A photoblog with pictures I've taken of graffiti and street art in Moscow (and anywhere else I happen to travel).

Friday, March 25, 2005

Moscow stencil graf

Earlier I posted a bunch of stencil graffiti, principally from St. Petersburg - I haven't really seen much intelligent stencil graf in Moscow. Fortunately, Chris "Two-Zero," a fellow expat in Moscow who maintains a blog called Cyber-generation, saw this new project and was generous enough to share with me a bunch of pictures he's taken of stencil graffiti in downtown Moscow. Thanks, Chris!

None of the pictures in this post are mine, but I am pleased to be able to share them:

My favorite writer
Zachem, in stencil form.


M26 - this appears to be a reference to some sort of weaponry.

M26 - they have more than one stencil, it seems.

"Love ready" - and popping out of the toaster.

Soldier - note the check mark on the sign, which is similar to the "V" in "Love ready" above - probably designed by the same person.

Tepee with strange implement at the bottom - and a familiar check-mark at the top.

The lettering at the bottom appears to say "СМОТРИ," or "LOOK" in Russian.

Hatching insect - cool.

3 X 10.

Labels: , ,

Why am I doing this?

Some might see graffiti and street art as just more of the visual static created by a big city - like billboard ads, puddles of filth, or plastic bags spiraling in the wind, something that's there but not deserving of too much attention. But I'm not one of those people. And so I've been photographing tags and other graffiti around Moscow. If I see something I like, I try to photograph it immediately, because graffiti is often erased or painted over pretty quickly. The non-permanence of graffiti is one of the reasons why it isn't considered "art" by many; for me, it's a major reason to photograph it when I see it.

Vtroyom (втроём - this word has no exact translation,
but it refers to three items or people existing or acting
together) graffito by the exit to Tverskaya St. from the
passage underneath Pushkin Square, 6:41pm, Feb. 23.

Vtroyom graffito in the Pushkin Sq. underpass (near the exit to the
Pushkin statue), 5:01pm, Feb. 23.

In the case of the Vtroyom tags, days later there were only blurry spots on the tile walls marking the places where they had been.

Graffiti on theater poster display in the Pushkin Sq. underpass, 8:39am, Feb. 26.

These were also gone within less than a week; there were visible marks on the plexiglass where the tags had been scraped off.

Sometimes it's harder to eradicate a tag:

Not-quite-erased Zachem tag on the outside wall of the
Kinomir movie theater, Nastas'inskii pereulok, 5:05pm,
March 8.

Zachem painted over on Malaya Nikitskaya St., 2:23pm, Feb. 10.

Other times, the "graffiti abatement" specialists - or perhaps just property owners who want a clean storefront - are more successful:

Traces of graffiti, Pl. Tverskoi Zastavy, March 12, 10:22am.

The point is, for better or for worse, so much of the most prominently placed graffiti in any big city is not there for very long before it is erased, painted over, or altered in some drastic way. Therefore, I feel compelled to record the moment in time when I see it.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

An evening on Tverskaya

Tverskaya can probably be considered the main street of Moscow. We are lucky enough to live on it, and tonight I met Lorina after work (after 9pm for both of us!) and we walked home up Tverskaya, with breaks for dinner, book shopping, and grocery shopping along the way. We saw a lot of graffiti:

A young couple gets cozy near a utility box which sports the tag "Mne" repeatedly. "Mne" is the dative case of "I" (as in "me, myself, and I"), so it is used in constructions like "give it to me," or "Dai Mne," which happens to be the title of a much-hyped book
book by young Russian writer Irina Denezhkina - the recent English translation was titled Give Me, although I would have translated it as Give It to Me. Maybe that's why I'm not a professional translator. But I digress. In the graffiti context, Mne might just be an abbreviation for some 3-word phrase. KGM, for example (shown in an earlier post) actually stands for "Krasim Gorod Moskva," or "We Paint the City of Moscow." This scene is from the corner of Kamergersky Lane & Tverskaya, 9:14pm.

