I have been writing and painting walls; writing this blog and painting walls white, not being a street art writer. The boys are still bombing along the Upfield line in broad daylight as I ride my bike to the hardware shop to buy more undercoat. There was a advertisement about the Graffiti Prevention Act’s presumption of guilt for carrying spray cans taped to the hardware shops counter. Spring has definitely arrived in Melbourne but there is still a chill in the air.
Victorian Police Minister, Bob Cameron is quoted in Herald (“Anti-graffiti activists infuriated by pro-spray demonstration” August 20, 2008) saying graffiti was not art, and the laws were introduced to deter vandals who were committing a serious crime. It is hard to see the boys painting on an old corrugated iron fence as committing “a serious crime”; it is easier to understand Bob Cameron as wildly exaggerating to defend draconian laws that remove the presumption of innocence. And nobody needs more Police Ministers making ignorant comments about what isn’t art after the Bill Henson fiasco.
At the Melbourne Stencil Festival panel discussion “Cans Up – you’re arrested – the impact of the Graffiti Prevention Act (2007)” last month. The talks by Senior Constable Linda Hancock of Victoria Police about the enforcement of Graffiti Prevention Act made the humanity of the police main defense of the role that the police in enforcing the draconian Graffiti Prevention Act. This defense is also one of the many criticism the Graffiti Prevention Act that the police are human and therefore possibly arbitrary and prejudiced in who they choose to search and charge.
There were other criticisms of the Graffiti Prevention Act raised at the panel discussion. The Graffiti Prevention Act ignores the rights of children to be diverted to education and rehabilitation. It will also be a net-widening exercise increasing the number of criminals, as if there were enough already.
Leader Community Newspapers (September 9) is using headlines like “Graffiti party fear” and “Moreland police prepared for graffiti party” to create a conflict leading up to “Don’t Ban the Can” protest, street party and street art exhibition even if the stories don’t justify the headlines. It is a bad strategy by poor sub-editors to exaggerate the drama of the story. (“Don’t Ban the Can” is from 12pm onwards, 20 Sept., Wilson Ave, Brunswick.)
The chill in the air is not just the weather it is political.