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"The Skopje graffiti scene is developing rapidly" - new graffiti book to be released soon

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

The writer Igor Angjelkov and the artist Matej Bogdanovski recently joined forces, and a new collection of graffiti from Skopje will soon emerge from this.

With graffiti dating from the first half of the 90s of the last century, but also today, the authors want to give importance to the Skopje graffiti subculture.

Bogdanovski tells Skopje.IN that he had the idea for such a book for a long time. But the key moment for it to come to fruition was when Angjelkov shared a page from his blog on social networks with dozens of Skopje graffiti that he personally photographed, encountering them around the city.

"Since I also had my photos of Skopje graffiti that I had taken over the years, I suggested to him that we combine our photo archives and put them in one book so that they can be preserved and presented to the public and new generations. We all know that graffiti does not have a long life, so the memory of it can only continue if there is some kind of record. He agreed with my proposal and left me free to do the work. I said to myself, since we're already collecting graffiti, let's put up a Facebook post and see if any of our friends have any photos to share. I posted the announcement and to my great satisfaction, some friends responded and contributed to making this book richer”, the artist explain.

The title of the book came completely on its own and fit perfectly. With a photo he took of a house in the center of the city, he accidentally noticed that the graffiti "(До)живеј го Скопје" (which would be descriptively translated like - a clever blend of 'Experience Skopje' and 'Breatge with Skopje') was written on the wall.

"I didn't notice the graffiti when I snapped the photo, but later, when I was editing it in Photoshop, preparing it for something completely different. I don't think it could have been better than that, that exact graffiti, that message being the title of the book", Bogdanovski adds.

Those graffiti that attract the most attention, according to Angjelkov, are those that comment on the political mood at the moment.

But for him personally, he says that author's graffiti are more exciting, which "with a few well-spelled words that make up a wise sentence-slogan, much better explain the spiritual situation in which our fellow citizen finds himself".

"All the graffiti are worthy of attention, some are already part of the collective memory of Skopje, like "Lela, mandarins have become more expensive, and you are still angry with me!", Angjelkov points out.

Graffiti in Skopje
Part from the collection

The writer explains that every city has its own story and that it lives in a certain period. The thoughts and moods of its citizens, he adds, can often be sensed precisely through the graffiti in public areas.

In addition, he says that graffiti can make you laugh, imagine, sad, cheer up... but in no case, he adds, will not leave you indifferent.

"They kind of give you a special view of the city, which is a living being that is constantly pulsating and never sleeps. The story takes on a deeper meaning when it is noted that graffiti is part of the subculture, which has always been a generator of change in society. Therefore, with the book that we prepared with Matej, you will definitely experience Skopje from its bright, lucid and wise side. What more would you like!?", Angjelkov asks.

He believes that this is the first such collection exclusively of archived Skopje graffiti. He explains that in 2005 he prepared a small book with the simple title "Graffiti".

The book contained 20 chapters exclusively with graffiti messages, 19 of which were dedicated to graffiti written on walls around the world's capitals, while the twentieth was dedicated to the graffiti in Skopje.

"But this graffiti book is something special, because it covers all types of graffiti, from those containing a few words to the beautiful visual graffiti that adorns our city”, Angjelkov says.

Continuing to follow the local graffiti scene, photographing and archiving it, Angjelkov says he was able to follow the development of things and was pleasantly surprised at how much the scene opened up to the world and became diverse.

"Meanwhile, we got a bunch of wonderful visual solutions all around us, in every neighborhood, and with that, public city spaces became an open-air gallery where everyone can enjoy and create”, Angjelkov says.

All this was especially intensified during the coronavirus pandemic when we all had to be locked in our private spaces for a long time, so after the accumulated anger built up, eventually part of it exploded on the walls around us, Angjelkov points out.

"Therefore, the inevitable conclusion is that the Skopje graffiti scene is rapidly developing to the joy of all of us, because it beautifies the grayness with which we are surrounded, it injects color that means only one thing - life!", Angjelkov emphasizes.

The artist Bogdanovski says that he likes to look at graffiti as a phenomenon in urban living.

"I can't speak in the context of cultural identity, because there are those who consider graffiti something vandalistic and uncultured, and I would not like to enter into that discussion. I leave it open for whoever wants to interpret it. In Skopje, this phenomenon has persisted for decades with undiminished intensity and always with a fresh spirit, and therefore I think it is something valuable that should be noted and remain as a document, such as this book”, Bogdanovski says.

Those wall messages, he adds, are certainly one of the reflections of the spirit of the time in the city, and as for mural art, he adds, it is always welcome.

"If you ask me, every building should have at least one. And all the uninteresting city equipment, which does not fall under anyone's design, such as substations and the like, can be artistically refreshed and ennoble the space around us", Bogdanovski is determined.

Graffiti is illegal everywhere in the world, and murals are what are allowed and are usually commissioned by the city, he says. From this point, he adds that the encouragement of writing graffiti will never happen by the official government.

Murals in Skopje
Part from the collection

"Murals, like the ones you mentioned in the GTC (City Trade Center), are already in large numbers around the city, because in the past few years, the city finally decided to invest in that kind of art, which should be welcomed", Bogdanovski says.

Asked if a parallel can be drawn with the graffiti in Skopje and perhaps those from the region, even Europe, Bogdanovski explains that he has no insight into the graffiti throughout Europe, but adds that more or less they are the same everywhere.

"If I can draw a parallel, it is with the graffiti in Serbia, because I know them better, which are more humorous and ironic, while ours in Skopje have some peculiarities with its poetic and philosophical thread. And here I mean only the text messages they write on walls, not the visual graffiti or murals. But this is just my subjective experience", Bogdanovski says.

Angjelkov, on the other hand, says that his impression when he was traveling by train through central Europe regarding the representation of graffiti was fascinating.

"From the carriages of the composition to the railway stations themselves, which were full of beautiful graffiti and murals. Then the story spread towards the interior of the city, and it all looked so perfect to the eye of the visitor who is in and needs to discover a different environment", Angjelkov is determined.

A discount subscription voucher (can be found in the "ILI-ILI" bookstore) campaign is underway, with which readers participate directly in the release of the book by the two authors. The book will be published on April 10.


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