Tags - Waste, Na Vostok (this loosely translates as "Eastward" or "Toward the Orient"), and an illegible one - on a theater kiosk on Tverskaya (yes, "
Cats" has made it to Russia - it's even being performed in Russian), 10:06pm.

Ornate but illegible tag ("The [something]") on the shutter of a closed kiosk in the pedestrian underpass by the
book store at Tverskaya 8, 11:18pm.

Zachem tag on the other side of the same kiosk in the same underpass, 11:18pm.

Well-placed graffiti on the
Stardogs stand (formerly a "Stop-top" stand, if you haven't been in Moscow in awhile - they rebranded all of them last year), across Tverskaya from the book store, 11:19pm.

A graffiti writer who goes by the handle "Waste" has helpfully labeled this trash can for English-speaking visitors to Moscow, on Tverskaya just toward the center from Pushkin Sq., 11:38pm.

Various graffiti, including "Mne" on the door to a while-you-wait key shop, Maly Palashevsky Lane just off Tverskaya, 11:43pm. Yes, that is an obscene graffito right there in the middle. Apologies to English-speakers who are offended. As for the other tags, "Ham" (or perhaps "Nam," depending on whether you think the tagger was using the Latin or Cyrillic alphabet) is one I've seen around and have some photos of, but BiF is one I hadn't seen before this evening.

FTM ("For The Masses"?) stencil, Maly Palashevsky Lane just of Tverskaya, 11:45pm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Shadowboxing; a post on commercial stencil graffiti

Using stencil graffiti as a medium for a commercial "guerilla marketing" campaign is nothing new, but it's not something you see every day in Moscow. So I was startled to see a cluster of identical stencils near the Shchyolkovskaya metro station, evidently promoting "Shadowboxing," a recently released Russian movie. The caption reads, "Бой с тенью," or "Shadowboxing."

11:21am, March 19.

Entrance to the Shchyolkovskaya station, 12:55pm, March 19.

12:55pm, March 19.

2 stencils - one at far left - on a bus stop shelter, along with two "Isk"
tags and a scavenger picking up a recyclable bottle, 12:57pm, March 19.

Shadowboxing with a pay phone, 12:58pm, March 19.

Using counterculture media to launch corporate, commerical ad campaigns is old hat in the West, and it's not a brand-new (so to speak) idea in Moscow, either. Below is a remnant of one such campaign from last year, when Adidas had these stickers all over the city - shortly before the official portion of the campaign, including trolleybuses painted with full-length versions of this sticker. I wonder if they did this in other cities?

"I [Adidas] Moscow" sticker on an outdoor ashtray/trash
can near the Voikovskoe metro station, 3:30pm, March 19.


The flag reads, URA! - in Russian, this means, Hurrah!

Not clear what was being cheered.

In an alleyway just off 2nd Brestskaya St., 3:05pm, March 10.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sick and the City

Veronica at Neeka's Backlog has a great photo of a bit of Moscow stencil graffiti which reads "sick and the city." Definitely worth checking out.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Zachem! (Why!)

Zachem (From the Multitran online dictionary: зачем [phonetically: Zachem] нареч. why; wherefore; for what; what for?; whereto) is the most prolific writer in my neighborhood (downtown Moscow around Pushkin Square), but his reach extends far beyond that as well.

In an
earlier post on my other blog, Scraps of Moscow, I pontificated on the significance of this handle and noted that one could spend lots of time trying to track down all of the Zachem tags in my area. The photos below were all chance encounters with Zachem - I didn't seek the tag out, just happened to have a camera with me while out and about. The first 3 photos are from St. Petersburg (told you this guy gets around) and the rest are from Moscow:

Zachem among other graffiti in courtyard off #61 Liteiny,
SPB, Feb. 13, 12:53pm.

Zachem on Zhukovskogo St., SPB, 2:42pm, Feb. 13.

