Sara Rezaeian

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Why people write on monuments and how could we respond to this necessity?

I'm trying to understand the reason of writing words, dates, names on monuments and use these data for designing an urban furniture near monuments to help solving this problem.
If we pay attention to what people need they wont destroy our Valuable monuments by this kind of vandalism.

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    Dec 27 2013: I'm not sure what type of monument you mean, but I suspect that graffiti, mementos and vandalism might be markers of people's dissatisfaction and disaffection of people living in one political era as it progresses invariably into another, especially if there are particular monuments as overt symbols of that outgoing era. The Berlin Wall was one such example. The Western side was heavily graffitied because it was despised as a symbol of political oppression from the other side, in stark contrast to political freedom on the "free" side.

    So symbolic was it, that chunks of the Wall remain as 'urban furniture' and even valuable works of art, as a reminder of the jarring contrast of two political ideologies in such a small geographical space:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Wall_graffiti_art

    What was once defiant, angry graffiti on the Berlin Wall, now seems to have changed its identity into bright symbolic art, revered by collectors. There are now even allocated spaces specifically for graffiti artists to paint; much of it is skilfully done and beautiful - but importantly, it is kept away from areas (including monuments) that matter to most ordinary people.

    I think if a monument overtly and arrogantly symbolises something that could so easily be despised by a population that is forced to live with it, it will get defaced and vandalised by people who have the liberty to do so - obviously less so where state reprisals are threatened and/or carried out.
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    Dec 27 2013: I think that this article on "Vandalism of art" might give some insights for the readers of this Conversation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandalism_of_art

    Also, did you know that: Vandalism is the behavior attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable.

    I think that most cases of vandalism is simply out of boredom or frustration. However when vandalizing a cultural monument it might be that people want to leave their mark, a small legacy. Have you ever etched "*name* was here" somewhere?

    But the main reasons attributed to Iconoclasm might also play a huge role, that it has political or religious motives. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iconoclasm
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      Dec 27 2013: I agree Jimmy, that probably many cases are out of boredom, and I also think that sometimes, when it is an art form or cultural monument, vandals may be trying to send a message regarding what they think about the underlying message of the artwork or monument, and that may also have political or religious motives.
      Whatever the underlying reason, vandals are destroying someone else's property.
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        Dec 27 2013: Colleen,

        "Whatever the underlying reason, vandals are destroying someone else's property."

        I'm not sure of what to make of that, it's very obvious that they are... But shouldn't we strive to understand the "Why" before we can do something about it?
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          Dec 28 2013: Jimmy,
          We have been trying to understand all the elements of why people offend, for a very long time. Perhaps trying to understand all elements of the "why" can happen at the same time that we try to spread the word that destroying someone else's property is not acceptable?
  • Dec 27 2013: This just another reason I started the conversation about "Responsibility, the missing link to progress". Sara if kids are not taught "responsibility" when they are young there is not a lot of hope for them later in life as the habits they form at a young age usually last a lifetime. Rehabilitation is still possible but it is an uphill battle against and almost impossible foe. It is like trying to swim upstream, most eventually get tired and then just go with the current. Drug abuse and many other abuses follow the same path. Our only hope is to the youth and unfortunately their teachers are "us" and we are terrible teachers as our environment so plainly reflects.
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      Dec 27 2013: AAAWWWW.....responsibility.....accountability.....good point Keith! I agree with you that it is beneficial to teach and encourage responsibility, accountability and consequences at a young age.

      I served on a Reparative Board, which is modeled on the Real Justice model, and in this state is court ordered for some of the lesser crimes, in an effort to keep people out of jail. We saw many young men who damaged and vandalized property, and one thing we encouraged.....well, it was a little more than "encouraged" because if the offender did not comply, he went back to court with a charge of violation of a court order in addition to what he already had for charges.

      Anyway, we encouraged restitution....physically fixing the damage when possible, cleaning, scraping the paint off, refinishing, etc. etc. whatever they had damaged. It appears that many vandals were never taught the idea that there are consequences to their actions. Somebody's property was forever ruined, and/or it took a lot of work and money to restore it if that was possible. They just didn't think about that as they vandalized property.

      I agree Keith, that in many instances, we are not very good models. Simply saying this is just their artistic expression, and providing more surfaces to vandalize is not adequate modeling to change the behavior. Do we want to continue to dance around? Or do we get to the point and teach responsibility, accountability and consequences?
      • Dec 27 2013: Another question is how do we teach responsibility, accountability and consequences without violence? If we cannot we will be right back to square one, simply trading one bad trait for another.
        I have mentioned we raised our kids with no violence but there was consequences to bad behavior. My wife is so wise, she went a step further and insisted the consequence would not inadvertently effect other children like saying you can't go to a soccer game which would effect the whole team. It is not wise to embarrass your children in front of other children as it is the quickest way to lose their respect. We as parents should not take parenthood lightly, it is a huge responsibility and we need to do it wisely.
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          Dec 27 2013: Well, modeling the behavior is best for children to learn....is it not? For older people who are damaging and vandalizing property, I feel that the Real Justice model works pretty well.

          Teach them to be responsible and accountable for their actions by requiring them to fix it. The model sometimes is to put them in jail. The only thing they learn there is how to be better criminals! When they are required to be physically engaged in the process of fixing the damage they did, there is sometimes more awareness.

          I remember an incident when I was about five or six. We had a pull chain to turn the kitchen light on and off. We were always told to do it gently or it would break. One day, I ran into the kitchen and pulled too hard on the chain and it broke. My father made me hold the light up to the ceiling while he fixed it, which was a hard thing to do for a little one. But it was a lesson in consequences that I still remember to this day!!!
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          Dec 27 2013: Can we teach it WITH violence?
      • Dec 27 2013: Having been in jail I can verify what you just said about learn to be a wiser criminal. I believe the whole community needs to get involved in the process. Example: Someone caught vandalizing could be returned to repair the damage and other members of the community are encouraged to stop by while they are doing repairs and praise them for doing such a good job and telling them how good it looks now that they have restored it. A pat on the back may be in order or a hand shake to welcome them back into the community. In other words reinforce the good behavior. You may also want to encourage them to join some of your community committees and activities.
        A few years after graduating from alcoholic rehab I was asked to serve on the board of directors and also became a counselor, I think that helped solidify my sobriety.
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          Dec 29 2013: Jimmy,
          You ask...."can we teach it with violence"?
          I believe the only thing that is taught with violence, is violence. I do not perceive violence as a useful way to teach anything, because it simply reinforces the idea that something can be resolved with violence, and I do not observe that to be beneficial.

          Keith,
          Excellent points! It helps when the whole community gets involved in the process. That is one of the concepts underlying the "Real Justice" and "Reparative Board" model. The board is made up of community members, and community service for the offender is often part of the requirement.

          Also a very good idea to encourage participation in the community committees and activities. In fact, we had an x-offender on our board. He had been in and out of trouble since he was a teenager, and then in and out of jail. He came before the reparative board, did some community service working with a town crew and when the required community service was finished, they hired him because he was such a good worker. We then invited him to be a member of the board, which he did very successfully. Part of his success was the fact that he could tell his story.....look kid.....I was in your shoes....and I know how it is....you have choices.....Offenders really listened to him because he KNEW much of what they were experiencing, and he also KNEW how to break the cycle because he had done it. That is a win/win for the offender AND society, and it does work!
      • Dec 27 2013: Jimmy I was taught with violence most of my life which is why my first thought still to this day is usually violent, it is a like a knee jerk reaction, automatic. Fortunately I don't have to react immediately any more and instead take time to think my first thought out to it's ultimate conclusion which is usually a bad ending. Violence is a teacher but it has terrible side effects. Remember the saying "The operation was a success but the patient died." well it is something like that.
  • Jan 7 2014: For some it is just being evil, spite but for some it is trying to leave a mark for the future to indicate that they really existed, some mark.
  • Dec 28 2013: Put up a sign after painting a fence, "Wet Paint"and you will have people touching the fence to see if the paint is wet. It's part of human nature to test everything and some leave their marks. Marks can be removed without hurting the monument. Blasting with walnut shells and air will clean just about anything without hurting the piece. They use this technique to clean turbine blades on the generator in power plants.
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    Dec 28 2013: Sara, I cannot speak of how things are in your country ... In the USA we call this tagging. It is mostly done by gangs and gang members. Initially it was a notice to everyone that they were entering a certain gangs turf.

    Sara I know little about Iran or the religious laws that are in effect. But I saw a video of some tourist in Syria and the Christian church filmed was burnt out and heavily marked up with signs and painted emblems while the camera moved to a mosque just a few yards away that was pristine and beautiful. Here is my point ... in a country with religious laws that are rigidly enforced to mess with anything that the religious leaders have said will not be touched under punishment of the religious council ... will not be touched.

    So my simple and uninformed answer is to seek the assistance of the religious leaders to preserve the treasures of the country. If they make it known that it is wrong and there WILL be consequences ... it will stop. The leaders will employ the eyes and ears of the country to defend and report violations of religious edicts.

