BBC A Brief History of Graffiti
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BBC A Brief History of Graffiti

October 7, 2019


Graffiti can be many things the ephemeral last That’s just side down cute. Isn’t it? From the Scambler scrolling z’ of Roman citizens to the radical graffiti of revolutionary Parisians It can be scratched written Even painted, but what does it mean? For tens of thousands of years humans have been leaving their marks on wards From caves to city streets Graffiti something that seems to bubble up wherever humans go. It’s an explosion of creativity Graffiti surrounds us but is it a blessing or is it a curse when does? Vandalism become graffiti when does graffiti become Street mob and when the street art just become well art In this film I’ll show how the best graffiti is shaping the world of art with its sheer vitality Fede is a state of mind it’s now a thing It’s not a flower and the graffiti can be political and even help us to come to terms with the past It is really genuinely. I’m dr. Richard clay, and this is my brief history of graffiti So in the ground out history Is graffiti the artless scratching scribbling and spraying of vandals Or is it something much more interesting for me graffiti is almost always for latter This is Berlin’s Reichstag, it’s the seat of the German parliament, but it’s also a symbol It stands for one of the most important events of the 20th century the defeat of Nazism After a devastating street battle in Berlin the young men and women of the Red Army took the Reichstag As the dust settled they laid down their arms and some began writing on the walls of the ruined building I’ve been looking at marks left on walls all over the world And these are probably the most moving of the marks that I’ve seen marks left by Soviet soldiers who survived the battle for the Reichstag This graffiti is deeply moving a list of friends calling themselves the Brandenburg boys The towns and cities they fought in on their grueling march to victory on the 2nd of May 1945 And a vengeful comment this is for Leningrad I just can’t get over the fact that it’s all painted with charcoal from a burned-out building It’s painted with crayons Used to mark maps is painted with chalk. It’s painted with the tools that soldiers to happen can’t Believe it survived It is genuinely Moving to be in this space with these marks left by these men and these women who fought for What turned out later to be freedoms in Europe and in Russia? It is really genuinely moving This compulsion This urge to leave a mark that says you need to know that I was here Seems to be at the heart of this graffiti Why? The clues might lie deep in our past I’ve traveled to burgundy France to look for some of the earliest examples of graffiti The cave system of Hoth Darcy was first occupied well over 30,000 years ago The generations of families who lived here also used these walls in the darkness of the cave system in ways that celebrate their humanity a Handprint It’s not a print it’s a stencil. It’s a child’s hand This floor would have been 40 centimeters lower This have been a child reaching up and Then having paint blown onto their hands and leave their own personal mark In this age before writing the mark of the hand reveals an urge to put a lasting message on the wall saying Remember I was here But deeper into the cave the walls also provide further clues as to the origins of graffiti The people who lived here so long ago decided to paint even more thought-provoking symbols on the walls There’s a massive mammoth It’s incredible warning odor and then another in a different medium entirely in black It’s extraordinary In it the real economy of mine Really carefully considered So much Picasso This is art and its high quality The painter has chosen the location of each of the paintings carefully The line drawings use bulges in the rock surface to create an impression of volume They’ve elevated the rock itself you say that it’s absolutely incredible I Do love, art, that’s best seen on your hands and neat I Can’t believe I’m about to say this, but it’s almost like Re/max, art you see it so close soft. It’s so in-your-face If you’re down on your knees the mammoth starts to tower over It makes you feel Small These paintings Beautiful records of people’s engagement with the world around them remind us of how much we hold in common with our ancestors to create art on walls and leave the mark of our brief existence seems to be at the heart of this urge to make graffiti But how did they create a haunting image of the hand? Street artists savvier proof lives a short distance from the cave system I’ve dropped by a studio to delve deeper into the technique used to create the ham stencil Today we’ve been to there’s some caves amazing absolutely amazing 300 meters into the mountainside but there’s a couple of spots whether it be like an animal and then a hand who’s put their hand against the wall and somehow They’ve sprayed around it and Take their hand away and more than thirty thousand years later the mark returns So how The mist piles of spray cans Salvy a digs out the raw materials for Stone Age art scallop shells and red ochre He wants to try using the Stone Age version of the spray can Blowing