Monday, July 4, 2011

Guerrilla Street Art in Sofia

You may have heard about the now infamous graffiti that graced Sofia's imposing Soviet Army monument for a couple of days recently. It was done by an anonymous artist (who people have been calling the "Bulgarian Banksy") and featured characters such as Superman, Ronald McDonald, the Joker, Captain America and Santa Claus painted over bas-relief statues of the victorious liberators. It caused such a stir that it was removed quietly one night with pressure washers. Lucky for me I was there to take a photo before it disappeared.

The graffiti, which included the tagline "in step with the times," was offensive to some who saw it as an affront to the sacrifice made by Russian soldiers and Bulgaria's shared history with the former Soviet state. For others it was a satirical gesture to show that although the ideology may have changed, these figures also represent a kind of liberation that many people are disappointed with. I think that it should have been left as a cultural landmark and something to attract people and encourage more public debate. By the way, the monument in question was being considered for removal last year and its main attraction now is a makeshift skate park. 

Unlike many other former communist countries, Bulgaria currently has no museum or educational exhibits related to that period in its history. Most of those statues and monuments that remain are in poor condition and covered in graffiti (although nobody makes as much of a fuss over it as they did with the "Banksy" piece). Maybe this act will inspire people to be more protective of these monuments, or push for their removal, or at least create more interest in their purpose and history.   

What do you think of the graffiti? Should it have been removed?

1 comment:

  1. Of course it should be removed. It is huge humiliation. Those who did it show no respect to people who died protecting their country and actually all world and to their families also.
    Such a shame :(