Throughout this week i am sharing my latest ‘5 Day Experiment’, a structured way to explore a topic within your own Organisation. This one is about ‘Cultural Graffiti’. Feel free to share your results in the comments, on Twitter, or in any other space.
For most of us, the role we have within an Organisation, the status we have in our society, or some specific expertise or unique knowledge, gives us a voice. But this is not true for everyone: people lack a voice either because they do not carry that privilege, because they lack knowledge or skill in a specific channel, or because their voice is taken away from them.
Graffiti exists as a claimed voice: when nobody will give you power, you can claim it for yourself, and it’s found everywhere.
You can find graffiti in every society: i’ve even found it in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, where voices of dissent can tend to be more silent or silenced. You just have to know where the Edge-Land spaces are.
In Singapore, graffiti exists in spaces like Arab Street, which is home to a nascent skateboard community. It tends to take the form of stickers, or larger sanctioned murals. But you can also find it scrawled in pen under bridges, or similarly dark and hidden spaces.
In Bristol, UK, graffiti is largely sanctioned, and there is an annual festival, whilst in spaces like New York, historically, graffiti was forbidden and outlawed in an ongoing public war, where the authorities pledged to paint it out within 24 hours.
Your challenge today is to find a piece of graffiti, hunt it out, and analyse it, according to this structure. Ideally find a real piece of graffiti, but you can hunt it out online if that works more easily for you.
Story – what story does the graffiti tell? By reading it, or looking at it, can you see what the story is. You may feel that some of the following are relevant ways to describe it:
- Story of protest
- Story of opposition
- Story of support
- Story of love
- Story of hate
- Story of hope
- Story of one person
- Story of a community
- Story for change
- Story for stasis, to keep things the same
Voice – what type of voice is used? is this voice permitted, or claimed, anonymous, or owned? Is this voice one of irony, celebration, protest, or joy?
Purpose – what is the purpose of this story? To celebrate, drive change, add comment, vent frustration, to infuriate, or placate?
Context – does the context of the story relate to the story itself? For example, Banksy typically posts graffiti in a context that is relevant to the story itself. A political statement painted on the side of a parliament building is different from the same story drawn in your bedroom.
You can read some of my own Graffiti Stories here. Remember, these are not definitive, but rather are my own interpretations, through my own lens. Yours may be different: