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Anthropology professor pursues the writing on the wall

Daniele Pario Perra shows how he preserves graffiti.

When DU art and anthropology Professor Christina Kreps met Daniele Pario Perra in Bologna, Italy, in 2009, she knew he’d be a great artist-in-residence for Denver.

The Italian artist is known for using a technique called fresco removal to remove graffiti and preserve it as art. The process has many steps. Graffiti is coated with a fresco-like material and left to sit for several days until every detail is absorbed. Then the graffiti is stripped from the wall and transferred to large canvases through a gluing technique.

“He’s a relational artist who works in and with a community,” Kreps says. “His work is very anthropological. Perra actually doesn’t call his work art, but research and fieldwork.”

Perra’s been an artist-in-residence since March 22 at the PlatteForum. He also is part of the Confluence Project, a program for teenagers administered by the PlatteForum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. His visit culminates with an installation titled “ANARCH-ETIQUETTE: the etiquette of anarchy: preserving the writing on the wall,” which opened May 6 at the museum.

The exhibit will feature Perra’s work from Italy as well as graffiti and writings from Denver.

“I hope the exhibit has people thinking about the meaning and message behind writing on the wall,” Kreps says. “This is a whole new way to look at graffiti. We have to see how this is someone’s voice.”

Perra is not interested in tagging or large-scale art graffiti that is popular in Denver. Rather, he is drawn to writings that say something. He calls graffiti “spontaneous communication” and the “cultural DNA” of a city.

During Perra’s residency, Kreps has her students working as ethnographers, documenting the work visually and textually.

“It’s been a wonderful experience for our students,” Kreps says. “They’ve learned about the power of communication, what is and isn’t allowed in public spaces, and how to document it all scientifically.”

The exhibit is open through June 29. For more information, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art website.

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One Comment

  1. Judy Anderson says:

    This is a wonderful exhibition that helps you think about graffiti and wall writings in a new way. Find out more about the project at
    http://www.platteforum.org

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