While walking around our neighbourhood (Kallio) a few weeks ago (photographing some of the many massage parlour shopfronts), I was stuck by how many of the electrical boxes on the streets are covered in graffiti, posters and advertisements. While there is generally very little graffiti elsewhere in our neighbourhood, I could only find one electric box that was still clean – and that was probably because it has only recently been installed.
It was interesting to see the range of “decoration” and advertising on the electric boxes – posters advertising political parties, public speeches and nightclub events, and graffiti ranging from seemingly profound statements to what appears to be petty vandalism.
And then there’s also Helsinki Energy‘s attempt to beautify these boxes of theirs by covering them in contemporary art prints and historic photographs – I couldn’t find any information online in English about this project, but it is certainly interesting. I’d be keen to see a guide (or even just a simple map) detailing the different works that are reproduced in this “street exhibit”.
While the graffiti definitely contributes to Kallio’s “tunnelma” (atmosphere), it is unfortunate that so little of it even approaches art or meaningful expression. By contrast, the nearby Suvilahti exhibition space (which we blogged about in autumn) actually has an entire section of its boundary wall set aside for graffiti – you can find photos of some of the better work done there on Flickr. Since graffiti is illegal in Helsinki (according to this post by Jonni Saloluoma), this venue provides a legitimate space for graffiti artists to work.