Monday, July 24, 2017

Street art ban will only increase graffiti: artists

Street art in Yangon. (Nyein Maung/ The Myanmar Times)Street art in Yangon. (Nyein Maung/ The Myanmar Times)

A ban on graffiti and street art in Yangon, announced in state media late last month, will do little to curb the practice and might even increase the activity, artists said last week.

Yangon municipal authorities announced last month in state newspapers that a ban had been imposed on drawing or painting on public buildings, roads, bridges, parks and schools.

The punishment for being caught was left unspecified, but the warning was repeated on state television early last week.

One Yangon-based graffiti artist, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Myanmar Times that after a long time ignoring street art, authorities suddenly seem “very strict” about the practice.

“But as long as there is no announcement about the punishment for being caught, we will continue drawing. We just need to be more careful. If they catch us on the spot, who knows what they’ll do to us,” he said.

“Actually, every country has this regulation, so we can’t complain about the ban. This is their responsibility. They are doing their duty, and we’re trying to create our artwork. I don’t think they can stop graffiti artists because we’ll always seek any place to express our feelings and surprise the public.”

Graffiti artist Arker Kyaw, 19, said the ban could give “good benefits for the cleanliness of the city” but added that authorities had gone about imposing the prohibition in the wrong way.

“They shouldn’t just impose a ban and do nothing for the graffiti artists. They should have provided some places for graffiti and street artists to work, and put a registration system in place so those who want to draw graffiti can do it legally,” he said.

He added that he had heard the punishment for being caught would be three months in jail, but he said this would not deter anyone.

“If authorities just impose a ban without giving or doing anything in return for us, I think the graffiti arts will only increase in the city,” he said.

“Student, graffiti artists, street artists will never stop creating. Young people always enjoy doing things that are not allowed.”