Update & Repost: Some Links On 5Pointz, Graffiti, & The Arts–Property Rights & The Rule-Of-Law

Apparently graffiti art does have a price, and it may be much more than $$$:

Ruling that graffiti — a typically transient form of art — was of sufficient stature to be protected by the law, a federal judge in Brooklyn awarded a judgment of $6.7 million on Monday to 21 graffiti artists whose works were destroyed in 2013 at the 5Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens.

Would you be willing to undermine property-rights and the rule-of-law?

NY Curbed had original 5Pointz coverage here.

A NY Times beat reporter shared in the suffering of those graffiti artists whose 5pointz canvas was whitewashed in preparation for demolition by owner Jerry Wolkoff.

‘One street artist, who would give his name only as Just, had at least two works painted over. He spent hours early Tuesday gazing at the whitewashed buildings, leaning against a red-brick wall across the street. Then he bought himself a tall glass of beer, which he sipped slowly from a brown paper bag.

“Heartbreaking,” he said. “This is not just about graffiti — it’s about the unity of people who met here from all over the world.” He paused and took a drink. “That’s what really hurts.”

Three photos and some backstory here. 5pointz had become something of a graffiti mecca, arguably more than the sum of its parts:

Once the real-estate market began heating-up in NYC, Wolkoff decided to whitewash his building overnight..

Every bit of graffiti scrawled there over 40-years was at his discretion.

Personally, I don’t take pleasure in the erasing of people’s hard work and creativity, nor in the breaking-up of a graffiti-collective which traveled far and wide to get to 5pointz, nor even in the iconic stature they gave the place, but David Thompson sums it up pretty well:

‘The moral of the story, gentlemen, is buy your own canvas’

The pathos in the Times article stops short of a familiar ‘art will unite all races, classes, & genders,’ type of Leftist political ideology.

I”m getting a sense that even should graffiti become a longer-lasting vehicle for artistic expression, beyond the street, it likely began for many non-taggers possibly in affect, driven by ideology, or the boredom and rebellion of the suburbs and people looking for some meaning in their lives.

What are they overlooking? What are they looking for? What do the people looking at the work might think they’re looking at?

Or perhaps it would have been better to celebrate the way street-culture and graffiti has interacted with money and market forces through tourism. 5pointz arguably was a tourism draw.

From The Times piece:

‘Though street art is meant to be temporary, 5Pointz became known as a graffiti museum. And the medium itself, once considered a symbol of urban unraveling, became a sought after gallery-worthy commodity, with work from street artists like Banksy commanding millions of dollars. Which is one of the reasons the whitewashing of 5Pointz’s walls was greeted with such vociferous dismay. “What?! What did they do?!” cried a tour guide named Hans Von Rittern, as he raced out of a tour bus early Tuesday, his arms wide, his face crumpling as soon as he caught sight of Ms. Flaguel. They embraced tightly and wept.’

I can think of some possible messages being sent by the law:

You don’t have to work and own something to have ownership in it (normalizing a collectivism which rejects the property-rights of others…thus your property rights as well…for what’s to stop the next guy from tagging over your tag?).  Someone else owns all this building anyways, so screw him, and screw the guy who came before me too.

The value of artistic creation is yet again associated with money in the modern world (partially out of guilt, I suspect), and not so much with self-expression, technique, craft, freedom, and moments which can elevate and expand, offering meaning within a process.

The criminality associated with graffiti is also tactily rewarded/overlooked by a court of law (there are real victims to the kinds of activity that can accompany tagging).  I would much rather have lawmakers and law enforcers hold a simple line, rather than set the wrong incentives.

It can’t have been a good day for those who lost something. It’s hard out there.

Here’s a video:

More broadly, romanticizing the logic of the street, and taggers, comes with its own risks. Celebrate the spirit of creative lawlessness and turf warfare with the full acceptance that there ain’t much law involved. I’m sure 5pointz served as an escape, and a positive environment for many, but all the other things going on in these neighborhoods aren’t so uplifting, hence, it’s importance.

