Bitcoin and graffiti are almost tied by blood, as both come from the desire for freedom, freedom from control. Today, Bitcoin graffiti are occupying more and more streets around the world, including those in Paris, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Kyiv, Prague, Vilnius, London. Some crypto graffiti are anonymous, and some belong to graffiti artists known for their resonance work. Some are completely isolated, and some lead a dialog with older works of this genre. What Bitcoin graffiti is will be examined in our article.
The New York Subway
Now, having reached a compromise with the authorities, street artists in many countries have specially allocated graffiti areas, such as walls, tunnels, and houses. But, like any phenomenon, the graffiti culture managed to “take a breath of fresh air” at the time of its appearance, before the authorities launched their hunt.
Modern graffiti culture originated in the 60’s in Philadelphia. The center of the movement during its period of freedom and prosperity was New York (circa 1970). Initially, graffiti in New York “lived” in the subway, and only then began to take to the streets. Prohibitive policies collapsed on U.S. graffiti in the 80’s.
As they say in Berlin, one of the largest centers of street art culture today, the last straw that forced the government to severe restrictions was a fully painted metro train, which even had windows painted over. A famous painter of trains was the graffiti artist “Lee” George Quinones, who was leaving the Lee signature on his works.
Crypto Art: What, Where, and Why
This art object appeared in the winter in Miami thanks to the artist Nanu Berks. The girl painted an old house on wheels. In addition to Bitcoin, the Litecoin and Dash logos appeared on it.
Judging by the signature at the bottom of the wall, the authorship belongs to the graffiti artist Shi Zheng. In addition to the largest inscription “Bitcoin,” on the right side, among the red, white, and blue circles, the words “Bitcoin Bubble” are visible, and on top is an inscription divided into two parts: “The money is not gone [. . .] it’s just in another pocket.” The graffiti is located in London, in the “graffiti tunnel” on Lick Street.
“Was walking around #Prague today and ran into this #Bitcoin Mural... NICE!!! #HCPP17,” Tone Vays, a Bitcoin trader and investor who was formerly the vice president of JPMorgan Chase, wrote in his Twitter account. According to the mark he left in Google Maps, graffiti is located at the intersection of Bubenskaya Embankment and Komunardo Street, near the Vltava River. The author is unknown.
Soon after fame caught up with the graffiti, it changed a bit in just a few days. Above the Bitcoin coin, someone inscribed “Litecoin” in a rather unartistic manner:
“Bitcoin not bombs”
This work belongs to a graffiti artist under the pseudonym Gadse and refers, as you can guess, to the phrase traditionally associated with Lennon’s peace ideology, “Make love, not war.” These words really sound at the end of his song “Mind Games,” but it is likely that cultural critic Gershon Legman delivered this phrase first in the 1960’s, during a lecture at Ohio University, as an anti-war slogan during the American-Vietnamese war.
Like many graffiti artists, Gadse does not leave a signature on his works, but a complete, readable pseudonym, which corresponds to the basic idea from which the graffiti culture was born, meaning to leave a name.
This work, like many other of Gadse’s works, is located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York.
This street art also belongs to Gadse and is located in the same area. Conceptually, the call for decentralization (freedom from control) lies behind barbed wire. Most likely, this arrangement of graffiti is a direct reference to the “Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto,” written by Timothy May in 1988. And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property. Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!”
“It was the Californian and Klondike gold rush that gave the American dream its roots, mostly for the middle and lower classes—the dream of getting rich quick and easy. The same thing is going on now with Cryptocurrencies, but on the global level, for all classes… Everyone is mining, everyone wants to get rich, and everyone wants it to happen quick and easy. Technology changes, but dreams stay the same,” as the work’s description says. Its author is a Georgian street artist under the pseudonym Gagosh. The graffiti is located in Tbilisi.
“If money can’t buy you love, maybe Bitcoin will do?”
This is a graffiti on the outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania, that refers to the line from the song of the Beatles: “Money can’t buy me love.” The artist is unknown.
“Keep your change, I want Bitcoins”
The location of this graffiti, as well as its author, is unknown, but it has an interesting history or even a pedigree. It is a reference to earlier work with another text, which can be viewed as a dialog with it:
Graffiti called “Begging for change” is the work of a street artist under the pseudonym Meek. It was created in 2004 and is located at the railway station in Melbourne, Australia. Having chosen such a location—a station—the artist wanted to attract the attention of those who are in the daily rush and pass past the homeless, not noticing them. Graffiti was created during the period of economic decline, when, according to statistics provided on the website of the National Gallery of Australia, every 154th Australian needed the help of social services. Because of its accuracy and relevance, graffiti survived the wave of popularity as part of a campaign to protect human rights: it was printed on T-shirts, some did a tattoo with this image.
The authorship of this work is often mistakenly attributed to Banksy. And one of the users of steemit (also calling it the work of Banksy) wondered if the artist could mean Bitcoins or other altcoins as “coins.” The answer to this question is obvious, given that a graffiti appeared five years before the creation of Bitcoin.
“F**k the IRS” San Francisco, California
This graffiti is located in San Francisco, next to the 1AM Gallery, and illustrates the complex relationship of cryptocurrency users with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which began to regulate cryptocurrency in March 2014 and treats them as property, thus taxing the purchase, sale, trading, and mining cryptocurrencies. Few crypto users can be called honest taxpayers. And one of the high-profile cases won by the IRS was the partial handover of user data by the Coinbase exchange, which the regulator achieved after months of litigation.
“R.I.P. Banking System”
This graffiti on the streets of Paris belongs to the artist Ludo. The Bitcoin flower blossomed over the graves of a pound, dollar, yen, and euro, very directly symbolizing Bitcoin’s victory over the traditional financial system, which crypto enthusiasts are looking forward to.
As an element of mass culture, graffiti is characteristic of replication. Many graffiti “move” from the walls to other “canvases,” including paper (printed images, copies of which can be sold and exhibited in galleries), clothes, and even people (tattoos). And “R.I.P Banking System” is a vivid example of such replication. The image reached the picture format (one can buy it with the author’s signature for $426) and tattoo parlors, as well as printed T-shirts (this will cost only $23).
Cryptocurrencies have penetrated the work of graffiti artists in another interesting form. Namely, some street artists depict a QR code in their paintings, using which one can transfer the rewards in Bitcoin. For example, in his work “Rembrandt dos au mur,” a graffiti artist under the pseudonym Pascal Boyart (PBOY) did just that. This picture is in Paris.
Crypto enthusiasts also drew attention to the fact that this method of supporting street artists is anonymous, because even those graffiti artists who, for various reasons, do not disclose the authorship of their works, can use it.
Such “crypto graffiti” (the multi-colored inscription “Bitcoin” in the upper right corner) appeared this summer in Berlin, in the Lego shop at 20 Tauentzienstrasse. Young (and not so young) artists can put together their creations out of Lego figures on two large walls. The author of this article, disappointed that she did not find Bitcoin graffiti in the “city of graffiti,” thus decided to make a feasible contribution to the “Bitcoinization” of Berlin street art.