Tuesday 21 June 2011

A Memory In Danger.

In early 2000, Commander Merle of the Railway Police, Paris, launched a major investigation into the source of the vandalism blighting the Parision Subways, Tunnels, Trains, and railway tracks. Investigations bought upon the 'vandals' via information sharing, intelligence, and even telephone tapping aided in the the 2002 raids, dismantling around 60 very active groups. Many of those involved were caught by surprise, not realising the means used to locate them were even possible, they were put under thorough investigation while on bail.
Multiple delays, and hold ups in the courts meant it was not till June 2009 that the court of Versailles gathered its charges to proceed. The trial will begin on June 21st (today) 2011, the damage estimate being around £1.8 Million. 

For purposes of the investigation, police took many sketchbooks, and photo albums of the work, for many, the only trace of their path throughout their artistic lives, the only physical memory of their work. These documents, now under seal for the purposes of the trial may never be returned to their authors ( a request for such has already been rejected.) Even worse, these records could be destroyed. If no one challenges the legitamacy of the current trials,  then it is almost certain their destruction will go unchallenged. Graffiti is an illegal act, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that it is an artistic movement, and should still have its place within the history of art. Documents such as these should be placed within the National Archives, legal or illegal every diverse artistic and historical movement needs documenting, we cannot make the decision now that future generations wont want to see historical document of the graffiti movement, many swathes of history have disappeared due to bad decisions at the time, there is no excuse to delete something from your countries cultural history.

Whatever the outcome of these trials, signatories will call for a mobilisation for the safeguarding of these archives, essential to the understanding of the legal and accepted spans of the form, even important to the history of French Public Transportation itself.