Edward Birzin


Lansstraße 5-9
14195 Berlin

Dissertation Project:


Various forms of media, along with official policy created by municipal laws and the practitioners of the subculture Graffiti have monopolized the meaning making power of writings on walls and objects from 1970 onward. Since the emergence of this subculture, writing on walls and objects has been read unvaryingly through the lens of being a singular aesthetic practice signifying a small aggregate of homogenous ideas and perspectives.


This thesis aims to investigate the meanings that were associated with writings on walls and objects, in a U.S. context, from World War II up until the end of the twentieth century. By examining how the meaning making power of writing on walls and objects changed in the hands of American soldiers in various wars, how it was read by theorists, and how it was used by artists and writers before the practice was defined by the Graffiti subculture, this thesis seeks to question and deconstruct the mythical genesis of the Graffiti subculture, and in doing so seeks to uncover the forerunners to the writing practices that are today popular in most urban areas the world over.


By researching the many different interpretations of the meaning making power of writings on walls and objects from the last half of the twentieth century, this thesis also seeks to analyze present day limits placed on writings on walls and objects and the moving line between legality and illegality with concerns to the practice.

Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft