Whether I’m walking the streets of downtown Los Angeles, or taking the metro through Istanbul, Turkey, in nearly every urban city, among alleyways, on dumpsters, or public street signs, I find graffiti art to be a part of every urban city. Sometimes it is blatant, canvassed upon city bridges, in vibrant colors for everyone traveling by highway to see; or it may be subtle inscriptions engraved into the paint of a bathroom stall. Regardless of which form they choose, street artists find ways to relay their messages to the public. Trivial or profound, street artists enable themselves to capture the attention of the passersby. Given that multi- billion dollar corporations have every legal right to plague the public domain and cloud our visual periphery with advertisements in each and every which way we look, I exalt the social deviants who reclaim the same public arenas with mere creativity and 3 dollar spray cans.
Throughout my travels within Turkey, I observed a variety of forms of graffiti art. I have been to many different countries around the world but had never seen graffiti art used the way it is in Turkey. The above photo is of a man spray painting a wall on New Years Eve, just near the Galata Tower in Istanbul. The form of Turkish graffiti that I found most unique is that of those who utilize the art form for political and intellectual expressions.
The following three photos below were taken in Ankara, Turkey just near the Tunus bus stop. The first text translates roughly to “death to fascism the only way is revolution” (ending with the name Umut).
This second piece refers to Turkey’s standing political party, the AKP, translating to “AKP is going to leave, hope is on the streets (also ending with the name Umut).“
This highly political graffiti translates roughly, “Exploitation – War – Destruction… It’s either socialism or barbarism.”
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with or condones the content of these messages, it is undeniable that Turkish street artists are utilizing graffiti to express their intellectual, political views; something I personally had never witnessed in any other country.
On October 5, 2014, while traveling through Istanbul, I was fortunate enough to visit the Pera Museum’s exhibit titled “Language of the Wall.” Turkish graffiti artist, No More Lies, painted the above. The Hurriyet Daily News labelled the exhibit “political art.”
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