Cue the sound of a needle being taken off a record: Putuo district planning officials just announced yesterday that the graffiti wall running along Suzhou creek on Moganshan Lu (莫干山路) next to the M50 Creative Garden will see the wrecking ball before year’s end, as the area will be redeveloped for commercial purposes.
The Putuo planning party-poopers reportedly hold the opinion of officials the world over, considering graffiti to be a nuisance that harms their efforts at urban prettification. Calls have come from graffiti artists and street art supporters for a new space to be set up elsewhere in Shanghai.
We had been noticing something a-brewing when the large non-descript industrial building that sits opposite the graffiti wall in question on Moganshan Lu next to Changhua Lu (where the Converse Block Party took place in May) recently turned into a construction site with bamboo scaffolding and green netting. The walls on that particular building (which also served as a graffiti space) have already been boarded up for at least several weeks, meaning that a decent half of the total graffiti present in the area is already hidden from street view.
Shanghai Daily reports that though assorted tourists and hipster aesthetes will be sad to see the wall go, the graffiti artists themselves are taking the news in their stride, with some having already started tagging the construction site:
To most local graffiti artists, tearing down walls or painting over them with plain-colored paint just seems to be the nature of the game. Before the wall on Moganshan Road, there was a longer one full of graffiti along Shuangyang Road N. in Yangpu District. But it was eventually painted white by urban management officials.
“Graffiti, being a forcible art form that illegally utilizes the ‘skin’ of the city as its medium of expression, is surely born to be controversial,” said another local artist known as Rois. “Despite some neatly designed and crafted graffiti pieces here and there, it’s more common to see unskilled doodles and purely destructive ‘bombing’ and ‘tagging’ that pollute the visual appearance of the city.”
We know what some of you are thinking. Like, OMLG! You’re telling me these officials haven’t developed an appreciation for street art after attending group viewings of Exit Through The Gift Shop? They honestly don’t have any limited edition autographed Shepard Fairey prints hanging in their office, nor plans to obtain one in the near future?
If these people were in their right mind, they’d be cognizant of the cultural capital and cool points they’d amass for taking the laissez-faire approach to letting people spray paint their property. Keeping the Lonely Planet guidebook contingent happy by leaving the wall alone ensures that the potential future gentrification revenue stream is kept, duh!
Then again, much of the original appeal of graffiti (as with skateboarding) lies in its association with rebellion amidst backdrops of abandoned buildings and crumbling infrastructure. And if it were all so easy, then it might be said that a certain illicit cachet associated with graffiti might be lost.
Either way, we’ve brought you a selection of some of the art from Moganshan Lu, which you should be sure to check out yourself before it goes the way of the Dodo.