Paint Schoodic

Join Carol L. Douglas at beautiful Acadia National Park, August 6-11, 2017. More details here!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Philistines, everywhere

Graffiti on the Colby Street pedestrian bridge in Rochester. I trudge over it daily, so I can certainly relate to these two flipper men doing endless laps on the bridge.
Being a believer in private property rights, I’m generally not amused by graffiti, but last Friday when I came across two swimmers on the Colby Street pedestrian bridge, I genuinely LOLed. The pedestrian bridge does kind of look like a 50-meter lap lane, and because it’s a regular part of my route, I often feel like I’m swimming mindlessly back and forth across it.

Meh. Not as witty as the first graffiti-artist, but at least he was trying.
Periodically, people commit acts of art on the pedestrian bridge (usually involving arrangements of found objects). They seldom last more than 24 hours before some Philistine knocks them apart. So I wasn’t surprised to walk by on Monday and see the poor swimmers defaced with a second layer of graffiti. It wasn’t nearly as witty, but at least the poor anonymous second writer tried.

But then comes the inevitable and predictable impulse to destruction. Really makes you despair for the human race.
Tuesday, the whole thing was scrubbed out by a third graffiti artist, whose only goal was to deface the message that preceded him.

It’s a great metaphor for the forces of creation and destruction that coexist in the human heart. In my current bleak mood, it makes me wonder why artists even try.

My young friend Serina Mo reminded me of this recently by mentioning the aged enfants terrible of the British art scene, Jake and Dinos Chapman. In their massive work of destruction, Insult to Injury, they defaced a rare folio of Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War.
From Insult to Injury, 2003, by Jake and Dinos Chapman. The Chapman brothers added nothing to Goya's work. I hope they fade into obscurity, taking their micron pens with them.
In the short run, it made them famous. It tore at notions of preciousness and art. In the long run, it made the tremendous presumption that modern sensibilities and intellectualism are superior to the pain and suffering drawn by Goya. If nothing else, the world should know by now that rich, silly ninnies are transient, but war and death are eternal verities.

 
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