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Elizabeth Hoak Doering

Abstract

This paper is rooted in the observation that there is radically less graffiti of any kind in the north (Lefkosha) than there is in the south (Lefkosia). It presents an overview of kind, presence and absence of anonymous public writing – graffiti – in Lefkosia/Lefkosha, and then poses possible reasons for this discrepancy. What social and political identity differences does this discrepancy indicate? Why are murals not part of the visual public discourse in Lefkosia/Lefkosha, as they are in other divided societies? What is the graffiti writer’s role, in the absence of murals? What political meanings are articulated in the interactions of graffiti writers in specific areas of Lefkosia/Lefkosha, and how does whitewashing fit into a much larger civic discourse that includes individuals, groups and authority? In particular this paper aims to parse the group-oriented visual discourse from the discourse related to individuals, and at the same time looks at gender equality in these expressions. Why, and in what ways do women seem to be less visible in terms of public political expression? How can reconciliation programmes clarify the audiences they target when designing cultural projects? Under what circumstances would a public mural arts programme be appropriate in Lefkosia/Lefkosha, and why is there none in place now? The methodology for collecting data is peripatetic and qualitative, because the emergent nature of graffiti and its erasure calls for a visual-ethnographic and documentary approach to sources and data. The instances of graffiti that shape the content of this paper have been selected from specific parallel areas located in Lefkosia/Lefkosha, although they sit within an expanding and temporal textual framework of graffiti documented in paint and in incision on Cyprus. 

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Keywords

graffiti, murals, gender, street art, identity, hooligans, Cyprus, Lefkosia, Lefkosha, anarchists

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Articles