Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anarchy in Italy

Link most large cities, there is a lot of graffiti in Rome. A surprising amount of it seems to have political messages. The picture above is of an anarchy symbol spray-painted on building along the Via dei Cavour. Just down the street, entering the intersection of the V. Cavour and the Via del Colosseo, there was another anarchy sign painted on a street sign at the end of a small parking area. The amount of graffiti on the sign made it difficult to make out its original meaning. Here, the "A" was faded, but it looked to be faded by weather, not by any attempts at removal.

We visited the Forum for the first time today and learned that Rome has a long history of struggle over politics in public places. The giant monuments around Rome are physical manifestations of the use of place to generate political commentary. Just as one engages in political speech through verbal communication, the monuments that inhabit Rome engage in political speech through the creation of places with specified political histories. Grafitti has the power to manipulate those place, adding meaning, changing meaning, and even rejecting or ridiculing meaning.

Entering the Piazza Venezia from behind, Hillary, Jessica, Mia, and I walked along the side of the giant Victor Emanuel Monument (more on that to come). I noticed that graffiti had been removed from the side of the megalithic fascist memorial to Italy's first king. It appears that there are places where graffiti is more an less acceptable in Rome (again, more to come). Thus, the battle for the control of the politics of space continues.

Finally, to highlight the importance of location in tagging Rome, I photographed this vulgar statement in opposition to fascism. Jessica pointed it out as passed it on the Via dei Cavour. It likens fascism to defecation, a declaration of judgment clear in any language. It had not been removed despite having a slightly worn appearance that seems to suggest that it was not too recently written.

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