The battle of real estate developers versus art-loving citizens plays itself out again, this time in the city of Berlin. I’m old enough to remember when the Berlin Wall came down the first time. Then, it was something to celebrate. Now, it’s something to protest against. How times change.
Graffiti Archaeology’s domain has been registered at the sketchy domain registrar GoDaddy.com for several years now. But then GoDaddy announced its support for SOPA, an extremely toxic bit of legislation being considered by the US Congress, which if passed, would empower a single government bureaucrat with a switch to kill any web domain of his choosing, without any public oversight, due process, or even notification to the owner of the domain being killed. SOPA (and its evil twin, PIPA) would effectively destroy the free Internet as we know it, and it would very specifically pose a threat to projects like this one. So I’m happy to announce that as of today, we’re taking our business elsewhere.
Visitors might experience some downtime as we get the DNS records established with our new registrar, but hopefully it’ll all be straightened out quickly.
Wooster Collective reader Jason V. shared an interesting series of photos of a mural in Vancouver. After the mural was tagged with a big red anarchy sign, someone went over the tag with a giant QR code, apparently painted by hand. The code leads back to an image of the original mural. I went ahead and made an animated GIF of the whole repeating cycle, for your recursive pleasure:
This isn’t the first time someone has tried something like this, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it in North America. A Berlin-based artist named Sweza did something similar last year: Retrieving buffed graf with QR codes
Thanks to Eric Rodenbeck for the link!
This video, by Arnaud Jourdain, documents five years of the history of a graffiti wall in Paris dedicated to Serge Gainsbourg. What’s brilliant is the way he does it: instead of just playing back the photos in series, he isolates each individual tag, puts it on its own layer, and explodes the whole glorious mess out into space with 3D animation. It’s a beautiful, fresh take on the Graffiti Archaeology meme. The wall itself, with love notes and other hommages interspersed among the tags and wheatpastes, reminds me of the John Lennon wall in Prague.
Just weeks after the legalization of graffiti (and re-criminalization of pixação) in Brazil, there’s more news on the split between these two subcultures. Some pixadores were not too happy with the commodification of street art, so they got together to tag up an entire gallery, walls, paintings, prints and all. Read on to see the flyer they distributed to organize the event. (Via Wooster Collective.)
Update: Wooster Collective got the photos from the Gallery’s Flickr stream, and if you follow that link you can see a long list of comments from Brazilians who are fans of either pixação or graffiti/street art. There may be some interesting discussions brewing in there, so if I find any choice bits I’ll try to post translations here later.
A recent edit to the Wikipedia entry for “Queen Elizabeth Hall” added mention of the Undercroft, and Graffiti Archaeology’s coverage of it. Also linked is an article in Time Out London that credits the Prime Minister’s office with saving the Undercroft from development into shops:
Are some government ministers secret skateboarders? We think they must be. Back in January, we reported on rumours that the underpass of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank was set to be developed into retail outlets.
Last month Downing Street responded to the campaign with a statement that read: ‘The Southbank Centre (SBC) is an independent arts organisation and decisions about the undercroft are a matter for them. [But] any activity that engages young people can have a positive impact on society, and the skateboarding community that has grown up around the undercroft has brought together people from various backgrounds, created a vibrant public space and added real value to the lives of many young people.’
London’s skaters are delighted. ‘It’s rad, obviously,’ says skateboarder Ninian Doff. ‘If skaters left the South Bank now, it’d be like the Tower losing its ravens – the place would crumble.’
The next battle for the skaters is to get the area returned to the size it was before the SBC boarded up two thirds of it to use as storage during the redevelopment of the Royal Festival Hall.
Also be sure to set aside 23 minutes of your day to check out this excellent documentary about the space. It succeeds wonderfully at explaining why a shared public space like this, with its own organically-grown street culture, is so important to the life of any city.
(found via this photo on Flickr.)
Last week a law was passed in Brazil legalizing graffiti. But this doesn’t mean exactly what you may think. In Brazil, “graffiti” (grafite in Portuguese) refers not so much to the entire hip hop tradition of writing, but more specifically to colorful pieces, characters, abstractions, and other painted street art. In everyday speech, it’s often contrasted against pichação, which is Brazil’s home-grown style of tagging, so named because its first practicioners used tar (piche) stolen from construction sites. The semantic distinction echoes a sentiment I often hear here in the US: “I like the artistic stuff, but not, you know, those ugly scribbles.”
This distinction is part of what’s being put into law. What’s interesting about this law is that it appears to recognize the artistic and cultural value of the graffiti itself, not just the monetary value of the property it’s painted on. How will this play out in practice, I wonder?
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Brazil, graffiti is being taught in schools, recognized in an International Biennial, and receiving special protection from the buff. Sounds like a pretty civilized country to me.
Props and muito obrigado to Raquel Rabbit for the link, and for helping me out with the subtleties of Brazilian Portuguese. Read on for my poor (but better than Google’s) English translation of the first article above:
Continue reading “Graffiti” to be legalized in Brazil?…
Here’s an interesting article about some real graffiti archaeology! Apparently the son of a loft owner in SoHo discovered some old-school tags by some of the greats of the 80′s scene on a hidden wall in his building. Now a team of conservators is treating the wall like an archaeological dig, carefully extracting the portion of wall with the tags on it, which will be exhibited Thursday night in a gallery alongside work by Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Ero and Fab 5 Freddy.
Click here for video. (warning: opens new window, has ads.)
(Via Graffiti News. Entire article after the jump.)
Check out these photos of the work of NATE from Milan, Italy. Apparently he does this by selectively cutting away each individual layer on a wall plastered with years’ worth of posters. It’s like a physical manifestation of what we do at Graffiti Archaeology, using an x-acto knife instead of Flash!
Florencia ’71. Photo by KID DEUCE.
The most frequent question I get asked by strangers, when I tell them I’m interested in graffiti, is “isn’t that stuff all gang-related?” It’s hard sometimes to explain the difference between gang graffiti and the graf culture that emerged from the hip hop movement, though the difference is obvious to anyone who pays attention. I’m usually forced to sum it up with a broad generalization like “you can tell gang graffiti by the lack of artistry.”
That quip may be largely true these days in San Francisco, but it was not always so. Flickr user KID DEUCE has just posted an amazing set of photos of classic gang tags from East LA in the 1970′s. The calligraphy in some of these is stunning. You can see the origins of Chaz’s Cholo style here, and at the same time, you can see where SF gang graf got some of its basic ideas, even though it has lost most of the style. Check it out.
(via Wooster Collective.)