Sunday, September 23, 2012

Socially irrelevant graffiti: INTI bala ta3me.

Lately, my circles have been abuzz with the new huge graffiti in Hamra (or is it more of a mural?). Anyhow, I set off to discover it on my own, and despite the sheer volume of it (several stories high!) I had to ask some seven people including two delivery boys and no one had head of the "building on the side of which a huge painting was done" (it was Omar from Ashekman crew who eventually told me).
Well, the graffiti done by Chilean artist INTI is nothing short of breathtaking in terms of size, it is technically accomplished, and esthetically exceptionally solid and detailed. But.... What does it mean? I was speaking to an intercultural psychologist who explained to me that the necklace of dolls is a local Chilean superstition, that the lamb was the symbol of... And then three minutes down the line the futility of it dawned: If you were going to spend three minutes to explain to a local the artwork which so voluminously towers over the street, then the art is irrelevant socially and contextually.
Interestingly, near this huge work, there is a small sentence on the opposing wall: "est-ce beau la?" which in French means "it is nice over here?" but check again and what do you get? Phonetically, in French it would be "es-bo-la?" (need I elaborate to say "Hezbollah?"). A very tongue-in-cheek which encapsulates the beauty of graffiti - one that defies what can be said all while suggesting it, the can-we/can't-we approach at its utmost smartness. Had whomever written this wrote the name of the party as such, the graffiti would have been defaced immediately, but because the envelope was pushed just far enough to suggest rather than dictate, the result remains an innocent question as to if the graffiti "fits in a certain place of not" - very witty, smart, and it's in yellow (another indication!).
So between INTI's aesthetic masterpiece which is socially irrelevant, and the smaller, smarter, clin d'oeil of "est-ce beau la?" my vote goes clearly to the second.
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