hard across a tube immersed in the ochre paint. He can create a fine spray of color That’s amazing that’s that’s it you’ve got a stone age and We reproduce what people while doing before We refined it. Yeah, the spray can it’s portable. It’s quick its precise Yeah, it opens up a whole new world of opportunities. Yeah, but fundamentally It’s a it’s absolutely the same Whether using a spray can or a scallop shell This urge to mark the walls around this seems to be part of what makes us human As more sophisticated Civilizations like the Roman Empire appeared our lives became more complicated and so too Did our graffiti our? Ancient cities really all that different to modern cities thousands of voices clamoring for attention But the spoken word it comes it goes the written word that lasts longer write those words on walls and walls become arenas of conflict In the Roman world Graffiti wasn’t just about I was here. It would also be used to let the world know whose side you were on Researchers like George Cardozo a Revealing the images and the messages scratched into the walls of the old Roman city of Leon so George What is it? image is very Very simple you can see it here. It’s the helmet of a gladiator and He’s Eldin a sword a glad use ok If you get back here, you can see His shield this gladiator was found scratched into the walls of a large third-century townhouse Why this gladiator was such a big deal that somebody would want to scratch this into a ward I think he was he was a kind of supporter Famous is this guy particularly special worth supporting. There’s a clue here. You can see it There’s a double X with a line for one The Roman numerals XXI 21 almost certainly represent the gladiators number of kills It appears to be the work of a superfan in their own home But people who are prepared to scratch into their own walls Images of the gladiator because he’s killed 21 people There must be other fans. I mean at the arena. I’m getting a sense of a kind of football hooliganism Nature well well it shows that people were really interested in games and supported gladiators Roman graffiti wasn’t always about showing your allegiances in relation to the arena’s dark world It can also give us a tantalizing glimpse of the conflicts within ancient society This wall painting from 59 ad in Pompeii Memorialized as a deadly street battle between locals and visitors from the nearby cities of kapwa and new cheerier Leon university professor Pascal Arno is using graffiti to reveal a deep conflict in Roman society That gave rise to shocking event like this. This is Pompey’s amphitheater. These are not the a toes These are people from the audience Who are started fighting each other? Instead of just watching the violent spectacle in the arena the Pompeians launched a savage attack on the visiting team and its fans And people have tried to escape and the companions are now killing them in the street using Any kind of weapon they could find? But it’s the written graffiti from elsewhere in Pompeii that lays bare the raw hatred between rival cities like Pompeii Kapwa and new cheerier in the graffito. We can see that Some among the Pompeian say that one victory Allowed people from Capra to perish altogether with the people of nuke area People from Pompeii will not ashamed at all This was a day of glory To have killed the hated labors other graffiti from Pompeii tells us the opposing side of the story a Sympathizer with the victims from new cheerier hopes the Pompeians will get speared on a meat hook for their crimes The graffiti reveals in gory detail the vicious rivalries between Roman communities This is a very frightening kind of graffiti war That was the actual life and relationship between neighboring cities these struggles in the arena That’s an afternoon’s entertainment right yeah, whereas the writing on the wall outlasts the entertainment and memorializes identity and violence and struggle in between matches and trouble lately Thanks to vesuvius only we have preserved. That’s aspects municipal pride The Roman world shows that graffiti can be political as well as personal Writing on walls is clearly not always a meaningless act of vandalism and Here in present-day Leone 2,000 years later wars on walls are still raging If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in Leone it’s that graffiti is open to interpretation But then I kind of always knew that this kind of thing that’s more unusual Graffiti that is entirely unambiguous. God is love or Christ the redemptor if an july’s in christian graffiti isn’t something you see every day in britain nowadays. That’s for sure But it seems to me that in Leon a struggle is still continuing between different groups of society different communities of belief Here, we’ve got a stencil artist He’s gone to the trouble of creating this piece that seems to be so Pro Catholic and Somebody’s actually bothered to chip out the face This is an ongoing war of the walls. It’s a war of words Graffiti can reveal power struggles between communities walls often become site of conflict an 18th centuries after the height of the Roman Empire graffiti would ultimately become a revolutionary weapon Paris France from the 1790s onwards this was a city awash with radical