Are Victorian authorities fighting graffiti with graffiti?
TO a graffiti vandal, it’s the equivalent of a madman running through the Louvre with a knife at night slashing the Mona Lisa and other canvases. A secret squirt squad is systematically defacing illegal “artworks” daubed along Melbourne’s train lines by painting the letters “CTCV” over the top.
The anonymous vigilantes are bombarding hundreds of sites across the rail network with their simple tag, prompting cries of foul play from graffiti crews.
Outraged vandals have accused employees of train operator Connex, and also the transit police, of somehow orchestrating the blitz as some sort of bizarre “tit for tat” campaign to wipe out street art.
Internet forums are filled with wild theories about what CTCV stands for - with favoured suggestions including “Cops Trashing Crap Vandalism” or “Connex Taskforce Crushing Vandals”.
Victoria Police and Connex strongly deny any involvement in the “slashing” campaign. They point out that graffiti is a crime - even if it is only done Sara Lee style, “layer upon layer upon layer” over the top of another miscreant’s existing mess.
Regardless of who is behind the mischievous CTCV spree, the bleatings from the “artists” behind much of the visual pollution that blankets our cities are revealing.
In the clandestine world of spray can art, tagging over another person’s work is considered a major insult. So the wide-reaching, systematic campaign to ruin many of the murals and works that have helped Melbourne earn a reputation as an international graffiti hub has seriously annoyed the “artists”.
“The CTCV shit has destroyed everything in Melbourne now. Really friggen pissed off,’’ one disgruntled art fan wrote on a message board. “This is annoying because there were some AWESOME pieces of work … and now they have all been destroyed. I want revenge,” said another.
Some have even grumbled that if CTCV is some sort of “black op” by police, Connex or the government, it’s a poor use of taxpayer dollars!
The graffiti vandals seem oblivious their bellyaches mirror those frequently leveled at them by those in the wider community who consider their modern-day cave paintings visual vomit.
Those four simple letters CTCV seems to have made the point far more effectively than any existing control measures: tagging looks awful, and it’s bloody annoying when someone scrawls all over something you own or like.
The serial daubers seem especially annoyed that there is little skill in CTCV’s efforts – just simple, neat characters sprayed in colors apparently chosen to most stand out against their illegal backdrop.
Incensed wall-writers, so used to being hunted themselves, are planning stings of their own to catch the unwanted additions to their ranks.
“They’re making good art work look SHIT, who ever it is needs to f**king stop with that bullsh*t. And if it is the cops, maybe we should try to get footage of them doing it, so then they can be punished,” railed one graffiti fan.
“Video surveillance will be your downfall, just wait. We are watching, waiting & planning,” warned another.
Of course, it’s entirely likely the CTCV tags are the work of one or more outlaw artists trying to make a name for themselves. It’s also possible the “slashings” are the work of a civilian like the famous New Orleans anti-graffiti vigilante Fred Radtke - aka the Grey Ghost.
Former marine Radtke runs around with a bucket of grey paint brushing over graffiti for what he’s dubbed “Operation Clean Sweep” - all with the blessing of the New Orleans Police Department.
The CTCV tags certainly haven’t made Melbourne any prettier. But given most citizens can barely understand the jumble of hieroglyphics the “artists” squirt on walls, a few extra unintelligible strokes are worth it for the pain it is obviously causing the vandals.
The wreckers won’t go down without a fight though, as this recent posting on an internet forum shows: “Well I’m happy to announce some new shit has popped up on my train line over the top of the toyed ones. Nice one whoever did it.” Your move, CTCV.
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