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Graffiti – forbidden art

March 30, 2010

By Kārlis Kocers

Graffiti seems inescapable in urban areas, especially in Riga.

Graffiti is often seen as having become intertwined with hip-hop culture and the myriad of international styles derived from New York City Subway graffiti. In America around the late 1960s, graffiti was used as a form of expression by political activists, and also by gangs such as the Savage Skulls, La Familia, and Savage Nomads to mark territory. As hip-hop culture spread to Europe, including Eastern Europe, it brought graffiti as one of the four main elements.

„I’m not an artist; I’m a graffiti writer” says Tase, who goes by this nickname rather than using his real name, because graffiti isn’t legal in Riga. According to Tase, there is big a difference between graffiti writer and an artist. Real graffiti writers are those who only leave their initials in city environment. Tase says an artist can easily be everybody who makes paintings or pictures with spray paint. “By writing your initials you somehow show who you are, that this is your city” Tase explains the reason why he does graffiti writing.

While there are some battles between graffiti writers; they don’t represent any criminal gangs, but it is like a game for them to compete with somebody. They try to show their power to other graffiti writers, that’s why graffiti sometimes is on unbelievable almost inapproachable places (see picture).

For some observers it is kind of romantic urbanism, knowing that at night there is whole underground life with different rules and writers and artists using paint to show them their point of view. To see more local graffiti, click this link.

One Comment leave one →
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