|Roman Graffiti via|
Italy, in the face of things modern, seems to have lost touch with itself, defacing the abundant beauties which almost every town holds, the centro perhaps almost intact, but the surrounding areas encrusted with squalid ill-thought modern buildings, highways, and further out American-style suburban sprawl eating into the country-side. Within the centro the tackiness of our globalized world has intruded in the form of the usual corporate branding logos and the now near-universal graffiti, here defacing a heritage of extraordinary architecture and urban design. This is not the desolate world of the Bronx, circa 1978 or so, when graffiti represented a flush of creative life in the face of urban death, but rather now a knee-jerk genuflection of gangsta alienation whether in Toulouse, Madrid, Copenhagen, Moscow or Rome. The periferia’s have invaded, bringing with them their tracings of gangland aesthetics. The past is utterly disrespected, but its erstwhile replacement has none of the cultural weight which gives the old its heft. Instead a unity of universal ignorance washes over everything, a Simpsonite dog-piss assertion of “I own this,” however wrong and false, sprayed on a wall built 500 or 1800 years ago, by Michaelangelo or Giulio Cesare. The alienated scrawl reeks of the New York of crack-heads but incorporated by Nike, the globalized claim “just do it – this is mine” writ large and in a dull uniformity lacking all originality. A McDonalds of the mind blankets the landscape, its fraudulent branding of individual personhood enriching the spray-paint makers and reducing the local to cartoon universality. In keeping with the source, the way is often littered with needles and discarded condoms.
Jon Jost, via