Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lost Graffiti Survives Online

Graffiti art is constantly emerging, filling up space, being blotted out, and emerging again. Often the mass erasure of graffiti from a given cityscape accompanies preparations for events that are meant to showcase the city on the world stage: the visit of the head of state, foreign dignitaries, or crowds of tourists. City officials imagine the gaze of powerful outsiders and anticipate a sense of shame or embarassment. While such beautification may just be part of the ebb and flow of city life, there are times when it can mean the death of an entire art scene. This is what happened in Melbourne recently as the city prepared to host the Commonwealth Games. According to the Guardian:

"Melbourne is the proud capital of street painting with stencils. Its large, colonial-era walls and labyrinth of back alleys drip with graffiti that is more diverse and original than any other city in the world. Well, that was until a few weeks ago, when preparations for the Commonwealth games brought a tidal wave of grey paint, obliterating years of unique and vibrant culture overnight..."

Some of the stencil works lost in this cleansing, as well as links to other sources on this issue are available here on the blog of Space and Culture: The International Journal for of Social Spaces.


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