Date: Friday, Jan 25, 2019
This talk by Dr. Justin McGrail from the Arts and Design Department will look at the treatment of graffiti in Victoria. Graffiti is often thought of as a nuisance, a visual blight on the urban landscape that cities try to ban or remove. The City of Victoria responds to graffiti with anti-nuisance ordinances that are used in the name of urban beautification and property-rights to remove graffiti in public areas: thus, “highly visible graffiti is painted over," McGrail says, "while in more discrete locations like alleys, the approach is to prevent more graffiti by making access to the walls difficult. As a result, existing graffiti is undisturbed and observable through fencing.” As McGrail points out, although this form of visual expression is “not meant to last," such "anti-graffiti tactics" ironically can have a preservative effect, "creating a contemporary, urban paradox: heritage graffiti.”
Dr. McGrail studied at McGill (BA, 1991; MA, 1995) and Victoria (PhD, 2009). He teaches art history in the Department of Art and Design at Vancouver Island University, is the curator of The View Gallery in Nanaimo, and is a spoken word poet with close to thirty years of performance experience in Canada and the US. His research interests include urban culture, vandalism, architecture, and consumption. He contributed a chapter on Big Box stores to the anthology Architecture and the Constructions of the Canadian Fabric (2011). The presentation on January 25 is part of Dr. McGrail's larger current research project that deals with graffiti, vandalism, and cities.