In 1995 I painted a piece that would be the very last commission on this side of the very wall. The place was an underpass at Espoonlahdenranta, in the Kivenlahti region of my old hometown Espoo. 29 years later I returned to the spot, repainting it during the Espoo Day -event.
As some might remember, I did paint another graffiti on the same underpass the following year. On the opposite side, leaving the Acton-piece from previous year untouched. And few years later Espoo decided to clean all graffiti from its streets, both legal and illegal. This happened before the zero tolerance policy really started in Helsinki and its other neighbouring cities. Since Espoo “just” included the effective cleaning and negative approach towards all spraypainted art into its regular policy, they never made a separate project about it. Which meant that they never had anything to stop when Helsinki finally admitted that their zero tolerance policy caused more harm than benefit… and buried it completely in 2008. It took a few more years ’til Espoo followed the example.
So, when I was asked to participate in the “Eyes on the Horizon” exhibition with few photos from the area, I suggested that it’d be cool to renew the last painting I made in the underpass back in the nineties. The personnel of museum liked the idea and they forwarded it into the grinding wheels of bureaucracy. Ok, I have to admit that not much bureaucracy was involved, the city showed green light for the project almost immediately. And the permission even covered both sides of the underpass. The painting was planned to take place during the second day of Espoo Day, which meant it was part of larger event. For example local youth house held graffiti workshops and had local rap artists perform on the nearby lawn.
I recruited my crew mate Soved to participate in the project with me. For few reasons, explained later. Well, actually now: Soved has been part of HRC every since it was based in late 1990. At some point, right after the first snow was landed in the late 1990, we planned to paint in this very tunnel. Without permission of course, those things didn’t even cross our minds back then. But while waiting for him to arrive on the spot, I broke my collar bone while goofing around on the nearby icy slope. So I fled to the hospital before Soved even got there. We never even discussed about the possibility to redo the trip, and by the time when I finally got permission to paint the tunnel in 1993, Soved had already moved to another city and we lost touch for nearly ten years. So I thought that now, 29 years later, it might be a good time to finally give it a go.
So, the plan was to redo the painting I made in 1995 on one side. And that’s we did. But for the other side I had no idea what to paint. I have painted so much on the area during the nineties, so there was plenty to choose from. Finally I decided to repaint a graffiti I originally painted in the nearby local hall of fame, Sammalvuori underpass below Länsiväylä highway. But it would’ve felt a bit silly to paint two Acton-pieces together with another writer, so I suggested Soved that we painted his tag instead. We kept true to the color scheme and letter forms of the original painting as much as it was possible. The idea was to keep the general vibe of the paintings reflecting the nineties. And I personally think we succeeded in this perfectly.
Oh, I gotta admit, especially painting the Acton-piece caused quite a few, unexpected flashbacks. It felt very, very weird to say the least. What even made the day more special was having surprise visits from crew mates Rosk and Dams (the latter I haven’t met in years) as well as talking to many locals who remembered the original paintings.