Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Writing on the Wall

Each spoke of the wheel says "love."

This is a life-sized photograph, outdoors and behind plexiglass, of a graffito that was scrawled on a wall in what is now called Rabin Square in 1995, after the political murder of Itzhak Rabin. The legend reads "Sorry." But that doesn't quite capture the depth of meaning of the Hebrew word, which here connotes despair and begging for forgiveness. It gave me goosebumps.


From the sublime straight to the absurd:

"Where are the fish??"

"In a giraffe's world, there are no shoes.
We have brothers out past the stars."

Lots more Tel Aviv graffiti after the jump:

I mentioned that the "Nudnik" graffito in my earlier post was a response to a common visual graffiti trope. Here's an example of the "ur-text," as it were:

This is a reference to a hassidic story about rabbinic succession, in which the disciples of a recently deceased rabbi were said to have inquired, somewhat rhetorically, who the new rabbi would be; they opened a book to a specified page and saw his name being spelled out, miraculously, letter by letter: "Na, Nach, Nachma, Nachman of Uman."


One of the things I thought was really interesting was the amount of graffiti written in Hebrew but transliterated in Latin letters:

"Don't stop."

"The devil has cancer."

Those are a contrast with this one, which almost seems like a cry for attention beyond what a Hebrew-language graffito could garner:

This one, which is also from the benches in Dizengoff Square, is an Occupy-inspired echo of two other graffiti trends, one which hatefully scrawls "death to Arabs," and the second, in response, scrawls "death to zealots":

"Death to the rich."

A little light political philosophy:

"Adorno was right."

"Karl Marx was right."

This symbol was pretty popular, and usually has some kind of tag referring to the "love revolution":

"Love revolution."

This one actually has me a bit puzzled. The stenciled legend reads: "Without love, we don't go down to the shops!" I thought I had understood or read it wrong, and googled the phrase, thinking that I'd get a suggestion for a correction, and the phrase actually popped up all over on people's web pages. So there's obviously some cultural connotation that I'm missing. The hand-written addition reads: "...there would also be no revolution."

And a little more on love:

"Open heart."

"Come, let's march for the dream.
Love conquers all.
Whoever is born wins.
Inner light."



One last one, that addresses a female member of the government coalition. It really caught my attention, though, because the modern Hebrew word that is used as the title for a female minister comes from the biblical Hebrew word for princess, which is also a popular girl's name: mine, in fact — Sarah.

"Madam secretary, madam secretary, don't cry. Bibi is screwing me over, too!"