GRAFFITI SUBCULTURE – AN ART THAT DOESN’T HAVE AN ANALOGY

Kristina Paytasheva

Every one of us, walking down the streets, passing by the subways, notices the so-called phenomenon „graffiti”. Some years ago, when I remarked them for the first time, I was very interested in them and the main question that I asked to myself was who are the people that draw them an when he creates them. I asked to myself this question, because I was never seeing a man who draws graffiti. And even I was never thinking how interesting is their story and what a deep slogans they contain in themselves. Let’s pay attention to them!

SubcultureSubculture

Origin

During the examination of different sources for the origin of the word “graffiti” I reached the conclusion that it doesn’t exist exact facts what is the origin of this word. Some specialists consider, that the word “graffiti” comes from the Greek word “graphein”, that means, “write”. Later this word develops and turns into the Latin word “graffito”. According to other explorers the word “graffiti” comes from the Italian word “graffiare”. As a whole it can be told, that the graffiti is a drawing, scratching or writing on plane surface.

During the years

ГрафитиThe graffiti were and will always be one of the most interesting and attractive arts of ХХ century. They are especially attractive also because of the fact that the author usually keeps his anonymity. The graffiti are an inseparable part of the city culture, but why not also of the city subculture. They take an enormous place in the life of the city man, because he gazes unconsciously in them and he doesn’t thing how they govern to him. Usually the graffiti territory is a territory of the youth subcultures, because by the graffiti art the young people identifies and they found their place in the society. The graffiti are some kind of shout, a protest against the standing norms, a social outlet for the young people, by whom they identifies themselves and tries to keep themselves, declaring their messages on walls, garages, subways etc.

The story of the graffiti comes from Bronx and Brooklyn and they quickly got current in New York in 70s. Than the graffiti culture is a protest against the young rich guys, who spent money indiscriminately, but in the same time very poor people exist in the suburbs of New York, who break down and because of that reason they earn money by suspicious deals. By the graffiti these gangs „mark” their territory, with an object „the rich guys” to know with whom they could have business.

The graffiti bind themselves at most to the rap and the hip-hop music from the 70s and the 80s, and this is the subculture of that time, which prefers to live at the edge and with danger for the life. Of course, the graffiti subculture doesn’t pass Europe. Just the opposite – in the many of the European cities the graffiti take respectable place at the all city places. They are especially widespread in France, Spain, Great Britain etc. In Bulgaria the graffiti start their visibly development before around 10 years. In our country, for distinction from USA, the graffiti means first of all a self-declaration and a wish to create, while in America they are first of all a social protest. In Bulgaria with graffiti can be engaged everybody – from this one, who was graduate at the Academy of arts to those, who just has a wish to draw at the walls, to put his message and his shout at the wall.

The beginning – 1971-1974

One of the first graffiti man in USA is TAKI 183 (such was the number of the street, where he lived). His work place was at the highway and he used the walls of the tunnels and of the cars to express himself. He is not the first graffiti man, but he is one of the founders of this type underground culture. Even at that time the newspaper “Times” publishes an article about him.

In Brooklyn one of the first „artists” is FRIENDLY FREDDY. The biggest part of the graffiti at that time is the tags because of the tendency to be splashed as much cars and trains as it can. But this doesn’t continue long time. The scribblers consider that at the depots of the trains and at the last stations can be scribbled more and more quality graffiti with quite smaller chances to catch them. At this way was born the concept and the method BOMB.

ГрафитиГрафити

The bloom – 1975-1977

With the course of the time is observed a development of the graffiti culture. The graffiti history starts with the big BOMB-ing. Whole trucks start to be drawn and this becomes a common practice. As a whole the BOMB-ings are in THROW UP style or in BUBBLE UP style. The THROW UP is quickly scribbled inscription with simple scheme and gentle fillings; BUBBLE UP is like THROW UP, that is as if agglutinate on a chewing gum. The two styles are used most often for names. The pioneers of these styles are INDs and BMT, some gangs like POG, 3yb, BYB TC and TOP contribute for the confirmation of the basics. The scribblers become better and better, the competitions become current, and the object is to understand who scrabbles the best and the fastest. In 1975-1977 the THROW UP style is anathematized from the society, after whole trucks, buses and trains are scratched.

Development of the graffiti culture – 1978-1981

The graffiti men existing up to now take in new and different directions and the styles graffiti gradually start to extend their spectrum. In 1980 the different graffiti styles start something like a competition with an object of scrabbling more places. But at that time the municipalities start very often to clean the public places. Many graffiti men begin to prefer more and more the work of the normal painter, than the occupation of the scribbler. The graffiti men, who stay with their vocation of scribblers, form international graffiti movement and start to meet each other at some specialized places.

Adaptation to the law – 1982-1985

This period is maybe the most critical for the graffiti history. The culture of writing starts to get worse. Inscriptions like FUCK and other like this start to flood the public places. The traffic with drugs and weapons increases and this also gives power to the graffiti men to vent their souls at the walls of the cities. Drastic measures start against the selling of sprays, the fines for scribbling at the walls increase, the security at the highways increase, the movement “Antigraffiti” is stimulated. At the most of the places, that were scribbled up to now become inapproachable and well guarded. Walls are construct that in case of damage from the graffiti men can be easily repaired. Because of the strengthen measures for security, many of the scribblers start to leave New York.

ГрафитиГрафити, участвали в конкурси

The death of the graffiti – 1985-1989

At these years the amount scribbled graffiti strongly decrease. The scribblers start to use more the cursor drawing their initials and they subscribe themselves. Today London is European capital of the graffiti and in Europe as a rule to the graffiti drawings the approach is very liberal. But as a whole these years for New York prove to be last for the development of this type of work.

