Graffiti has a rather short lifespan in the streets of Moscow. The subcultures behind it are still up and running, but so are the folks assigned for the cleaning. This cleaning however is what truly stands out. While the graffiti itself does not differ greatly from other places around the world, the cleaning does. Very often, the graffiti gets painted over rather crudely leaving the place looking even more devastated than before.
The strategy behind it is not to restore cleanliness. In fact, very often the patches of paint are even more eye-catching than the tags they cover. The repainting very often disregards the substance of the building. This however results in a completely new look of the buildings: ‘The 3rd stage’.
1st stage: Initial situation before the graffiti.
2nd stage: Situation after the graffiti got painted on.
3rd stage: The new patchwork scenario.
In most other places those responsible for the cleaning would aim to regain the 1st stage or at least come close to it. In some places certainly the 2nd stage would survive. In Moscow however the 3rd stage – a completely new sight – is the most likely outcome. It is characteristic for the cityscape.
Those paintworks can be quite entertaining. There is even a narrative quality to them. For this gallery I selected a variety of examples and rated the paintings for how well they were done, but mostly for their entertainment qualities.
It is also a caption of how things are done in Russia, where often a generous layer of paint seems to be considered a universal remedy. Accordingly, the brushes used always seem to be a bit too large. But after all this is a huge country to paint.
Berlin & Tallinn
Architect, Writer, Explorer, Metrokit Pioneer;
Has lived in: Braunschweig, Bremen, Liverpool, Vancouver, London, Moscow and now Tallinn.