrum, karl, soeyland, art, festival, ban, censor.





  
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