January 29, 2007
I’m cross-posting this entry from my own blog, because I thought it might generate some interesting feedback.
I have a genuine anthropological interest–much to my own surprise, in fact–in graffiti. Certainly, anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) have been producing graphic art for millennia; the prehistoric cave paintings of France and Spain are, perhaps, the best-known (though we are still unsure as to its true nature). In historic times, graffiti has been found on walls and structures from ancient Greece and Rome, and can tell us much about the culture and mindset of ordinary people in far more illuminating ways than, say, a shard of pottery or broken statue. Politics, amourous declarations, personal insults, magical incantations, and even jokes can be found in ancient graffiti. City dwellers in our modern era are all too familiar with graffiti, as well. Indeed, many of the same themes that decorated the walls of the Roman Empire persist in modern graffiti.
The kind of graffiti that I, personally, find the most intriguing are written messages, rather than the sometimes-huge illustrations that adorn urban spaces. I don’t know how it is in women’s restrooms, but the men’s room is often a hotbed of graffiti. These two photos were taken in two separate men’s room on the UIC campus. In the first, someone has written “Gay boyz club house <—,” presumably to accompany the offers of blowjobs written at eye-level by the urinals (“SUCK,” “bj stalls —>,” etc.) with an arrow pointing around the corner to the stalls.
The second shows how a hand drier has been altered to produce a humorous (?) message. This was obviously not something that one could have made in a few seconds, as it was created by scratching a message into the surface using a sharp object, while obliterating parts of the instructions that were printed by the manufacturer. Other letters and symbols have been etched in as well.
My question is why? If someone is reading this who has created graffiti in this manner (or a “friend” of yours), I’d be genuinely interested in hearing from you. Or from anyone, really, about their thoughts on graffiti. Please comment below.
Gay Boyz Club House
(I recommend viewing a larger size.)
Press butt and release
There is a fantastic desk that was located on the third floor of the UIC library that must have been there for years, and is literally covered in graffiti. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to find it and take a picture of it. I hope it hasn’t been discarded (or anyone is stitting there).