Old graffiti

Graffiti is often considered vandalism and we often associate it with “dirty” trains, concrete walls or buildings. But it can also be seen as a form of art and as such it tells something about the culture or society of that time. But what did they do before the invention of spray paint?

Petroglyphs!

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Krassin and Red Bear from 1928
One of the oldest forms of graffiti are petroglyphs. Either they engraved things in rocks or, as here on Spitsbergen, made things by arranging stones on the ground. And just like with graffiti it tells something about the society of that time. The top one is from 1898 when a ship from the Arc de Meridian expedition passed by at Chermsideøya. The second one is from 1928 when Beverleysundet and Chermsideøya were used as a base for the rescue expedition for Nobile’s expedition to the pole (the name Krasin can be read in the middle line). The most recent petroglyphs are also the most controversial: a german swastika. Probably left behind by young Germans who passed by the place in 1939. It has been removed several times, but also replaced every time as not only is it cultural remain (as it is from before 1946), but maybe it also serves as a memory of that time and how things shouldn’t be…

 

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German swastika from 1939

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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