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

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Stencil wisdom

I am planning a larger post on stencils. I've found quite a few interesting ones since Chris was kind enough to share his photo archive with me and I posted selections from it. But the ones in this post don't really fit in with the other stencil graf I've seen.

I happened upon these tiny gems the other day in a courtyard off of Bolshoi Patriarshy Pereulok. At first I almost didn't notice them among the other graffiti:

Then I realized that these tiny (roughly 2" X 4" or 5 X 10 cm) stencils carry classic counterculture/subversive ideas of a magnitude quite out of proportion to their physical size.

"Imitate yourself!'

"You grow dull in an office!" (with a presumably intentional spelling error)

"Stop history!"

All photos taken around 1pm, April 26, 2005.

Political graffiti in North Korea?

While I hesitate to stray from this blog's stated topical focus (Moscow graf and street art) and genre (photoblog), this article is interesting and tangentially relevant:

"A little light shines on North Korea's blackout"
By James Brooke, The New York Times, March 16, 2005 [from the Int'l Herald Tribune]

SEOUL - Halfway through a video from North Korea, the camera pans to a propaganda portrait of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader, magnificent in his general's dress uniform with gold epaulets. Scribbled in black ink across his smooth face is a demand for "freedom and democracy."

If genuine, the graffiti speaks of political opponents willing to risk execution to get their message out. If staged, the video means that a North Korean hustler was willing to deface a picture of the "Dear Leader" to earn a quick profit by selling it to a South Korean human rights group.

Either way, the 35-minute video is the latest evidence that new ways of thinking are stealing into North Korea, perhaps corroding the steely controls on ideology and information that have kept the Kim family in power for almost 60 years. [...]

Kim ordered the formation of a special prosecutor's office last November to arrest people who deal in South Korean goods, largely videotapes, or who use South Korean expressions or slang, analysts in South Korea say. To crack down on home viewing of imported videotapes, the North Korean police developed the strategy of encircling a neighborhood in the evening, cutting off electricity, then inspecting players to find videotapes stuck inside, according to Young Howard, international coordinator of the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, a Seoul-based group.

OK, so the last para is not even tangentially relevant to what's usually covered here, but you have to admit it is interesting in a scary way.

Introduction to Moscow sticker art

Stickers are smaller, less readily noticed cousins of large graffiti pieces or tags. They often hide on the backs of metal signs or traffic signals, where they are most likely to go for some time without being removed. Often, the design of a sticker will be immediately familiar as belonging to a prolific graffiti writer or crew. This is a very popular form of street art in the US, and it's more and more widespread in Moscow. Here are a few examples that I've noticed recently:

"S novym godom" on street sign on Staropimenovsky Pereulok, April 21, just before 7pm. This one is rather amateurish, although in a way that makes it more charming.

"Moora destroy this town" - the photo is of a ski-mask-wearing youth brandishing a spray can, in case you couldn't tell - behind school on Degtyarny pereulok, 8:19pm, April 22.

Stickers on back of street sign, Petrovka St., 11:59am, April 23.

ag4t (the tiny caption says, "saint petersburg 01") sticker depicting the infamous "
gorbaty" ("humpbacked") Zaporozhets 965 (a design based on the Fiat 600) on the back of a street sign, Petrovka St., 11:59am, April 23.

Closeup of Zachem sticker - the smaller text just repeats the word "wanted" several times - on the back of a street sign, Petrovka St., 11:59am, April 23.

This Zachem sticker has a judge saying, "3 years for sure" (3 goda bezuslovno) a play on words achieved by adding a prefix to the adverb uslovno, which in Russian both means "conditional" and refers to a suspended sentence. On the back of a street sign, Petrovka St., 12 noon, April 23.

Waste & Sick Systems stickers on back of a street sign, Bol. Dmitrovka St., 12:36pm, April 23.

Sticker parodying real estate ads (the text reads, "Will rent! Will let!") on an air-conditioning unit in the entrance hall to the Tverskaya & Pushkinskaya metro stations, 12:49am, April 24.

On another air-conditioning unit in the entrance hall to the Tverskaya & Pushkinskaya metro stations, 12:49am, April 24. I've seen this blue/green up/down arrow design elsewhere on walls, although I'm not sure what it means.

MNE, the spiral (which I've seen painted on walls also), and something incomprehensible with a balalaika, on an air-conditioning unit in the entrance hall to the Tverskaya & Pushkinskaya metro stations, 12:49am, April 24.

SAC sticker (the masked youth in this image is making a couple of rude gestures, just in case you can't make that out) on the side of a traffic signal at the corner of Tverskaya Ulitsa and Gazetny Pereulok. In the background are WWII-era trucks rehearsing for the Victory Day parade. 8:07pm, April 25.

Stickers on back of a traffic signal at the corner of Tverskaya Ulitsa and Gazetny Pereulok, 8:07pm, April 25.

