Photography Today, The Art of Philosophy

Graffiti – a form of art or vandalism?

 

 

 

Graffiti isn’t something that we usually come across with in the walks of Hong Kong streets. Here the streets are almost always clean and free from street and public art. In these 4 months and counting of the political outburst from the anti-extradition bill, there’s been a blossom of graffitis, spray-paint wordings, sticker arts, poster arts, street installation arts etc in all 18 districts of Hong Kong.

Almost everyday I have to take a cross-harbour bus to work, and everyday I walk on this footbridge from where the bus stop was to the MTR station, a journey of less than 5 minutes. On that footbridge, each and every time I walked along it, I am surrounded by graffitis and poster arts about the current political movement, slightly different every week.

One day from almost a month ago, out of the blue, the footbridge was swiped clean. The graffitis were wiped out and the posters were torn down, as if nothing happened – life goes on and the footbridge walkway becomes just as how it was before. This change threw me,

why does the society (well government) wants these to be cleaned? Were they “not-clean” beforehand? If so, what is “not-clean” about these graffitis? Is it because of the content? If so, surely only people who have knowledge of Chinese can understand it, or else it’s just a bunch of symbols? Or, is it because it is damaging properties? That it is somehow destroying the artistic minimalism of the property? What is the intention behind wiping these out? Is it really just about “cleanness” or are there hidden agenda e.g. induce the idea of forgetting / erasing what happened? There are actually street arts in parts of Hong Kong e.g. the one on Hollywood road, what makes someone / a group of authorities to say this can be on the wall and that can’t? What values are they judging by for these types of “art”?

During the movement these 4 months, there were actually street installations of origami cranes e.g. outside Fortress Hill station, why were these being removed? If the phrase 「時代革命,光復香港」were spray-painted with a bit more artistic quality and aesthetics elements, would they be considered more art than vandalism?

So many questions popped up from the experience that day, which led me to read up and research about the history of graffitis, the type of graffitis there are, why and how graffitis came about and how it relates to culture and politics (which will be discussed in the next blog post).

 

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