Despite the television and the social media grabbing viewer eyeballs during election season, good old wall graffiti hasn’t lost its relevance as a mode of poll campaign.
Granted new genre like Facebook and Twitter are squeezing other modes of campaign and the Election Commission’s norms have added to the squeeze, but wall writing is an inexpensive and simple art form that has held on to its space, a party functionary noted.
Simply put, wall writings have withstood the ravages of time, though other forms of campaigning like road shows and street corner meetings by top leaders are on the vane. Instead, big public meetings are organised at one or two places in a district and the number of street meetings have dwindled.
Though stringent norms imposed by the EC have brought down the number of defaced walls, parties have taken up the space available to paint the names of the leaders and candidates. The process of ‘reserving’ and whitewashing walls has begun. “Choosing the right spot and reserving it is the most challenging job.
Wall writings in unnoticed places will be sheer waste of time and energy. Usually walls at places where people converge in large numbers is chosen and ‘reserved’. The space should not be the eye level - not very low or very high - and should be visible from many angles,” said D Albert, an AIADMK functionary, involved in ‘reserving’ space and whitewashing the walls at Nerkundram.
“We have started the process of reserving and whitewashing walls in the area. All the parties will be vying with each other for the right places. It will take two to three weeks. Once done, we will start writing by the first week of April,” he said.
Artists decide the content of wall writing. The size of the letters and style is decided after consultations. The symbol and the name of the party leader, with his epithet, is given prominence.
Wall writing as a means of communication was first used by the Dravidar Kazhagam in the 1940s extensively to convey the date and venue of its State conferences. The DMK, an offshoot of the DK, started using it as a tool of election campaign, followed by the AIADMK.
The content has undergone changes. Two decades ago, parties focused on poetic punch lines and quotes. That would take up 5-10 lines and occupy a major portion of the graffiti. Besides, the faces of leaders used to be painted colourfully.
Now, the focus is on names of party functionaries in the area. “This has killed the aesthetic of wall writings,” Prabhu, one of the artistes opined. “But, wall writing as a mode of campaign is still alive,” he added.