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.