Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The contact form on my website gets very little exercise, but today I got a submission.  Here it is:


The following is what it essentially translates to- I'll skip the all-caps as I don't believe it was his/her intention to 'yell' at me.  For those who aren't familiar with the word, 'pixação' refers to Brazilian tagging and is a very big deal here.  I won't get into it too much but it's generally more associated with vandalism and is more frowned upon legal-wise than the kind of graffiti that I do.

Congratulations for the site, it's great - you can only go over the pixação because the real art is pixação and well before there was graffiti pixação had already come as a form of protest, not a fashion or something to be in a gallery or in government events, pixação is a protest, not fashion...

Thanks?  I'm not 100% sure this is really praise...  the thing that concerns me most about it is the bit about 'going over' the pixação.  I don't paint over these guys - generally they don't paint over us and I like it that way.  I respect their work, irregardless of whether I like it, so I hope he (I'm assuming it's a he) doesn't think that I am doing so.  He could also be talking about the fact that I 'go over' as in 'paint above' their work, and I plan to write him back and ask him.  However, it has occurred to me that this could also be problematic - in pixação as well as in other kinds of graffiti there is a thing about having the highest tag on the wall, and these guys who do pixo (pixadores) are known for scaling the outsides of buildings and painting all the way up- and I'm talking like 20+ stories.  A pixador that I know told me one dude got himself in trouble by writing 'Acima de mim só Deus' (above me only God) which apparently rubbed some folks the wrong way.

So I hope they don't think I'm trying to say I'm better than them because I'm working up higher.  I'm doing it for strictly practical reasons: there's a lot of blank real estate, and it's less likely to get messed with.  Believe me- other than that, it's not very practical at all.

Evani thinks that he meant to say 'the only thing that could be better than pixação is graffiti.'  I like that interpretation better.

I'll write him back and thank him, and try to see if his feathers are ruffled for real.  I searched his email on The Facebook (which by the way is not worth 100 billion, I don't care what anyone says) and dude only has two friends, which isn't real promising.

I did want to mention one other thing he said, something that bothers me about artists in general- definitely not limited to pixadores.  I like to put artists in two loose categories- those who think that one kind of art is 'better' than the others, and those that think that art is art and you can make great (or fabulously shitty) art out of just about anything.  Maybe I should just say that there are those who believe in a hierarchy of media (generally with their own at the top) and those who don't recognize such a hierarchy.

I definitely fall into the second category.  I grew up seeing all the different things that my dad did- carving pipes, drawing, making masks, etching, painting - and I felt it was all equally valid.  I don't know if he thought of one or the other as being superior, he did call himself a 'painter' but I never heard him say that painting was the pinnacle of artistic creation. He did tell me once that he wished he could just spend all his time clearing brush in the woods, so I kind of doubt he felt that way.  Unfortunately it's too late to ask him.

In case it isn't obvious, I think this whole concept of one media being superior to another is utter bullshit. Whenever I hear someone state that kind of opinion, I want to tell them to check their egos, because it's generally symptomatic of other notions of grandiosity.

Or maybe it's just that I feel strongly about/against the concept of 'supremacy'.


Fábio said...

Hey Mark, It's hard to understand what he meant exactly because his Portuguese so bad. He can't express himself very well. Probably an uneducated person, but I think what he said was that people can't ignore tagging (that's why he said passar por cima). It's here and it's art and before graffiti, there were tagging as form of protest. So he's kinda like graffiteiro/pixadores unite.

markuza said...

Hi Fábio, you're right, the writing is pretty bad, but unfortunately that's about the level of writing ability I see generally coming out of the public schools here. He hasn't answered my email.

I did want to write something else generally about what I talked about in my post- although I do believe there is no hierarchy of artistic expression, I do think that some do not lend themselves to making great art- ie you can't make masterpieces out of just anything. If that makes sense.

Fábio said...

Not everybody coming out of public schools write so badly. It depends a lot on the student background, but yes, bad writing can be found easily. The government has been investing a lot on education, but it's a long term investment. Only in maybe 20-25 years we'll be able to tell that it was well invested. Also, north and northeastern have poorer education than us in the south.

markuza said...

Indeed. I bet there is a urban/non-urban dichotomy as well, there generally is in the US. I'm glad to hear investments are being made in education, I haven't heard much about that!

Fábio said...

Yes, the commercails about the investments that the government have been making are all the time on TV and newspaper.

markuza said...

That explains it - I don't watch TV, and generally the only news I read is in English :)

Jennifer Souza said...

I agree- no hierarchy. I was an artists model off and on for 20 years, and those folks definitely though 'high art' was 'better'. Since the death of Thomas Kincaid, he's been getting slammed a lot. I can't say I love his work, but I do enjoy the skill.