Tagged and Bagged
Still, I think Mayor Bloomberg got it wrong when he revoked the permit for a block party that included having graffiti artists paint on replicas of subway cars:
The city has revoked a permit awarded to organizers of a block party celebrating graffiti, saying it will not grant another one unless the group scraps plans to have graffiti writers spray paint murals onto models of New York City subway trains. The city acted hours after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg criticized the plans yesterday.
The block party, scheduled for Aug. 24, was to be held on West 22nd Street by the fashion designer Marc Ecko to celebrate the upcoming release of the video game he designed for Atari, "Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure." The game features characters who vandalize a city called New Radius with graffiti in defiance of a corrupt and tyrannical local government.
Mr. Ecko was granted the permit on July 18, after months of talks with community leaders in Chelsea.
The city revoked the permit yesterday, the same day City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. was quoted in The Daily News as saying the party was "promoting criminal acts."
The Mayor, who gets a lot of mileage in this city out of his support of the arts, insists this is not about curbing freedom of expression:
"Look, there is a fine line here between freedom of expression and going out and encouraging people to hurt this city," Mr. Bloomberg said during a visit to a senior citizens center in Queens yesterday. "Defacing subway cars is hardly a joke; encouraging people, kids in particular, to do that after all the money we've spent, all the time we've spent removing graffiti."
But here's the thing, Bloomberg missed a golden opportunity to take the hip out of graffiti art. The permit had been granted, the context was crystal clear, and it's not as if most folks invited to events like this are going to risk ruining their Prada shoes by climbing a fence in the middle of the night to tag a subway car. All Mikey had to do was show up himself, compliment the artistry of the work in as dry conceptual terms as he could, and the next morning hundreds of kids around the city would have ditched their spray cans out of sheer embarrassment. Instead, he's only further glorified the rebellious aspect of the practice.
P.S. Can't miss this opportunity to plug the amazing Hugo Martinez of Martinez gallery. He's remained on the bleeding edge of the counter culture graffiti art represents and uses his gallery to promote amazing events like this one. A true hero of the city.