In April 2007 Aerosolarabic, aka Mohammed Ali, travelled from Birmingham to Chicago, New York and Boston to paint murals with the aim of breaking down prejudices against British Muslims (amongst other things). The Chicago piece wasn’t completed but the New York one, a tribute to 9 children who’d recently died in a house fire, was. Here’s a documentary covering its creation and the reaction of the residents.
Ali has also written a long travel essay about the trip which is well worth reading.
I found about this project because Ali is appearing at an event in Moseley in Thursday 31st January along with the folks from Inacity Arts, a new-ish graffiti gallery in Kings Heath (which I’ll write more about later), on the subject “Graffiti – is it Art or Vandalism?” The event is chaired by councillor Martin Mullaney who, as you’ll probably know, has been active in tackling illegal tagging and promoting graffiti “managed zones” in the area. Here’s the blurb:
Residents complain about graffiti blighting their neighbourhood, but if we want to tackle this issue we need to understand the modern origins of graffiti, why teenagers graffiti tag, and how we can harness that energy and creativity and move it into something more positive and legal, namely graffiti art.
This will be an opportunity to meet and talk to Birmingham based graffiti artists (both teenagers and older) who want to help reduce the level of tagging by providing ‘managed’ legal graffiti art zones. This will explain what a ‘managed’ graffiti art zone is, in contrast to an ‘unmanaged’ zones.
Martin “will be presenting the findings of a Scrutiny Review into tackling nuisance graffiti in Birmingham to the City Council on Tuesday 5th February. The report will be made public on Tuesday 29th January. One of the recommendations in the report is controversial, since it recommends investigating the setting up of ‘managed’ legal graffiti zones. This meeting will describe what this is, how their creation could help reduce graffiti tagging long term and move teenagers into the legal side of graffiti art.”
The event takes place at the Moseley CDT, next to the Post Office on Alcester Road (map).