Graffiti and the Art of Resistance




Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

The impulse to tag and mark is deeply ingrained in Canadian culture, so much so that the names attached to impulses become meaningless and the gesture that passes through is not the gesture of intent and is relative to the observer. It would be a mistake, however, to comment on the irony of the graffiti artist, because it’s not irony. It is their work to effect the change from one identity to another, in a consciousness in which place is identity, but only for a transient time. That’s why tagging is vital to graffiti craft: one must be present, in just the right space, to enter the gesture. If one moves a metre to the right or left, one is in a different gesture. It is a dance, this means of hanging onto an identity in a world that has invaded human social space with markers meant to stand in for people. When those markers are used for another intent, they change their relative stance, and mark something entirely different. Graffiti is the art of resistance.

2 thoughts on “Graffiti and the Art of Resistance

  1. Hello Harold, I saw this photo and thought, wow, that is a street corner I know in Vancouver. Funny enough though, now I think of it, a street corner I used to know. The buildings have been torn down and replaced with skyscrapers. I would argue though that the impulse to tag and mark is deeply ingrained in humanity!

    • It’s Kelowna, actually! Vancouver’s new playground. Yes, humans like to mark things. Those troll-inukshuks-cairns that travellers pile up all over the place in Iceland, for example. The Icelandic Government has to pay people to take them down. My take is that even the buildings are mark-making, which raises questions about the nature of crime, and those are interesting questions.

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