Workshops and Graffiti

07Sep10

When I arrived at the space last night to hold auditions for the professional company, I was faced with this.

And an empty glass beer bottle tucked into the corner of the doorway. I scooped up the beer bottle and popped it into my backpack (since I haven’t got a recycling bag in the space yet. Note to self: fix that!) hoping that I wouldn’t have occasion to open it during the auditions and rouse suspicion from one of the actors that they were auditioning for a closet alcoholic. As I set up for the first actor to arrive I started thinking about tagging, graffiti, and how those forms of expression are ways of interacting with the forbidden.

Whether the shapes spray-painted on my door are “art” or not is perhaps irrelevant. They’re forms of self-expression, proof that “I was here”, a way of claiming territory. 610 2nd Avenue doesn’t belong to the taggers, or to me—but both of us have staked some kind of claim on that space. I still feel a little giddy when I put my key in the lock and open up the space, a big, beautiful retail building with exposed brick and cool lighting and enough room to *really* rehearse and explore….it feels almost too-good-to-be-true. As a freelance artist with stereotypically limited financial resources it feels like a place that I can’t afford, a place that couldn’t really be mine. I wonder what the tagger would say about the space? Does it feel like an unwelcoming place? A place that could never be theirs? Does breaking the law and making your mark in bold permanent colors feel like a way of claiming some of that space? A way of ruining it for the people you feel wouldn’t want to share with you?

Is it fun *because* it’s illegal?

I’m sure it won’t take long before the tags are scrubbed from the windows. I’m also sure that the next three months will go by very quickly, and before I know it, my name will be peeled off the door and I’ll turn over the key to 610 2nd Avenue. I’d like to say something deep and profound here, but nothing’s coming. I guess I’ll leave the depth to you, dear reader.

What do you think about graffiti and tagging?

How do you feel when you’re walking down a block with lots of graffiti?

Now for the tough question—whatever you think about graffiti, there’s somebody else who thinks the opposite way. If you hate it and it makes you uncomfortable, can you imagine someone liking it? Why do they find it so compelling? Challenge yourself not to give a superficial answer but to really see the other perspective. And if you dig graffiti, can you do the same thing? Imagine why someone might hate it, why it might make them uncomfortable and angry.

If you like, tell me about your thoughts in the comments down below.

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