What Does it Mean for Graffiti to be Erased?

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What Does it Mean for Graffiti to be Erased?

We can risk losing part of our artistic history.

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BY: Unknown
LOCATION: Junction Road along the rail corridor
PHOTOS BY: Sawan Tate and Alejandra Battiston
FIELD NOTES: Graffiti is often a source of conflict. Depending on who you ask, it’s anything from a valuable art form to a despicable criminal act. Despite the controversy this medium inspires, graffiti has come to be embraced by many, including members of the art world, the advertisement industry, and community groups. In its least destructive practices, graffiti is understood to be a form of expression for the marginalized and a way of beautifying under-used spaces. And though many people have legitimate concerns, especially when it comes to the destruction of private property, graffiti is expected and sometimes even encouraged in under-used parts of the city, such as back alleys, underpasses, and, as in the case of these photos, railway paths. The bursts of colour and creativity are a welcome trade for big, blank, utilitarian walls.

Unfortunately, images like these are becoming more common around Toronto. On a wall like this, graffiti is effectively a victimless crime. With the massive influx of developers over the past decade, many graffiti artists are being driven away from spaces they could once paint freely. And despite a certain level of cultural acceptance and appropriation, there is a tremendous lack of respect for the spaces needed to cultivate this art form. Not everyone has access to art schools, studios, and display spaces. That doesn’t mean their voices are worthless or their history disposable. These owners had every right to paint their property. But does that mean they should have?

Once a week, Vandalist features some of the most interesting street art and graffiti from around Toronto. Find something great? Email vandalist@torontoist.com.

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