Graffiti is not a phenomenon that came up with the emergence of hip hop culture. It is definitely not a Western or a modern appearance, in fact it is a global practice that can be traced back to ancient times. If you think about it, cave paintings can be considered graffiti as well, so its history dates back to no less than 30,000 BC. Both in antique Roman, as well as in Greek culture it was not uncommon to expose one's feelings to the public by carving a love declaration into a wall.
Back then, just like now, graffiti also constituted a way of marking territory, so its omnipresence in the contested landscapes of the Holy Land is not surprising.
|Crusader Graffiti in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Victor Grigas|
|Settler graffiti in Hebron, reading "revenge", Keren Manor/ActiveStills|
On a Nablus tour you can find names of people, who have died fighting the occupation and who are being memorised through their inscriptions on the buildings and walls close to where they were killed. Also, up until today, political movements would publish their messages on walls in an attempt to stir the masses, a notion that was particularly powerful during the First Intifada.
The most perfect canvas for graffiti, however, is unquestionably the Separation Barrier, which by now is covered in tags, images and stencils. A company, based in the Netherlands and collaborating with local Palestinians even saw a business potential in it and offered people to send them their messages, whether love declarations or messages of solidarity with the Palestinian people, via sms, which would then be spray painted on the Wall.
The most famous acts of graffiti are obviously the nine pieces that renowned
|Banksy graffiti at the Wall next to Qalandiya Checkpoint|
Old man: You paint the wall, you make it look beautiful.
Old man: We don't want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall, go home.
All of this only attests to the notion that in order to understand the different layers that constitute the Middle East conflict, one has to pay good attention to a diversity of voices, some which find their audiences only through less conventional channels.
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