Whether graffiti is art of vandalism is one of those arguments that can never be resolved. That’s partly because the two choices are not mutually exclusive: of course graffiti is both art and vandalism. The choice is also dodgy because of the subjectivity of at least one of the choices. What, after all, is art, anyway?
In Bristol England, the city council has implemented a new policy to let the people decide, the London Telegraph reports. The policy was occasioned by a work of stencil art by the famously mysterious graffiti artist, Banksy. The effective piece of trompe l’oeil, painted on a publicly owned building, shows a naked man hanging by one hand from a window ledge while his lover sits in the window, and another man—apparently her husband—looks for him When the piece first appeared, in 2006, the Telegraph says, it sparked a debate over whether to keep it. The council set up an online vote, with 93 percent of respondents voting yes. So they did.
A current exhibit, Banksy vs. the Bristol Museum, has been a big hit with the people of Bristol, having attracted more than 250,000 people since it opened in June. Bristol city council has ordered that all his works there be preserved.
Now they’re extending the voting method for deciding whether to keep works of artful vandalism. According to the Telegraph, the plan states that ''where people tell us that murals or artworks make a positive contribution to the local environment and where the property owner has raised no objection'' the council will not remove the graffiti.