one day at a time…
Thursday, 08 July 2004

When Do Graffiti Qualify As Art?
CREDIT: © William 'Slow Poke Bill' Bates/Pbase Galleries
WHERE: San Rafael Swell, Utah, USA. WHAT: graffiti versus rock art.
MAP: Utah statewide, Green River, and the San Rafael Swell.
Thumbnail click pops-up larger image. Enlarged section available for main image.

Graffiti © William BatesWhat is now known as the San Rafael Swell, an eroded anticline that extends for about eighty miles in length by thirty five miles in width, was once an area occupied by the Fremont Indian people of yesterday's Range Creek feature. Many of the petroglyphs left by these people are hauntingly evocative, even if one tries to constrain the desire to be reverential. William Bates has two examples of rock decoration in the region, one ancient and one modern. We fell to wondering: where is the dividing line between graffiti and rock art? Between these two the line becomes a yawning chasm, though the modern mind is even harder to understand than the ancient one.

We would be surprised if anyone was bold enough to step forward with a convincing and cogently argued case for the modern one to be regarded as art, though we are prepared to listen. Hello? Hello? Thought so!

The AmericanSouthwest.com web site has a good introduction to the San Rafael Swell, with a picture gallery, and a VR [virtual reality] panorama that is very effective at communicating a sense of this harsh and dramatic environment.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)