Graffiti, Art or Crime?
As a good Singaporean, I am brought up to revile graffiti in all its myriad heinous forms. Defacing public property? Vandalism of street furniture? Oh, the shock and the horror. Afterall, we are the nation that put American teenager Michael Fay in the slammer and subjected him to some good old fashioned ‘corporal punishment’ when he decided to practice his redecorating skills on some cars whilst studying in Singapore, and also, more recently, Swiss national Oliver Fricker faced the same fate after tagging a couple of local public metro trains.
It is hard, however, to see the flamboyant paintings and psychedelic designs covering entire buildings in Buco do Batman, or Batman Alley in São Paulo as the work of criminal masterminds. Elephant gods in baseball caps and a chain smoking Batman with a potbelly and Havaianas do not exactly instill fear in the heart of the general populace. A constantly unfolding canvas, the graffiti that exists in Rua Gonçalo Afonso in the bohemian Vila Madelena district is the work of many local street artists and some international ones, some known and some unknown.
Its hard to fault such a democratisation of art in this open air art gallery, whose exhibits are constantly evolving to include dominant themes in contemporary street culture, entirely self funded, curated and not-for-profit – surely a vibrant creative expression of a fast emerging São Paulo.
The walls on either side of Batman Alley are covered from top to bottom with graffiti
Not quite what you would consider ‘defacing’ the wall
I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.