Respectful Vandals


Here’s some characteristically excellent photography by my friend Lars of Arkland. He’s recently moved to Visby on Gotland, a big old limestone slab in the Baltic Sea, where he’s the Hauptnetzmeister of the National Heritage Board. The funny thing about the above picture is that it shows young vandals/graffiti artists to have a conscious and highly traditional perspective on the cultural heritage. Much more traditional than today’s heritage administrators, who worry endlessly about whether their perspective is democratically informed, in touch with the times etc. While these administrators consider whether they should preserve and protect abandoned post-war factory environments, kids in Visby are defacing the town’s jail from 1857 but respecting the Medieval town wall along which the jail was built.



  1. #1 Avenel
    November 12, 2008

    I wonder if it is respect, or just that the smooth texture is easier to work with.

  2. #2 Mikael Hiort af Ornäs
    November 12, 2008

    I think it’s some kind of respect for the old, or at least a streak of good taste. I see the same pattern in Uppsala. Older buildings, or at least buildings that look old, aren’t tagged on prominent places, like the front, but rather on partly hidden surfaces low down.

  3. #3 jeff
    November 13, 2008

    If you look close you can easily see some blue paint on the “untouched side” apparently there isn’t honor among all the vandals.

  4. #4 Henrik
    November 13, 2008

    …or, the uneven, textured surface of the city wall in the top picture is simply unsuitable for tagging (functionalist perpective? who? me?)

  5. #5 ffrancis
    November 16, 2008

    Curious that one of the designs used by the “vandals” is the spiral which, I think, is one of the most common markings found on stones from thousands of years ago.

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