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TRES1 Graffiti, Zoetermeer, Holland /

We\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'ve got a lot of bored youth out there looking for something to do. We need more spaces where exploration, experimentation and even failure can be embraced.
Even when it kicks against some ideas of old Zoetermeer.

                            TRES1, Zoetermeer Graffiti Artist, 2011

Viewing Zoetermeer from afar it can appear as though the underground cultures that give so many cities their vitality are absent.

Throughout the city it is common to hear young people that have grown out of the geometrically planned parks yet not into a financial position to exploit the leisure spaces, talk of little other than their route out of the city.  Believing Zoetermeer to hold no more surprises for them, many see the future exploration of their identities and their boundaries happening elsewhere.  But as the 2030 city plan recognises - without the youth there is no future.

Scratch the surface though and of course there is a vibrant youth- culture operating in the city.  Look hard enough and even under the watchful eye of a city that prides itself on its ability to regulate, creativity finds a way.  Even in Zoetermeer there exists a 70m long graffiti wall, one sanctioned by the authorities to boot, yet it remains conspicuously out of sight.

Though often pilloried for being more of a destructive act of vandalism than a legitimate form of expression the history of Graffiti is a tale that documents the emergence of an art form during the same period of history as the architectural trends that shaped modern Zoetermeer.  To the uninitiated it is widely assumed that the trajectory of graffiti trod a path diametrically opposed to the concepts and theories that saw Zoetermeer emerge as a city in its own right.

However, both began as highly experimental and radical activities that embraced new ideas freed from the strictures of orthodox thought, seeing both offer up the blank canvas of the urban environment as a place of endless possibility.  As both grew in concept and in form, both became subject to a gamut of assumed practices and inherited rules - regulated fiercely from within by an increasingly conservative community.

Graffiti found itself being embraced by the established art-world at that moment when it found the maturity and confidence to break its self-imposed rules allowing it to explore new ground.  Similarly today, Zoetermeer finds itself in a position where having established itself as a city it must now address the changing needs of the community in ways that may not fit the desires of all of its residents. Only through making those hard decisions can it continue to thrive in the future.

This image is not featured in my shop. Please contact me through this page for details about buying this as a print.

Made in collaboration with producer Andy Brydon from Curated Place, for the Stadsmuseum Zoetermeer.

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