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White Washing London for the Olympics?

White Washing London for the Olympics?

 

The London Olympic Games have drawn a lot of attention to the major city in the weeks leading up the big opening night, and the attention has not always been positive. This week, London is in the spotlight again for attempting to strip the city of street art, including pieces composed by the world-renowned artist Banksy.

London is known by many as an eclectic niche for street art appreciation but the BBC notes that certain areas of the city are getting fresh coats of white paint on pieces of art that have been in place for a number of years, while other areas of the city are left intact. London officials claim that they always remove graffiti from walls when it is complained about.

Yet, there is something slightly fishy about the whole enterprise. This month street artist Mau Mau painted a large image of a Ronald McDonald-like clown carrying a blackened Olympic torch on a warehouse wall in Ealing where he had permission to paint. The piece was meant to comment on the corporate greed of the Olympics. And if you have been keeping pace with the state of the Olympics workers’ living quarters or where those cute toy mascots are being made, this kind of statement has some valuable meaning. Unfortunately, the piece was whitewashed out of existence within six days.

It sounds as if even Banksy may be facing tougher sanctions on his work. An editorial in The Guardian notes that many street artists have been banned from Olympic arenas and public transport during the events, in an attempt to bar more art from going up around the city. Suddenly, certain areas of London are getting a new coat of white paint.

Officials claim this has always been the policy. As a spokesperson for the Ealing Council told the BBC:

“This is in line with our policy to remove all reported graffiti as soon as possible, unless we have been made aware in advance that it is there with the consent of the building owner and it is not offensive,” she added.

Ms Bingham said it was good that councils were removing graffiti. “It’s nice that the whole country is getting a facelift. Graffiti makes an area look neglected and unloved and it impacts how people feel about an area,” she said.

“We have a million extra people coming here so we want them to see the area looking its best.”

Banksy has revealed a few of his most recent pieces in the lead up to the Olympics on his website. They are stark stenciled pieces meant to reflect on the consumerism of the Games. One piece shows the image of a young boy hunched over a sewing machine crafting a piece of clothing or an object. The piece most likely refers to the many uniforms and mascots that have been made in appalling conditions in Chinese factories.

Officials may be worried that such art hits much too close to home in the wake of multiple controversies surrounding safety, transport and corruption in the lead-up to the games. That editorial in the Guardian suggests a major conflict between many residents of London and event organizers:

London will never be a shining city on a hill, a clean and crystalline utopia. Its finest culture has always been its most scabrous culture from Hogarth to the street artists who are so unwelcome at the Olympics. Were ever a city and a sporting spectacle so ill-matched?

 

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21 comments

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1:02PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

White washing graffiti? Is this really what this is about? I know of a saying "cleaning up is covering up". Sounds apropos, seems to fit the situation and I understand. I never knew a British person once who would want to air their dirty laundry. I don't blame them. Everyone cleans their home for company. It is simply courtesy. If you want to see the graffiti go after the Olympics are over and things are back to business as usual - not while the whole world is watching.

If you want to have a minute of prayer by all means go ahead and take one, I myself am trying to put aside 20 minutes or so a day. To pray, read my Bible and listen to God. As far as security goes I hope they provide excellent security for everyone. No one is more important than anyone else are they? Who knows who some crazy person wants to kill?

Hate is random, there is far too much of it out there these days. I am promising myself to try everyday from now on to consciously love my neighbors as I love myself. Join me.

Love is purposeful it requires action and intention and thought. I am going to give it a try.

2:48AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

ROM Anna G..............We can all die as far as England is concerned.

what ever pilLs you are taking dear....you should stop...it damaged your brain!!

A Grand Ma who HAS SEEN THE WAR!!

7:54PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

"Were ever a city and a sporting spectacle so ill-matched?"....

Careful Sarah Vrba - the British press will be calling you a "Romney".....

You know - as in "twit"!

Goodness me - imagine if Romney was right? Land sakes!!!!

