Behind The Wall: The Battle for LA’s Murals

Oliver Riley-Smith made this short documentary about the disappearing mural art of Los Angeles. It features a prominent muralist complaining about how murals have been ‘bludgeoned by graffiti’ and ‘censored by the city.’ Perhaps so. The city does make it difficult to get permits for murals. But I don’t really like murals. They tend to be stiff and unoriginal. I like the murals that have been vandalized by the graffiti artists. Sorry but I do. They are much more interesting than the clean murals which are entirely unimaginative and offer nothing to move art in any direction whatsoever. If muralists want to preserve their images, they should paint indoors. Look at the mural on the highway underpass wall that’s covered with graffiti at the 42 second mark in the film. Beautiful. Much better than the mural ever was. The muralist in the film says, ‘Museums are for the dead. I want life.’


There’s a guy in this film called ‘Ghost One.’ I like what he says about art.  He’s realistic and open to whatever comes along.  He says that taggers mark up murals because they assume that their marks will have more longevity that way. That’s a very interesting thought. An artists seeks longevity by making his mark inside the work of another artist. Fascinating. Much more interesting than the murals. Such thinking shows possibility.

But then the film draws the two sides together and our muralist says he ‘hopes our two styles can work together.’ Well, they can’t really, but it’s a nice thought.