In Bern today.
I get a lot of unsolicited post from the city of Bern’s various administrative and cultural units. Some of it lands right straight into the waste basket and each time I regret the trees and all the energy that has gone into producing yet another wasted paper. Still, waste comes naturally to nature. Nature is very wasteful and generous. Some of the material I actually look at, and even read. Most often than not I just regret that I do not have the disposability to attend many of the fantastic cultural events taking place in this city.
Just a few days ago I got the 2007 Business Report from the Stadtbauten. The Stadtbauten is the city’s entity that manages some 1584 buildings belonging to the City and those include schools, office buildings, and other public service architectural objects. The cover of this report is beautiful, and just flipping through the pages is quite pleasant to the eye. Good layout, easy to read, great photos. Then I turned to page 7 and something catches my eye: Facts and Figures. There to my great dismay I find out that this city spends CHF 300’000.00 a year after an initial investment of CHF 625’000.00 to destroy the very material which they have used to illustrate the pages of their annual report: graffiti. Now when my colleagues on the left block complain and whine about how little money the city invests in culture, I do wonder if they too like those on the ideological right wing, also think that graffiti is not part of our culture and it too must be removed.
There is indeed beautiful graffiti in this town, and there is also vandalism.
Is removing what otherwise is public domain culture the best way to create new jobs?
If vandalism is what the city would like to set a limit to, is removing graffiti the appropriate approach?
I am wondering how we can find a solution to the challenge of contributing to the public space within a culture of self-expression and respect for the public domain. I think here we need to put our heads together, because this schizophrenia of destroying otherwise valuable art is simply not acceptable.