The Aerosol Sevenby Andy Davis / Images by Samora Chapman / 19.08.2011
The scene is on fire. The story of the “031 Aerosol Seven” seems to have swept the nation, sparking heated debates on the morality of public art, both legal and illegal and scrutinizing the very nature of public space (with a little side spat on the role of media sensationalism and journalistic bias). The battle came to a climax yesterday morning with Ewok, the godfather of Durban hip hop, taking on police spokesperson Eugene Msomi on East Coast Radio.
Ewok took the stage with confidence honed over years as a battle MC, stating that he was one of the first people to paint the wall five years ago. The wall is thought to be owned, or leased by Speed Trans Trucking and the name of the company was actually painted on the wall when the original mural was done. This begs the question: is anybody going to bash down Ewok’s door and arrest him for vandalising the wall of Speed Trans Trucking? The truth is, just about every graffiti artist in Durban has painted that wall at some time or another.
Mr Msomi stuttered his way through a statement, saying things like “as far as we are aware they did not have permission to paint the wall,” which hardly instils confidence in the state’s case. The crux of his poorly articulated statement was that he could not discuss details due to the case pending.
Ewok finished off with killer style: “equating spray painting with vandalism is like saying politicians with money in their pockets should immediately be accused of corruption.”
Check the full podcast here.
Now it’s time to take a step back and breathe. The courts have set the the trial for September 14. That gives Metro, the prosecutors and their team of private investigators one month to build their case. And it gives the hip hop community and the Durban creative set one month to unite. There are legal fees to be raised. Contrary to the claims of Citizen journalist Paul Kirk, these young artists are not all trust fund kids. They are vocational artists in a society that celebrates sex, booze and rugby long before art and culture. A benefit gig is being mooted with performances from local bands and boards being painted and auctioned to raise funds. We’ll publish the details on Mahala just as soon as they’re finalised.
Coming up, we’ll be attempting to put the debate around whether the Aerosol Seven are bonafide artists to bed with a series of profiles. In the meantime take a squiz at some of the pics from Battle of the Year, the annual Poison City hip hop convention held last weekend. Part of Life Check, a non profit initiative aimed at empowering young people through hip hop.
*Check in at Gangs of Graffiti for all the latest.
**All images © Samora Chapman.