Graffiti Writing, or the Symbolic Stage Art

  • Jim Vernon


This chapter examines the first of Hip Hop’s aesthetic “elements” to emerge—graffiti writing—as exemplary of Hegel’s account of the foundational, symbolic stage of an artistic culture’s development, which reflects a community’s groping search for adequate forms of sensation through which to express themselves as free within a situation that radically suppresses clear consciousness of their essence. As “taggers” anonymously spread their adopted, cryptographic names throughout the city, they—in Hegelian terms—enacted a near-total, “architectural” transformation of the cramping barriers of their external sphere into a veritable temple for the celebration of humanity’s universal spirit. In process, graffiti constructed a unified ethical culture grounded in artistic practice, which ultimately fragmented when it attracted the interest of the outside world.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jim Vernon
    • 1
  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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