Chicago street art: vandalism or art?
Personally I see it as an art form, but I believe there is a fine line before it turns into vandalism. I believe that street art in the form of community beautification (such as murals), or after school programs to keep children engaged can be considered art forms. However, when personal property becomes tagged I perceive it as vandalism. In contradiction with myself, I do not perceive graffiti on railroad cars as vandalism, but rather a characteristic that adds personality to an urban environment. Meanwhile, I believe random tags on CTA buses and trains (often in the form of derogatory scribbles instead of creative expression) constitute vandalism.
The objective of this documentary is to determine if there is indeed a line, and where that line is. My idea of street art consists of murals and graffiti; however, what exactly is street art and what all does it encompass? When is it appropriate? Is it ever appropriate? How did it originate? What is the purpose? Is it a part of a larger culture as a whole? In shooting this documentary I would like to seek the opinion of a street artist, possibly a neighborhood resident or alderman, and the director of a community outreach center. Even though there is controversy regarding the subject, I ultimately aim to portray it as an art form.
Apart from the aforementioned interviewees, my goal is to obtain my own footage of street art. Secondary sources will consist of still images from websites, and research from websites such as chicagoartmagazine.com and Time Out Chicago. Thus far I have found that Hyde Park used to be a neighborhood whose street art and hip hop scene was vibrant in the 1990s, but that street art overall has been on a decline due to its illegality. This finding is consistent with my prior experience of trying to find a can of spray paint for a costume: it was (and probably still is) impossible to buy a can of spray paint within city limits.
A challenge with this documentary will be to contact neighborhood residents and aldermen. The distance also poses a challenge, since I will need to travel to Chicago a few times before the project’s anticipated deadline. Though possible, the main difficulty will be coordinating with interviewees. In order to achieve my goal, I might have to invest in my own tripod, rather than renting one and missing the return deadline 0:- )
As for the structure of this documentary, it will begin with scenes throughout Chicago as someone narrates the illegality of the art form. I then plan to show an interviewee (artist/community outreach specialist) describing the passion and purpose of the street art movement. I hope to include an interview with someone from Connect Force (an after school program that believes not all graffiti art being produced is being done by vandals). I’m not yet sure if my goal is to conclude the documentary with a solution for how to keep the culture alive while still abiding by city regulations, or if my goal is simply to display a controversy.
*The top two pictures were taken with my camera phone Summer 2010, at the Western Orange line stop. The rest are courtesy of Bomb Art Chicago.com*