After a contested history, graffiti is finally coming of age
Graffiti artists have been used to being chased away by city authorities, but the tide is turning, especially in Johannesburg, where the city is working with the artists
Since its emergence in the US in the 1960s, graffiti has been regarded as controversial at best and a crime at worst. Its practitioners are pursued by municipal authorities who regard their work as vandalism and pass and enforce by-laws to clamp down on it. But an appreciation for graffiti is growing around the world and cities from New York to Johannesburg have begun collaborating with the artists. The philosophy underpinning the work of graffiti artists lies outside the realm of mainstream culture, and the practitioners work as an underground sub-culture with codes of conduct. However, they have always contended their work is public art and, like other art forms, deserves to be tolerated if not appreciated as a public good.. They argue that it is the purest form of art as they do not seek fame nor financial reward. Most graffiti artists work anonymously or use pseudonyms.
Earlier in October Johannesburg hosted local and international graffiti artists at the City of Gold Urba...