VISION FOR A CHANGE
L'Officiel India|October 2020
From being a typical street art, involving the unauthorized marking of public spaces by an individual or group, to an artistic vision gaining attention for a social change, Graffitis have lately been transformed into visual means to define the modern urban landscape.
NIVEDITA GIRI

Carrying a long history dating back to the times of the ancient Roman empire, this form of street art has been commonly associated with gangs, who used it for a variety of purposes, such as identifying or claiming territory, for memorializing dead gang members in an informal “obituary,” for boasting about acts (for example, crimes) committed by gang members, and for challenging rival gangs as a prelude to violent confrontations. Derived from the Italian word graffio (“scratch”), graffiti (“incised inscriptions”), these paintings were particularly prominent in major urban centres throughout the world, especially in the United States and Europe; common targets were subways, billboards, and walls.

Graffiti is a form of lettering. A graffiti artist spray paints his name or a symbol on a wall in the form of a stylised signature (which is often very colourful). In true spirit, especially in the Western sense of the term, this signifies ‘possession’ of the particular wall.

The heyday of graffiti was in the early 1980s, coinciding with the popularity of New York’s hip-hop culture, when gangs marked their territory with the spray can. That was also when it became a tool of protest in London and Berlin, around the time of the aerosol boom. Today, graffiti has become almost beautiful (even though it’s still illegal in most parts of the world). It has become a medium for artistic expression without restriction.

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