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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Barcelona Graffiti Special [20051201|10:58]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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While I work on sorting photos and posting backdated entries, I thought I'd share this. Barcelona's graffiti deserves its own post. It's everywhere. Quality varies wildly, from the crudest spray-painted messages to elaborate, multicolored stencils. Nearly all of it is political, most of it radically leftist or Catalan nationalist, although some of it is purely artistic or fascist. I experienced a certain amount of revulsion while on an escalator exiting the metro when I spotted the faint traces of fasces on every step. (The fasces looks like a swastika with one arm missing.) Although it was obvious that efforts had been made to remove them, the ridged metal ensured that some of the aging spray paint couldn't be touched.

Behind the Casa Batlló, one of Antoni Gaudí's concoctions, a driveway plays host to a couple of prime examples. The first is a Banksy-style stencil of los mossos (the police), the second a haunting spray-paint illustration. It's worth noting, I think, that the police in Barcelona wear a rather terrifying uniform that involves a black beret with a red band pulled severely to one side. I was sorely tempted to steal one and wear it at a jaunty angle on my own unthreatening head.

Los mossos (the police)

Lost little girl

La Ribera, the former merchant district of the city, consists of a dizzying maze of ancient streets that are even narrower than the ones in the Barri Gótic. It's tagged with a staggering variety of graffiti, some of it seemingly sanctioned by the nearby residents and businesses, as the area contains a number of art galleries. The more painstaking work usually has a legible signature or a URL, allowing it to serve as a marketing tool. Clever.

"Policemen out!"(One of many) Ant(s)

University of Stencil ArtMarker girl

The first one below made me think of you and your pin-up icons, ironed_orchid. I can't quite make out what she's saying, though.

Grah?He's a bunny-whisperer

At the FC Barcelona stadium, the most bald-faced statement can be found. The same statement in crude black spray-paint decorates the front of the scaffolding around La Sagrada Familia, but has been subsequently tagged by someone with a red paint can, who crossed out the "not" and wrote "Mierda" (shit) below it. It's difficult to use graffiti as a forum for sophisticated political debate.

Catalan isn't Spanish, either

[User Picture]From: attictroll
2005-12-01 12:08 (UTC)
I've been seeing better Toss-ups and Pieces in Seattle, lately. For a bit all we were getting was scratch or maybe stencil if we were lucky. It's odd, Spokane (my wee home town) gets better graffiti than most I see in Seattle. (Though I was pleased when I started seeing some of the crews from my home town emigrating to my current burg. I'm presuming they are going to the University.)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 14:22 (UTC)
This lingo that you speak, of Toss-ups and Pieces, I do not understand it. Please explain to my un-hip self. (How is it that I'm getting this old? I'm not the one who turned thirty on Monday!)

I remember seeing some neat stuff around Olympia. I think you get more creative types with less fear of the constant presence of police in smaller city. At my high school (Capital) there were a bunch of rocks designated at the front of the school specifically for spray-painting. Although a lot of it was "Go Team, Rah rah rah," sometimes, someone would put something more original there. It changed up fairly regularly too. Kind of a dynamic art project. I liked it.
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[User Picture]From: attictroll
2005-12-03 01:41 (UTC)
Woops. Rude of me. I thought maybe you were more into the genre.

'Tag' or 'scratch' is one color and is a quick scrawl. 'Tag' tends to be used if the work is good and shows some style, 'scratch' if it looks like it was done by a naughty child with a spray can stolen from daddy's garage. Often the work is one word, usually a nickname, but also often a fear or a hope. The latter tend to be bracketed by stylized quotes or ellipses. (ie. Cancer... 'Peace')

A 'toss-up' or 'throw-up' has two colors and/or more complexity. It takes more time than a tag and is riskier. The name comes from the quickness of it. Ten minutes, if that. You just throw it up there and scoot.

A 'piece' is a matter of pride. This is the good stuff. Often it's a crew of two or three people. One comes through and lays some chalk lines. Right behind comes the second person, laying down the base colors. Third starts layering while the first comes back to pick up a can and follow the first. Yadda yadda.

Covering someone else's work: It happens. There is a limit to good spaces. (Most consider it lame to tag private homes and property.) So, you have to cover someone else's mark at some point. If it's over 'tag' or a 'toss-up,' no sweat. Layers of that starts to look cool on it's own, anyway. If it's a 'piece' you're defacing, it's an insult. The insult is forgiven if it has been up for a while (high honor, there) or is covered by an equally good 'piece.' Also, though it seems to be an archaic gesture, it's cool if you add in something along the lines of, 'Peace 2 *the crew or tagger whose work you are covering*.' Basically, you are saying that you aren't starting a war, you just need a good space and this is it.

Aye, Spokane had a few designated places. The skate park had some fantastic work. I still wish I had thought to photograph some of them.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-07 10:19 (UTC)
Thank you for the explanations! I love looking at graffiti although I've never had the guts to design a piece myself. I often wondered how the more complex ones went up rapidly enough for people not to get caught, especially in areas where the taggers would be visible from the road.
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[User Picture]From: ironed_orchid
2005-12-01 12:38 (UTC)
Some nice gratifi - the pin up looks a bit like Jane Russell but I like the bunny best.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 14:24 (UTC)
The pin-up also reminds me of Roy Lichtenstein. Perhaps it looked better when it was fresher. It was pretty worn down. The bunny was much newer. I was kinda mad that someone put some meaningless blue scribble stuff overlapping it.
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[User Picture]From: kittenhotep
2005-12-01 13:20 (UTC)
Nice captures. I love the little lost girl and the bunnykiss! Can't wait to see the rest of your pictures.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 14:25 (UTC)
Ohoho, watch out what you ask for. They are all up now. Many many pictures. More pictures than GOD has.
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[User Picture]From: kittenhotep
2005-12-02 14:44 (UTC)
Ah man, I just went and peeked at them.

Stuff the environmental impact of flying, if Mat doesn't take me there on holiday soon the relationship's ovah. Heh.
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[User Picture]From: repoman
2005-12-01 16:54 (UTC)
I really like the policia ones and the ants. I don't know why I like the ants one, but if they really are everywhere then I know I'd never be alone...
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 14:27 (UTC)
I wish I could have captured a more panoramic view of the ants, because they were marching all around the corners of a set of streets in La Ribera. You're right, they were oddly comforting, especially since the sun doesn't really reach the spaces between the tall stone buildings that are placed so close together. But I only had my little crap camera with me on that day, because I was too hungover to deal with the dSLR.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-12-02 14:38 (UTC)
It's fascinating how openly political people are there. Strange to think that Spain has only been a constitutional monarchy for thirty years, since Franco died. The younger people we met were quite proud their social liberalism and their opposition to fascism and censorship.
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[User Picture]From: projectpitbull
2005-12-07 08:58 (UTC)
i admire the graffiti
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