Urban Art.

Oslo has a serious graffiti problem. It’s more or less everywhere you walk and it’s ugly as hell. I wouldn’t call myself a globetrotter, but I’ve been around the block and from what I can remember I have never seen as much graffiti anywhere in the world as I see in Oslo. The same goes for drug addicts and drunks, but that’s another story. It’s so bad a brilliant Norwegian musician wrote a song about it, here accompanied by a video that sort of proves my point:

If you are a running around doing this you need to get your act together. I’d love to see you arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to community service; your first job being to remove whatever piece of crap (pun intended) you were caught making. You might say that I’m overreacting. I say you should read up on the broken windows theory and shut the fuck up. The kind of graffiti Oslo is drowning in makes no sense at all. Today I even saw a wall where someone had written #antisec, which made me want to reach out for the first nerdy looking “hacker” activist I saw and punch him in the face. That’s the broken windows theory in practice.

But every now and then a piece of art surfaces that doesn’t just look like a random act of vandalism. It blends into the urban environment where it’s been created while at the same time livening up what is normally a gray and boring area. Some time over the last couple of weeks, two artists have created some excellent pieces down by the walkway opposite the bus terminal in Schweigaards gate. They’ve even covered some of the crap that was already on the walls. Here are a few quick captures I did while walking by today.

Yeah, I know I’m being quite the hypocrite here; smashing common graffiti while at the same time praising the works of art pictured above. But I’m going to go ahead and let this one slide and just be a hypocrite. Digging around on the interwebs a little, I discovered that artists are Alice Pasquini and C215. It looks like they tend to roam around a lot. Check out Street Art London for pictures of work they’ve done in London. Also, have a look at C215’s Flickr photo stream for more pieces he’s done in Oslo this summer.

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  1. I’m not sure if we can blame politicians for ugly graffiti and drug abuse. After all, they don’t go around handing out spray cans and drugs. There might be things driving people to become drug addicts and taggers, but at the end of the day, they all have free will. How the politicians handle the problem, however, has a lot to be desired, I agree with you there. That said, we live in a democratic country, which means that we’re the ones who elect the politicians. So maybe most of us don’t give a crap?

    I like your broken windows montage, by the way. Where’s the picture taken?

  2. Well they got graffiti elsewhere too, and as you suggest, it’s not as ugly as in Oslo.

    Zero tolerance makes it hard to practice and get better. Legal walls wouldn’t result in less graffiti, but definitely better one. Also, people tend to know little about graffiti and with zero tolerance there isn’t any room for pedagogy. In Asia people really appreciate letters (calligraphy), over here people only appreciate pictures..

    Pictures are taken below Olaf Rye’s plass, on the corner where there used to be a shop called HallĂ©n.

  3. I’m all for legal walls; there’s a skate park not far from where I live with quite a few legal walls. Still, I think a zero tolerance policy is necessary when it comes to people vandalizing brand new subway trains, newly renovated apartment buildings, etc. The majority of these guys are only leaving their signatures, for whatever reason, and that can hardly be considered constructive in any way, not even as practice.