Sunday, April 16, 2006

Spring Cleaning: Kolkata's Bare Walls

In an effort to "cleanse and sanitise the public political arena" before a federal general election, government officials in the West Bengal city of Kolkata have banned a decade-old tradition of using public and private walls for political graffiti.

This ban has left a thriving community of graffiti artists "all part of a self taught decade-long trade in handwritten and painted billboard and graffiti writing" jobless and forced to pursue another livelihood.

The graffiti represented the ingenuity of Calcuttan artists to make the space their own as a means to reach out to the political culture. Individuation of the space could be seen in the different messages and stamps, lettering, illustrations and limited colours used by the artists.

Calcuttans are now forced to use different ways to display the visual representation of political culture. For more on Kolkata's "colourless campaign," read this BBC article.

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