Graffiti on trains, photography and Subterráneos
When contemporary graffiti first emerged in the New York of the 1970s, the game was about making your name travel around the city by painting it on the sides of subway cars, a particularly visible surface. Original graffiti writers did not need to photograph their works: contact with their audience was direct, and painted cars could circulate for months or even years before the graffiti was removed. In the eighties, many European adolescents, myself among them, began to reproduce this practice, but in our cities, painted cars were rarely allowed to go into circulation.
Unlike the original writers, we did not paint trains to make our names visible. In most cases we knew that the trains would only be seen by the workers who cleaned them. We painted the trains mostly because of tradition, to reproduce a phenomenon that fascinated us. Thus, to prove our accomplishments, we needed to document the pieces after completing them. For European graffiti writers, photography was, from the very beginning, the main medium.