“When people today talk about graffiti it is most frequently
thought of with some negative connotation.
Some consider it to be synonymous with vandalism or even property destruction.
But for all intents and purposes graffiti has existed since prehistoric times
and has also given us great insight into more recent cultures and
civilizations as well.” –Museum of the City.org;
Regardless, of which camp you fall into, there’s no denying that graffiti can be thought provoking, funny, and enlightening about opinions on issues of the day. In our travels, we’re always on the lookout for good graffiti. A few well-chosen words and a graphic, are a one-way conversation about the country’s current affairs.
This simplistic yet emphatic equation on a wall in Novi Sad, Serbia, succinctly juxtaposes the world of math with political commentary. And guess what – there are two ways to read it. Is capitalism big shit as in important, or big shit as in … well big shit?
A sidewalk philosopher in Savannah, Georgia presented a clear choice on how to live one’s life. At first the message seems straightforward, then on closer inspection, a deliberate choice between black and white adds a depth of meaning. In graffiti, clever and simple always works best.
We spent a month in Athens, which was then, and remains today, in the midst of a long-term economic crisis, that’s forcing very difficult and unpopular decisions on the country and its people. This caricature of the Greek Minister of Finance was part of a large, multi-panel mural. The technique is deliberately rudimentary, and it speaks volumes about the government’s handling of affairs.
This mural of President Obama, former French President Sarkozy, and Chancellor of Germany Merkel was painted in an alley in the Exarcheia neighborhood of Athens. This area is a known hotbed and haven for the anarchists who are blamed for initiating the violent and destructive riots that have rocked Athens in the past. In addition to other world leaders, it’s interesting to note that Chancellor Merkel is sporting a Hitleresque mustache.
As we discussed in our post from Cyprus, Nicosia is a divided capital. There’s a buffer zone on the border between Greek and Turkish Cyprus, and the Occupy Movement holds weekly protests to heighten awareness of negotiators that are taking far too long to reach an agreement.
This strange “Erasmus” graffiti was part of a previous post from Florence. Since then, we’ve discovered that the Erasmus Program is a student exchange program sponsored by the European Union, and from the sign, an unpopular one at that.
And finally, there’s just some fun. This colorful painting of a cheeky, 10-foot giraffe adorns a wall in Reykjavik, Iceland. The approach for dealing with graffiti in the Icelandic capital is different than many cities. Local government encourages artists to post public art and provides space for it, such as long expanses of plain, ugly walls. From what we saw, this produces more art and less vandalism: win-win all the way.
And if you’re wondering about the origin of the wacky quote, you’ve got filmmaker John Carpenter to thank. In his 1988 cult classic They Live he penned the words that grace the side of a building in downtown Reykjavik – of all places! Check out the film clip and the explanation. The full quote is:
“I’ve come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass … and I’m all out of bubblegum!”
For us, we’ve come here to chew bubblegum and finish this post … and we’re all out of bubblegum!
James & Terri