Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ljubljana's Street Art

Walking down a random city street in Ljubljana I saw this impressive bit of graffiti and I wanted to photograph it, but I didn’t have my camera with me at the time. I determined to go back and photograph it the next day. The mural was on the wall of a building that was inside a brick courtyard, with one doorway open to the street outside.

It was one of those ambiguous spaces, with no clear indication of whether you were welcome to enter the courtyard or not. I walked through the doorway and snapped this photograph.

A thin man with long hair and a scraggly beard walked up to me and stood next to me while I took another photograph, looking at me searchingly. He began to speak to me in Slovenian. His tone was even, no stress in his voice, and his gaze was relaxed and steady.

I made my ‘Sorry’ face.

“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Slovenian. I only speak English,” I shrugged apologetically.

“Where are you from?” he said in English with little accent. “CIA? FBI?”

I was surprised by the sudden interrogation. His interest seemed genuine enough but perhaps his question was rhetorical.

“No,” I laughed. “I’m just taking photos of the artwork.”

He seemed irritated now. “This is a serious question. People will ask you this question, if you are here in Ljubljana, taking photos of buildings, and you are speaking only English.”

“I believe you,” I said, but I said it to his back. He was already walking away.

“I’m not crazy, you know!” he said over his shoulder. A departure comment. The last word on the matter.

I went back to my photographs, feeling like a CIA agent now. Documenting the walls for my report to the higher authorities.

I’ve always liked street art. It has an ambiguity to it, a hint of the macabre, a touch of hostility associated with its beauty. Like an intricate tattoo on a dangerous gangster, or a bunch of fresh roses observed in a dustbin.

Love it or hate it, Ljubljana has lots of it. Take a look if you’d like to. I’ve uploaded some images to Flickriver.

No one else asked me if I was CIA or FBI that day.

1 comment:

  1. I had a look at the gallery mate, some really nice pieces there. Actually, I got to watch some guy put up a piece at a party the other week. Aside from suffering a case of paint inhalation, it was quite interesting to watch.