I consider that there is a fundamental distinction between tags and visual art, and I frequently see a battle for wall space between taggers and visual artists in Fitzroy. To me, taggers are the illiterati. They have barely mastered literacy and are so proud that they know how to write their own names that that they do it over and over. They give nothing to their audience. There is no surplus meaning or purpose to their actions than to proclaim ‘I woz ere’.

turfwar turf war

This recent work by the Urban Cake Lady on Fitzroy St was quickly defaced by a tagger. Visual artists give images to their audience, who can view and interpret them. A surplus of meaning exists or is made possible, and the work has far more variety and complexity than an endlessly repeated name. I doubt most illiterati are capable of appreciating this.

hiding turf war

turf war

20 thoughts on “turf war

  • 8 October 2010 at 9:58 am
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    every time you write about tagging, you show how little you know or understand about the topic. sad and shameful. read a book. you’re mistaking your middle age taste for understanding. embarrassing.

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  • 10 October 2010 at 1:35 am
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    Seriously, did the author of this comment actually read the post? I’m interested in how he can defend crappy tags versus actual street art (and even more so, on top of street art). Please, end., enlighten us all. Anyone with aesthetic sensibilities can appreciate work which demonstrates actual artistic talent or at least a capacity for critical thinking — so I’d love to learn more on the topic of these ugly, barely scrawled tags. In my eyes they are the expressions of a semi-illiterate ego.

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  • 11 October 2010 at 10:39 am
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    rosie & brian, if you want to bang on about “tagging”, at least learn the difference between a tag and a throw up.

    or just wait for the next acceptable hard cover book on street art & graffiti to be published so you can show off your street cred to your friends when they see it on your coffee table…

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    • 11 October 2010 at 1:49 pm
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      Your self righteous stupidity makes me want to throw up. Ruining someone else’s work for your own ignorant ego is the sign of a weak mind.

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  • 11 October 2010 at 2:03 pm
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    self righteous?

    oh the irony….

    and is it ruined?

    or has the the person who did the the throw up adapted an already existing artwork into their own?

    note how the throw up doesn’t isn’t filled in like normal but instead has used the red from the cake lady piece as it’s colouring and as a contrast to the darker blue border. also how the border of the throw up follows the contours of the cape?

    and hell, you STILL don’t know the difference between a throw up and a tag (both are in that picture by the way), so please at least attempt to have an inkling of what you are talking about before you decide to fire off another missive about them mean ol’ “taggers” ruining what you find acceptable.

    you STILL don’t understand anything about graffiti (and that’s what “street art” is), you STILL can’t tell the difference between varying styles and you STILL insist on bleating about it even though you have not the slightest inkling of what you are writing about.

    a self righteous attitude combined with wilful ignorance is a beautiful thing to behold.

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    • 11 October 2010 at 2:39 pm
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      I think tags and throw ups are both meaningless shit produced by morons.

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  • 11 October 2010 at 8:36 pm
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    I think Brian and anyone is perfectly entitled to have whatever opinion they want on this art, considering it is whacked up in more-or-less public spaces. He enjoyed the previous one, he doesn’t like the adaption, perfectly valid observation/opinion. It isn’t like he walked into your home and critiqued something in your private space.

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  • 12 October 2010 at 12:38 pm
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    so kickz is annoyed that we are using the wrong word. a piece of crap by any other name would look as shite.

    it’s hardly LHOOQ.

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  • 12 October 2010 at 2:08 pm
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    rosie, no i’m annoyed that you and brian are ignoramuses thumping your chests over something that you have little idea about.

    if you are going to bleat about something then at least take the time to have some semblance of familiarity with what you are talking about.

    you don’t understand it and it seems you never will.

    just stick to buying the Banksy books eh?

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    • 12 October 2010 at 4:54 pm
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      You cannot determine whether we understand tagging and throw ups or not; the fact is we don’t appreciate them. End of story.

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  • 12 October 2010 at 7:37 pm
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    i most certainly can determine that if you don’t even know the difference between the two and refer to one as the other.

    that is not taste or personal taste, that is stupidity and ignorance.

