My photographic exploration “Walls of Lisbon – A visual essay” is published in: Visual Communication, 10:2, May 2011, pp 175-182.
Key Words: cityscape, flânerie, graffiti, communication, otherness, Lisbon
Being a stranger in a large city for a few days, one seeks to decipher messages conveyed by the cityscape, to contextualize novel images, to grasp at least something of the soul of the place. Walking around Lisbon, a Greek flâneuse records instances of the ever changing face of the city, attempting to understand a European “other” which preserves a proud individuality. The writings on Lisbon walls appear both familiar and uncanny at the same time. The visual language of graffitis has an international feel and makes one think: “I can understand this; this is just like home!” At the same time though, local connotations may not be interpreted by a foreigner, thus making the graffitis seem uncanny, like a language one does not speak or like a script that one has difficulty in deciphering. This mixture of familiarity with strangeness made me think of ideas of otherness within a narrow European context, where a shared identity is often taken for granted. The photos are cropped by the photographer/author in square shape – a reference to Portuguese ceramic tiles. Graffitis may be seen as modern tiles with designs that are not fixed: a different cropping of a photograph may lead to a slightly or much altered result. The visitor, by choosing to click on different views and then edit them by using simple computer tools, generates a unique collection of personalized “Lisbon tiles”, mementos of a visit and props for future thoughts.