Saturday, September 22, 2007

Unlawful Treatment

Two 18 yr-old writers from Manchester, Krek and Mers were arrested last week for causing approx. 13,000GBP in damges to private property. This may sound like an average news report on an average day except for the fact that they were both given seriously hefty sentences of 15 months and 12 months in jail respectively!! Now wait a minute, last month I posted about how I thought Banksy was getting unfair treatment as the British Transport Police have advised train cleaners to "preserve" any possible pieces by him. (Rd. More HERE)Now a couple of kids who are committing the same crime as him are getting slung into jail with no questions asked! If you look at Krek's work (See below), it's hardly like he's writing "Fuck The Po-Po's" or something to that effect.

Francesca Gavin from The Guardian had this to say about the silliness of this all:

After a good few decades of the media representing graffiti artists as scummy youth destroying public landscape, it seems the tables have turned. The public's reception of graffiti is changing - and about time.

Take Krek and Mers. Almost 2,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a reduction to their sentence, and various events have been staged to raise awareness about their case. The obvious reaction is incredulity that a couple of boys scrawling on walls is being treated as a crime equal to rape or worse than GBH. According to this sentencing, painting on property that isn't yours is worse that violence. What kind of world is that? And maybe a bit of vandalism is a form of positive protest against this country's blatant obsession with the spoils of capitalism. Maybe the pointlessness of ownership should be highlighted. After all you can't take a wall with you when the floods come...

Judge Anthony Ensor is attempting to use these two young men as examples fn the evil of vandalism. In this case it looks like he picked the wrong two people. Thomas "TJ" Dolan (Krek) has worked with young offenders while Thomas Whittaker (Mers) was about to begin an art degree. Both have applied to teach literacy and run art workshops while in prison. Sound like evil criminals to you?

More interesting than the absurdity of their sentences, however, is the public's strong response in their favour. After years of people complaining about spray-can art, it has now become lodged in the public consciousness as something worth fighting for. Painting pictures or scribbling names is a lot more positive than gun crime.

And in this case the art is actually good. Krek, for example, draws on Japanese-style pop cuteness to create pieces that are bright, kitsch and well executed. It's a street nod to artists like Takashi Murakami.

Often he works on shutters or the poles of street signs depicting large doe-eyed childish characters. This is cute not criminal.

In a world where Banksy is getting six figure sums, why should an 18 year old be sentenced to a year in prison for the same
"crime"? It's all a bit daft - and thankfully the majority of the public seem to agree.