In the past few months in Cairo, Grafitti has become our visual equivilant of the Titanic and Tweety frenzy a decade or so back. Loving it, doing it and having an audience for it has made grafitti mainstream- which is precisely what marks its demise. If your mum thinks it’s cool, then it’s dead. Reason for that is that the nature of the medium, which was essentially a way by which rebellious kids at school would mildly achieve a hip status by writing “Darsh wuz here” in the teachers’ toilet, is rebellious, edgy and shortlived. However when it’s celebrated by your entire neighbourhood & becomes a landmark next to your local coffeeshop, then it isn’t grafitti- it’s a mural, it’s tromp l’oeil, it’s an interesting way to breathe life and colour into our concrete jungle of a city- but its not graffiti.
The problem isn’t the actual act of mainstreaming- though I am admittedly the pretentious type that dislikes a trend the minute it becomes too trendy- but rather, it’s that mainstreaming negates the anti-establishment nature of this form of self-expression. As the most extreme form of unofficial language (versus official, legitimate or authorized language like advertising for example), it’s worth noting that the highest proportion of grafitti take place in schools, as they are the institutes responsible for the maintenance of the official language, as well as state authority properties. By trending, grafitti is legitimzed into Art galleries, public spaces and used as a way to decorate city walls, becoming official and ultimately null in its essential purpose.