Street art or vandalism? That is the question. (Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous provocation, / Or to stand and take paint against the sea of delinquents…&c, &c.)
It is always a fine line between destruction and beauty, between challenges to authority and challenges to public decency. A recent addition (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/sofias-main-soviet-army-monument-gets-pop-art-facelift-2300398.html) by an anonymous street artist to a statue in Sofia has got people talking. A bronze sculpture of the Red Army, built to commemorate the Red Army’s advance on Nazi-allied Bulgaria in World War Two, was festively repainted last week; now Captain America, Santa Claus and the Joker look out over the caption, “Abreast With The Times.”
The statue was a point of controversy between Bulgarian pro-Russian and anti-Communist forces, which latter resent the commemoration of a “liberation” that ultimately resembled a Soviet annexing.
The Sofia Echo (http://sofiaecho.com/2011/06/19/1108734_gallery-soviet-army-monument-in-sofia-gets-touch-of-colour) suggests that local officials will take a while to clean up and find the culprits. In the meantime, then, it’s worth wondering whether this counts as an act of vandalism or a work of art—especially when the artist’s canvas is a deadly serious monument that means a lot to many people.
What do you reckon?