more needs to be said on yarn-bombing, apparently

From there’s our catastrophe.


just because people don’t like a form of art you perceive as worthy doesn’t mean that you should degrade another form of art. That doesn’t make other people see the value in traditional tagging/graffiti, it doesn’t draw attention to art as a creative force, all it does is handwave people’s efforts.

Graffiti is art. Mural painting is art. So is yarnbombing, seedbombing, etc. It’s something that draws attention to the landscape and the ability of beauty to exist anywhere; sometimes it’s a statement about nature’s existence in urban spaces, or political situations, gentrification or development, and sometimes it’s just an expression of self – let’s not pretend every tagger or yarnbomber is doing anything more than ekeing out a spot for themselves. Who are you to quantify what art is based on the income level of who creates it? Moreover, who are you to DECIDE who creates it?

Yarn is not the sole domain of twee white kids. ANYONE CAN KNIT. Anyone can grab a ball of pretty cheap yarn from Walmart. …Does it make ANYONE feel better for you to say yarnbombing is worthless because white kids do it? Does it make anyone respect graffiti the way it should be respected? Because I don’t think it does. Art is art, and we should appreciate ALL of it, even if lawmakers don’t.


I have such a super major problem with this. Because, I fully agree, there’s a HUGE and EXTREMELY PROBLEMATIC difference between how things like graffiti are treated by lawmakers and police and how yarn graffiti and seed bombing are. But I think being like, “Oh, white hipster middle class people blah blah blah,” misses the point entirely and means you don’t have enough familiarity with the subject to actually be ranting about it.

First, knit graffiti, pasting, and seed bombing are meant to make public art and reclamation of space CHEAPER and MORE ACCESSIBLE for anyone. It may or may not have been embraced by POC and their communities, but it was never INTENDED to be exclusionary.

….Seed bombing, especially, is not gentrification. A person, any person, seeing an unused and empty space and trying to beautify it and bring nature back into the neighborhood, is not racially or financially motivated. I could see the argument w/ knit graffiti, possibly, because who has the time for huge ass projects like that if they’re working to make ends meet. But throwing packed seeds and soil into an abandoned lot isn’t gentrification. It isn’t making it easier for rich white kids to move it. It’s just trying to make the space nicer for the residents, end of story.

okay, I’ve addressed this before in more conciliatory terms, but it appears I’m gonna have to say it again because a whole string of you are making various defensive YES THANK YOU responses to these two posts (which I’ve edited for space).  this will probably be the last thing I have to say on the topic.  please read my earlier response before you respond to this.

1.   it is flat-out untrue that everyone is at equal risk of arrest and incarceration for doing illegal things, and if you think it’s even relevant to bring up that white middle-class-and-up people are theoretically subject to the same laws as everyone else you are so far out of touch that I don’t know what to say.

2. if you think that “there is no formal barrier to PoC and working-class people picking up yarn” means that there is no association of a particular aesthetic with particular groups of people then again, I don’t even know what to say to you.  This is not about the theoretical individual identities of street artists, who are in any case usually anonymous or pseudonymous.   this thing of “yeah street graf is black but the kind of graf I like is not racially categorisable” is super disingenuous.

3.  my main point: NONE OF YOU have addressed the issue of the potential negative effect this kind of public art has on the communities it is found in.  It is aggressively gentrifying.  that’s why I hate it, not because I think it’s dorky or because white and/or middle-class people do it.  and yeah, “just making the neighbourhood nicer for the residents” can be/precipitate gentrification — who decides what “nicer” is?  who controls the project that’s making things “nicer”?  it’s actually not much good making the neighbourhood “nicer” if it’s the kind of “nicer” that’s so appealing to a higher-income group that they move in and push all the original residents out.  there are other factors at play here, of course, but this is totally a thing.  wholesome-sounding shit like community gardens and local craft markets has historically been a factor in gentrification.  if this sounds defeatist and circular, well, it kind of is, because gentrification is hard to fight.  but I think the main point we can take from it is that if you want to make a neighbourhood better, you need to figure out what the most marginalised original residents want, not impose your own aesthetic and agenda.

3.  I fucking love art.  I also hate art but you know, I believe in its power to affect the world around it.    Especially public art, because that is what it is for, more directly than perhaps any other form of art.  If I didn’t think that then sure, I’d roll my eyes and think “that looks dorky” and try to keep to it to myself and get on with my life.  But as it is, I take art seriously, including its potential negative effects.  That’s what respect for art looks like when you are a grown-up.


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