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Moscow at sunset
Moscow at sunset
Anna Vasileva

MOSCOW — The city of Moscow is covered with graffiti, and proudly so. Members of the “Best City On Earth” project have said they will paint street art on 150 buildings by September. Meanwhile, there is graffiti at the Faces & Laces urban culture festival in Gorky Park, as well as an exhibition of a master street artist. Saint Petersburg also has a new graffiti festival — and so do the cities of Perm and Yekaterinburg.

Of course, Russian cities are still far from Berlin, where street art fills literally every centimeter of the urban core. But the graffiti trend in Russia is conspicuous nevertheless. In the past year, the trend has been embraced by city governments and private companies, and street art has started to become an industry with very respectable budgets.

Russian graffiti started to develop in the 1990s. According to Russian artist Kostya Zmogk, the first commercial interest in graffiti was in 1998, when graffiti artists made an album cover for a hip hop group. After that, graffiti artists began to receive more commissions. “First it was small shops, then it was office buildings of larger companies, and now everyone is commissioning us, even government institutions and banks,” he says.

In 2007, Zmogk founded Allovergraphics, a company specializing in connecting master graffiti artists with commercial clients. After creating the website, the company found its first client almost instantaneously — although with a small budget of only about $500. But the company started to attract numerous commissions, so much so that Zmogk and his business partner, Kostos, couldn’t handle the work themselves and started hiring friends as subcontractors, keeping 40% for the company.

“The team we developed consisted in around 20 professional artists in addition to around 100 apprentices,” Zmogk says. “They have done more than 300 projects.” Each project costs between $60 and $500 per square meter. Zmogk doesn’t disclose the company’s current revenue, but he says that he and his partner are hoping to earn between $200,000 and $300,000 next year. “Of course, there is competition,” Zmogk says. “For example, there’s the First Graffiti Agency, two talented guys from Novosibirsk. But there’s just two of them, and there are more than a hundred of us.”

Petro, a graffiti artist from the Moscow region, thinks you can make good money alone. He has been a graffiti artist from more than 13 years and was among the first to take commercial orders. At first he took all orders, but he’s now successful enough to get only involved in projects where he has full artistic control. “Many people are recognizing that graffiti is art, and that we are real artists,” he says.

Government projects

Petro’s last project was to paint an electrical substation as part of the Moscow government’s “Best City On Earth” project. The artist was satisfied: full artistic control, plus a $600 honorarium.

All of the money for the festival comes from the sponsor, a major developer. At the beginning of the year, the developer put together a project to combat vandalism. That project includes sponsoring a graffiti competition, working with the city of Moscow on the graffiti festival and opening an area where graffiti artists can legally work in a sugar factory owned by the sponsor.

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Society

End Of Roe v. Wade, The World Is Watching

As the Supreme Court decides to overturn the 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights, many fear an imminent threat to abortion rights in the U.S. But in other countries, the global fight for sexual and reproductive rights is going in different directions.

"Don't abort my right" At 2019 pro-choice march In Toulouse, France.

Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via ZUMA
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Sophia Constantino

PARIS — Nearly 50 years after it ensured the right to abortion to Americans, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case, meaning that millions of women in the U.S. may lose their constitutional right to abortion.

The groundbreaking decision is likely to set off a range of restrictions on abortion access in multiple states in the U.S., half of which are expected to implement new bans on the procedure. Thirteen have already passed "trigger laws" that will automatically make abortion illegal.

U.S. President Joe Biden called the ruling "a tragic error" and urged individual states to enact laws to allow the procedure.

In a country divided on such a polarizing topic, the decision is likely to cause major shifts in American law and undoubtedly spark outrage among the country’s pro-choice groups. Yet the impact of such a momentous shift, like others in the United States, is also likely to reverberate around the world — and perhaps, eventually, back again in the 50 States.

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