We are thrilled to bring you the second installment of the history of graffiti in Belgrade in the form of an excerpt from Aleksandar Djordjević’s book, “Street Art Belgrade”. The book is brought to you by local publisher, Komshe, and is available online directly from the publisher’s website or from all good bookshops across Serbia.
If you haven’t read the first installment, click here.
As before, this excerpt is brought to you courtesy of Beogradski Grafiti and the book’s author, Aleksandar Djordjević. Find out more at: beogradskigrafiti.com
History of Graffiti in Belgrade – from 1980 to today (part II)
The wall is the perfect place for communication. Today we leave our marks on Twitter, Facebook and other digital walls. However, these digital walls lack one dimension, and that dimension of space imbues the marks with a certain kind of magic.
We continue the story about the development of the Belgrade graffiti scene, taking a look at the 21st century.
2000 – Style and Influences
Magazines and movies, which became increasingly available, gradually clarified the difference between “legal” and “illegal” graffiti. Legal graffiti were often considered of higher artistic value and attracted more attention. HALLEY ZONE, a Belgrade crew that reached a high quality of legal graffiti works with a few distinguished artists, formed the BGILLEGAL crew in 2000 – one of the most serious crews present on the Belgrade graffiti scene. They broke up in 2002, and a part of this crew formed the crew AFO (Anti-fascist youth), also one of the more significant crews that characteristically used socialist and antifascist symbolism in their works. Thanks to the rising popularity of legal graffiti, “legal” walls appeared – the most recognized is the Jugopetrol wall close to Ada (Bulevar vojvode Mišića). This wall became Belgrade’s “Hall of Fame”, used by excellent artists and only works of the highest quality survived there. At the same time the illegal graffiti scene was also expanding. Trolley busses were considered by some as a substitute for the subway that was never built in Belgrade – while painting on trams was very difficult. They were much better protected than other public transport vehicles. In 2003, Belgrade’s summer festival (BELEF) began supporting Graffiti Jams. This is a form of tradition continued from the 1980s when, during the festival “Belgrade Summer” (BELEF’s predecessor), many murals were created in Belgrade. Among the most successful festivals were the ones in 2008 and 2009 when artists such as REMED, Mark Jenkins, Black Le Rat, BLU and M City left their marks in Belgrade.
(PHOTOS OF BLACK LE RAT, BLU and wall from BELEF festival) files named:
RAT, BLU, BELEF
2010 – Maturity
Today, thanks to the internet, culture can be considered as (almost) global. New art, products and technology are accessible in (almost) all places and available to (almost) all people – reactions are practically instant and the language is universally understandable. One graffiti in Belgrade, the portrait of the actor Robin Williams painted in Karađorđeva Street only a few hours after his suicide travelled around the world with incredible speed, mostly through social media but also through reputable news agencies. (PHOTO) File named ROBIN
Another new trend is the commercialization of graffiti. This, on the one hand, threatens the idea of subversive provocation – but on the other hand, it allows the artists to earn from their work. This trend appeared already in the 1980s but has today, due to globalization, become much more prominent. Some artists create to order, while others sell their works to galleries and usually use the payments to support their future work, lifestyle and non-commercial projects. The end justifies the means. However the dominant trend is global connectivity – this is supported by increasingly numerous festivals and exhibitions dedicated to street art.
The graffiti and street art scene in Belgrade is becoming more and more vibrant. This year a new book came out, “Street Art Belgrade” which is the most comprehensive overview of street art in Belgrade, both stylistically and historically. From aphorisms and stencil art to complex graphics solutions, letters and murals. The book also contains quotes by some of the most active street artists. The book provides a comprehensive insight into the unique world of street art in Belgrade and we wish to inspire you to experience the art on the streets of this city.