The spectrum of art
On a recent stroll from my office to the bus stop after work I stumbled across a pretty impressive piece of graffiti (pictured above).
The placement of this graffiti was significant, as it sits on a wall that surrounds and building site and looks out towards the headquarters of Ulster Bank in Dublin.
Ulster Bank is one of several institutions in Ireland criticized for selling off loans to so called ‘vulture funds’ (investment groups that buy up property all around the world and generally consider people to be nothing more than an entry in a balance sheet).
Given the current housing crisis in Ireland, the continued building of offices and hotels over housing in the city centre, and the situation with the banks, this piece of art seems to be making a pretty clear political statement.
Note that I called this art, and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. Clearly it is the work of a talented artist, regardless of how you feel about graffiti in general.
Now I want to direct your attention a couple of feet to the right of the vulture. To another piece of graffiti that shares this wall with our political scavenger.
I'd imagine this is not the work of the same artist and struggle to see any sort of underlying message, political or otherwise.
This got me thinking about the spectrum of things.
What does it all mean
For me, the above is a beautiful illustration of the fact that nothing is black and white. That life is just a complex web of various shades of grey.
In the above situation we see two very different people expressing themselves in very different ways. One appears to be making a political statement, mainly about current living conditions in Ireland, capitalism and the government.
The other is an expression of boredom, discontent and rebellion. It's a dick on a wall. Why would you do that, other than through boredom and a lack of creative outlets. You also have to not care about, or at the very least feel indifferent towards, society. There is at least enough distaste towards the social structure to want to deface it.
It would be easy to look at the latter picture and denounce all graffiti as being nothing but the scribbling of vandals, but that clearly isn't the case. Sure, it might hold some truth at the dick pic end of the spectrum, but not at the other.
The same goes for almost everything in life.
Think about politics, religion, diet, music, gender, advertising, social media, fear, hatred, money... All of these things can be thought of as a spectrum, and all have undesirable extremes.
Too often we denounce an entire spectrum based on the extreme ends. It's like saying all colors are bad because you've got a problem with purple.
Of course there are some exceptions to this rule... There is also a spectrum of pedophilia... That one's all bad...