Celebrating Urban Sabotage at America's First Major Graffiti Museum Exihibit

Art in the Streets will be remembered as a moment when Los Angeles’s constant and heroic battle against graffiti vandalism took a hard blow to the head.”


Heather Mac Donald of City Journal decides to see if the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art’s new exhibit on graffiti would pass the Saul Alinsky test. As ol’ Saul liked to say, “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

This aesthetics-based successor religion sure can’t:

Clearly, it was time to give Art in the Streets some street cred with real graffiti, instead of its commissioned “aerosol art.” Once allowed inside the show, I went to Martha Cooper’s influential photos of bombed subway cars and made ready to write my tag on the wall next to them, eyeing a guard conspiratorially. “Oh, no, please!” intervened the watchman apologetically. “You can’t do that.” I tried again next to the timeline entry celebrating the start of Fairey’s stickering campaign in 1989. “You can’t write on the wall,” another guard told me.

Hypocritical to the end, MOCA is selling graffiti spray paint in its bookstore along with its $60 Art in the Streets catalogues. What would happen if I used the spray paint on the walls of the show? I asked the platinum blond cashier. “Oh, you’re not allowed to take it into the show,” he responded cheerfully. “What you do with it outside is your own business,” he added. But how would you know that I was taking it inside the show? I asked. “There are guards everywhere,” he explained. So MOCA supports graffiti on other people’s property, not on its own? Like Fairey, the cashier grew petulant. “I don’t know what you are talking about, to be honest,” he said, dismissing me with a wave of his hand.


But of course he does. Read the whole thing for a fascinating discussion of how self-described “progressives” encourage reprimitivization — complete with an appearance by proto-Obama rube and graffiti “artist,” Shepard Fairey.

By the way, I remember back in the 1980s, when aerosol cans were suddenly deemed bad for Gaia, the ozone layer, and all other living things. Why is an art museum encouraging raping not just the physical environment, but Mother Nature herself? If protecting the environmental is equivalent to the civil rights movement, as Al Gore recently said at a conference he presumably flew into from his giant mansion, then isn’t the Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art guilty of being the equivalent of racists? Alinsky coordinate! Alinsky coordinate!


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