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

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

More Moscow Stickers

At the intersection of Nikitskaya Ulitsa and the Boulevard Ring. The lower sign
has a sticker from "Liberte," author of many stencils with the same legend around
town, a "Zachem" sticker, and an intriguing elephant silhouette.

This is an enlargement of the sticker which is barely visible in the above photo at top left.
It reads:

There are many pretenders
Unusual stars
Forget everything
you were taught
and learn
to dream.

Amen to that.

Both of these photos were taken on June 27, 2005, at 8:32pm.

Labels: ,

Moscow Stickers

These two stickers were on the Coke fridge which belongs to one of the kiosks
near the McDonald's on Pushkin Square. Photos taken on June 26, 2005, at 4:22pm.
Incidentally, the website indicated on the first sticker (myownazz.ru) is not
accessible for some reason. The second sticker is cooler anyway.

The many uses of graffiti...

There are plenty of political stickers and graffiti around in Moscow and in some of the other cities where I've photographed, and this Washington Post article raises the possibility that such things are not always grass-roots phenomena.

Before the War, CIA Reportedly Trained a Team of Iraqis to Aid U.S.
By Dana Priest and Josh White, August 3, 2005; Page A12

Before the war in Iraq began, the CIA recruited and trained an Iraqi paramilitary group, code-named the Scorpions, to foment rebellion, conduct sabotage, and help CIA paramilitaries who entered Baghdad and other cities target buildings and individuals, according to three current and former intelligence officials with knowledge of the unit.

The CIA spent millions of dollars on the Scorpions, whose existence has not been previously disclosed, even giving them former Soviet Hind helicopters. But most of the unit's prewar missions -- spray-painting graffiti on walls; cutting electricity; "sowing confusion," as one said -- were delayed or canceled because of poor training or planning, said officials briefed on the unit. The speed of the invasion negated the need for most of their missions, others said. [...]

Friday, August 05, 2005

A store closes, and a window opens...

...figuratively speaking, of course. This triptych - displayed on adjacent window shutters (don't know why I didn't get a shot of them all in a row) presented itself early one morning in St. Petersburg:

Photos all taken shortly after 6am on July 5th, 2005, in the area of Gorokhovaya (formerly Dzerzhinskogo) St., St. Petersburg, Russia. Enlarging the first one will reveal that the inscription in red reads, "make art, not war," and that the head is a Jimi-Hendrix-head stencil (which I saw and photographed elsewhere later the same day):

Corner of Zhukovskogo and Vosstaniia Streets, 8:55pm, July 5.

Rural Moldovan Graffiti

This is not really graffiti in the classic sense - it's more of a local motto, or a bit of wisdom that someone decided to share:

The sign reads, "Spicul pîine pe masă, pace în casă" - roughly translated, this means "A piece of bread on the table, peace in the home."

"Spicul" is the tough word to translate - in this context it means something like an ear of wheat, the head of grain depicted above the text, but I'm so far from my grandmother's agrarian roots that I'm not even sure what that's properly called in English. Thanks to the online English-Romanian-English dictionary for assistance on this.

Anyway, this optimistic maxim is on both sides of the railroad bridge which you pass under after you turn left off the M2 from Chisinau and head down the A280 through Gvozdova towards Floresti (thank you, Mapquest - yes, they have Moldova mapped in detail, for all of the Americans who don't know where it is! Go check it out, kids, and don't say you never learned anything here).

Monday, August 01, 2005

My favorite stencil

I saw and photographed a lot of stencils up in St. Petersburg last month, but this one would have to be my favorite. You can just feel the artist's love for President Putin. The, uh, imagery seems so simple and inspired that it's hard to believe no one has thought of this one before. On the other hand, St. Petersburg is the capital of Russia in terms of artistic creativity, and so perhaps I should not doubt that a native of the city would be able to come up with something like this.

Or maybe [activate frantic, paranoid conspiracy threorist voice] this stencil was designed by a CIA-front NGO which is working tirelessly to bring an "orange revolution" to Russia [end paranoia].

Anyway, I wouldn't exactly say this stencil was all over the President's hometown, but I did see it in at least several places (I didn't photograph them all, though), including most prominently on Nevsky Prospekt (above right), the city's main drag.

They love you in Piter, Vladimir Vladimirovich!

At left is a closer look at the artistry, photographed on Liteiny or Vosstaniia, I can't remember where exactly.

St. Petersburg stencil graf

Here are some of the better stencils I saw on my trip to St. Petersburg during the first week of July. I don't have date/time/location information for most of them, so in lieu of that I'll just provide what little captioning I can. This first one was on a booth selling tickets for a canal boat ride and was located on the Fontanka embankment (or perhaps Moika).
My memory is failing me, and since I'm posting this from far from home (from Chisinau, Moldova) I don't have my usual recourse to the date/time stamp or the ability to look at the photos in the context of the ones taken immediately before or after, which is usually how I identify where things happened.

Translation from the Russian: "How much [time] do you have left?" This photo's from a building on the embankment of the same canal as the one above.

Are you ready? This one is from Dumskaya Ulitsa.

There are plenty of mosquitoes in SPB in the summer...

From Dumskaya Ulitsa or thereabouts. No idea who this is supposed to be. Perhaps Viktor Tsoi? Tsoi was a Russian rock star (lead singer of the band "Kino") of the 1980's who died tragically in 1990 and is featured in graffiti all across the former Soviet Union. The most common phrase, which I've seen in both Chisinau and Tashkent, not to mention all over Moscow and St. Petersburg, is "Tsoi zhiv," or "Tsoi lives." But this stencil is probably supposed to be someone else.
This stencl "artist" didn't try too hard - this appears to be the Russian-alphabet stencil that was standard issue to all Soviet schoolchildren. I am pretty sure I have one of these in storage...

The mark of ДСПА (DSPA), Dvizhenie Soprotivleniia imeni Petra Alekseeva (the Pyotr Alekseev Opposition Movement), a group which has hung Putin in effigy and hung banners with messages rude to the Russian commander-in-chief - no wonder their website, dspa.spb.ru, indexed just six weeks ago by Rambler, can no longer be found at the same URL.

[Update 11/13/05 - thanks to "anonymous" from DSPA for commenting and cluing me in to their new website: dspa.info]

It's unclear what "Louis & urban fathers" have to do with the prominent hemp leaf on their stencil. Dealers? Consumers? One of the mysteries of graf... Above the stencil is the tag of T-Albert, ubiquitous in St. Petersburg.


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

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