Zachem (atop a yellow sign directing people to a beauty salon) on
Zhukovskogo St. in SPB, 2:43pm, March 3.

Zachem on window on Tverskoi Bul'var, 8:38pm, Feb. 22.

Zachem on wall with Russian flag flapping above, on
Tverskoi Bul'var, 8:35pm, Feb. 22.

Zachem graffito next to grocery store window on Sadovo-Triumfal'naya St.,
4:31pm, Feb. 25.

Zachem on an abandoned building in the Patriarch's
Ponds area, 6:27pm, Feb. 26.

Zachem and others on an old ATM-type machine in the
entrance hall to the Tverskaya and Pushkinskaya
metro stations, 9:42am, Feb. 27.

Zachem in Maly Palashevsky Lane just off of Tverskaya
Street, 2:34pm, Feb. 27.

Zachem and others on store door on Tverskaya St., 9:59am,
March 2.

Zachem (in black - and a different script than usual) on a theater ticket
kiosk on Tverskaya St., 9:10am, March 4.

Zachem on netting surrounding a building undergoing
renovation at the corner of Rozhdestvenka and Kuznetsky
Most Sts., 5:17pm, March 6.

Zachem and others in one of the archways from Rozhdestvenka St. leading
to the entrance to the Kuznetsky Most metro station, 5:50pm, March 6.

Zachem (multiple times) and others on the Moscow News kiosk on Pushkin
Square, 4:31pm, March 8.

Zachem with Women's Day flower sellers, seen as one
descends the stairs into the underground passageway
underneath Pushkin Square, 5:01pm, March 8.

Note: all photos are from 2005; the first 3 are from St. Petersburg, and the rest are from Moscow.


Friday, March 18, 2005

Lesnaya St.

Large piece on the side of a 4-storey building, Lesnaya
Street, 10:26am, March 12, 2005.

Bunny rabbit art

This requires no comment, except to mention that it definitely elevated our mood when we saw it and that it appeared on March 8th, International Women's Day:

Bunny graffiti (and something purple and less identifiable) on abandoned
building on the corner of 2nd Brestskaya and Gasheka Streets, 12:54pm, March 8, 2005.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

From St. Petersburg

"Moscow Graffiti" is beginning to seem like a misnomer for this site, with all of the photos from St. Petersburg that I have been posting. These are left over from a couple of recent trips; hopefully I'll be up there again soon, as the writers there seem to be more creative and there are certainly more stencils I didn't get the chance to photograph. But I do have more Moscow material to come and will be publishing it in the next few days, time permitting. Anyway, here are some more street and courtyard scenes from SPB:

KGM tag (and passer-by's shadow) on Vosstaniia St.
near Moscow Station 2:17pm, March 3, 2005.

Tribute to glue ("klei"), a favorite way to get high for down-and-out
and/or homeless adolescents in Russia, 5:02pm, March 3, 2005, on the
Fontanka Canal Embankment.

Graffiti crossed out by an apparently religious (that's
a Russian Orthodox cross in light blue) tagger activist,
seen on Nevsky Prospekt, 4:37pm, March 3, 2005. I saw
this same phenomenon elsewhere in SPB.

Graffiti on a wall in a courtyard off Zhukovskogo St., 1:53pm, March 3,
2005. Note at far right the "official" graffiti - a stenciled notice advising
people of the number to call to report a fire - and above it all a sign
advertising automobile window tinting.

My friend Bram surveying graffiti in a courtyard off
Liteiny Prospekt, 12:54pm, Feb. 13, 2005.

More graffiti in the same courtyard off Liteiny Prospekt,
12:54pm, Feb. 13, 2005. This courtyard can be reached by
entering the courtyard of #61 Liteiny, then proceeding
through another archway that houses the entrance to
an antiquarian bookstore (that's how I originally found
this place), which takes you into this small, triangular,
graffiti-ed to the hilt courtyard.


All text and images Copyright © 2005-06 by author unless otherwise noted

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