Mind The Gap!

Graffiti Island.

Why Graffiti Artists Want Anonymity.

Dutch trains are blue and yellow. Garish, bright and hard to miss. Otherwise the Dutch wouldn't be able to see them.
Dutch trains are blue and yellow. Garish, bright and hard to miss. Otherwise the Dutch wouldn’t be able to see them.

The trains here in Holland are a garish yellow and blue, for me, their livery is like graffiti without further adornment. They’re not exactly pretty, but then, if they were any more subdued – in the manner of a German train that is grey with a thin red stripe – the dull wits of the average Dutchman wouldn’t be able to discern the train from the platform. Things have to be blindingly obvious to those who lack perceptive abilities.

Still, there are those who need to make the world a little uglier, and so the occasional train has a ballooning of mushroom-like letters sprayed on its side. Occasionally you will find the opposite, and these are usually inside the train: jagged black markings that have the appurtenances of crooked spiders’ legs. These are the result of someone doing something swiftly because if they were caught, they would be in for trouble.

What’s The Point Of Graffiti?

A train covered by spray graffiti, seen at Utrecht Centraal. The passengers cannot now see out - all because an artist wants to make his mark.
A train covered by spray graffiti, seen at Utrecht Centraal.
The passengers cannot now see out – all because an artist wants to make his mark.

Which is the point of graffiti, really. It’s the kind of pointless challenge our world has become accustomed to. It is a challenge that has no results beyond the deed itself; the very real challenge is when the perpetrator is caught by an official. That is when the illusions are shattered. But then, that’s why graffiti has to be anonymous! It’s not as if the graffiti artist wants to have his mother call him to the phone, or for him to answer the door to a stout policeman, is it?

Signing your name is definitely not part of this exclusive kind of art. Graffiti is for those who love it, those who appreciate the risks taken by graffiti artists in its execution. They are those who, having discovered that unseen door to this overt world, know who is who and who is doing what.

Actually, they sound rather like the organizations that they so despise!

Information on the side of a German steam locomotive. It's as useless to the driver as the spray paint was to the passenger. (See post linked to at bottom of page).
Information on the side of a German steam locomotive.
It’s as useless to the driver as the spray paint was to the passenger. (See “Bureaucratic Graffiti“).

Graffiti has two purposes, one is to show that the artist got one over on a large and powerful organization, the other is the thrill. The graffiti artist isn’t satisfied with a canvas, is he? There is the rare occasion of a graffiti artist who contents himself – and they are usually boys – with painting the interior of a home. Whilst nice, it provides for no thrills that the attention-seekers of our world require.

Graffiti is a visual version of the noisy motorcyclist. They grab your attention, but there is no way to contact them… the motorcyclist is too fast, the graffiti artist anonymous to all but his closest friends. Graffiti is the biggest, most colourful one-fingered wave that a young man can give to our society. Just as the over-loud farting of a 50cc moped is its aural equivalent.

Graffiti Is Not Art.

It is anti-art: its aim is not to communicate the inner feelings of the artist. True art – poetry, music, whatever – has the purpose of sharing something that the artist has witnessed. Anything that strives for this is art.

Anything that does not, cannot be. It is mere depiction, absurdity or abstraction in the manner of a Mondrian or a Malevich. It is international in that it has no meaning, and thus can say anything to anybody. Graffiti, like all modern art, is management speak made visual.

Graffiti on a Belgian train: it is an international language that says nothing.
Graffiti on a Belgian train: it is an international language that says nothing.

Graffiti in its anonymity, its exclusivity, is an expression of the minuteness of the modern ‘comfort zone’. This is where a person is only comfortable with those who agree with them – from Anthroposophists to Zoologists. They all like their friends and everybody else is an outsider who doesn’t understand their language. Either you understand graffiti, love it, or you are an enemy. Only those who like your style of graffiti will be your friend. As to those who scrawl jagged lines on the inside of trains…

When an organizations like energy corporations have no money or time to serve their customers – after all, saving money means services to customers get slashed – the larger the organization, the more like a graffiti artist they become. Large, imposing, seemingly powerful, overblown balloons of nothingness, but when it comes to speaking with you, they, like the graffiti artist, will slam the doors in your face. Because you are an enemy: a threat.

Here is another example of someone who found an innocent person a threat:

Milena Sees Witchcraft All Around Her.

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2 thoughts on “Graffiti Island.

  1. I appreciate your insight and acerbic wit on this subject. I would add that graffiti is also a form of making one’s mark, like a dog on a lamp post .

    Like

    1. I was wondering to add something about lamp posts… but a dog is actually communicating something to any dog that passes. Their sense of smell is so highly developed that they can tell who made the mark, how long ago it was and all manner of other details.

      The very thing that a graffiti artist shies away from…

      [As a side note, all your comments are now moderated automatically; they won’t be held in a queue].

      Like

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