Graffiti is an area where there is not a clear delineation between art and crime; rather the two fields not only intermingle but, in fact, depend upon the other. The illegal, anti-authoritarian elements of graffiti allow the medium to retain its authenticity, to remain unaffected by the dominant power. Yet the largely discredited Broken Windows theory links such minor crimes to larger ones and is used as the basis for the policies of many police forces worldwide. Of particular interest to this paper is the importance of the theory in anti-graffiti efforts, as it has led to the complete and utter demonization of graffiti. Such policies have rendered the walls of Rome into a battleground between the mayor, Gianni Alemanno, and the local writers. many graffiti writers are appalled that the mayor claims concern for Italian patrimony and cultural heritage while daily destroying the innovative work of contemporary Italians. Graffiti can elevate the aesthetics of a neighborhood and, indeed, be a gift to a community. The terminology used to describe "legitimate" art can easily and appropriately be used to analyze the lines, forms, colors, and dynamism of graffiti. Graffiti is art experienced in the galleries of streets, walls, rooftops, trains, and bridges. It is an art form aware of itself, looking back on its own history to discover inspiration and to impart essential skills while stretching forward to ever-greater creativity and innovation.Caitlin Willis is a freelance art reporter living and working in New York City. She is a graduate of Fordham University and the 2011 ARCA Certificate Program. A retired street artist, Caitlin enjoys passionately defending non-traditional art forms and smashing to bits misguided pretension.
The ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by Noah Charney and published by ARCA, is available electronically (pdf) and in print via subscription and Amazon.com. The Associate Editor is Marc Balcells (ARCA '11), Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.