political ideas and haunted by the specter of revolutionary violence But even from such a turbulent period graffiti still survives in dark secret places This place Has millions Millions of people in it This is where the dead of the city’s graveyards were moved This is indeed the Empire of death In the late 18th and 19th centuries overflowing Parisian cemeteries were emptied into this tunnel network Originally a quarry for the limestone that built Paris it soon became an enormous – Now that is astonishing Now we really get a sense of how far underground. We are there are shafts like these Sunk across Paris in the nineteenth century when the graveyards were cleared above-ground the bones were decanted down here Least have ropes down these shafts to pull them around So that the bones wouldn’t get jammed in here While above-ground 18th and 19th century graffitis been lost down here. It should have survived the centuries The question is can I find some in the 230 kilometers of tunnels it’s Underground out history I Found the underground I’m just looking for the are First I find a name Pierre and crave this in 1779 Could he possibly have imagined that? More than 200 years later people would be standing here reading it. It’s as if he wanted to be remembered a kind of stab at immortality It’s amazing the power 14 years after Pierre had left his name on the wall the French King lost his head Decades of revolution were underway 1881 1841 carved into the stone There a trace is being left You know this graffiti that survives down here these signatures these in a boat who knows when that was put there this stuff Would have been happening upstairs too, but we lose all of that. We lose all of that the modern city becomes clean We lose all of that and it’s preserved downstairs. I don’t know caves Catacombs they’re like museums of the ephemeral the stuff that we would otherwise have lost buried In 1871 France was still in turmoil having just lost a war a new moderate Republic took shape But radical Parisian workers rebelled forming a commune that took control of the city soon Revolution gave way to deeper violent conflict If we go deeper into these Tunnels this vast network of tunnels we find graffiti left by revolutionaries of the commune of the 1870s Who made their last stand? against their enemies underground The graffiti left by the commune are revolutionaries adorns the deepest recesses of the catacombs statements like the Republic or death inspired generations of revolutionaries, but While they were scrolling political slogans on walls underground the Communist were exploiting new technologies upstairs They would take the idea of writing on walls and industrialize it Invented in the 1790s lithography allowed revolutionaries to create one political message on stone and then print thousands of copies These could then be stuck up on the walls overnight It was an incredibly powerful new tool Stephane Gribble the foremost lithographer in Paris has agreed to show me the secrets of this Revolutionary process in the early 19th century it completely changed, not just visual culture But the culture of our streets Suddenly it was possible to produce images of the highest quality and produce thousands and thousands of them But they’re so cheap you can stick them on the walls of the city You can have a political point of view and plaster the city with these images Imagine how shockingly new it must have been Inspired by that solitary thirty thousand year old hand I’m going to create a political poster that resonates in today’s climate a Call fell Liberty express your freedom of speech ah Thank you. That’s very considerate. I’ve almost there. I’m almost a little graphic Um you can I be your apprentice sure you have money? Money So this is Arabic gun you’re easy to put your hand in the Arabic gun and then print Your hand under stone right two seconds in there two seconds on there Lithography is the creation of an image on stone by etching the surface with acid This h stone is then inked up and pressed onto paper First my handprint in Arabic gum creates the centerpiece of the poster Then the word liveth day is drawn using a greasy black ink As an art historian I’m usually called upon to look and not participate But a Stephan’s temporary apprentice. I’ve been put to work We build up the image using wax pencils and ink Next Stefan adds a wash of acid over our picture You see white things you see the reaction absolutely immediate The gum greasy ink and wax pencils protect our picture from the acid It’s this protected area our image that will carry the ink onto the paper in the press know the stone is prepared you have to Removed having to remove the acid from the stone Then we will leave the stone or two hours, and we will start printing processing so it’s the waiting game yeah As we wait for the chemical changes to take effect It’s time to choose the colors, so we’re all use this. This is a primary rule almost Called our beautiful blue That’s that’s deep sleep that is it’s good blue efq line eat your heart out. It’s Stefan blue Sabo Cunha Revolutionary red There couldn’t be any other choice for a poster to celebrate Liberty The Swiss visitor to Paris in 1817 Said that the walls were screaming Because of all of