There is Castle Hill in Austin, perhaps called so because on the hill there is a castle-like mansion. The place is popular with Austinites because the ruins of the building (whatever stood there before), have been adorned with graffiti. A lot of it was masterful, and Austinites loved this place.
Austin explodes at enormous speed, lately somewhat slowing down but far from reaching the point of stability. More than one hundred people move to Austin each day. The city is growing, and it will continue to grow. Spots that Austinites liked before drawn, submerged by new high-rise buildings and condominiums. Such is the fate of the Graffiti Park at Castle Hill: it is moving out of the prominent space, close to the center of the city, to what now is the outskirts, at the Airport.
But what does it mean to move a graffiti wall? Clearly there is no way to move the graffiti as such; only to designate a space where new graffiti could be painted. There are murals in Austin being destroyed regularly; painted, repainted, covered by another layer of unpretentious tags and posters, and then disappearing altogether. Some drawings reemerge and acquire a new life, commodified as brands, other are lost forever.
The Graffiti Park was a space of duality, a space functioning in a dual capacity: the majority of it was done by professional artists, and then on some margins of the space amateurs tried their hand. Recently, however, since the Graffiti Park is not going to survive here long, given that it occupies a luxurious spot, Austinites seized the day. They themselves destroy the graffiti. Everyone now in these last days can paint something above the layers of the palimpsest. "I should have written Seva was there," Seva remarked as he spotted someone else's phrase to this effect. Someone was there. What is in the name that you want to leave it somewhere, to shine, to certify your presence--transient, here, and slightly more permanent, in the world?
We were not planning to draw anything, but wanted to take a look on the place before it is demolished -- or renovated, whichever way you want to look at it. But a serendipitous encounter happened: passers-by gave us two bottles of spray paint--they already had their fun and we could keep them if we wanted. We did not refuse.
I selected a spot on the wall that was already covered with indiscernible things. I decided to draw a little monster.
The spray was gone before I could finish my work, doomed to impermanence. It was difficult to press the spray, I found, even for a relatively short period of time. It required a physical effort. Most of all, it required a certain plan. I like improvisation in painting, but the graphics is a perfect medium for improvisation, provided the artist already has some skills. Nonetheless, the best graffiti paintings are done after careful consideration and assiduous drawing of series of sketches. There is a very nice plasticity to the spray painting, a coordination between form and movement.
Plants were also sprayed
On the top of the hill, a lot of empty spray cans were scattered, and the video cameras were covered with paint
I was fascinated by the spontaneous color compositions of the detritus
As you go away from Castle Hill, you encounter standard urban objects, painted, but as you progress away, they become more sparse, until another whirlpool in the streets of the city where once again there will be a burst of graffiti--but no place is as prominent as the Graffiti Park. The Austinites will no doubt sorely miss the park in the place where it is now. As I walked away, I spotted that my little monster already had a mark of letters across its face. I knew about the ephemerality of the critter; still, for a second, the intrusion reverberated through me as a pang.
The photographs are taken on her phone by the author, Vasilina Orlova