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The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal Analysis of the Film by Matt McCormick (2002) by Teresa M.

Tipton for Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague White Pages Program Uncertain States of America Exhibition 2007 The video, The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal (2002) by Matt McCornick (USA) is a playful recontextualization of the relationship between graffiti, the social environment it inhabits, and the impact of public policy against it. With a tongue-incheek commentary, the narrator of the video provides a mock analysis of the significance of removing graffiti from private and public property as if it were a systemized phenomenon of art. In the background is heard the repetitous looping of a digitized sound wave, as if a heart monitor in a hospital or a machine from the industrialized surroundings that are shown in the video. These imposing structures of industrialization within the urban environment become both canvas and theatre for graffiti artists and those who act against them, as if opposing players taking their side in the stage of transgression and law enforcement. One side uses the property as both protest and backdrop for random but creative acts of painting tags personalized and symbolic signatures - defying a systm which places those who act against it, outside of its parameters. Graffiti as works of art themselves, defaces the presentational face, calling into question what is art, who art is for, who is allowed to make it, and how is it recognized. Ones mark is thus placed where it is unauthorized, a surrepititious, rule-breaking act. Those who oppose but cannot stop these actions, act on behalf of the property owners and the property itself to erase its existence, as the graffiti itself protests. Graffiti removal on the other hand, enforces what has been authorized and legislated in order to restore the property to its former, unmarked status, as if it never existed, just like the people who created it in the first place. The use of the word tag to describe graffiti itself functions as a metaphor to a childrens games, where running away from an it the one who will get you - is not not only funded with more money than the arts themselves, but authorized by public policy. The manifesto of public policy to remove graffiti every day in Portland, Oregon where the video is made, demonstrates graffitis ubiquitousness. But authorship, like the results of its removal, place graffiti in the uncertain position of being concealed, as its removal personifies. By giving the status of art to the results of this removal, the film punctures the facade upon which the status of art is fabricated in the first place. Thus, the juxtaposition of graffiti removal as if it were an evolutionary trend in art based on the development of post-abstract expressionism and the influence of Russian constructivism, plays with the way in which signification is accorded by established authorities in the art world, analyzing and thus projecting its own intentionality into imagery. The apparent free-floating rectangles of paint over a piece of graffiti, are compared to an untitled Rothko and Malevichs, Suprematism where the rejection of recognizeable imagery and the so-called repression of communication entirely, pokes fun at the psychology of art, which follows Freuds example of Leonardo, where he attempts to analyze not just how the artist manages

to impress and arouse emotions in us to which we had not realized ourselves capable of, but to make determinations whether or not the artists intentions were successfully expressed by such awakenings. That Freud believed the artist creates a world of fantasy which is taken very seriously yet is also separated from reality, accords a surrealism to the act of creative imagination, as the repetitive digital sound track mirrors. This imaginative world is exactly the parody that the narrator mimics. While the pathographic interpreter of art may respect the integrity of a work of art as a consciously framed cultural object, as Spitz concedes, their efforts to explain artistic motivations perhaps may not wholly be traceable by depth psychology. Thus, the narration borrows from this pathographic tradition, where psychological theories attempt to construct the assumed hidden and conflictual drives that motivate artists to produce certain kinds and styles of art. The identification and classification of styles of graffiti removal as if they were works of art that the authors did not themselves know they were producing, is more than irony. It is a mirror of a process that imposes itself upon artists and what they produce as if they were themselves merely a product of this introspective and projective analysis. In this realm, concepts formulate experience for its spectators and then through reason and logic, demonstrate how to understand what is thought perceptually in this context. The omnipotence of this externalizing authority is evident, then, not only in categorizations and related correspondences, but its very interpretive framework. It shows us that all critique in art is the result of someones interpretive framework, and usually not our own. In this context, subliminal and repressed impulses rupture everyday reality in an unconscious conspiracy as the narrator tells us, to not only create the graffiti in the first place but within others to remove it. This unconscious conspiracy takes us further, as the blending of a pathographic rewording of an officials speech, where words underneath his words are given to us on the screen, to illustrate how the subconscious process works. In this case, we see projected into his speech, a subconscious desire to create beauty and art, which goes hand in hand with a subconscious conspiracy then to fund creative endeavors. The leaking out of unconscious desires takes Freuds structure of psychic processes to a new level of absurdity. Here, artists not only find their place in the public sphere by the transformation of their tags into obscured or ornamented versions of themselves, but it is done so subconsciously, without awareness of the meaning of ones actions. Such a commentary can only be directed towards the established system of art itself which is in its own conspiracy of omission to artists and their works of art who are not recognized as having the value of artists and works of art. When the natural instinct to be creative is repressed to pursue the accumulation of commodities and material wealth the narrator tells us, a dangerous build up of repressed artistic desire is generated. Graffiti removal and other subconscious art forms are the natural eruption of these desires and their ubiquitous forms speak to the passions and dreams within us all. The desire to inhabit virtual and imaginary worlds may be part of an innate, creative protential laying dormant within us. Unless it is given the freedom to find its

expressive potential in a form that is not only permitted but encouraged, its potential has the capacity to turn against the forces that block it. Here, is the videos affirmation to examine those policing structures internalized within and without the individual, while encouraging us all to find what passions and dreams may be subconciously but potently laying dormant beneath the surface of our own graffiti tag. Teresa M. Tipton, 2007