Graffiti: Writing Nicely With Others

This exhibit is composed of pictures of graffiti on multiple walls and doors of an abandoned, unfinished building in Tallahassee, Florida. The exhibit has been designed to take a closer look at how composition happens in a shared, public space by many different composers.

A highly material practice, this graffiti shows that space (and what I think of as "prime real estate") on the walls is very important to the artists. Most of the graffiti takes up the lower portions of the walls: the first people see, the easiest to see at eye level, the most impressive because of the perspective of people who may come in and realize that the letters are as tall as they are. It would be very difficult to get up higher without a ladder, which would be difficult to pull off without being seen. This building is in the backyard of four apartments, and very visible to them.

When I first thought of this idea, a few months ago now, I had visited the space without taking photos. Upon returning to the building with the purpose of taking pictures for this project, I found that the walls were very, very different. Stencils that I had seen on these walls, and on stop signs, electric boxes, and other walls around Tallahasse, as well, were now completely covered and nowhere to be found. Art that seemed to be amateur (sketches of elephants, stencils of the faces of Marilyn Monroe, Zach Efron, and other celebrities, poems written in freehand with no design, just normal handwriting) were the pieces that were covered by new, extensive pieces by more experienced artists.

Instead of remixing other work, artists paint over other work, taking space for themselves, differentiating their work from all others with distinct backgrounds and borders as well as distinct style choices. The outside of one door is tagged with work that could be found inside the building, almost like a name on a mailbox, signifying ownership, like a flag in the soil.

This world of composition is constantly changing; I would not be surprised to return to this building and find it even more covered, even more transformed.


Christina Giarrusso