the leather graphs that were all over the walls In 1871 the common arts witty and teracle messages flooded the streets Grabbing the attention of the public In one afternoon a printer on a press like Stephan’s could produce well over a thousand posters Stephan’s lithographic press he’s over a century old But in his expert hands it can still apply a pressure of 2,000 pounds per square inch to create each copy It’s like the the twirl or years the three glorious days of revolution in 1830 beautiful days beautiful blue skies And the a flag of the alarm. I love it absolutely love it texture and you know the sprays really rich textures The revolution didn’t end well for the Communists They failed to dislodge the government and they were butchered in their thousands Since the arrival of lithography posters created such controversy that successive governments turned to censorship Those ubiquitous defense the fishy or post no bills signs Still visible on so many walls in France have their origins back in 1881 mass-produced posters and graffiti had become very dangerous indeed As the 19th century progressed Increasingly powerful print technologies started to be put to work serving a very modern master Advertising Cities like, New York Probably the most image stuffed place on earth saw the madmen of advertising plastic commercial imagery across every available blank space Lithography in the early 19th century changes everything suddenly imagery becomes part of the vocabulary of commercial advertising Images layered over images land over images on the street in the 20th century we end up with posters and at the size of buildings multi-story images and in the late 20th century This kind of circles this Republic of commercial signs it’s all-encompassing and yet still Graffiti finds its place in the nooks and the crannies in this forest the symbols Cities changed walls became covered in advertising as a 20th century rolled on an urban area sprawled some inhabitants of the city Made their mark in the gaps between the outs This new graffiti that hit the urban sprawl of 60s and 70s America created a moral panic So those in power it was symbolic of decay for them it was barbaric it was vandalism and It harnessed a new technology the paint spray camp invented in 1949 This new kind of graffiti would eventually spread across the globe and energized the world of art You know what we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think that graffiti is implicitly if not explicitly political Every blank wall tells us that this space is under control This is why the authorities in New York City were so obsessed with the explosion of throw-ups and of tags That emerged in the 70s and in the 80s With the birth of stencil art It is political but on the other hand if somebody decides to tag the side of my house I’m going to want to break their legs Born in Philadelphia in the 1960s modern graffiti rapidly spread through the boroughs of New York City The Big Apple of the 70s was near bankrupt crime rates soared and garbage filled the streets In this brutal environment a young Brooklynite called lee made a name for himself as a graffiti King In his Brooklyn studio he’s still painting to great acclaim This is the great day in Harlem from that famous photograph, but this is a great rush hour in the Bronx And that’s why it’s called benchmark Because it’s taken at the bench on June 49th Street Grand Concourse which was one of the main stables where we would come to talk about our works? and you know work out our quirks and all kinds of stuff you know and collaborations The young Lee was surrounded by a like-minded pair group they provided support And they were a sounding board to the new radical ideas that defined New York graffiti You know it was a very innocent honest Movement, and you know we never thought that it was gonna last for so long And that’s what’s represented in the bubbles the very subtle nosov bubbles. You know you see them you watch them, and then you just go and go on We made a name for himself creating increasingly audacious pieces on the subway trains of New York You’re famous for having painted a whole trade Hmm, that’s a totally different league of painting the 1975 one was ready thinking of the concept of creating Something so grand and out of scale that It would be talked about for you know decades later Lee and his crew treated the painting of subway cars like a quasi-military operation Doing those cars in the yards there was no room for error there was no no time There was a very small window of time to create something and you had pretty much. We pretty much had it all pre-planned Beforehand so that you could at least have them a striking chance to create finished and successfully launched your piece Needless to say with work like this Lee and others got noticed by the gatekeepers of the mainstream art world The man who helped lead into the gallery was jeffrey Deitch until recently director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Lee was in good company dykes was also instrumental in the careers of pop art giants like John Michell bass crea and Keith Haring back in the sort of the late seventies You were part of the art world and you you saw this stuff, and thought it’s this