Urban Space


    "The World, as it is Written on the Wall" by Patricia K. Guiley

    “The World, as it is Written on the Wall”
    Patricia K. Guiley

    Throughout history artists have incorporated or used graffiti as a mode of social expression and artistic exhibition. When analyzing graffiti, from the earliest inception of cave drawings spanning up to current graffiti works, it is necessary for the viewer to conceptualize graffiti as a body which can assume two forms, that of text and that of image. Graffiti art frequently employs depictions of obscured text in effort to communicate a social message and illustrate artistic prowess creating a synergistic bridge between text and image vocalizing the rebellious spirit involved in much of its production.

    In the 20th and 21st centuries, graffiti writers have employed various techniques in order to communicate dense social messages with their art. These techniques frequently involve appropriation of existing images and maintain staunch social messages. While examining the social messages conveyed in both the text and pictorial images in graffiti, some of the world’s most prolific (sanctioned and non-sanctioned) graffiti art of the past two decades, will be outlined and used as examples. Included in this lineup will be works from: Banksy, Obey, Gajin Fujita, Princess Hijab, and Blu. It will be illustrated that intensely controversial social messages are communicated in a fluidly artistic manner uniquely found in graffiti’s voice, which reaches further than language alone.

    The final argument will show that these works are the platform for uncensored global conversations and serve as the only form of free speech in many parts of the world, thusly maintaining a unique and sharp historical perspective on political and social climates within the cities in which they appear.

    • Debating Visual Knowledge