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My 15 Minute City

I am excited to announce the launch of a new project entitled, My 15 Minute City! This project will be a series of short videos providing a ...

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Graffiti, tags and street art

I started filming graffiti around Downtown Kitchener on a near daily basis in April.   By early May I had covered most of the territory and saw little in the way of new graffiti. This was a good time to stop and reflect.

From the outset, I had ambivalent feelings about graffiti.  I adopted the position nicely summarized by  McAuliffe and Iveson  (2011):

"To this end, we have chosen a series of interrogations of common dialectical positions in talk of graffiti: is it art or crime; is it public or private expression; is it necessarily ephemeral, or does it seek permanence; is it a purely cultural practice, or is it economic? Our list is by no means exhaustive, but it does go some way to uncovering the complexity of graffiti’s dynamic and contested geographies."     

Asking these questions over this period led me to appreciate the variation in markings I had collectively called graffiti.  There is clearly a difference in style and motivation between the recognizable and recurrent 'tags' on posts and walls throughout DTK, and the scribbled writing and defacing paint in prominent locations.  Furthermore, there is a substantial presence of 'street art' in the DTK, much of which complements the many authorized murals in humanizing the downtown.  For the most part, however, these paintings are less often on the street, and more often on the channel walls of Schneider Creek, or old foundation walls in less travelled areas.  I believe there may be good intention as well as practical considerations on the part of the City in removing defacing graffiti as soon as possible, while allowing street art to flourish.   

McAuliffe, C. and K. Iveson  (2011)  Art and Crime (and Other Things Besides...): Conceptualising Graffiti in the City.  Geography  Compass  5/3 (2011): 128–143, 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2011.00414.x

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker


Coverley, Martin.  The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker  Oldcastle Books, 2012

"The Art of Wandering is a history of that curious hybrid, the writer as walker. From the peripatetic philosophers of Ancient Greece to the streets of twenty-first century London, Paris and New York, this figure has evolved through the centuries, the philosopher and the Romantic giving way to the experimentalist and radical. From pilgrim to pedestrian, flaneur to stalker, the names may change but the activity of walking remains constant, creating a literary tradition encompassing philosophy and poetry, the novel and the manifesto; a tradition which this book explores in detail. Today, as the figure of the wanderer returns to the forefront of the public imagination, writers and walkers from around the world are re-engaging with the ideas which animated earlier generations. For the walker is once again on the march, mapping new territory and recording new visions of the landscape."