Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TAG you're art!

 Years ago, when we sailed on the Queen Mary II to Hamburg Germany, we got a taxi to our hotel, and when we got out of the cab, we knew we had chosen the wrong neighbourhood; all the building were vandalized with “Tagging” At the time you just didn't see this, especially in Germany. As it happened, our hotel was on the outskirts of the Reeperbahn, or the “Red Light” district of Hamburg, and the police or whoever controlled the “Tagging” just didn't worry about vandalization in this neighbourhood. Oh, (BTW)by the way, this was one of the best hotels we have ever booked and other than walking by the sex shops to get anywhere in Hamburg, everything was wonderful. It was Hamburg Harley Days and 55,000 Harley Davidsons descended on the city for the weekend – I had a great vacation.

This tagging has become rampant everywhere, and we have not found any country that has been able to control it. I think it gets worse as unemployment increases, especially youth unemployment, and Europe, especially Spain, Portugal & Greece are really suffering serious unemployment. Needless to say, the tagging is really bad here in Olhão. It is everywhere. Entire buildings are covered, and as the number of deserted or unoccupied building increases, so does the tagging. Even the trains have gotten a new coat of paint, sometimes even covering the windows. The train we returned from Spain on was completely covered on one side with tagging. There is a little unoccupied house on the corner that is completely tagged from top to bottom, and the wall of a long building down the road is a virtual 'Art Gallery' of tagging.

Now one question is whether “Tagging” is vandalism or art? Some of it is absolutely amazing in the artistry and complexity. No question, some is just ugly spray paint, but I must admit that some is actually very beautiful. Here in Olhão, there are some talented taggers, and I have tried to include some of the really interesting examples. In many cases I suspect that the tagging actually makes some of the crumbling buildings here look nicer.

People must at times find it frustrating. Across the street, the houses back onto the railway, and some people have cleaned off the concrete wall and whitewashed it, only to have it used as a canvas by taggers. I walked by one building with serious tagging covering all the windows, so those workers using the building have so suffer with their only natural light diffused through pink, purple and green paint.

I can't help wondering though, when do they do it? I have never seen a 'Tagger' at work, so I assume it must be late a night, and it must be a bit difficult to tag those moving trains, so it must be done when they are parked late at night.

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