Street Graffiti: Creation or trick-or-treating?

Expert: Clarify legal boundaries and leave room for legal graffiti to develop

□ Zhang Shoukun, reporter of this newspaper

Not long ago, the Internet exposed that at the Chen Xiang Highway Station of Shanghai Metro Line 11, a man used spray to graffiti the carriage. The video shows multiple orange graffiti on the walls of the carriage and a warning on the radio to "please get off the train as soon as possible." The photographer said that the smell of the spray caused a pungent smell in the carriage, and the train was temporarily suspended, and passengers could only get off the train and transfer. Subsequently, the customer service of Shanghai Metro responded that the matter had been transferred to the subway public security for handling.

Coincidentally. A recent video on a social platform shows that a pillar under a road sign at PetroChina Bridge in Hexi District, Tianjin, is painted with the word "Lao Tan" and marked with a right-turn arrow sign. On March 3, when a reporter from Rule of Law Daily went to the PetroChina Bridge, he saw that the graffiti had been removed. The reporter contacted the video shooter, and the other party said that "Lao Tan" is a Tianjin dialect, referring to people from the countryside to the city, with the meaning of "contempt".

The photographer told reporters that he walked out of the city from the direction of the arrow, and the graffiti people clearly wanted to provoke the confrontation between urban and suburban people. "Similar graffiti used to be seen often, but now it is less, but it can still be seen every once in a while, but basically it is quickly removed as soon as it appears."

In recent years, problems such as damage to the appearance of the city and disturbance of the people caused by street graffiti have been common. Where is the border for street graffiti? How can this behavior be regulated? With these questions in mind, the reporter conducted an interview.

Netizens share graffiti experiences

Legality has long been disputed

The reporter found on social platforms that bridges, caves, plank roads, the bottom of the platform and other places are popular creative worlds, and many graffiti enthusiasts and teams share their works on them.

"We secretly went to ×× graffiti, because someone will report it, the urban management will come, so we have to come secretly at night" "Be far away, otherwise it will be cleared soon, and it won't stay long" ... The reporter noticed that some bloggers shared graffiti paintings they secretly left behind in more than 30 places, and proudly claimed that they had not been punished once.

In August last year, netizen Ms. Yang reported to the Chongqing online political platform that the graffiti around Huangjueping Graffiti Art Street was too casual, and municipal facilities, commercial facades, and even street trees were not spared, and were colored by graffiti lovers. At the same time, the smell of paint emitted by the pigment is uncomfortable, and I hope to solve it through the political platform.

But Ms. Yan, a local merchant, has a different view, believing that Tuya Street has become an Internet celebrity check-in point, bringing a lot of traffic to the store. To this end, she also set up a graffiti area on the outside of the store to attract visitors.

In the end, the Huangjueping Subdistrict Office formulated a solution to the problem, setting up a free graffiti area and a no-graffiti area without affecting the lives of surrounding residents, and installing corresponding signs. At the same time, strengthen the publicity of civilized graffiti, send persuasion personnel to guide tourists to standardize graffiti, and increase the number of small speakers to play warning audio on a rolling basis.

Ma Lihong, senior partner of Beijing DHH Law Firm and deputy director of the Cultural Tourism Professional Committee of Beijing Lawyers Association, said that graffiti, as an art form, is an imported product, which originated on the streets of Europe and the United States in the 20s of the 60th century, and has been controversial since its birth. On the one hand, graffiti art, as a postmodern marginal cultural art, color jumping, imaginative and visual impact, with vigorous originality and expression, has its unique artistic value. On the other hand, street graffiti is often inflammatory, violent, insulting or otherwise illegal, and often appears on private buildings without permission, suspected of deliberately destroying other people's property, so the legality of street graffiti works has been criticized. In fact, graffiti on buildings in public places is prohibited under the laws of most countries.

"According to China's urban appearance and environmental sanitation management regulations and other relevant regulations, all units and individuals are not allowed to write or depict on urban buildings, facilities and trees. Otherwise, the administrative department in charge of environmental sanitation or the unit entrusted by it may, in addition to ordering it to correct the illegal act and take remedial measures, also give a warning or a fine. That is to say, in principle, Chinese cities are not allowed to graffiti casually, if graffiti affects the appearance of the city, or graffiti on places of interest and historical sites, as well as graffiti on private buildings, not only involves administrative punishment, but also serious circumstances may also be investigated for criminal responsibility, such as the crime of picking quarrels and provoking trouble, the crime of intentional destruction of property, the crime of intentional destruction of places of interest and historical sites, etc. Ma Lihong said.

