Robbo vs. Banksy: Graffiti FTW!!!1!

Graffiti Artist Robbo Took the Road – WSJ.com.

I don’t have any idea how long this will be available for free, but it’s up as of today, so I hope it will remain freely available in perpetuity.

Here’s the nutshell: Banksy dissed a ~25 year old ROBBO INC. piece, and now ROBBO has come out of retirement to wage war against the street artist. Gogo Robbo (and friends). Well, ‘dissed’ may not be quite the right word, but it had the expected effect: ROBBO is now busily dissing Banksy’s all over, and I say Good for Him.

I need to keep an eye on this as it develops. Banksy is something of a tourist commodity for London (and Bristol and other parts of England), and I wonder what reaction—if any—authorities will have to the battle being waged on London streets (and canals). On the one hand, Banksy’s works are as illegal as ROBBO’s; on the other, Banksy has an incredibly high market value and exists as something of a (sub)cultural icon, and the presence of his works adds value to neighborhoods and landmarks.

Additionally, I believe the responses by ROBBO (and TEAM ROBBO) bear a relationship to the activities of ‘the Splasher,’ who features prominently in my Master’s thesis “Street Art and the Splasher: Assimilation and Resistance in Advanced Capitalism.” I also feel that the discussion could be useful in my attempt to resolve my own confusion about what separates street art from graffiti, and may help to define this separation.

Also, the comments (available here) are quite interesting—if largely unsurprising—and range from ‘vandals should be shot’ to ‘I like Banksy, but that Robbo guy (and the rest of his vandal buddies) should be shot,’ with typical misunderstanding of the impulses behind graffiti, the purpose and import of vandalism as a hobby and as an integral part of capitalism (without vandalism, glaziers, painters, sandblasters, graffiti policemen, etc. would enjoy far less business and would thus contribute less to the economy, and this is not to mention loss-prevention departments at hardware stores, Wall-Marts, and other purveyors of spraypaint), and other myriad issues surrounding graffiti (and, by extension, street art, if ‘street art’ is indeed a separate activity) in the twenty-first century.

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