Of Graffiti and Time in Cartagena, Murcia

Empty lots in the streets of Cartagena, a coastal city in Murcia, Spain. Uses of security fences by IPUR and COKO: the colors they have chosen to write their street names echo those of the construction site:

phoyo by @redesycalles of graffiti in Cartagena, Murcia

White letters with red borders: IPUR’s overflow the panel into the wall.  COKO’s seem more contained, though the arrows endow the throw movement on both ends.  On their way to somewhere, the writers read and use the city as surface and invitation: claim the walls, the doors, the shutters, the fences:  tags, throws, stencils, drawings and scratches turned explorations of different ways of relating to the materiality of the city and of spending time.

Walking in Cartagena under neoliberal times:  walls, fences, empty lots, abandoned houses in decay.  “Within urban spatial political economy,” observes Andrea Mubi Brighenti, “governmentality (Foucault 1978/1991) is really what walls are about” (322).  From that perspective,  walls “are planned and built as part of a strategy aimed at controlling people and their activities by means of a control of space [… ] walls are useful separators”:  they determine the (im)possibilities of encounters  (322).  They (re)direct movement, dictate the investment of time, organize steps, routes, flows towards the entrepreneurships of the self.  As tactical uses of walls and other separating artifacts, graffiti and street art can activate them as opportunities for other ways of inhabiting  time: time not directed to the discovery of untapped markets or to the eternal development of our “human capital.”  Rather:  time used as spaces for writing with aerosol and markers in public space:  writing that invites passersby to consider at least two questions:  what is at stake in creating street names that shed the legal name and its histories of inherited expectations and plannned possibilities? What is at stake in giving away, as gifts, interruptions of routines–writings,  drawings, scratches–occasions, that is, for suspending the expected?

Cartagena, Murcia | 10 April 2017

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