Stickers on back of a traffic signal at the corner of Tverskaya Ulitsa and Kamergersky Pereulok, 8:40pm, April 25.

Stickers (including repeats of the cheese grater and the spiky dog, a sticker by Moora, and one by fairly prolific writer Bigud' - the word is the singular form, which doesn't exist in the dictionary, of "bigudi," which is how you say "hair curlers" in Russian) on the back of a traffic signal on Triumfal'naia Square, 10:09pm, April 26.

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Here is a writer (or crew) who is up all over downtown Moscow:

NЁK (in blue) and other graffiti in a courtyard off Varsonof'evsky Pereulok, 5:50pm, March 26.

On a utility building in a courtyard between Bolshoi Patriarshy Pereulok (Lane) and Spiridon'evsky Pereulok, 6:08pm, April 12.

In a courtyard just off Krasina St., 6:26pm, April 13.

Looks like this one got interrupted and therefore is just an outline - Krasina St., 6:34pm, April 14.

In the context of beer-swilling locals (NЁK is at far right) in the area between the Boulevard Ring and Patriarchs' Ponds, April 16 around 4:30

Close-up of the same wall, around 4:30pm, April 16.

On a utility shed in the area between the Boulevard Ring and Patriarchs' Ponds, around 4:30, April 16.

Alongside stencils in entryway leading to the graffiti-rich courtyard off Kamergersky Pereulok, shortly after 7pm, April 17.

The NWP ("North-West Project") website has several pages of NЁK tags - some of them are really amazing.

The same site also has
a page with a couple of great stencils.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

MNE (or MHE?) Crew

As with many tags here in Moscow, the reading of this one depends on whether you think the writer is using Cyrillic or Latin letters. Since "MNE" has meaning in Russian (as I've mentioned previously, it's the dative of "me," e.g., "give it to me" would be "dai mne"), in addition to probably being an acronym, that's my guess on how the letters are supposed to be read, not that it's tremendously important.

MNE Crew on fence ironwork, Petrovsky Pereulok, 12:47pm, April 23.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Zachem, again (and again, and again...)

I have more photos than I know what to do with of creative street art by the person or persons using the name "Zachem" - stencils, stickers, elaborate graffiti...all will be published here in due time. Meanwhile, here's one of the ones I like best:

Zachem stencil and the little beast I've seen in the past next to HAM's tag (to the right) at the corner of Sytinsky Pereulok and M. Palashevsky Pereulok, 7:58pm, April 12.


Graffiti is everywhere

Inside a portable toilet on Kudrinskaya Sq., 2:18pm, March 5, 2005.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Hong Kong Graffiti

Probably this first one doesn't exactly qualify as graffiti, but I liked it. This is a mural by the harbor in the fishing village of Tai O on Lantau Island, April 6.

"People's love more stronger than the wave" - a reference to the recent tsunami disaster? - April 5.

"Incarcerated minds," April 5.

Sticker art on a street sign, April 5.

Graffiti sharing an alley with a (Buddhist?) shrine, April 5.

Smiley-face along the Central-Mid-levels Escalator, April 3.

Graffiti at Mosque Junction, April 3.

"Insane" on street box in Central, April 3.

"Insane" next to a Reebok store in Kowloon, April 7.

Stencil Graffiti from Hong Kong

At long last, I've gotten around to uploading and organizing some of the photos from our trip to Hong Kong earlier this month. I'm breaking up my graffiti photos from the trip into stencils and all others - here are the stencil ones:

Stencils of skaters, April 3.

Large stencil of crouching guy, April 3.

Stencil of guy spraypainting, April 5.

"No farting" sticker and "start" stencil, April 5.

Stencil of two women, April 5.

Rooster stencil on utility cabinet, April 5.

Rooster stencil on Central-Mid-levels Escalator, April 3.

Rooster stencil (red this time) & "adlib" tag in near-perfect courier font, April 5.

Wall of stencil graffiti, including a life-sized man with a gun to his head (photographed from far away), April 6.

Close-up of some of the smaller stencils on the wall shown above, April 6.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ramzai ice-cream and graffiti on Tverskaya

I happened today upon a winding series of courtyards a block long, with many abandoned buildings and graffiti EVERYWHERE. Entrance is next to Staropimenovsky Pereulok #13, if you want to check it out for yourself - I'll be posting those photos as soon as I can get them uploaded and organized.

The graf is not really the focal point of this photo, but I still like it and wanted to post it somewhere.

Graffiti on Ramzai ice-cream stand on Tverskaya St., with the Mayor's office
in the background (upper-left corner), 10:37pm, April 20.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Courtyard scene

Beer-swilling locals surrounded by graffiti (including "NЁK," to whom a post will be devoted sometime soon) in the area between the Boulevard Ring and Patriarch's Ponds, April 16 around 4:30pm.


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

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