Hidden Messages in Plain Sight
After 9 days of wandering through Ljubljana, I felt as if I were missing something the city was trying to say to me. I wanted to see the side of the city that probably wasn’t meant for tourists.
Yes, there’s graffiti around town, and actually some of it is quite interesting. It’s not at the level of NY Street Art, but some is pretty cool. In the city, if it’s still there (meaning they haven’t “erased” it yet,) then it’s probably sanctioned by the authorities. Besides the art factor, I like to find “signatures” from graffiti artists as they compete for fame in their own tribe.
These are not considered art by any stretch, but they are local and they do seem to be tolerated.
The most sanctioned graffiti I found was right near the “pink church” and on the main street. Interesting, I thought. It’s more of a mural than graffiti, which is why it’s so visible. The city wants us to see this! Very Cool, very American and very youth oriented.
The Dark Side
But I wanted to show you the REAL graffiti, the dark side of Ljubljana, where the real voice of the malcontents express themselves. And, it’s not as “pretty” as the stuff in the city, some of it is nothing more than teenagers being rebellious but some of it is downright mean.
I asked a local where he thought I could find some of the better stuff and he told me to go to Metelkova, somewhere near the National Museum, so I hailed a cab and showed the driver the one word my local friend had texted me. From my mid-city location it was less than 10 minutes before I started to see why he recommended I visit the area.
At first, I didn’t see much that interested me, I saw amateur, crass, sloppy spray paint, most of it childish scratchings. I made a few photos here and there, but nothing really good.
What I really wanted to find some quality work, so I kept looking. Now, I am no expert, but what I wanted to see was some real art. Most of the best art is accompanied by a graphic signature, a stencil of sorts, something distinctive and recognizable. Something that can be duplicated quickly, so it can be “stamped” quickly around an area. The goal is to obtain urban fame and recognizability to the rest of the community.
When you see a repeating pattern in an area and you start to see that same “signature” elsewhere in the same city, this person is trying to make a name for themselves. What happens next? If they get great feedback, they may be bold enough to go to a different city or even out of the country. But this stuff was mostly junk art scrawled in haste and with no regard for art.
These artists, the really serious street graffiti artists, know each other and follow each other’s work. In this piece above, the effort to white out the background, then apply a stencil or paste-on posters, shows this person had a very specific idea before going out to “graffiti” that night. Over time, others will come and write over this piece and there’s the rivalry. It can be very interesting to see as this develops. I won’t be here to see it, so send me a photo if you visit!
This is about all I found, some of its funny (Rude) some of it is sad and racist, which, unfortunately, shows how brash these people are and how little controls there are in this city. Understandably, it’s impossible to police every blank wall in the city, but clearly these have been there for a while and at some level that means it’s condoned by the forces that be.
The images here were captured with the Sony A7rII, the Sony 16-35mm FE zoom lens and the Sony FE 24-240 zoom lens.
C’mon, don’t tell me you haven’t subscribed yet? Whatta I have to do? You know I have my own spray paint buddy. Your car might look nice with a little “art” don’t ya think? So do the right thing, take a stand, check the gray box below, and do it. You won’t be sorry.