Daily Archives: May 7, 2008

Lex Injusta

There is advertising campaign in Victoria about massive fines for carrying spray paint cans. These alleged ‘laws’ are draconian, unprincipled and may not actually be laws. The fines may not actually be laws, as they do not conform to legal principles in reversing the onus of proof, presuming that the accused is guilty until they prove that they have a legal reason for carrying spray paint cans. The ancient legal maxim holds lex injusta non est lux (an unjust law is no true law). Unless you want to argue that laws are what ever a government orders is law. Unfortunately this means that you maintain that the Nazi genocide was legal as they were the legitimate German government at the time.

Laws do not need publicity for ignorance of the law is no excuse but ignorance of a gang leader’s orders is a valid excuse. Hence, the need for the advertising campaign.

Whether these fines for carrying spray paint cans are unjust laws or simply the orders of a regime with no interest in justice is debatable there can be no debate that they are unjust and unfair. Send your comments to about these disgusting anti-graffiti campaign to graffiti@justice.vic.gov.au or email your local MP. Not that this will do any good as they are professional pachyderms but you might want to vent your disgust on them.

Keeping up the good sarcastic fight against these disgusting anti-graffiti legislation is Zero Tag http://www.zero-tag.org/ who also have a video on YouTube. (Cheers to Littleboy Hercules for point it out to me.) Zero Tag is well produced with videos, photographs and graphics – it is actually a piece of viral marketing by a popular sports footwear brand, but the brand is never even mentioned on the site. The site is a lot of fun presenting “facts” like: “As of April 2008, ZeroTAG had removed 240,500 incidents of graffiti from local areas and 191 graffiti artist from their families.” And their complete list of banned materials is far more extensive than just spray paint cans – marker pens, ink, chalk, squids, shoes… Zero Tag’s philosophy is if you can’t beat them – make fun of them.

The Victorian government’s propaganda at Hawksburn station has been already covered with a tag.

Phibs & Deb @ Hogan

Phibs & Deb are two prominent street artists, both are professional piecers and both are exhibiting at Hogan Gallery. If you have had your eyes open and been to Fitzroy or street art locations in the city in the last couple of years then you will have seen the work of either Phibs or Deb. Deb’s work is amongst the most recognizable street art in Melbourne, chiefly because they are all images curvy attractive women in patterned garments. Phibs work is also identifiable in his use of lines, flat colours and stylised tribal designs.

Phibs style translates easily from aerosol paint on a wall to acrylic paint on canvas. There are the same flat colours and black line tribal design. Exactly what tribe Phibs style belongs to is not easy to determine, there are elements from around the world. The best paintings are where Phibs has used tight cropping on his designs but all of the paintings are of a consistent standard.

Deb was not so sure of herself on canvas and although she had more work in the exhibition it varied tremendously. Deb appeared to still be looking for the right media for images, trying watercolour pencils, acrylic paint and other media with varying results. Her brushstrokes or pencil lines are not as confident as her aerosol lines and this only emphasises the weakness in some of her designs. I would have liked to write about Deb creating a 21st Century odalisques, or the familiar animals that accompany her women. Her best paintings in the exhibition are her collaborations with Phibs. Their two individual styles mix together with Phibs intense black line work providing a support for Deb’s cute woman.

Collaborative artworks are natural for street artists as they often collaborate on a wall. Although collaborative art appear strange to modernists charged with the idea of the individual heroic artist, they were common in the 15th and 16th Centuries and are becoming common again.

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