One of the things that really surprised us about Italy was the graffiti everywhere. I don’t just mean on buildings, walls or bus shelters, as there is in every other major Western city I’ve ever visited, but it was everywhere.
There was even graffiti on the information boards explaining the story behind the treasures of antiquity.
There was graffiti on the walls of old buildings..
There was even graffiti on the antiquities themselves!
At first we were shocked and then after a while we kind of got used to it. It was representative of the dichotomy Italy is, it seemed to somehow fit this country that is on the face of it so vibrant, as if new, but so old. Even that very vibrancy is in itself, age old.
Is it a lack of self-consciousness that makes a city vital? Even when covered in graffiti or when the plaster is peeling off the walls? It must be, because it’s been happening for a while.
Look what we found at the Colosseum!
That’s age old graffiti, right there. To think someone sat there and chiselled their thoughts about their gladiator hero of the day into the stone.
That’s graffiti with commitment!
Whilst graffiti is not always a great thing – it can be simply destructive and soul destroying (especially if it’s your fence or the Rialto Bridge!) – sometimes it is worthwhile – expression as art. I’m not sure when graffiti changes from being vandalism and ugly to being challenging and even beautiful, but it can happen.
Banksie does it for our generation in the UK….
But what then is the difference between Banksie’s celebrated work and these impressive public art pieces on the South Bank in London?
I’m coming to the conclusion that graffiti artists can take the pulse of a society, and when they do it beats out the sure steady rythym of a society that is healthy, full of colour and where there is freedom of expression.
Isn’t that the most beautiful (and stylish) thing of all? The freedom to express yourselves and just be?
But surely they should wipe off the graffiti from the actual artistic treasures!