In the eye of the beholder

Graffiti is the new disco – it sucks. All you need to do in order to be creative with a camera is take pictures of Graffiti – apparently. To be cool you must ‘carry’ a skateboard, own an iPhone5 and be into graffiti. I’m not so sure myself.

Having grown up in the 80’s my early exposure to graffiti was tagging, it was both tribal and destructive. My perception changed after arriving in Bristol at the turn of the century, I was introduced to Banksy and the concept of street art. The debate between street art and graffiti rumbles on with graffiti slowly winning the war as more and more people learn how to use a stencil and a spray can.

However I’ve got a problem with street art, the problem that I have with street art is that it seems to lack creativity. As I walk the streets of Bristol I fail to see anything that excites, inspires or even interests me. The art itself is quite often boring, and it’s become a mainstream medium that’s still embraced as alternative counter culture, nothing seems to have changed in the last 10, 15 or even 20 years.

Street walls, the shutters of shop-fronts and the signage for anything from a hairdressers to a butchers shop all seem to sport a graffiti logo or emblem. The question I ask myself is, has graffiti swung back from being considered art to an antisocial expression (or lack of expression).

I might be wrong to criticise graffiti because as I mentioned earlier, it’s a mainstream activity held in high regard by popular culture. But whether I’m right or wrong, ‘street art’ is a strange art-form, it is one of the few forms of visual arts that needs to be photographed for it to be hung on the wall or included in an album.

Maybe that’s what I have an issue with? When walking through the city streets I see people pointing their Canons Nikons and iPhones at somebody else’s art. What’s strange about that is that you just don’t see people impressing themselves by taking pictures of other people’s art. I do struggle to see what pleasure can be taken from spending weekends taking pictures of other people’s artistic endeavours so I thought I’d try it. I didn’t go out taking pictures of graffiti I thought I subvert the process and hit the galleries instead. Guess what, despite scorning others for taking pictures of others work I actually quite enjoyed doing it.

Imran Qureshi

William West

Tschornoow - war remnants museum propaganda images