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    • 12 October 2010 at 7:50 pm
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      A throw up is a particular type (subset) of tag. So what?

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  • 12 October 2010 at 11:45 pm
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    If Urban Cake Lady hadn’t put her paste up over a throw up, it would never have been touched.
    You have to understand that all though you, and I understand, most people detest tagging, it still means a hell of a lot to a lot of people. It has a rich history going back over fourty years in it’s current form.
    I don’t plan on bringing you around to tagging but I hate it when you insist it’s only a bunch of delinquent illiterate’s who do it. I know good people in professional job’s including lawyer’s and property owners that still cant help but to drop a tag here and there.
    I really think it should be looked into in a little more depth for once as to why people do it.

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    • 13 October 2010 at 2:46 am
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      Your inability to use apostrophes correctly identifies you as one of the barely literate (those that like tagging). I have never heard of a good reason for tagging. It is merely the sign of an immature and incoherent ego crying out for attention. Or ADD or OCD.

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  • 13 October 2010 at 9:50 am
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    Looks to me like Urban Cake Lady chose that location because the colours of the throw-up behind would complement those of her paste-up… you can use the same arguments for or against any of the pieces in question.

    I love how you feel that only those with more than a passing knowledge of graffiti arts are allowed to have an opinion. With that kind of logic, only food critics and chefs should write food blogs, and only athletes should talk about the footie. I do however have qualifications in art history, the most useless of degree-subjects in every way except for giving me at least the ability to view artworks in a critical manner, whether I like them or not.

    I don’t mind if people want to tag walls for whatever reason, be it because they think it makes them part of some underground rebellious movement or because they simply get a kick out of leaving their mark. However it is undeniable that the majority of these tags have very little artistic or critical merit in the eyes of the 99% of the population who see them on a daily basis, and after a while those of us not part of the secret society of taggers stop noticing them — they just blend into the urban background. We’re obviously not the intended audience and therefore they barely register as more than a mess on the wall.

    Which is why it is a shame that when something like a paste up by Urban Cake Lady, which actually brings aesthetic pleasure to many, is disfigured in the name of Not Being Banksy. In addition to this, if it had at least been done cleverly (and by this I mean more than just using it as background filler) it would be less offensive to us smug chest-thumpers who know nothing about tags. Who knows, it might even have earned some respect.

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    • 13 October 2010 at 11:17 am
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      I agree. Everyone can have an opinion, but not all opinions are equal. For example, I have explained why tags have no meaning for audiences whereas visual art does. Those in favour of tags have never given a coherent explanation of why anyone would want to see tags. That is why general audiences have no respect for their opinions or the rubbish they defend.

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  • 13 October 2010 at 12:45 pm
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    you’re correct Brian, not all opinions are created equal.

    which is why when some sooking pseudo yuppie blogger complains about something he has next to no knowledge about other than “i don’t like tags they are all by morons hur hur”, then that opinion is disregarded.

    you ask what i like about tagging?

    i’m a typography and font nerd and i find some of the styles and methods incredible.

    a tag done with clean can or mop control (no runs, no dribbles) in a unique style is far more aesthetically pleasing to my eye than yet another advertisement in Arial font.

    i like it when writers hit places that were prior thought unreachable and you’re left thinking “how the hell did they get up there and do that?”

    i like it when dudes hit massive walls with rollers for the sheer “fuck you” nihilist factor of seeing a name 10 metres high.

    even my dad started getting it when i was pointing out the difference in styles and ability and by the end of his holiday here was happily critiquing what he thought was and wasn’t a good style.

    what shame a man pushing 60 can understand it but the self appointed authority of all things Fitzroy still doesn’t get it, no matter how many readers try and explain it to him…

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    • 13 October 2010 at 12:58 pm
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      Still no explanation of why people make tags or what they’re supposed to mean to other people.

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  • 14 October 2010 at 12:58 pm
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    I sincerely like kickz’s explanations for why he likes tagging… thanks for giving me some insight!

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