Sunday, September 13, 2009

Graffiti in downtown Vancouver

Vancouver is increasingly covered with graffiti. Even our garage door has not been exempt. Jesse Read recently introduced me to thinking about spontaneous graffiti, and particularly layers of graffiti, as quarries for lines and shapes which can be viewed as abstract art. His website gives some exciting examples of his thinking in this genre of art.

Jesse and I have now gone on several graffiti shoots in one of Vancouver's downtown alleys. The high walls on the alley's north side have been made legally available to spray painters, most of whom undoubtedly began years ago as taggers (signing their signatures everywhere imaginable) and then slowly worked their way up the ladder. Since this art is in the international style of spray painting, using gestures and idioms found throughout Europe and North America, I am not including it as graffiti. The alley's southern wall, on the other hand, exhibits a mixture of rival claims for turf, the contributions of many taggers, the remnants of posters, rusting staples, old telephone poles, and an emerging First Nations mural.

These photographs were taken jointly by Jesse and me with my equipment as we talked about what we were discovering, what might be worth recording, what constitutes art, and the techniques of photographing this type of work. [I have since added some more photographs of Graffiti in downtown Vancouver, part 2.]