Profession “graffiti man”

Being graffiti man is found to be, that it is not something so easy to do. This is also a work like every one other, it demands also so much application and punctuality and mostly – it demand certitude in person’s possibilities. According to one author it exist a few indications, which define the graffiti man. He could be recognized to ”the bloody eyes from the toxic influence of the sprays or from some kind of drugs, or from the sleepless nights”. Also the graffiti man is dressed with baggy trousers, which hide the cursors. Besides, he is covered with “spot from spray or cursor at the hands, under the nails or at the shoes”.

Графити, участвали в конкурсиFestivals and competitions

The main areas for expression of the graffiti men are the festivals and the competitions, where they meet the challenge to compete with many their concurrent and professional partners. It’s a real pleasure for the graffiti maniac to participate at such kind of initiatives, because this is not only competition, but also a possibility to see what make the other people in the world in this sphere and it that way the qualities of the graffiti man develop. At these competitions and festivals the specialists in drawing at walls compete in different categories and in different styles of line. Usually the jury is composed of people of art and of substandard media person. These competitions are accompanied by the performances of different DJs and with their skills they provoke the painters to give their best and to present themselves very well. Very often to the musical accompaniment includes also break dance and skateboard performances.

The graffiti subculture in Internet

Пример за тагThe subject “Graffiti” is discussed permanently in Internet. The graffiti theme likes very much at the most of the people, but the most of them don’t like the tags at the walls of the streets – this are the initials of the writers, drawn with spray or with a cursor. It exist many graffiti blogs, who aren’t enough developed and who have the need of more information and of photo material.

The antigraffiti theme

The graffiti theme is as much as very liked, as well as very hated. The opinions about the graffiti are very contradictory – if they are an art or a hooligan manifestation. There are many the sites, in which the antigraffiti subject is touched. This means that in some countries the graffiti turn into a social problem.

In the Bulgarian sites, which strike out the graffiti art, the theme graffiti is defined like criminal act, even like “terrorism in a phase of larva”. According to some authors in the vandalism doesn’t exist anything artistic. The state is accused that gives money for the cleaning of the graffiti and for organization of graffiti competitions and festivals, instead this money to be given for other purposes.

„The suffering” from the graffiti invasion owners of buildings, facing the impossibility to do whatever it is, seek ways to cope with their problem. Long time they tried all kind of way for elimination of the unwanted scribbles, but it was unsuccessfully. Most of the paint strippers, which are used for cleaning of the walls, destroy their surface and instead of binging help to the wall, they damage the building. But now it exist a new paint stripper, from whom the owner of the buildings are very satisfied. They even advertise it. In the new housing construction the antigraffiti coatings are already used and in this way the graffiti traces will not remain off.

Визия от антиграфити кампания в Сан ФранцискоВизия от антиграфити кампания в Сан ФранцискоВизия от антиграфити кампания в Сан Франциско

For example in San Francisco are organized antigraffiti campaigns with an objective reduction of the tags at the walls and with leading slogan „Clean the tags from your neighborhood, before they multiply all over the place”. Posters that show how the street inscriptions will enter into the homes of the people accompany the campaign.

The interesting is, that even in USA, where people have to be more opened to the new forms of the art there also exist a routine in thinking and still this subculture isn’t perceived like an art. But in the final analysis the individuals are different and everyone needs of an own private space, as well as to have the right to protest against such kind of taking away of the private place, belonging as a rule to everyone.

In conclusion

Culture, fashion, art or movement – the graffiti can be qualified, typified and defined with very various names. But the most important for the graffiti is that they are made of free thinking people, who have sense of the beautiful and the untraditional art. Their concept for life is, that it could become more fresh and colorful thanks namely to the graffiti. The bad is that the urban background is for everybody, but not everybody understands graffiti like an art. The graffiti culture starts to become a problem, which people have to cope with in such a way. However now the situation is, that the graffiti changed into something like a background of the urban reality, of something inevitable and logic, but something that doesn’t concern us. This is the sad reality, in front of whom we are stand on and that we can’t change in any way, unless we don’t think of an effective way of acting and taking of a concrete decision. Only if we don’t try we could say that we couldn’t win a change of the situation. For that reason we have to think and to act quickly with an objective our city to stay beautiful place, where the disharmonies and the conflicts will have no power, but only the understanding and the domesticity of the contemporary European capital.


Photos:
1-6. Graffiti
Photo: © http://www.exterior.bg/article.php?e=5&id=47
Photo: © http://www.createdinbirmingham.com/category/graffiti/
Photo: © http://photo-cult.com/showpic.php?id=76891
Photo: © http://www.createdinbirmingham.com/category/graffiti/
Photo: © http://www.exterior.bg/article.php?e=5&id=47
Photo: © http://www.bganzeige.de/blog/2007/08/22/%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%84%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B8
7-8. A poster from an antigraffiti campaign in San Francisco
Photo: © http://www.slovesa.net/index.php?id=628
Photo: © http://big.bg/modules/news03/article.php?storyid=20248
Photo: © http://www.exterior.bg/article.php?e=5&id=47
10-12. A poster from an antigraffiti campaign in San Francisco
Photo: © http://big.bg/modules/news03/article.php?storyid=20248


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VIDEO:
a movie about the tags
a movie about the graffiti
a movie about the graffiti


Read: 50148 times                                                  © Fashion Lifestyle Magazine, issue 8, Mart 2008

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