Some destroy the appearance of the city

Some become beautiful scenery

On July 2022, 7, some citizens discovered that a wall next to the bunker of Wanhua Park in Qingyang District, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, was covered with graffiti, and these graffiti patterns also had swearing English, and near the graffiti wall, there was a bunker and children's play equipment, where many children played. The management system signs erected in the park and inside clearly prohibit depictions, defacements, etc. on the park's facilities.

Staff said the graffiti people always came sneaking in and were difficult to catch. Graffiti is mainly sprayed with paint, and the wall is sandy, if you have to remove it, you can only repaint the wall, which is very costly.

In recent years, problems such as damage to the appearance of the city and disturbance of the people caused by street graffiti have been common, and graffiti practitioners have claimed on public platforms that "wherever it is popular in the future, it will be painted".

Zhao Chunmei, a lawyer at Liaoning Yingshen Law Firm, told reporters that street graffiti has become a stubborn urban disease mainly for two reasons, one is the lack of special urban management regulations and other relevant documents to carefully manage graffiti behavior, such as in which public areas are allowed to graffiti, what forms of graffiti are allowed to be created and displayed in public areas, and the second is the lack of effective punishment measures by municipal departments for graffiti behaviors that affect public life and city appearance.

"Creators graffiti is to express their personality and emotions, and the result of this behavior may be a conflict of interest between social public management and urban function planning, and urban management and other relevant departments have no effective balance measures and solutions between cultural tolerance, respect for artistic creation and regulating graffiti behavior." Zhao Chunmei said.

The reporter found that not all public places are prohibited from graffiti, and graffiti in some places has become a beautiful landscape.

Graffiti in Beijing's 798 Art District has been accepted from the beginning, and from the past to the present, not only have well-made wall graffiti appeared throughout the area, but it has also become a gathering place for local artists and Chinese and foreign visitors.

Manhole covers on the streets of many areas have become "scene" covers, with graffiti paintings drawn by volunteers and professionals, such as garbage classification, compliance with civilization, cartoon images, etc., to publicize garbage classification, civilized guidance, "five governance" and other contents in a more intuitive and novel way.

Recently, the Xichengqiao Community of Zhonghua Road Street, Wuchang District, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, invited 65 students from Hubei Wuchang Experimental Middle School to the Desheng Bridge area of the Internet celebrity check-in point to carry out street graffiti flash mobs.

Unified planning and classification management

Inclusive of legal graffiti creation

How is graffiti in public places permissible by laws and regulations?

"The exercise of rights by civil subjects should not harm the interests of others, and when graffiti, consideration should be given to whether there are circumstances that may harm the interests of third parties." Zhao Chunmei believes that whether graffiti is legal should be determined in conjunction with the regional function positioning of the public place, such as the exterior walls of serious occasions such as government administrative departments and judicial departments are not suitable for graffiti expression, and graffiti acts can be carried out in relaxed places such as parks or art blocks; Topics related to graffiti, such as the dissemination of pornography, violence, etc., are prohibited by law.

Some urban management personnel said that according to the regulations, graffiti creation is not allowed in public places facing the street. If graffiti is created in the community, the relevant departments will generally not deal with it on the premise that there is no dispute. If it is a commercial entity, such as a subway and other entrances and exits, as long as it does not touch the legal red line, the creator can create after communicating with the enterprise. If you really want to create graffiti in the space of the public place facing the street, you need to apply to the administrative approval department, for example, the electric box that citizens see on the side of the road is covered with a "graffiti coat", which is designed according to a unified style after approval by the relevant units.

It is understood that people who violate the law will generally choose to secretly graffiti in dark or remote areas, which is difficult to be caught, and even if the graffiti is punished, the subsequent wall restoration and rectification work is very difficult. How can illegal graffiti be effectively managed?

Zhao Chunmei suggested that the urban management department carry out unified planning and categorical management of graffiti areas in public places, separately identify the centralized areas that can be graffiti, and carry out technical processing on the wall that can be repeatedly painted and easy to remove, so as to facilitate later maintenance.

Ma Lihong believes that it is necessary to increase the publicity of civilized and legal graffiti, especially for people such as art academy students, and necessary education on the rule of law should be carried out; Resolutely investigate and deal with illegal graffiti and pursue the legal responsibility of the parties involved. In addition, it is necessary to reserve space for the development of legal graffiti, for example, in some art spaces, graffiti should be allowed to meet the creative needs of graffiti lovers.

"China is a country under the rule of law that advocates multicultural coexistence and emphasizes cultural self-confidence, and graffiti as an art form should not be denied and erased, but should be included in the track of rule of law and scientific management." At the same time, it is also necessary to explore and strengthen the intellectual property protection of legal graffiti artworks, so that graffiti can exert its artistic value, curb its negative impact, and highlight the charm of multiculturalism. Ma Lihong said.

Manga / Takakashik

(Rule of Law Daily)