There were four seasons in one Melbourne sky on Saturday, September 20th as heavy grey clouds raced across the sky above Clifton Park, Brunswick. How Jeremy Gaschk and his crew managed to keep their three billboard sized temporary walls erect in the wind was incredible. The Don’t Ban The Can event was several things: a cultural event, a community party and a political protest against the draconian Graffiti Prevention laws.
As a free community party Don’t Ban The Can had everything for the couple hundred people that came to the event. It was certainly family friendly event, fathers and sons, mothers with infants and lots of teenager boys. It was remarkably well organized with clearly identified volunteers providing an informal and fun atmosphere. Good music from a series of DJs that kept the mood mellow and relaxed. There was the Rotary Club doing a sausage sizzle: it was great to see the elder Rotary Club supporting the youth community. Two policemen had a look at the event but clearly felt alienated by the good vibes and kept their distance.
Although it was pleasant to just hang out in the Clifton Park with cool people the focus of Don’t Ban the Can was aerosol art. Watching the crews of graffiti artists demonstrating their art on the temporary walls was the main event. But as a cultural event Don’t Ban the Can was very successful because it had interactive elements. It was an art jam – there were two marquees with free art materials and tables made of old doors. They were filled, shoulder-to-shoulder, with people from 10-40 years old drawing. It also turned out to be a photography and documentary film-making event. The number of people with cameras of all kinds in their hands was remarkable; photography is a major art practice that the community is involved in.
As a political protest it didn’t really happen. There were no speeches; Don’t Ban the Can was propaganda by deed. Those who attended saw what street artists mean by a responsibility to the community. And Victoria’s politicians will ignore it – the can has already been banned.