Tuesday, April 7, 2009

POST 4: Lulu: Graffiti

*** Graffiti ***
(singular: graffito; the plural is used as a mass noun) is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property. Graffiti is sometimes regarded as a form of art and other times regarded as unsightly damage or unwanted.


History of Graffiti
The term graffiti referred to the inscriptions, figure drawings, etc., found on the walls of ancient sepulchers or ruins, as in the Catacombs of Rome or at Pompeii. Usage of the word has evolved to include any graphics applied to surfaces in a manner that constitutes vandalism.
The only known source of the Safaitic language, a form of proto-Arabic, is from graffiti: inscriptions scratched on to the surface of rocks and boulders in the predominantly basalt desert of southern Syria, eastern Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia. Safaitic dates from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D..

The first known example of "modern style" graffiti survives in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). Local guides say it is an advertisement for prostitution. Located near a mosaic and stone walkway, the graffiti shows a handprint that vaguely resembles a heart, along with a footprint and a number. This is believed to indicate that a brothel was nearby, with the handprint symbolizing payment.[2]

(right) Ancient Pompeii graffito caricature of a politician.

The ancient Romans carved graffiti on walls and monuments, examples of which also survive in Egypt. The eruption of Vesuvius preserved graffiti in Pompeii, including Latin curses, magic spells, declarations of love, alphabets, political slogans and famous literary quotes, providing insight into ancient Roman street life. One inscription gives the address of a woman named Novellia Primigenia of Nuceria, a prostitute, apparently of great beauty, whose services were much in demand. Another shows a phallus accompanied by the text, 'mansueta tene': "Handle with care".

Disappointed love also found its way onto walls in antiquity:

Quisquis amat. veniat. Veneri volo frangere costas
fustibus et lumbos debilitare deae.
Si potest illa mihi tenerum pertundere pectus
quit ego non possim caput illae frangere fuste?

"Whoever loves, go to hell. I want to break Venus's ribs
with a club and defor
m her hips.
If she can break my tender heart
why can't I hit her over the head?"
-CIL IV, 1284.

Graffiti is often seen as having become intertwined with hip hop culture and the myriad of international styles derived from New York City Subway graffiti. However, there are many other instances of notable graffiti this century. Graffiti has long appeared on railroad boxcars. The one with the longest history, dating back to the 1920s and continuing into the present day, is Bozo Texino. 

During World War II and for decades after, the phrase "Kilroy was here" with accompanying illustration was widespread throughout the world, due to its use by American troops and its filtering into American popular culture. Shortly after the death of Charlie Parker (nicknamed "Yardbird" or "Bird"), graffiti began appearing around New York with the words ‘Bird Lives.’[9] In the sixties American graffiti proclaiming that "Yossarian lives!",[citation needed] was briefly popular, a reference to the protagonist of Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22. The student protests and general strike of May 1968 saw Paris bedecked in revolutionary, anarchist, and situationist slogans such as L'ennui est contre-r√©volutionnaire ("Boredom is counterrevolutionary") expressed in painted graffiti, poster art, and stencil art. In the U.S. at the time other political phrases (such as "Free Huey" about Black Panther Huey Newton) became briefly popular as graffiti in limited areas, only to be forgotten. A popular graffito of the 1970s was the legend "Dick Nixon Before He Dicks You," reflecting the hostility of the youth culture to that U.S. president.
Rock and Roll graffiti is a significant sub genre. A famous graffito of the 20th century was the inscription in the London subway reading "Clapton is God". The phrase was spray-painted by an admirer on a wall in an Islington Underground station in the autumn of 1967. The graffiti was captured in a photograph, in which a dog is urinating on the wall. Graffiti also became associated with the anti-establishment punk rock movement beginning in the 1970s. Bands such as Black Flag and Crass (and their followers) widely stenciled their names and logos, while many punk night clubs, squats and hangouts are famous for their graffiti. In the late 1980s the upside down Martini glass that was the tag for punk band Missing Foundation was the most ubiquitious graffito in lower Manhattan, and copied by hard core punk fans throughout the U.S. and West Germany.

GrAFFiti AS ARt..?

An example of the highly decorative graffiti typically found in Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil

Social commentators____

Graffitti artists,social commentators, propaganda artists or vandals?

Before researching graffiti i didnt really have much knowledge about it except for the random spots of it in brissy, or locally. mainly on (TRAIN TRACKS AND TUNNELS!) My mind seems to separate graffiti into good and bad work though, of course this is only based on my opinion. I saw graffiti tags as downright ugly, and thought of the colour and design of others to brighten up our towns and cities. 
Now i realise that there is a bigger picture with it, that it isnt separated by good and bad but differentiated by purpose. 

I have found so many examples of each opinion and now i have to sit on the fence and say that i believe it to be all equal. It depends on the purpose of the creator, whether it is to be enjoyed, to make your mind tick over or simply just to get their name seen, that is how i see it now. 
And if it means that our minds can be knocked out of our ordinary routine way of thinking, even if only for a moment.. 
Graffiti is a wonderful way for people to express themselves without having to have their thoughts re-shaped  and approved by society first.

1 comment:

  1. extensive and informative. well done a very interesting read