Graffiti Analysis

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Graffiti and Commodification Culture: an Analysis From eye-catchingly vivid, rainbow hued designs spread across facades of brick and stone, to illegible names and phrases haphazardly scrawled in subway cars and on stop signs, graffiti is meant to be seen. In a world where even art is commodified -- fine art pieces can fetch up to 300 million dollars in auctions – graffiti symbolizes to many a tactical form of resistance against consumerism in art and society. Although graffiti artists who do legal work for pay illustrates even graffiti’s vulnerability to the influence of commodification and consumer culture, the art form still manages to remain mostly in the realm of non-commodification and anti-hegemonic ideals through its illegal nature …show more content…
Examples of crude scratchings or elaborate paintings on public walls have been found that date back to ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. In modern times, graffiti can range from a young couple memorializing their love by writing their names in wet cement to giant murals created on the side of buildings using aerosol spray paint; this analysis focuses on the later form, which originated from urban hip hop culture and has since branched out to many areas of American culture. Graffiti’s ubiquity and its presence in many people’s everyday lives make it an object of pop culture and worthy of study. (This site contains multiple examples of graffiti: …show more content…
In the United States, hegemonic structures favor the wealthy, white males, and older generations, providing them with privileges that enable them to live lives that are mostly free from fear, hardship, and discrimination. Graffiti finds its origins, however, in what Sarah Giller describes as urban “communities of color” that “are not economically, politically, or culturally empowered” (Giller 1). Unable to practice and distribute their art or have their voices heard in typical ways due to economic constraints, cultural stigma, and general marginalization and discrimination, poor black, Latino, and immigrant youths took matters into their own hands and began “tagging” public spaces in New York City in the 1970s (Martin 44). Traditionally, the wealthy elite often exert control over the cultural climate of the nation and deem what constitutes “real” art that “deserves” to be displayed in public. These societal powers that be therefore look down upon the graffiti, as it represents minority groups immutable attempts to communicate their “identity and empowerment” in the face of hegemonic oppression (Giller 3). Graffiti, in essence, gives a voice to the typically voiceless and power to the typically

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