    As I said I do not understand enough about your country or laws ... if I have made a error in speaking of your religion .. I have done so in a sincere effort to help you ... please excuse me if I have offended.

    I wish you well. Bob.
    • Dec 29 2013: simple...throw the head of the gang in jail until it's members clean off the graffiti, I seriously doubt gang members give a hoot about religious leaders but put one or two of their leaders in jail and an effect may be made.
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    Dec 26 2013: As it seems difficult to convince an unknown number of unknown people to paint on the monuments is a very bad habit, and I guess we will not ever end that task, so, it might be advisable not to insist on the theoretical point of view (which is very interesting, however), and act on the practical side, covering the monuments of refractory paint, which allows to wash any stain with water jet pressure. It sounds silly and already known, but I think it's a practical solution, because otherwise we will not fix the problem.
    For me it is very painful to see monuments with all kind of absurd and inappropriate writings on.
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    Dec 26 2013: Dear Sara,

    Children need an outlet that encourages self-expression and introduces possible career paths.

    "Children are born with diverse intelligence and talents and the educational system does not offer them enough paths to develop their gifts." (Sir Ken Robinson). This is why we are now in the ongoing "education revolution". Perhaps the most effective solution is to incorporate "Art Appreciation" and "Nature Appreciation" in the Elementary school level curriculum. And also organize regional and city programs outside the school program for the youth to apply their emerging artistic skills.

    We need programs that support "Urban Arts" and provide an environment for the young artists (pre-teens) to network, to perform, to excel in their craft, to showcase their art work in a responsible manner.

    For example; the city could allocate many walls specifically to create murals and display the art and help these young artists emerge and become appreciated for their talents. Many cities (usually sponsored by non-profit organizations) have flipped vandalism into gorgeous graffiti that turns neighborhoods into tourist attractions and in the process helps teens develop their talents and become responsible citizens.

    Also, your idea of art on public benches (allocated for graffiti art) is brilliant; reminds me of the work of Béatrice Coron.

    In writing this, I am thinking that any monument of value that we have in our world today, we have inherited from past generations. And the only reason these monuments came into being is because Art projects were sponsored and commissioned work of people who were allowed to develop their artistic gifts and hired for their self expression (ex: the Taj Mahal or the Mona Lisa! :-) ...And all of the artists who built everything in this world were once children.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
    http://www.ted.com/talks/beatrice_coron_stories_cut_from_paper.html

    I hope this is helpful. Best of wishes.
  • Dec 25 2013: A combination of security, both of the manned and unmanned type, combined with harsh treatment of vandals seems the most effective course.

    Most vandalism, even of the politically charged kind, is committed by adolescents. While getting them to do things may be difficult, getting them not to do things is usually a matter of simple intimidation.
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    Dec 25 2013: Hi Sara,
    I am not sure if I am clear about your question.

    I do not perceive vandalism as a "necessity". How about if we teach and encourage respect for property, rather than spend money for furniture that can be written on? I suggest that the furniture will simply create more opportunities (writing surfaces) for vandals.
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      Dec 25 2013: Dear Colleen
      I saw many people that they come from anywhere to visit a Monument. People from different cultures that we couldn't teach them to respect to (in this case) our ancient heritage, or may be it takes a lot of time for some one of them. I hope if we pay attention to this necessity, there will be less Vandalism and it change to a positive opportunity for us to save memories.
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        Dec 26 2013: Hello again Sara,
        There are people in all cultures who do not respect property....monuments included. We have people here (usually adolescents I think) who write on and damage gravestones, which as you may know are a memorial to a dead person. I don't believe this kind of destruction is in any way an outlet for art, nor do I perceive it to be a "necessity". It is plain and simply destruction of property by apparently angry people.

        Trying to understand their anger, and provide another outlet for them is a noble effort. However, if that is done, how are they ever going to understand that destroying property is not acceptable?
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    Dec 25 2013: Sara, can you tell me what urban furniture is, when I google it I only get furniture stores selling furniture.
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      Dec 25 2013: Dear Greg, I mean a kind of furniture that people can write and share their writing through it. I'm not sure yet but may be it could use Smart Tech to Do this.
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        Dec 26 2013: Sorry, Sara, I still don't know what you mean by furniture in this context. Do you mean something like tables and chairs, or .............? Maybe your idea could work, but it's hard to say since I don't know what your idea is yet.

        I would think people who write on monuments are people who are angry at their fellow people and want to make the world uglier to hurt their fellow people. Why do you think people write on monuments?