isn’t just vandalism This is our you descend it into the subway, and it was this astonishing world for some people it was like descending into hell It was like an artistic heaven you know the conventional sense of order in New York City had just dissipated and The way the the subway belonged to the kids And so the trains were covered with Amazing wild style Afeni on the exterior the interior was this maze of tags all kinds I found it remarkable I sew my circle of friends we would go down into the subway just to see this just to experience it and Just take a ride it Wasn’t important where we went. We just wanted to see what was on the trains For dodge the best subway art was truly exciting and needed to be taken seriously But not everybody was convinced there was some criticism People said street art belongs on the street. You know and aren’t you Distorting what this art is about by putting it in museum and my responses every serious artist I know with a few exceptions They want their work ultimately to be in a museum You know they believe in what they’re doing they want to be part of the history of visual culture. There’s not a Subcategory of art called street art and then there’s real art the best the art that emerges on the streets is Absolutely real art and the best of it is as good as the contemporary art that begins in the galleries these graffiti crew were among dyche’s first protegees from the world of street art I Wanted to understand what drove a man like lee from the thrill and the notoriety of the street into the relative quiet of the gallery Was part of the move into the galleries to find displays where your work would survive Out here everything changes architecture changes over time Attitudes change over time on the work on canvas is done and is preserved It is that moment a rested moment in that time and it’s there forever These paintings are sought after recently eric clapton paid a hundred and twenty thousand dollars for some of his work The league continues to draw inspiration from his roots in this image He constructs wild style graffiti Felt that while style lettering The way they were configured and sculpted and a two-dimensional way to painting were actually in real life three-dimensional Windows into our lives The fact that it was unlovable to the average person didn’t mean that we didn’t know exactly The dance that those letters will have so I wanted to revisit that in a fun way It’s more inviting for me as a challenge to take two E’s and interlock them into each other It’s like two twins almost phasing each other out But they have to call inside because if not it’ll just self-destruct and the name would just be you know a lily Leaf painting is infused with the energy of its best work from the 70s and 80s But given time and money you’ve moved on yes It is art. But it hasn’t turned its back on the street More than 40 years after li painted his whole train refugee artists flight Brooklands Rusk is still at it Rusk isn’t after gallery space in fact. I think he might have more in common with the Parisian revolutionaries He’s fighting a war on the walls with words In a world where there’s imagery everywhere, right? And there’s advertising Everywhere and blank walls are still a statement somebody owns it and do you see what you’re doing is being wrestling with advertising and all that kind of thing this is part of my visual landscape there’s an endless amount of advertising inundating biplane of vision and I want to add my contribution I want to see people reacting to the world around them and just become part of the Unconscious environment that you walk by every day, you know this like even like final lettering is like objectionable to me. I see I See hand-painted signs and think they’re beautiful. You know the touch of the human hand Really like in live is an environment and so when you can see some kind of stale wall enriched by By someone who who cared enough to put something there. It’s just It’s an element of the city now graffiti is you know it’s spinning around free But really as long as time. It’s just a really innate human human impulse They say I think you might have slightly changed the way even I think about grafica sir I’ve always felt if somebody painted on my house wall I probably want to do them a damage so now I’m starting to think maybe I should give them a break Of course Rusk is well aware that there’s a power struggle afoot the Walls of our city streets are covered with images trying to sell us products or tell us what to do? Today’s graffiti artists are working in the gaps subverting these messages with their spray cans The most exciting street art has an element of surprise it leaps from the war when you least expect it and It can change the way you see the world around you Former architect and Godfather of stencil art Parisians a VA crew better known as black the rat is a leader of the scene We are living a revolution in art really So we are the consequences of of pop art movement of serologic movement – but, but we are live really living a Revolution Legs witty and smart art on our city streets is made in famous as A trained architect. He knows that it’s not just about what he paints, but where he paints it I? realized Not with my