Tuesday, September 4, 2018

I Was In Hannover Germany

I didn't have time to write a proper blog post this week, and one reason is that I was giving a paper at the joint conference of the ENPOSS (European Network for Philosophy of Social Science) and the Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable. The conference was good: I was reminded how in areas like philosophy of social science (or philosophy of science more generally), there's something to talk about beyond philosophy. I mean, in ethics, it's often just you and your arguments and I sometimes feel like convincing people is partly force of personality. But with philosophy of science, there's ... science!

One of the things that struck me about Hannover was that there was a fair amount of graffiti. I had trouble interpreting or classifying or understanding the graffiti in Hannover, which seemed to cross a lot of genres in ways that were opaque to an outsider. I tried to talk to a Parisian about it, and he said "Oh, there's a lot of graffiti all over Europe, isn't it like that in North America?" and I said "No, not exactly, there are areas with a lot of graffiti and then areas with none." Then I asked him if he thought the graffiti in a place like Hannover was more created by disenfranchised or poor people expressing their discontent or whether the form was somehow broadened so that more people participated. He said he didn't know.

I don't know either. Some graffiti seemed to me like what I'd think of as conventional tagging. Some seemed more explicitly political, like anarchist signs. Then a lot was just -- impossible for me to classify, with words or style that I couldn't understand.

Here are two pictures of graffiti in Hannover -- both of these pictures were taken right near the University building where the conference was held. In the first, you see a range of styles. In the second, you see words -- "iron," "reset," "Mandy." WTF?

 I really don't know, so if you have interpretations, I'd be interested to hear them.

One other interesting visual thing I encountered in Germany was at the airport, where I saw this sign that said "Keep off this plain!" Sure, the word "plain" could just be a bad translation. But a bad translation for what? What is this?

I guess it's good there are still some mysteries in the universe. See you all next week!


elisa freschi said...

Hi Patricia and thanks for your post. I am surprised at your surprise. Graffiti like the ones you took a picture of are part of street art, which can be connected with young people's attempts to find places to express themselves and has a long history crossing paths with rebelism, contemporary art and at times politics, which, I thought, was very much present in the US (see, as a random example: http://www.speerstra.net/en/about-graffiti-and-street-art). Is it not the case in your experience?
As for your second query: They just meant "It is forbidden to walk on this surface" (surface=plane and then plane misspelt as plain).

thefringthing said...

Elisa: Street art is certainly common in urban places in the US and Canada, but it's usually pretty clearly either a tag (i.e. someone's graffiti signature), a political message (e.g. "ACAB", as in the first photo), or a mural style illustration. I think Patricia is saying that the baffling word salad of "IRON RESET MANDY" in the second photo doesn't fall into these categories and I don't think that style of graffito is common here.

My guess was that it might be some kind of viral/guerrilla marketing for a local band or something like that, but the only result on Google for "iron reset mandy" is this blog post.