Artwork by Diego Encinas
Fine Arts UCM Aranjuez, course 2009-10

Painting graffiti on trains is a common practice worldwide. Even though in most cities the pieces are erased before being put in service, and are visible only in photography and videos, the phenomenon gets stronger every year. It has become a sophisticated game in which serious physical and legal risks are routinely taken.

Madrid is, since the late nineties, one of the toughest capitals. In its particularly inaccessible and desirable subway system, unprecedented tactics have appeared, which substitute the accustomed stealth with intimidation, the force of numbers, and even violence. In the resulting very heated atmosphere, the guards also often use violence.

This series of images, taken by the artist as well as appropriated from the internet and graffiti video-fanzines puts forward a rare behind-the-scenes look at the game of train graffiti, its stages, its situations and its characters, particularly the guards, which in Spain are not policemen but private security guards.

Eventually, the game incorporates a component of personal battle, and writers sometimes leave insulting messages for the guards. The most remarkable aspect emerges when the guards use paint left by fleeing writers for writing responses and for crossing out the pieces, in this case using the alias ‘Bad’.