Why does the CIA praise graffiti as a colorful symbol of the optimism and hope of the Western World while officials in many cities describes the same phenomenon as a criminal activity and a representation of unsafety and social problems?
is a word used to denote a complex system of actions and things, which
is often described as a singular phenomenon. Graffiti has been
understood and evaluated in many ways, often opposing each other.
Graffiti may therefor both be evoked as one of the most influential art
movements on the planet, and dismissed as something that destroys
private property and turns a neighborhood into slum. It is hailed as a
modern day childhood adventure and denounced as gang related
In his Ph.D. thesis The G-Word, art historian and former graffiti writer Jacob Kimvall studies different ways of describing and framing graffiti in four historical and cultural contexts: The graffiti writing on the Berlin wall; the Zero Tolerance on graffiti in Stockholm during the 1990s; The interactions between subcultural graffiti and the cultural and commercial interest of the institutional art world in the 1970s and 80s; The collecting, organizing and publishing of images by graffiti enthusiasts.
The G-Word visualize how different institutions, public and commercial interests have acted to influence and affect the understanding of graffiti as both art, crime and a broad socio-cultural phenomenon.