Monday, April 13, 2009

Graffiti in Paris

Overview of the 100-meter wall along Rue Ordener

"Paris is not a dream"

Closeup showing spray-paint techniques

"Too many women in too many countries
speak the same language: silence"

Layers of work

Painting depicting cracks

Although much graffiti is as welcomed by citizens as dog poo, over the centuries there have been some amazing graffiti artists at work, whether in ancient Rome, prehistoric caves, or on modern vacant walls and abandoned buildings. In Paris, at least some graffiti has attained the status of Art. There are occasionally exhibitions devoted to graffiti, books recording some of the finest examples of this kind of painting, websites featuring graffiti (, and some photographers who are always on the lookout for outstanding examples of this impermanent form of art. Usually done on the sly, under the cover of darkness and without permission, this spray-can art can be ironic, aggressive, playful, majestic or just plain repetitive.

Rue Ordener is in the 18e arrondissement of Paris, somewhat to the north, near the metro Marcadet Poissonniers. Just before this street crosses the SNCF railway tracks, there is an uninterrupted wall of more than 100 meters that has officially been set aside by the city and SNCF for graffiti. These photographs attempt to show some of the work that existed here on 11 April 2009. Other artists will surely come along and add new work, covering these displays. Some tell me there is new graffiti daily. I wish someone could explain to me the symbolism, abbreviations and allusions in this art because without this information, I am missing much of the message.