The Ephemerality of Roman Street Art: Enjoy it While it Lasts

Whoa fancy
Whoa fancy

Wandering around Rome most visitors are struck by the amount of graffiti on the buildings, the metro cars, the ruins, anything that sits still long enough to tag. Among all the tags are glorious examples of street art, which I always love discovering and hunting for, especially the little subtle, clever ones. So of course, during my brief return to Rome I was on the look out for new examples, scenes I haven’t seen before. Like these:

Girl Street Art Rome
So fancy
Raphael Angel Street Art
Ha. All Raphaels should have scuba masks
Train tracks and mural Rome
The contrast between the bright mural and the industrial scene is GREAT

But this post is less about celebrating the new and the newly noticed, and more about noting how these artistic interventions need to be appreciated while they’re there. Because let’s call a spade a spade, no matter how celebrated the artist, depending on the circumstances of creation, “street art” can still be considered vandalism by the owners or managers of the property that is marked. One of my favorite Roman street artists is Alice Pasquini (she’s my hero, read about her here), and I always love when I’m coming up a street or around a corner and know one of her paintings will be there. So, that’s why I was really disappointed (while on my way to MACRO Testaccio to see Big Bambú again) to find that this painting:

Alice and jbrock making ugly things beautiful
Alice and jbrock making ugly things beautiful

was gone. Both the Alice and the jbrock had been painted over and this electrical box was just a blank gray again. Which obviously is so much better. So let’s mourn the loss of these two paintings, celebrate what they were, and appreciate the ephemerality of street art.


21 thoughts on “The Ephemerality of Roman Street Art: Enjoy it While it Lasts

  1. I enjoyed seeing street art, both in Rome and here in Melbourne but the last time I was in Rome, I noticed gorgeous facades and ancient doors covered with black tags and boring, crazed graffiti which made me quite sad.

    1. I have conflicted feelings towards the graffiti. The street art I love, but where’s the line between the two? I travelled in Slovakia in the late 90s and it hadn’t been that long since they gained independence and there was TONS and TONS of graffiti there. The local guide explained that the Slovaks celebrated the graffiti because it was a means of public expression that wasn’t possible to them before. And think about the graffiti, most of which is rather crude, in Pompeii that historians and tourists really love now. In 1000 years those tags might be important parts of the historical record! But it’s tricky for sure. Regardless, thanks for reading!

  2. Next time we visit Rome we plan to stay in accommodation not so far off the beaten track. In Florence we were smack bang in the city center which was awesome for exploring. In Rome it was a bit of a nightmare relying on trains (hah) that may or may not take us ALL the way home. Twice our train stopped for no reason and we had to get off at some tiny station and then wait for a bus or another train (over an hour wait)
    Plus they didn’t run very late at all.
    But it was my favourite city 🙂

      1. Haha I Love Airbnb but we learned our lesson. Research the area before booking. The advert said the apartment was just outside Rome. Err no. It was like 45 mins away. Oh well it was peaceful and beautiful and we did explore a larger area than planned, which was great!

  3. I was searching some kind of “Contact me” Form (or something) for like half an hour 😀 I’ll just leave this little heart here: ❤ Thats for posting Streetart and Travelstories. I love that. The fact that you lived in bella Roma is an even bigger plus 😉 So long Brenna, take care. Bye!

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