Open Letter – Mr Wizid

To Whom It May Concern
I was supposed to be painting that wall on Sunday with Yeh2, luckily I went on a breakfast run with my bike club and therefore missed the drama.
The burning question I have for the media, all aspects of media, is how are huge corporate companies that advertise on TV, magazines etc.  allowed to associate their products with “gang markings” such as graffiti Across the spectrum we have brands like HEITA (Telkoms own cellular service), Ford Cars, the ever annoying 35050 ads which charge R7,50 per sms and repetitively run back-to-back all night long across E-TVand many other force-fed brands running campaigns where graffiti, street art etc is the medium used on NATIONAL TELEVISION to promote their products?

The Mercury clearly has staff that do not watch television or are obviously getting worked to the bone 24hrs a day that they may not be aware of such marketing campaigns, but for every other family,graffiti is quite clearly portrayed as “cool” and “hip” to target and sway the younger generation to buy into these multi million rand corporates.  Why hasn’t The Mercury run a sensational article on how  Telkom advocates such gang behaviour,or how that Ford Figo  TV commercial was aiding and abetting certain crime gangs?  How can graffiti be so publicly displayed and force-fed during prime time TV viewing without any repercussions or consequences.  Why,when younger and younger kids see these ads and perhaps get inquisitive as children do,should they be persecuted for acting out on it?
The fact remains though,  that Mike Sutcliffe can orchestrate entire task teams of PI’s, Metro Police and various reporters against a gathering of artists, who are NOT all from white picket fence backgrounds or posh affluent households safely from his “no rates zone” opposite Ushaka where HE and HE himself is the only resident living there?
If the municipality owns the exterior of all our boundary walls then why is no municipal maintenance carried out on these walls? When the paint is flaking from these walls has ANY member of the general public arrived home to find the municipality repainting it? I think not.
The newspaper reports how the hard-earned tax payer pays for the removal of graffiti via tax and rates increases-  in which case,  should graffiti cease to exist would this lower all our rates? Surely considering we’d have an extra R800 000 less to pay?  If it wasn’t for graffiti writers, companies such as cease to exist and render many out of employment. What these companies keep hidden from behind their sunny smiles and fat pay cheques is the fact that they THRIVE off graffiti writers, the government THRIVES to as they declare taxes on their business,meaning we are now MAKING the governement money indirectly. They advertise the fact in articles published by various newspapers such as Highway Mail, Berea Mail how a “concerned citizen decided he’d had enough of graffiti” yet fail to mention that he charges and payments for any graffiti removed,and in essence made a nice healthy lump sum for services rendered before the  FIFA World Cup soccer, common sense proving that you have no concerns about cleaning up the community but sole intention of making a very lucrative career and business indirectly linked to graffiti “gangs”.

In closing, I’d like to point out that 1 member, Yeh2 and another member who was also en route to paint are not gang members, but working class citizens with intent of creating art and beauty to unkempt derelict walls which the municipality has FAILED to up keep. We have painted many many murals,more often than not free of charge in churches, youth clubs, children’s bedrooms, nightclubs and corporate events, and never once have we ever been ushered out for being “gang criminals” or any other media propaganda or sensationalism.

Attached is the last FREE mural we painted for 8 hours of our free time for a well known church who required something unqiue and modern for their youth group. This project went as far as the organiser and elder of the youth group even proposed the idea we come and teach kids the art form known as Graffiti.

Yours in Free TRUE art

Mr Wizid


Posted on August 16, 2011, in Mr Wizid and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. i think this piece confuses the issue. The real issue here is that of how “graffiti” is percieved and treated in our society -how it is alternately celebrated, commercialised or criminalised, depending on who’s doing it, where it’s being done, and who’s watching. The fact that there’s a common aesthetic or design style associated with it that corporates and their creative agencies pick up on for marketing purposes (the ever elusive street cred,yo), is kinda besides the point. Advertising is advertising is branding is branding. Corporates will, and always have, seek to align themselves with certain forms of popular artistic expression (music, art, graffiti, fashion trend etc) in a selective and superficial way, to serve their own purposes. The fact that corporates do this has no bearing on what the local authorities choose to do. FIFA isnt the government. Heita isnt the government. It’s also important to note that “graffiti” isn’t only limited to a certain style (that most think is 90’s tagging and poorly executed “murals”). In fact, crucial to the argument that graffiti (when done with permission through the right channels) is not criminal vandalism but more so a valuable form of public art, is the point that it can be really beautiful and diverse and interesting (as with other forms of socially acceptable art). If you look at the work that A WORD OF ART do in Cape Town and across Africa as part of their community upliftment work (painting the walls of houses, schools etc in areas previously ignord by the eye of the public), it’s easy to see how powerful “graffiti” can be. The core issue here for me is for different kinds of graph work to be seen for what they are, in their own right. Because all that’s happening now is that there’s this blanket definition/perception of what “graffiti” is, and how it should be “Dealt with”. Society needs to be made aware that when done right, public art can be used to educate, uplift, bring people together, highlight social issues, commemorate loved ones, challenge norms etc etc …. basically all the things that regular art does.. and that public art that seeks to achieve these ends is a million miles away from a couple of juvenile obscenities and crude markings on someone’s freshly painted white wall.

  2. Concerned Durbanite

    i disagree with danni on the confusion part, i think the point being made is how the up and coming youth have no idea what these corporate companies use to sway them,all they see is older teenager looks cool spray painting so lets try it! This note brings to attention just how graffiti artists are hero’s one day,then persecuted the next,example being the mr price pro,where i saw graffiti artists what seemed commissioned to be there painting live demonstrations,and upon closer inspection have found online articles of appraisal being given to such artists,only a few weeks down the line being labelled gang members.
    What i completely agree with here is valuable time,manpower and monetary funds are being dispensed on petty juvenile issues that clearly are a safe bet for government officials and city managers. One could only dream of this much investment given to drug lords that destroy families and homes,an ongoing war for parents alike in a scene which is far more prevalent than graffiti. Unfortunately,tackling such issues involve real criminal gangs with retaliative intent should police and city managers get involved, we wouldn’t want Dr Mike Sutcliffe persuing such criminals for fear of him warranting a “hit” on himself. Rather it seems,is take the safer option, have the media pedestal him into a position of positive authority as the city manager who stopped the “gangs” of dangerous thugs, and made Durban, the only graffiti free city in the world.

    Well written Mr Wizid,very valid and sincere points.

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