加油！Graffiti extolling the virtues of both being awesome and reggae music. I didn't know there were Rastafarians (or Rastafarian wannabes) in Taipei.
If you ride the Taipei MRT with any frequency, you're certain to come across backlit billboards on station platforms or mezzanines that have a big "slash" sign through some ugly amateur graffiti and the phrase "Graffiti is bad for the city's image".
I suppose for the ugly kid-with-one-spray-can-and-no-talent-writing-his-name graffiti, I'd agree, but I have to admit, there is some guerrilla street art (as I like to call graffiti) that is done with an artist's precision and knack for size, form and color.
While I'd be fine with doing away with the scrawled signatures in black or white spray paint, it would be a shame to group these vibrant works with run of the mill tags, and an even bigger shame to whitewash them.
I'd like to see Taipei throw its graying cement and tile arms around the idea of graffiti - we might get some really cool stuff going on, like this building - which was once clearly quite ugly - on Wooster Street in New York:
...and I honestly think that could improve how much of Taipei looks. Sure, we might get some political graffiti as one can find all over Central America:
Bus stop graffiti in Nicaragua urging people to re-elect Sandinista president Daniel Ortega.
...but that might not be the end of the world. It might get the Taiwanese youth more politically engaged, if anything.
I support any kind of artistic talent, whether it's on metal pull-down doors...
I have noticed that while Central America goes for political messages and the USA is concerned partially with art and partially with tagging and gang politics (something I absolutely do not support - I'm about art, not hate), Taipei graffiti tends to be picture-oriented - sometimes with an almost existential feel like the above, or sometimes with a clearly anime/modern Japanese aesthetics bent, as below:
I'm a fan of the anime-influenced guerrilla street art, in particular - it lends Taipei graffiti its own ineffable quality (I don't think I've ever seen graffiti in Japan, so generally you'd see it here, not there) and brings out the more "yes, we are in Asia, we're not just imitating New York" aspects of the art.
And you know, if someone with one spray can and no talent wants to write something worth reading ("Ming-de wuz here" need not apply) that makes you smile, not cringe, well, I'm all for that, too.
Another thing I'd like to see? More graffiti in Chinese (or Taiwanese) - you see a lot of scrawlings in English, but rarely do you come across big, colorful Chinese characters saying something interesting. Heck, even if they don't say anything interesting, I do think that graffiti'd Chinese would be cool - think about it, a language associated with delicate calligraphy and Confucius bending over a book millenia ago, all associated with erudition and rarefied precision, now used as modern and often illegal street art in a different and fascinating sort of contemporary public calligraphy. The youth of Taiwan, taking over this whole "ancient inheritance of Chinese characters" and using them for their own artistic purposes. I've never thought of Chinese characters as something indie or individualistic, but they could be in this context.
That would blow my mind. That would kill. At the risk of sounding too "naughts", that would pwn. Or own. Or whatever the young'ins are saying these days.
Finally, I'm not sure this counts as "graffiti" per se, but it is a kind of art and it probably was not sanctioned - in my book, it counts, and it's super cool.
Bonus points if you can identify where in Taipei I took this picture:
So as far as I see it, long live Taipei Graffiti! Bring on the bug-eyed anime creatures.