What Graffiti Says About Us

On a recent trip to Argentina I couldn’t help but notice the graffiti covering the beautiful old walls of downtown Buenos Aires.  Here were gorgeous old structures plastered in a myriad of paint colors, curse words and political slogans.

When I took a closer look at the content of this graffiti I was shocked to see that it is actually pretty different than the graffiti back home.  It got me to thinking: What does our graffiti say about us? I went back and took a look at some pictures I had from other countries I visited and found the following observations, which are quite demonstrative of the country itself.

Argentina Graffiti

Graffiti in Argentina was a mix of political and cultural slogans and statements.  There was also a large amount of nationalistic statements, such as “Viva Argentina.”  This is very demonstrative of the Argentian people.  Argentinians are known for being proud, and extremely politically and socially conscious.

United States Graffiti

Most graffiti in the United States on the other hand is extremely individualistic.  Most graffiti is gang member names, individual names or extremely personal causes, such as “Go Vikings” near a large state school. This speaks to the individualistic culture of Americans. Many Americans are sadly, very uninformed about politics and have very little interest in larger cultural concerns.

Chilean Graffiti

Chilean graffiti was much more artistic in nature.  Often times it was hard to distinguish between artistic murals and graffiti.  Even walls, dilapidated cars and window frames were decorated in a type of graffiti. I also saw many poems, songs and ideological statements. Chileans tend to be much less individualistic than their American counterparts and less proud than their Argentinian ones.

China Graffiti

Graffiti in China is much less common, and it is also hard to distinguish between state mandated graffiti and graffiti done by individuals.  Graffiti in China is masked in state jargon such as, “Let the Party Guide You Through Suffering With Light to Hope.”  Their graffiti speaks to the great importance the state plays in all aspects of life…both good and bad.

Berlin Graffiti

Berlin graffiti is actually, often a historical relic.  Old buildings in the East part of the city still remain standing and often contain old-time graffiti and bullet holes from before the Cold War! Graffiti is extremely political and nationalistic. This is a great representation of Berliners as a combination between preserving the old and bringing in the new.

I challenge you to take a look at the graffiti that surrounds your city.  What does it say about you?

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