Graffiti are one of the most controversial phenomena in contemporary society. They are all together: art, protest, violent culture, social response, social sensitivity, the letter art, the sub-multicultural, means of connecting civilizations, means of connecting continents, etc. Graffiti means empathy and rejection, art and anti-culture, voice of beauty and piece and voice of violence and anti-aesthetics.
With chair George Nash, a top British expert in global archaeological science, the 25th Annual Valcamonica Meeting in Porte di Monte, promoted the session on ancient and contemporary graffiti to bridge epochs, values and artistic skills and to try to find social frames that would redirect graffiti toward the safe cultural frames of non-violence culture mostly.
Author's abstract from Valcamonica 2013:
In the contemporary world art is a primary means of development of human social and aesthetical values which compliment, compete or exclude each other. The study of graffiti and archaeological art enriches the understanding of the role of art in building historical-cultural values.
Results: In the contemporary culture the graffiti are extremely socially sensitive. In Salt Lake County, Utah, they mostly socialize empty spaces, enliven old sites and equipment or become part of pop culture taking some of the components of the fine art (authorship, picture formats or whole wall fine-art like theme etc.). However, the limited distribution of graffiti reflects a very active and strong community negativism about the values of this street artistic expression. Comparison with other countries, in particular in Europe (Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria, etc.) indicates that graffiti may have in some places an important role as an artistic expression of social protests.
The comparative data for graffiti in this research come from the archaeological art, which has been developing as a specific branch of pop (fine) art. Although connected with pop culture, archaeological art contrasts the graffiti in way in which the values have been built. The graffers would go and add some values on the site while the artist of archaeology would create a completely new value. Both depend on the social response to determine the scales of the created values, although latter has more individualized character.
Contemporary life styles stimulate pop culture and art expression and in turn increase the role of pop art as a historical record.