Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vote for New Public Art

A dispute over the content of a work of graffiti on a wall has erupted into a wide disagreement on local website SeeClickFix over the past week, culminating in the submission of an improvement the the current design.  Artist "Belive in People" created a work of art known as "Supa-Thug" which one resident commented on and stated that the term "Thug" was perceived as offensive, thus considering it blight (read the full thread here).  The issue has been closed and opened multiple times, and has received enough attention (41 votes at the present moment) to gather a sizable interest in the topic; enough worth justifying writing about it.

An Authentic Group of Thugs
The word "Thug" comes from India, with regard to the Thugee tribe, who were used by British colonists to oversee plantations in the East Indies.  The same tribe was hired to provide slave oversight to the Jamaican plantations run by the British in the West Indies, where they brought various forms of cannabis with them and introduced it to Jamaican culture.  All of this is highly documented on Wikipedia, as well as this episode of the Boo Slick Show, filmed at the Elm Bar when the artwork first appeared.

The complexity of the issue is that the owner of the building has publicly admitted that the work was not approved prior to its installation, thus making it the property owner's responsibility to clean it if it were considered blight.  The dialogue on SeeClickFix has taken two different directions:  one group of people arguing whether or not it's "art" and another group of statements indicating the actual legality of the work itself.  The fact that the community wasn't involved enough in the art project to begin with might be another reason that 45 people have now voted against the currently-standing "Supa-Thug" graffiti piece.

Proposed along the course of the thread has been the inclusion of the 1-Upcake piece.  Worth noting is that the photograph was taken of the building prior to the Supa-Thug artwork being installed, meaning that the image itself could have come from "Believe in People" himself, since he probably had a picture of the wall on file anyway.

Voting for 1up-Cake
If votes for 1up-Cake exceed the number of votes to take Supa-Thug down, then perhaps the property owner could be persuaded into letting that be installed in place of Supa-Thug.  Otherwise the legality of the issue is that if the public is complaining about an art piece, the property owner has a responsibility to remove it.

Street Art Vs Graffiti in Question
To be discussed.
To vote for 1up-cake, find the voting button on Nhv.Org and let's get this show on the road!
Parts of this article were previously reported on the Townie Blog.