Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Waste Land

All the world is a stage, but most acts are purely private performances. Opposite my appartment there is a patch of land which has become one such exclusive stage set, offering free performances to my box seat window. This narrow but deep space slowly emerged this summer following the demolition of the crumbling and decrepit three-story eyesore that had been my previous vista. Following this show of noisy destruction, I can now enjoy silent and mysterious creation.

A green fence hides this wasteland from people at street level, but like James Stewart in Rear Window I can observe everything from my post. People regularly stop to peek through the steel curtain, curious about what has disappeared and what architectural performance maybe about to begin. Others sneak through the barrier to relieve themselves, not realising or caring that they are in full view of the surrounding buildings.

My new perspective brings more light to my appartment, but what interests me most is the graffiti that appears almost mysteriously from time to time. The demolition uncovered patchwork walls, with imprints of generations of dubious wallpaper choices, but these are now slowly being covered over by colourful tags. Some are at ground level, but others appear at impossible heights.

After watching more carefully though I finally begin to see the urban artists at work. They seem to appear from nowhere, although they probably just clambour over the walls at the back. They work quickly, surreptitiously glancing over their shoulders back towards the fence, ever aware of the danger of being caught in the act. The people on the street side of the fence though are oblivious to their presence, and naturally therefore also unaware of the creations. Why do these artists produce canvases for no particular audience? At no time do they look up towards me, but am I their intended public? In reality, this work is probably just a personal affair, a mysterious message to other taggers.

The graffiti itself is a bold splash of colour against grey walls, but it's generally no more than a narcissistic existential cry. This morning I noticed something more interesting though, three pink hearts high up on one of the walls. Later I see another three on the pavement opposite, then another on the stairs leading down into the Metro. I am tempted to follow the trail and see where it leads me, but the heart is a notoriously fickle and unreliable compass.

9 comments:

Peter said...

I suppose you wonder how high the future building in front of you will be?

Graffiti CAN be nice! As you know, a lot of them are now officilally allowed and recognised!

You should perhaps follow your heart - and these hearts even further? Maybe it's a personal message? (Be careful!)

Adam said...

Yes Peter, it seems to be very difficult to find out just what is planned for that space!

The graffiti here does no harm to anybody, and I like looking at it. The hearts though were different, and surely a message to somebody, somewhere. The trail has gone cold for the moment, but I'll report back if I come across them again!

Tim said...

What's the French for "where's the Banksy"? Have any French graffiti artists become regarded as simply "artists"?

Adam said...

There are indeed some established 'artists' in France now who started out as wall painters. The most well known are 'Miss-Tic' (http://www.missticinparis.com/), who works with stencils and text, 'Invader' (http://www.space-invaders.com/), who creates mosaic space invaders, and 'Monsieur Chat', who paints large yellow cats on Parisian rooftops.

Kimberly said...

How beautifully poetic!

CoCo said...

Adam,
Do you think you can get a shot of Monsieur Chat's art? Maybe a link?
The hearts indeed seemed like a personal message. Maybe the trail's gone cold because the message was delivered and received.

Adam said...

Hi CoCo.
This is the Monsieur Chat website:

http://www.monsieurchat.eu/

I'll put up a shot if I see a nice one somewhere!

CoCo said...

Thanks! I've seen this chat (or at least one very similar) downtown NYC Maybe the Browery...

CoCo said...

Bowery.

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