Graffiti Taggers Use “Heavy Artillery” To Reach New Heights In Super-Tidy Zurich
Zurich’s “2047 Crew” is believed to be using paint-filled fire extinguishers to reach higher and wider with their signature tags in the otherwise immaculate Swiss city. It is another sign of graffiti writers getting bolder – both in terms of tools and tar
ZURICH – People in Zurich are accustomed to seeing graffiti. Yet few were prepared for what recently appeared on the walls of the Elektro-Material (EM) company on Heinrichstrasse, in the Swiss city's fifth district. Filling the whole brick façade, more than 10 meters (nearly 33 feet) high, is a jumble of color in which the numbers "2047" painted in yellow, black and white are discernible. This is the signature, or tag, of a graffiti crew known citywide.
Tagging experts say this is the city's biggest graffito to date. "Regardless of whether you see it as vandalism or art, this is an unusual object," says Zurich Street Art expert Gabriela Domeisen. Almost daily, the photographer is out with her camera documenting the city's graffiti. Philipp Meier, media head for Cabaret Voltaire, also known as the "Dada Haus," expresses surprise at the sheer size of the tag: "Very special," he says.
The mega-tag is getting attention on influential Internet sites. "For fans, this is brilliant," says Domeisen. What's also unusual about the tag is the way the sprayers went about it. They must have sprayed the color onto the brick façade during the night, accessing the spot via a nearby railway viaduct, and using "a fire extinguisher," both Domeisen and Meier agree.
Compared to spray cans, fire extinguishers allow taggers to spray paint from greater distances – "up to 10 meters away," says Meier. Instructions for turning an extinguisher into a "bomb" or a sprayer are available on the Internet. Spokesman Michael Wirz of the Zurich city police said this method of spraying was already known to them.
Observers also note that the Heinrichstrasse sprayers took considerable risk: they presumably climbed up onto the railroad tracks by the Swissmill food company warehouse and wandered along the tracks until they reached the EM building.
Respect and surprise
Meier says he has noticed that taggers have started using more sophisticated equipment. Some used telescopic rods to which they attach rollers so they can paint far further up in places that would normally not be accessible. "There's competition: to get respect, sprayers try and find more and more surprising places for their work," he says.
New buildings are favorites. In May 2010, a sprayer managed to paint the wind screen atop the 36-story Prime Tower. Meier sees the tags as signs of life of a subculture that – in an ever tidier and cleaner city – behaves "like weeds in the asphalt desert."
According to its general manager, Kurt Stübli, Elektro-Material has filed a criminal complaint against person or persons unknown. He estimates material damage at 30,000 Swiss francs ($32,200). He says he sees no art in the "mess of colors," which to him speak more of a lack of respect for the property of others. "But what can you do?"
This is not the first time the EM building has been tagged. For that reason the facade had been painted with anti-graffiti coating, albeit only the lower part of it. Stübli can also tap into a certain amount of humor with regard to the situation: "We have bets running over what's coming up next."
The "2047" crew has also been active these past few days at the ERZ garbage incineration facility on Josefstrasse. The ERZ also intends to file a complaint, spokeswoman Leta Filli said. They plan to remove the tags this week "so that on top of it the sprayers aren't rewarded" for the action.
Zurich police have known about the "2047" taggers for a long time. Spokesman Wirz says they've noticed a recent upswing in activity. City police have a special department that documents graffiti, and receive around 2,000 complaints per year. To date, no member of "2047" has ever been arrested.
Read the original story in German
Photo - Daquella manera