Delving deeper into graffiti

Series of five theory classes

This series of classes addresses lesser-known aspects and visions of graffiti. It studies the scarce but fascinating graffiti traditions unrelated to New York subway graffiti, and makes use of situationist perspectives to analyse graffiti as a game of exploration of the environment.

6. Cholo graffiti and boxcar art

With its international expansion, the New York tradition of graffiti has caused the disappearance of most other graffiti cultures. Nevertheless, traditions of incalculable richness have existed, and still exist. This class studies two of them. It first addresses LA gang graffiti, or cholo graffiti. Then it looks into boxcar art, the unknown culture of graffiti on freight trains – small anagrams drawn with paintsticks – created by the hobos, train-hopping vagabonds, and practised intensely in North America since the late 19th century.

7. Punk graffiti, pixação and flechero graffiti

Informal wall writing has been a part of punk culture since its inception. Punk and heavy metal were the breeding ground for several graffiti cultures in different parts of the globe in the seventies and eighties. This class studies the most important ones. First it looks into the extraordinary pixação from Brazil. It then studies the invaluable but unknown flechero graffiti, the indigenous Madrilenian movement led by visionary artist Muelle in the eighties.

8. Graffiti and psychogeography I

For the practitioner of graffiti, the graphic element is only one part of his or her activity. Just as important, or even more so, are the aspects of exploration and reinterpretation of the environment. Graffiti is actually more closely related to skateboarding, parkour or urban exploration than to painting. This class makes use of situationist theory to shed light on this topic.

9. Graffiti and psychogeography II

This class studies the work of Swedish artists Adam and Akay, and the German duo Wermke Leinkauf; all of them raised as graffiti writers. Their very significant but relatively unknown pieces are perfect illustrations of the concepts studied in the previous class.

10. The city as playground

In class number eight, situationist ideas were used to understand how graffiti is actually a game of exploration and a way to avoid urban alienation. In the past decades, many other cultures have appeared with similar methodologies and goals. Studying them allows a better understanding of graffiti. These cultures range from the tactical (letterboxing, geocaching, urban scavenger hunts, alternate reality games), to the physical (parkour, buildering, trainsurfing, skateboarding, BMX street or BASE jumping), to the exploratory (urbex, trainhopping, prositu tours such as those by Stalker or Conflux), to the social (flashmobs, urban playground movement).