Public space falls into one of two categories in a capitalist society: advertisement or selling. Graffiti contests that ownership.
The illegal artwork can fulfill a unique purpose: providing marginalized persons and views a venue for expressing their ideas or art in a place where they will be heard.
In times of social friction, Edmontonians may turn to the canvasses of the streets to communicate their ideas. Already, graffiti commentary about COVID-19 has been seen on the streets of Edmonton in a protest against Alberta Health Services.
Edmonton Police Services cites the “broken windows theory” in their reasoning for the $250 graffiti fine — that “the appearance of disorder will attract and cause more disorder and the escalation of crime.”
An Edmonton audit showed a 48 per cent increase in graffiti complaints between 2018 and 2019; .
Dating back to Pompeii, vandalism was the work of not only protestors but of citizens with a sense of humour such as, “Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, ‘shat’ well here,” among other choice observations.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, Edmonton graffiti artists and sticker-bombers alike take part in the century-old tradition.