Why do we revolt? Why do we betray, falter, and err on the side of danger to project a voice we deem so necessary be heard? My Catholic family might have me believe it’s because each and every one of us mortals was born in sin. That we walk this earth effing up left, right, and centre to only then ask forgiveness from our Holy Father in belief that we too will one day gain entrance to that special place high in the sky. But for those whose beliefs verge more on the side of agnostic, one might look into the human condition and why each of us has a desire to leave a mark on this world in some way big or small. Crossing the Weidendammer Brücke off Friedrichstraße at night a neon sign flashes CAPITALISM KILLS LOVE fitted by the priciest steakhouse this side of the Spree, where they proudly proclaim, “A platinum card is a handy accessory at this ‘Look-at-me’ temple.” Pretty ironic to blare this message when they are at the very root of wealth splashing that they themselves say kills this crazy little thing called love. But they’re also right, we’ve traded in spirituality in large part for our current worship of false idols and the never-ending chase for commodities pummelling us closer and closer towards doomsday.
There’s been a wide divide between the haves and the have-nots brewing in our society since the dawn of mankind. In recent times this divide has in part influenced riots from Los Angeles to London where according to the media it was all about a bunch of hooligans stealing and destroying everything with no apparent cause. Rather than address the race struggle or real reasons behind people’s anger and frustration it’s easier for mainstream media to paint a different picture. The discord between individuals and their voices and what society lays out can often feel like a constant clash. Billboard ads are so tacky and lame, so is riding the train on your daily commute as just another lemming biting the grind, all the bold advertisements splashed about town configuring you into just one big buying grid. Sure, you could shut yourself off and pretend all this consumerism doesn’t matter or make the world go round. But it does.
So perhaps that’s why several unsavoury characters, as the authorities would dub them, have felt a queasiness in them stir and therefore decided to spoil all that’s for sale by acting out against it - in crimes of passion or errant vandalism. Whether it’s been the Billboard Liberation Front with their anti-unimaginative ad ninja re-works or SpY’s art with its provocative turn you upside down spin, there are more than a few renegades featured in this issue showing that not all vandalism is created equal. Misguided and malicious some can be but awakened and armed with tools to share their art are also many. Whether or not it’s all gone awry, it’s important to question and provoke, to challenge the status quo and stay woke. Rest assured, in the forthcoming pages you’ll find many a night owl rebel out there shaking up the norm, challenging authority, messing with the boring, retaliating against big fat corporations and cookie cutter in your face ad nauseum advertising. Everyone’s braving their own battle but then there’s those waging war on the masses. Like the ad men hijacking human consciousness by jumping into bed with the media so they can perpetuate their messaging with the aid of ad dollars, perfectly playing into the hands of those who want to manipulate the social psyche. So what do we do? We rise up against principles we don’t believe in, against structures that are bound to topple, rituals that are in need of a reshuffling. So long as you too refuse to go quietly into the night, viva la vandal.