Juvenile Delinquency or Political Measurement?
So I realized not that many people know this about me, but I love graffiti. Not like the whole I'm going to go out tagging random stuff type of love (that wouldn't be very Trumanish after all), but just that it has always fascinated me. I remember being a little kid on car trips and always looking at the graffiti on trains that we would pass and just being mesmerized. It always raised a million questions in my head. At that age it was pretty simple questions, like ˝What does that spell? What does it mean? Who wrote it? etc˝. As I've gotten older the questions have changed to things like ˝What commentary is the artist trying to make? What was the artists motivation? And still more often than not, what does it mean?˝ The allure of the art hasn't been lost though.
Turns out, Sarajevo is a graffiti lover's dream. Both in my sense and in the sense of those who do the actual graffiti it seems. Everything in the city has some kind of graffiti on it. Some range from what I assume are names, to sentences, to pictures, to advertisements to faces. Now while I'd love to say that I'm making great strides in learning Bosnian and in only three days here can already begin to understand what some of it says. However, I definitely have no idea what 99.99% of the graffiti says. After all, I've only mastered how to say three things in this language, hello, thank you, and good bye. That might even be giving myself too much credit since hello and good bye are the same word. But that makes it even more mesmerizing for me. There seem to be certain graffiti pieces that are repeated throughout the city, such as an image of a guy's face (kind of think a Che Guevaraesque look) with two words underneath. I was super pumped and thought it was some political leader that people looked up to. Turns out it's not, it's the most famous folk singer in the country. PBR also seems to appear everywhere. I can see a huge painting of it out our kitchen window and I don't think I've walked down a street yet without seeing it on the side of some building or sign. I have no idea what it means, but one of my goals for the week is to find out (since my Google search turned up nothing, boo).
The graffiti of Sarajevo doesn't just seem to be random though. The images, such as that of a giant skull that I pass walking past an abandoned apartment complex on my way home, or of soldiers seems to have a very real message of conflict. And I've been told that once I begin to understand the language, I'll realize that much of the older graffiti throughout the city says ˝Caution, bullets˝. These pieces of what many may dismiss as seemingly pointless works of juvenile delinquents, seem to offer a very real look into the violence of the past and the tensions of today. I came to Bosnia to study genocide and ethnic conflict, I just never expected graffiti to be a medium for it.
Anyways, I want to do some sort of collage of interesting graffiti pieces that I find. Sadly though, my parents informed me yesterday that I left my camera in the back of the car while I was transferring things between my Truman camp suitcase and my one for Bosnia. A serious fail on my part. I have my phone though and will see if I can take decent enough photos on that to do something with. I'll keep you posted (because I'm sure you have nothing better to do than wonder how Rach's graffiti project is going).