first answer But after a while you know after maybe one or two years that the place was very very important. You know and the Environment around is the the place where I put my stand it was very very important also if you put your images in a very posh Area, it would be completely see and understand understood completely differently than if you leave the same image at You know in the worker area of the city, this is the the most interesting thing in graffiti in my Opinion, you know is there something about Leaving about the out out lives ee Ya when when I when I painting in the streets you know? When I finished my work every Really the feeling that I leave my trace somewhere it’s very deep with this feeling you know, but I’ll leave my trace and for the future generation and people will see it after my death and It’s very important for me, and that was I think it was very important for the people who? make it the The hand on the case you know also they were thinking about that you leave a trace so there I was here even Though blacks work is politically engaged At its core it echoes. The simple impulse behind that hand in the cave I was here Don’t forget me Flex art and the work of those who inspired like the ever-popular Banksy is in vogue Like the seventies the art world is again turning to the street for inspiration In the palais de tokyo a major parisian gallery a pair of graffiti Artists have fused the art world and the street with striking results What a project 14 artists a work signed by all of them and all their visitors a Little taste of the work of Some what and lack? He’s gonna. Tell me that graffiti is an art. Look at the sophistication of this stuff Three artists perhaps Looking close then it collapses and It finds form again. It’s just exquisite So what and lack two eminent Parisian graffiti artists were commissioned to lead a fourteen strong crew? To cover the interior of this space with art And then just the whole space the ceilings the walls painted Got the movement All over painting Jackson Pollock eat your heart out This is all over painting painting all over a camp. This is one thing Treating a whole building as your canvas is quite another It’s staggering and an explosion of creativity The shrapnel hanging from the ceiling I love it. It’s photocopies It’s peeling off. It’s like the lithographs the posters Peeling off over the course of time. It’s almost like they’re saying yeah, we know where our R6 we get where it relates to the poster culture How many different hands With 14 artists involved the work ranges from a kind of futurism through nightmarish shapes to parodies of popular culture Yeah the problem with your graffiti artists is they will tank your doors You gotta love it graffito coming from the Italian to scratch this is scratching Chipping out in incredible detail Stand back and stand back you stand back. It’s Amazing it’s like quantal ism but with a hard point pointillism And I love this the thirty thousand year old hand spray painted onto a cave wall I was here This one’s left by an alien With so many unique artists to conduct how deadly cancer what bring this ambitious work together? pursue consider from the structure Mm kiss, Munna and Cass Nanhua party holding the Jagannath didn’t defrost a screw Chappell Everybody Trust is like so much that they will let them they will let him and them some CAD far enough that also helped us create this Arrays some parts of the paintings and then We would intervene on top of those parts keep what we like the artists were free to come back and do the same with us and And this is how you it’s like a layer Kind of work the murals in the palais are fantastic, but they have a limited lifespan another exhibition will eventually take place in the same space This work like most graffiti will be painted over and lost forever In response like and so what did something that in my opinion? Fuses the world of gallery and street art together in an entirely original way we arrived to the politico We understood that just like any other shows there what we did was supposed to be temporary and from day one We figured it would be interesting to have us artists that come from the ephemeral world of art and We figured we want to find the time capsule inside the but it took you to do something. That would be vainly eternal something that That is so out of reach and so complicated to see and to do and that is so far away from Normal showing spaces that no one would ever find the interest of raising it Lek and so walk found the space an air duct inside the gallery In total secrecy they began to cover the walls of this out-of-the-way place in a manner that takes me back to the caves Joining them were a small number of other artists including the graffiti superstar and friend of Lee future or 2000 This is gonna get heavy this desire to preserve stuff. I know you understand that the art is ephemeral, but is there also a realization and that You’re a founder off there both of you are ephemeral, too If you leave something in this inaccessible space it does every possibility It’s actually going to outlive you we hope so we don’t intellectualize things like you just did our only intuition Is that it would be damn cool to do something in a