Tag Archives: graffiti

King For A Day…

Up until now New York’s most famous literary son has been Holden Caulfield. However the privaleged protagonist of JD Salinger’s boring coming of age novel never hit up a million tags. In fact, regarding a million, Holden Caulfield believed that “you couldn’t rub out even half the ‘Fuck you’ signs” graffitied in that number of years. Well, the author of What Do One Million Ja Tags Signify? estimates, “through averages & fudging with time & math”, that the eponymous tagger of the title has put up a million of his own fuck you’s in just thirty years!

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The Faith in Graffiti

It used to annoy me on the few occasions when I picked up a coffee-table book on graffiti and the introduction would waffle on about the history of it stretching from the present all the way back to cave paintings done by neanderthals. That stuff just isn’t proper graffiti! Real graffiti is a recent thing I thought. However a couple of years ago I read a book called Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England by Juliet Fleming that changed my view. The book describes how graffiti covered the place in the sixteenth-century and could be done by anyone and everyone. Contemporary graffiti forms a distinct subculture which often regards itself as a modern art movement yet graffiti done in the past was also created in specific contexts and had a cultural function too. Flemings book also got me wondering about wether methods of studying historical graffiti can be used to interpret modern graffiti or vice versa. This is why I went for Matthew Champions book on a similar topic. Medieval Graffiti, as its title suggests, looks at graffiti done during the Medieval period on churches in England. Nowadays churches are out of bounds for people doing graffiti but back then the church was a canvas for all sorts of writing. Champion studies this type of graffiti in his book which is divided into twenty-one chapters that each focus on the different varieties commonly found in Medieval churches. This includes written letters, crosses, ships, coats of arms, animals, demons and much more. As there’s a lot covered in the book I’ll just briefly outline a couple of the chapters and then discuss how it can relate to contemporary graffiti.

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Hessian nights

Writing Hessisch

Writing Hessisch is the first in a planned series of magazines that focuses on graffiti in the Hesse region of Germany. A quick look on wikipedia shows that Hesse has a distinct cultural identity and it obviously deserves to have its own distinct graffiti magazine as well. I like this idea of magazines that focus on a specific scene or idea as it allows a greater insight and helps give the magazine a clear character. As all the text in the magazine is written in German, and my German is very poor, I only managed a basic translation of the introduction but here goes: The magazine is released after thirty years of graffiti in Hesse. They don’t want to produce a glossy advert filled mag but aim for an honest representation of the ideas, history and stories behind the graffiti of Rhine-Main.

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Compulsive graffiti

I recently got a copy of the German magazine Zugzwang Zeitung. Looking the phrase ‘zugzwang’ up, the title translates as something like ‘the compulsion to move newspaper’. As the name suggests the main topic of the magazine is train graffiti from within Germany but also elsewhere in Europe, and some bits-and-bobs from Australia and the US. There are also a couple of interviews and a few walls chucked in for good measure.

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The Art of Hooliganism

I recently went on a trip to Warsaw and whilst there I visited the Polin museum to see an exhibition of work by the photographer Wojciech Wilczyk. The exhibition showcases some of the photos from his ‘Holy War’ project which were made into a book titled Święta Wojna. The book is a collection of nearly four-hundred photos of football graffiti from Poland. As a fan of both graffiti and football I was bound to be interested in this book really.

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Another Manchester

fabrik frontcover

Fabrik is a newish magazine from the city of Łódź in Poland. The city is also known as Poland’s Manchester which helps explain the slightly decrepit post-industrial feel to the magazine. The photo content mainly consists of streets, factory walls and abandoned buildings. There’s some shots of ‘rooftopy’ pieces that look really good on top of the industrial-era tenements of the city. Throughout this magazine the quality of the photos is top-notch. A few pages are black and white with the rest of the pictures in colour. The photos are good at transmitting the particular feel of the city which helps give context to the graffiti.

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