Street Art is a truly DIY movement. Once a fresco/ graffiti has been commissioned even if the graphcis is exactly the same, that graffiti would become a poster, or a paid message sign or an advertisement bill board. The status of Street Art is no longer valid as a free form self expression. However, a lot of large advertisement bill boards, if executed with flair and beauty, becomes treasured street art. ie. Wine advertisements in French small towns. People keep the old paintings because the people like it, its part of their daily lives, drinking wine, so nobody sabotage these frescos. You see a lot of them in Angouleme and anywhere in any old town. There are also pseudo vintage frescos in the style of old times, but in fact they are newly created in a steam punk style. These would be wall paintings not your ordinary street art graffiti work.
The beauty about street art is that, its for the pleasure of anyone passing, it is not a painting locked up in somebody's vault as an investment.
Hong Kong is a very tightly packed city, every inch belongs to someone for some commercial purpose and has been watched after by neighbours, owners, police and security guards. Even taking a photo anywhere you might see suddenly a police or security guard jumping out from somewhere to stop you.
Lets first take a look at some interesting occasions of how graffiti happens in different places around the world.
1// in films, or documentary videos, even in online games - these gives us a condensed account of "how it happened"
"Be kind, rewind" - the film opens with young energetic imaginative wanting to have some fun. scene 1: They paint the underside of an overpass bridge which is part of a street. end scene 2: Their graffiti has been repainted by some younger new kids.
Here the walls are used as a giant size temporary "black board" of a sort. You could cover existing posters, and I will cover your "has been" graffiti. The wall belongs to everyone, unofficially.
The charm of this type of unofficial community wall is what graffiti art should be. It is not a wall "reserved for art". It is a wall taken over by the ones who feels the urge and it doesnt really bother anybody that much.
Little kids draw on their walls too - in apts. I visited a famous professor who retired already. Inside their home on the walls are little kids scribblings. He smiled and said its his grandson's doing, the grandson said, he could paint better than anyone! In his smiles, he love this "graffiti work" more than any famous calligraphic work you could find in books.
Its linked to his grandson - to the ones he treasures. His treasure.
There is something of similar indulgence in the movie, the cops should catch these kids, but they are only kids, they are not going to be put in jail, right? They probably did something like that when they were kids.
2// go see some instances where it happens - if possible
In less visible countryside, seaside little islands on hiking trails, sometimes on village homes, you see a phone number: plumbing, tel:xx 00 22 45. So on so forth. Or maybe a penis and some cursing words - in Chinese and often in English too. These are bathroom, no mans land type of graffiti. Never pretended to be art.
Mosaic tiles installed by foreign artist.
This raises the question: if local people, the public dont see this as art, by force of their existing reputation, should this be "enough credit" to occupy a public space as treasured art?
Talisman sheets posted by local artists: If I dont believe in Taoism, these superstitious papers, do they have a right to stay posted? If I posted Christian posters would that amount be the same? If somebody posted a Buddha image, without words somewhere in public, would that be interpreted as good will and blessing?
3// try to do something somewhere yourself?
Try to post something just visually pleasant - say flowers, or pretty women, somewhere in public, what might happen? Not in critical political moments - such as the chalk flower incident, but ordinary day to day without specific social events setting? If in the ordinary day to day setting, people could accept some wild flower painting, maybe the city could tolerate much more self expressions?
The city has accepted Kowloon Kings graffiti for many years - because everyone knows he is an old man, with a slightly unusual obsessional occupation. It might be taken as non-calligraphy, littering visual mess all over the place. But he found his place to express himself. Now, we have commercial minded company selling his graphics on "designer objects", cloth, wall paper. Did the Kowloon King graffiti change? Or, the scenario changed, whats old school becomes vintage chic.
Kowloon city inspired online video game: sl Kowloon Gate
4// Organised participation in a "Big Draw" event?
Around the world near Oct, there is a "Big Draw" event. This event is to give voice to people who dont normally draw pictures. Its an educational initiative. People find fun, and discover their innate talents - or simply inner joy in doing something without any implication of risk, use, and being free.
5// Do the graffiti thing if you catch an occasion! Catch as catch can.
Artist: Penab (location to be verified)