That’s right Banksy, it’s still a tagger’s world:

Related On This Site:Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’

So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’

People are using art for political, religious, commercial and ideological reasons as always…right or left…believer or non-believer…Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And AestheticsFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit

Trading Robert Moses for Brailia…an authoritarian streak?: Brasilia: A Planned CityAnd AestheticsRoger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza… A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily says the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia. See the comments: Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…

‘Art’ & Ideology, Ideology and Politics-Some Links

A little more from Cathy Young on the ‘mattress artist:’

‘Rape is a vile crime; to support the victim and condemn the perpetrator are natural and noble instincts. But the presumption of innocence is a key principle of justice and a fundamental societal value. This story should be a reminder of its importance to both journalists and politicians.’

Who needs facts, evidence, and reason, when you’ve got a cause, a victim, and outrage?

Withholding judgment is often the point of many of these legal pathways and processes.  To whom does it do good to see political incentives channeled away from the presumption of innocence, and the gathering of facts and evidence?

Not people who want to live in a civilized society, generally speaking.

Cathy Young At The Daily Beast-‘Columbia Student: I Didn’t Rape Her’Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

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Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple, I believe) reads and reviewsSoumission,’  that new novel which imagines a future French Caliphate out of the despair and nihilistic gloom of the author:

‘The plot of Soumission is simple, but clever and plausible (which does not, of course, mean that, being set in the future, it is a prediction). Having won another mandate of five years in 2017, François Hollande presides over further catastrophic economic and social decline.’

Medieval Times-Roaming The Gloom With Theory: Interview With Michel Hollebecq..Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Look Away From Europe’s Muslim Problem’

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And, because that particularly ideological set of interests receiving European immigrants values all faiths, ethnic groups, and ‘ways of life’ equally well, why not try it out here?  You know the kind:  Victim/oppressor, universal ‘rights’ based activism and identity politics etc.:

Interesting link.

The first thing to go is often decorum, respect and civility, because if you’re being oppressed, and you’re righteous in your cause, and virtuous in your activism, you never really respected ‘the man,’ ‘the system,’ nor his/its rules, anyways.

The attack on others’ right to speak is a potentially acceptable casualty, and the more broad equivocating on free speech limitations usually comes later, by those who suddenly find the erosion of decorum, respect and civility all around them.

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Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’

From FIRE.org-‘Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’

Full post here.

Sure it’s fun to mock the p.c. crowd, but this is p.c. on steroids. Greg Lukianoff, founder of FIRE (Foundation For Individual Rights In Education) sees a new threat on the doorstep:

“In 2011, the Department of Education took a hatchet to due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct. Now the Department of Education has enlisted the help of the Department of Justice to mandate campus speech codes so broad that virtually every student will regularly violate them.’

The kind of corruption we saw coming out of the IRS is of a piece, too.

More from the article:

‘Among the forms of expression now punishable on America’s campuses by order of the federal government are: 

  • Any expression related to sexual topics that offends any person. This leaves a wide range of expressive activity—a campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” a presentation on safe sex practices, a debate about sexual morality, a discussion of gay marriage, or a classroom lecture on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—subject to discipline.

  • Any sexually themed joke overheard by any person who finds that joke offensive for any reason.

  • Any request for dates or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient of such a request or flirtation.’

This blog would like to make a brief appeal:

Without glossing too much over the historical record nor the clear moral wrongs of this country’s legacy and institutions to black folks:  The above approach is closing doors you might want to keep open.  No one can take away the civil rights ethos of your elders that’s been passed down to you.  It’s been vital in carving out space for freedom, inclusion under the law, truth, wisdom, safety, dignity and common purpose.  It’s your legacy.

That said, the playing field has changed and will continue to change.  Activists and progressive political coalitions like the ones we have in power will by their nature churn out bad, restrictive laws that tend to favor a few (usually themselves and their cronies) in the name of all.  Every law that can be used to favor your interests, can be used against your interests.

To appeal further, hopefully beyond the typical libertarian argument (freedom vs. coercion, the individual vs. the State) I would say such progressive activism can harm the soil out of which future generations will grow:  The church through onerous regulations and laws which contradict church doctrine, the neighborhood through a weakened and stagnant economy, the healthy bonds that can unite different groups society-wide by encouraging political favoritism and corruption which erodes the public trust.

What am I missing?

Related On This SiteGreg Lukianoff At FIRE.Org: ‘Emily Bazelon And The Danger Of Bringing “Anti-Bullying” Laws To Campus’

From Volokh: ‘Conservatives, Libertarians, and Civil Rights History’Libertarianism In The Mainstream?: Rand Paul In The Spotlight…Thomas Sowell archives here.

Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’

What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”