sabotage will set us free

neil tomkins aka birdhat

Every street is an adventure and every road becomes a trip.
Every turn we take and every decision we don't make,
even the decision we don't make, will bring us into the secrets of their town.
Every corner we turn will lead us, every corner we turn will lead us down the labyrinths,
and every desire that we earn will guide us alive, living, loving & searching.

- Refused are fucking dead

The “streets” exist as a passage-way and thoroughfare to our destinations, in this respect they are a vein to our desires. They ferry us towards common ideologies and in this sense they express a happening or spectacle. For within the movement of the self comes forth an intention, within that intention all is gained or lost.

We journey through the physical landscape. Its effects on the self grow and form ideas over time; these ideas become a spirit of self and leave marks on the greater environment. Our feet leave prints. Those prints exist as memory and as history. That mark whether it continues to exist for a month or a lifetime becomes something organic. It is perceived, eaten and becomes entwined with the public. For it is owned by the public.

Graffiti is a movement formed from the streets imbedded in the history of hip hop and street culture, and acts as visual attack and sabotage. ‘Hip hop culture developed its own DIY outlaw art aesthetic that was particularized by graffiti art. These elaborate, cartoonish psychedelic paintings created with (frequently shop-lifted) spray cans were affixed to any unoccupied public “canvas,” primarily subway trains, commercial buildings, and the walls of large apartment complexes'(1) . That was and continues to be the “forum” as it acts as social advertising and free interchange of ideas. It is and has always been public forum for it exists within public domain.

Street expression is a contemporary idea founded in ancient ideology. We have painted on cave walls for thousands of years. It’s only now that a culture becomes a sub-culture. The spirit of self expression is seen everywhere, in the clothes we wear the way we talk and act and in our core desires. Graffiti artists project this expression onto the physical environment. Creating a “spectacle” an ‘ever-increasing mass of image-objects and co-modified experience detached from every aspect of life, fused in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished’(2). There is only one course of action.

Graffiti art exists as a reflection on urban street life and generally acts as a threat to modern day consumption. Guy Debord (December 28, 1931 - November 30, 1994) Author of Society of the Spectacle defines Recuperation as ‘the process by which the spectacle intercepts socially and politically radical ideas and images, commodifies them, and safely incorporates them back within mainstream society… It is the opposite of détournement, in which conventional ideas and images are co-modified with radical intentions’(2). It co-exists as social advertising with the marketable as a tool and symbol like a hammer or a Molotov cocktail. You gotta watch that.

Sabotage will set us free
Throw a rock in the machine.

- Refused

(1) Ken Goffman. Counter Culture Through The Ages. from Abraham to Acid House (U.S.A 2004).

(2) Robert Chasse, Bruce Elwell, Jonathon Horelick, Tony Verlaan. Faces of Recuperation in Situationist International #1 (New York, June 1969).

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