This tag that recently defaced the Dalson Peace Mural got my attention in the past few days for two reason – 1. because it’s unbelievably shit and 2. because it is so ignorant and audacious in equal measures. Not that I needed to make my mind up on the matter necessarily, but this cements my utter contempt towards tagging. Do I sound like a grumpy old git? Let me explain where I’m coming from.
One of my favourite documentaries explores the inherent differences between graffiti art and graffiti tagging, and the differences between those who do each. In a broad sense, both come from a place of wanting to stamp one’s own ‘identity’ on their area, on their neighbourhood; however street art does this in a way that adds an aesthetic contribution to the community. It is not completely selfish and, for me, it qualifies as art as a result, even if that ‘art’ is not what the local council or more conservative people agree with. Taggers, on the other hand, don’t care about contributing in any sense. They lack any skill, effort or innovative design, and, worst of all, slap their tags on top of genuine street art!
The documentary that I am speaking of is Style Wars and I’d highly recommend it. It follows some of the pioneers of the early New York graffiti scene (circa mid-70s) including Skeme, Dondi, Seen and Crash. If there is a villain in the documentary at all, it’s Cap. Cap was a notorious tagger who continually tagged over some of the greatest street art there has ever been, culminating in, what one of the graffiti artists called, “some no-forgive shit”. Many people, such as the hipsters of London who have skulled off from Dalston to Peckham in fear of being ‘behind’, probably don’t care much for the Dalston Peace Mural. But it matters to many of us, local group Rudimental have even shown their love for the piece by making it the cover artwork for their album Home. It’s street art, it belongs to our neighbourhood and it shouldn’t be tagged on. That is some no-forgive shit.