dark? Inside Europe’s biggest Contemporary Art. Center, we really like the idea of doing something forbidden hidden and out of reach to the public The culture we’ll work with now is so Accessible with the internet that part of the mystery is gone Part of what is making this a bit magical is gone. Everything is disposable You can do a wall at the other side of the world. I’ll see it an hour after you finish it on Instagram and We wanted to respond to that Do you see your practice your experiences artist is having parallels with earlier pop artists It’s a cycle so for a long time it felt like you had The art world had accepted and embraced and loved Basquiat and Keith Haring then for 30 years They stopped looking at what was happening in the streets So you have this street art craze right now, and it feels like those the cycles Go is a lack of memory. It feels like each generation thinks. It’s inventing something When truth is we’re just doing the exact same thing maybe the ingredients change Maybe the colors the aesthetics the places, but the raw energy is the same the only time I felt connected with a basket is the Pictures of him tracing letters on derelict buildings because it’s something that I’ve also done but the aesthetic is very very different, and we haven’t banged, Madonna, so Yes Lekha so what have pulled off an NBA bull feet to bring Street graffiti into the art gallery For me. There’s no argument the best graffiti is art challenging art Graffiti on the walls of our streets today like those moving mottos from the Parisian revolutions still speaks truth to power The lithographic revolution of the 19th century changed our streets Advertising in our face everywhere street artists are challenging that taking the language of advertising just do Art and using it against commercial culture Taking the brands of global capitalism and saying we’re not all about money Asking us to rise up saying shoot the bank Saying isn’t all about cash saying to vanquish without peril is to triumph without glory and all of this grows out of a tradition from the 1970s the aerosol tradition this Revolution this tool that allows artists to paint Rapidly and to throw their markup onto the wall with great precision But we can also paint Extraordinary works almost like a Sheila the beauty the sketch the aerosol Evolves the blank wall is a provocation to so many Individuals, whether they consider themselves graph’it ist’s or street artists or just vandals They’re angry and sometimes their anger is directly specifically stated impossible to misunderstand 18 million eight hundred Thousand dead in the Congo, and you don’t have a word in the media These are voices that are all screaming clamoring for attention because they are part of a revolution that wants to challenge the dominance of Commercial culture in public space do I approve does it matter they disapprove? And today some modern democracies have learned to live with the many and varied voices speaking through graffiti At the Reichstag in Berlin the graffiti scrawled by the Red Army could be harshly critical But the Parliament of a reunified Germany decided to preserve large parts of it for posterity Could the Soviet soldiers possibly have imagined that when they took temporary materials and wrote on a wall in the Reichstag That you sow the wind and you reap the whirlwind that what would be reaped in due course Would be a whirlwind of liberties that Alright? means that governments remain anxious about writings on walls, but allow and celebrate multiple voices multiple Voices The fact that these marks survived is testament to the strength and the resilience of democracy These marks have been deliberately preserved by members of the German parliament because they believe in the freedom of speech they believe in the right of people to utter Uncomfortable truths on walls Greetings Moscow Berlin is kaput on the walls of the Reichstag Graffiti scratching painting or writing on walls is something profoundly human Should we always succumb to the knee-jerk reaction of painting over it or scrubbing it off Sometimes we need to use our eyes to look in order to hear what people are trying to say Sieges royal affairs and the intoxicating tale of King Arthur next as BBC four explores the fortified history of Britain’s castles You

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  1. I can't say anything about the old stuff, 'cos I don't know enough about it, but the part about modern graffiti is complete shite. Either the makers of the doc aren't educated enough, or they're complete twats. If you want to actually know something about graff and street art, watch "wildstyle" and some street art doc. And make sure to remember that street art and graff are two different branches of art and culture, man

  2. "The Red Army fought for what turned out later to be freedoms in Europe and Russia"…man you definitely need to learn some more about Eastern Europe during '45 – '89. The doc itself – pretty accurate.

  3. I have just started filming some of the best street art walks in Europe on our youtube channel – there's no ad's or agenda – just an appreciation. So thanks I really enjoyed the video and have subscribed.

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