Graffitti artists, social commentators, propaganda artists or vandals?
"If you have a statue in the city centre, you could go past it every day on your way to school and never even notice it, right - but as soon as someone puts a traffic cone on its head, you've made your own sculpture. — from The Independent"-Banksy
The Graffiti artist is the anonymous voice providing social commentary on many small and large issues facing the 21st century societies. This visual commentary can reflect a range of messages from widely held perspectives, to the individual ideologies held by a Graffiti artist. Graffiti like most forms of artwork, Graffiti is a reflection of the social atmosphere of its time. There are, like most art forms a way for historians to explore the society within certain periods of time. Discover social and political views, social structure, feelings on local, national, and international events, idols, literacy, psychology, and values.
The ancient Romans carved graffiti on walls and monuments, examples of which also survive in Egypt. The eruption of Vesuvius preserved graffiti in Pompeii, including Latin curses, magic spells, declarations of love, alphabets, political slogans and famous literary quotes, providing insight into ancient Roman street life.
In contemporary society, Graffiti Artists still play a relevant role as social commentators.
One Example of modern Graffiti art is the well-known pseudo-anonymous British Graffiti Artist Banksy. His artworks are often satirical pieces of art on topics such as politics, culture, and ethics. His street art, which combines graffiti writing with a distinctive stencilling technique, is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris and members of the anarcho-punk band Crass who maintained a graffiti stencil campaign on the London Tube System in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His art has appeared in cities around the world. Banksy's work was born out of the Bristol underground scene which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.