Polandian Theme Month is a cunning invention that does away with the need for me to think up a new idea every week. This month’s theme is My Polish Street, which has the double advantage of providing a framework for a series of devastatingly incisive posts on modern urban Poland as well as eliminating the need for me to walk very far to take pictures. Today: Polish Graffiti.
I not exactly a fan of graffiti, but I do think there’s something weird and a bit dead about places that don’t have any. Fortunately my street has more than enough to make me feel comfortable. Looking at it closely I was pleased to discover several different types, thereby reassuring myself that the whole thing wasn’t a completely daft idea for a post.
Here are six exemplars:
1. The tag
I’ve never understood the idea of prominently and repeatedly writing your name in public places in a form that nobody can read or understand, but then I’m far too old to need to. Tagging is an idea that’s caught on here as firmly as everywhere else in the world. It’s an amazing thing culture.
2. Sarcastic graffiti
This one has a distinctly Polish feel to it. Last year on the 3rd of May some public-spirited fellow went up and down my street and wrote this on the wall of every building that wasn’t flying a Polish flag in celebration of Constitution Day. It simply reads: 3rd of May, no Polish flag.
3. Discursive graffiti
I found this, rather long, comment concerning a national football team scrawled on the door of a nunnery next to my building. I particularly like the way some more taciturn commentator has come along later and simply crossed it out.
4. Arty graffiti
Hundreds of these empty speech bubbles appeared all over Krakow’s streets last year. It might be that you’re supposed to add your own devastating comment on modern society in the space provided, or the empty speech bubble might itself be a comment on the futility of writing on walls. Either way it reeks of art students.
5. Folk art graffiti
This rather charming mural takes up much of one wall of a building at the end of the street. The text at the bottom right reads: For Anna on the occasion of her 18th. Since there’s a high school just around the corner I’m guessing this was created as a romantic gesture from one student to another. Hope it helped.
6. National favorite
This is the one piece of graffiti you will see everywhere in Poland, though nobody has been able to explain to me why it’s so popular. HWDP is an acronym for a phrase that makes an anatomically explicit suggestion to the police. I won’t translate it because it’s rather rude.