Government-Sponsored Graffiti? It’s not graffiti anymore.

Caracas Journal – Artists Embellish Walls With Political Visions – NYTimes.com.

…the government… supports Mr. Zerpa’s creations and the work of many other street artists, and is increasingly making them a central element of its promotion of a state ideology. Government-financed brigades of graffiti artists and muralists are blanketing this city’s walls with politicized images, ranging from crude, graffiti-tagged slogans to bold, colorful works of graphic art.

So… what are we to make of this? Street Art has gone legit. Is this anything new? As I argued in my thesis, street art is the legitimate bastard step-child of graffiti, but Venezuela is taking this to extremes.

Kudos to Mr. Zerpa (and his cohort) for obtaining government sponsorship for his street works, and kudos to the government for recognizing the (political and social) value of street art.

But don’t be talking anything about revolution or graffiti’s power to give voice to the powerless.

Now I guess I need to go off and read the whole article…

Ok. So having read the entire article (all ~200 words of it), it’s not all doom and gloom. Apparently, there remain countless scores of taggers and even a few illegal street artists. Good. But still.

On one hand, it’s great that the government has recognized the political value of street art, and the need to compensate artists for their efforts, especially when such efforts tow the party line. On the other hand, there’s something disquieting about the State providing paint and supplies–in a sense sanctioning painting on private and public property.

This will require much more thought. Jeez.

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