Strange Attractions: Writing Rebellion
Artists in Iraq are trying to spruce up Baghdad with murals, according to the Associated Press on April 30. They are one with the early Christians who put their message on whatever spaces they could--even in the catacombs or the every-shifting sands. This puts them in the same camp as the muralists whose works are bolted to the trestles under the trains in South Norwalk, Connecticut. It puts them in league with the Irish Republicans who cleaned up their neighborhoods in the 1980s and 1990s with political and cultural murals that united their communities and played an essential, though overlooked, role of the arts in general in the peace process there.
The power of a wall to carry a message has been common knowledge since our days in the cave. Who gets out their message first and most effectively places an interesting cultural premium on wall space. In societies that wish to think of themselves as stable, public walls are very often unadorned with artwork--that is, until you go down an alley or behind the building. Then you get the rest of the story. I prefer good color and plenty of it to the semblance of stability. I like when people talk to me, especially when they have something to say. Public artists very often do.
Graffiti, a friend recently said to me, is a gesture of rebellion. Maybe. Maybe it's an invitation. Or both. I created this video with the idea of both in mind. (Click here and scroll down to read an excerpt of the AP story about the mural in Iraq.)