A City under Attack…

August 20, 2008

Lately I was in my hometown again for a week. On the way to my mother’s home it struck me that on the main street nearly every house was smeared with ugly tags – and I say smeared.

You know me and my affiliation to graffiti because of their freedom of using colours and letters what they are made for – combining them and creating something witty, sneaky and great to look at.

But what I saw last week was not amusing at all. It was ugly, it was vandalism and it was way overdone. The smearings were not on public buildings which are often the goal for protest, they were on private homes, on buildings which have been renovated a couple of times, on buildings where not even wealthy people live in but people who have to work hard for their living – you could see the tracks of the old smearings. This was pure destruction.

After a talk with my sister I got to know that the city is literally doing nothing against this situation. The officials apparently believe if you just ignore the whole issue it will go away one day all by itself – as usual. It would be inappropriate to put the youths too much under pressure or even penalize them for their misdemeanours.

So – as usual – it is up to individuals and private people to do something against this situation. I say, this is cheap thought from the officials and towards the responsible, I say, it is not the right thing to do and my appeal goes to them to really stop their behaviour for the sake of freedom. In one respect the city already is quite tolerant, giving quite a lot of space for legal graffiti spraying. This should not be spoiled – instead the angry youngsters should spend their energy on those places where they do not destroy private property.

As I know in the meanwhile there are private initiatives against the graffiti vandalism where victims and paint stores work together, organizing some public meetings in order to get the situation under control. A lot of public relations is necessary to help to solve this problem. I wonder what the city does with all the tax money they are receiving? Why aren’t there more projects such as the one below where talented youngsters can test their imagination on walls which are predestined for being coloured. There are enough factory walls or other ugly walls along the roads which could easily be decorated and serve as art medium. Why are people so reluctant to test new ways?

There are other examples where the energies for great graffiti were spent in the “right” way – f.e. as murals. A great example is this one – along the cycling path in the valley of the Dreisam:

Wouldn’t it be much more enjoyable to see murals on grey blank walls than ugly tags smeared all over? I think the answer is simple…

There have been studies in the US that murals in underprivileged city districts have a very positive influence on people. Seeing beautiful scenarios instead of debris and rubbish has the consequence that people feel better and rather care for their district instead of increasing the problems. I think this idea would work everywhere in the world…

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