Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cyprus fieldwork: graffiti artefacts' value

Cyprus fieldwork notes extracts

Evaluating the value of graffiti writings within my work, as archaeological artefacts in and of themselves, as uses of and actions upon archaeological artefacts and as materialisations of individuals' and communities' beliefs, at 6.30am on the 22nd of January 2006, I wrote that,
graffiti may be interesting and occasionally enlightening, but in most cases in Cyprus it shouldn't be seen as much more than an adjunct or an illustration.

First, simple practicalities, like the speed of an anarchist's insistent "A" ["anarchy" or "anarchism"] compared to a commentator's statement (for example, one writer's twice-foiled "ekklisia= [church=]" arguments), make the relative visibility of ideological or other communities unrepresentative; unlike in Kosovo, where there appeared to be a culture of graffiti writing, in Cyprus, its practice seems to be restricted to certain political and social subcultures.

Second, the choice to engage with and in graffiti writing is social, cultural and political and many numerous groups, with and without effective power, do not indulge in it (for instance, by and large, moderates of every community), compounding the unrepresentative nature of the material.

Third, the clandestine nature of the material renders identification of the groups involved challenging, possibly even more difficult than identifying those who engage in the active, physical demolition of archaeological and historical artefacts and sites and hinders contextualisation and understanding (for example, potential mystery surrounding the date, authorial identity and intention of the "15/5/93" inscription).

Nevertheless, it is an active and (frequently) effective engagement that may, without materially obliterating the artefact or site, still violate communities' human right to access it, or irreparably change or practically destroy the artefact or site or its public memory (for instance, David Cerny's pink tank of Prague [see David Cerny's pink display; see also Radio Prague's tank discussion]).
Bothered by some people's terms of address for me, I noted:
"to paidi [the kid]", I like and appreciate; "the baby", I do not.

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