Earlier this month, the Atlanta Police Department issued warrants for the arrest of local graffiti artists and taggers. The discussion on the message board from this Creative Loafing article articulates the divergent opinions Atlantans have regarding graffiti. While some applaud the practice of tagging and support the artists in their creative endeavors, others support the APD’s actions to rid the city of poor graffiti. The main point of contention appears to be how “awful” some of the tags are, or how the taggers disrespect other street art, like “Vomet’s” defacing of a Living Walls project. Living in a larger city, people seem to understand that graffiti will always exist, no matter how tough the APD becomes. The walls of the city become canvases for graffiti artists and taggers, and unless we install some crazy anti-graffiti system like the one in Demolition Man, we will have to adjust to living with graffiti and tags.
One byproduct of graffiti art and tags has been the aggressive approach to buffing the walls of Atlanta. Whether by local business owners or by the city’s Anti-Graffiti Task Force, these whitewashed walls leave their own mark upon the city. Most often, instead of painting over the entire wall, only the portions where deviant paint has infected the surface is covered, leaving behind blocks of dismal color that call attention to the absence and removal of something that was once underneath. These patterns leave scars upon the walls, which in turn are often tagged again. This cyclical relationship between buffers and graffiti artists plays out on the surfaces of Atlanta and begins to define the landscape of the city. These six photographs are a short look at the after effects of buffing and the traces of graffiti left behind.
Dodge & Burn is a series of photo essays documenting local culture with a focus on artful imagery, movement, and light. Check BURNAWAY’s homepage for new photography every Thursday, and watch our Flickr account for regular updates!