1:38AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

A shame. Street art is a part of London's vibrant culture. Sure, the worst of it is crap, just like everywhere else, but the good stuff, Banksy and a good number of others, is part of our lives.

8:45PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

Though I am wishing all the Olympians well & luck, I am still appalled by governmental practices in London, England & Northern Ireland to KILL dogs due to breed & spreading of propaganda that said dogs were showing aggressive tendancies. Why does this sound like giving them reason to kill, especially a disabled child's dog? And then give the female lout of a dog warden a promotion & salary raise!

Now we all are hoping Bailey, a Lurcher (mixed breed with Greyhound ancestry), who is 12 years old jailed in London's Police Kennels will get a Stay of Execution before August 1st (in London & July 31 in the Americas). Tyhe rules overseeing dog killing in England is far too harsh against the animals; BSL must be stopped in England & prevented from being law in the United States.

8:06AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

@Anna If you feel there is something positive to be gained by continually resurrecting the 40 year old incident - as if every Olympics is Munich N.0 - go for it. Observe an hour of silence.

If as a result of Israel's continuing global terrorist activities there is a perceived threat of retaliation against Israel's national Olympic team, could Israel not deploy Mossad and other services which operate with impunity and uncritical support world-wide to ensure those risks to its athletes are mitigated?

How long will the events of history be used to claim perpetual victim-status to shield/justify/absolve the current ongoing non-compassionate-bad-behaviour perpetuated against its now-time-victimes ? How about a minute of silence for the Palestinians? for Fukushima (and the ever unfolding aftermath? (google Jim Stone Dimona Dozen)

8:05AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

@Anna If you feel there is something positive to be gained by continually resurrecting the 40 year old incident - as if every Olympics is Munich N.0 - go for it. Observe an hour of silence.

If as a result of Israel's continuing global terrorist activities there is a perceived threat of retaliation against Israel's national Olympic team, could Israel not deploy Mossad and other services which operate with impunity and uncritical support world-wide to ensure those risks to its athletes are mitigated?

How long will the events of history be used to claim perpetual victim-status to shield/justify/absolve the current ongoing non-compassionate-bad-behaviour perpetuated against its now-time-victimes ? How about a minute of silence for the Palestinians? for Fukushima (and the ever unfolding aftermath? (google Jim Stone Dimona Dozen)

8:05AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

@Anna If you feel there is something positive to be gained by continually resurrecting the 40 year old incident - as if every Olympics is Munich N.0 - go for it. Observe an hour of silence.

If as a result of Israel's continuing global terrorist activities there is a perceived threat of retaliation against Israel's national Olympic team, could Israel not deploy Mossad and other services which operate with impunity and uncritical support world-wide to ensure those risks to its athletes are mitigated?

How long will the events of history be used to claim perpetual victim-status to shield/justify/absolve the current ongoing non-compassionate-bad-behaviour perpetuated against its now-time-victimes ? How about a minute of silence for the Palestinians? for Fukushima (and the ever unfolding aftermath? (google Jim Stone Dimona Dozen)

4:27AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

The games have to be paid for and that has come out of your taxes, reduced benefits, increases in fuel prices etc., etc., etc., do not believe that you and I have not had to pay for this fiasco and the only ones making money from it will be the rich idiots who thought it was a good idea in the first place. In a deep recession we do not need the expense of building arenas, paying for security and all the other crap that goes to make up the games. Guess we have Tony Blair to thank for this the labour government left the country with so much debt and he thought it a good idea to host the Olympics thanks a bunch Tony enjoy your front row seat.

3:44PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Anna G.: Your comment is uncalled for. Frankly if Israel insists on making itself the world's numero uno trouble-maker, maybe its athletes shouldn't attend the Olympics period. After all, why should any host fall all over himself to provide special protection for people from a country that turns the life of the Palestinians into a hell that makes even Auschwitz appear like a minor inconvenience by comparison? As for the problem in Munich 40 years ago, are you suggesting the Germans should have been clair voyants?

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