Monday, October 12, 2009

Tag – You’re It

Many European cities have a lot in common: rivers that run through their hearts, buildings older than the US constitution, and ridiculously gorgeous women for my husband to ogle. Today’s post, however, is not about Robert Redford’s movie, awesome architecture, or my desire to tattoo “taken” on my husband’s forehead. Today’s post is about the other thing virtually all the European cities we visited have in common: graffiti.

Hubby and I were taken aback by the amount of tagging we spied during our journeys this summer. None of the European cities we visited this summer was spared the wrath of these spray can wielding “artists.” Walls, doors, archways – from what we could tell all flat surfaces were free game for taggers.

We did see some evidence of cities trying to take their cities back by painting over or chemically removing the graffiti. This somewhat thankless task can, from what I understand, be not only costly for city governments but also rather futile.

As Hubby and I snapped photo after photo of graffiti, we wondered why we were more sensitive to this visual pollution than the people around us. Our American friends in Hungary found our outrage puzzling since tagging happens virtually everywhere. For the most part, they didn’t even notice the spray painted walls we walked by.

In the time since these photos were taken, I’ve thought a lot about what these tags meant. They were not, I was informed in several cities, gang related but that doesn’t make them less insidious. The reason it bothered me, I think, was simply the juxtaposition of these beautiful old buildings with their amazing rich histories contrasted with the disrespect and hate behind the graffiti that now “decorated” these walls.

I can appreciate graffiti art in its place but none of the tagging I saw this summer was art. It was mindlessly and needlessly destructive and that makes me sad.

22 comments:

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I agree. I don't understand the defacing of property. Supposedly there is an "art" to it. I remember seeing many trains in New York and Chicago where the graffiti is turned into an artistic venture.

I always wonder why no one sees it in the works. Or at least, I haven't. Wonder what I'd do if I did?

Jennifer said...

I had the same reaction seeing graffiti in Venice on our honeymoon. I dunno, it was just tragic. I just don't understand why it has to happen, gang related or not. :-(

bettyl said...

It's a shame that people have lost respect for things around us. I know I wouldn't dare to think of doing anything like that in my day!

Connie said...

The thing that worked on kids who tagged (back when I knew such kids) was getting busted and made to perform a pile of community service cleaning up the mess... chain gang like, orange coveralls, the works. I wonder if they do this in European cities?

Casey (@ Ever-Changing Life) said...

My husband and I always talk about the graffiti here. It's like the 90s never left and it is still so popular! When we went to Italy last week there was so much. Even on the bottom floor apartments. I would be so angry! We decided if we lived there we would sit outside with a paintball gun. Graffiti has got to go!

Protege said...

I completely agree with you! Graffiti is obviously an art form and tries to convey messages, but I too watch with distress when old, historical buildings are being desecrated by this strange verbal expressions.

Louise said...

I don't like graffiti either. I think of the kids who do it as needing to take some kind of power over their surroundings. Perhaps if they're poorly educated, jobless, hopeless, this is a way to take back something and call it theirs. I don't like it because it feels to me territorial. I feel as if someone's saying to me in an agressive way, this is MY street and you shouldn't be walking here.

Fruitful Vine2 said...

It's seen here in my village too. In the middle of the road, on the lamp posts, wherever there seems to be a group congregating to hang out inevitably graffiti will be seen.

Looks awful but to them I guess they're being creative. My thing is do it on your own property - oh but wait - they have no property of their own. All those who have property of their own have jobs or businesses and don't have time to spray paint the neighborhood.

Sorry but this is something I just don't like and your post triggered my emotions.

Have a blessed day.

Caution Flag said...

I suppose there is something to be said about it appearing in an area of decay. Sometimes I think tagging even improves those areas. But when it is in an area of history and beauty...that's unsettling.

Jacki said...

Oh I am SOOO glad you are back! I have missed you so much and had been wondering what had happened to you.

I don't like to see graffiti on historical buildings, either. But the funny thing is, this isn't a new problem. For centuries people have been leaving their mark on stuff...from the Vikings to soldiers during the Civil War. :-)

Lydia said...

It is mindless. And ugly. Though I did take special interest in the "pharonic graffiti" whenever I went to Luxor or Aswan. "George Alexander L'Phew 1848" followed by gorgeous, intricately carved grapes. Why can modern taggers do that?

Yaya said...

That is sad that these buildings were defaced like this.


PS Thank you for stopping by on my special day!

American in Norway said...

Bugs the hell out of me too... Someone needs to take them over their knee & give them a good spanking! Or FINE the cap outo f them & make them clean it up...

Brenda said...

It bothers me too, but my 20 something son found it fascinating and photographed a lot of it. Especially in Eastern Europe he saw it as an artistic contrast to the starkness of the buildings.

Tranquility said...

It's so sad that the people spraying the buildings don't stop to consider the permanent damage they are creating. I wish laws were stricter regarding building damage and illegal grafitti!


p.s. - to answer your question: those particular hats were knitted on a round loom. I had several friends and family members ask me for hats all at once and the loom is the quickest method I've found for using two or three yarns to make the hats thick and warm.

LadyFi said...

We have quite a bit here in Sweden too - it seems to be on the increase everywhere. Some graffiti is truly artistic, but tagging is not.

Anonymous said...

I despise graffiti. I have seen some excellent children's over-paintings but...the bad stuff still seems to come back.
merthyrmum

Little P said...

Yea, it's pretty sad and I do read about different local gov'ts (Budapest specifically had a campaign in 2006 that I knew of- I don't know what happened) who try to stop it, but it doesn't seem like they are very successful.
I work in study abroad and at my first orientation we do a powerpoint that is a bunch of visuals... everyone thinks of the pretty stuff, but we try to get in as much graffiti and homeless/gypsy's as we can because it is so shocking to people coming from the U.S.

Personally, I find a lot of the graffiti interesting - particularly in Eastern Europe. There is a very different style there. It would be nice if they could either clean it up or find a way to get people to stop though...

Sharon said...

I agree -- it always strikes me as a thoughtless, childish form of arrogant self expression.

And a waste of paint!

Sandy said...

I've never understood the reason behind 'tagging.' It just looks like vandalism to me.

I another note, interesting that you mentioned the rivers that meander through Europe. I have just booked a river cruise for next summer. Something I have always wanted to do. It is through countries I will be visiting for the first time so I'm really looking forward to it.

I so envy your travels!

Sandy said...

I've never understood the reason behind 'tagging.' It just looks like vandalism to me.

I another note, interesting that you mentioned the rivers that meander through Europe. I have just booked a river cruise for next summer. Something I have always wanted to do. It is through countries I will be visiting for the first time so I'm really looking forward to it.

I so envy your travels!

Heather said...

I'm with you.