August 2, 2021

On line 6 of the Paris metro, the graffiti festival is coming to an end

It was a month ago, in mid-May. That Friday, shortly before 2 p.m., a metro has just arrived at Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile, the terminus of line 6, and an individual cuts through the crowd of users getting off. At the end of the platform, he pushes the sign “Passage forbidden”, then disappears into the tunnel which winds up to the next station, Kléber. Nobody suspects that it is a tagger, Roxer (the name has been changed, because he does not wish to express himself under the “blase” by which he is known). He is only 20 years old, but already a foolproof composure and the reflexes of old road graffiti. Before rushing down the tracks, he spent a good ten minutes inspecting the halls of the station to make sure there was no security guard around.

Touching the tunnel wall, he quickens his pace toward the sleeping oars in the dark. Without rushing, however, because here the fall can be deadly: the third rail bolts at 750 volts. “I only run if the cops arrive”, he murmured. Here he is now walking along a parked train at the entrance to a fork. Almost all the cars are covered with graffiti, except the last one, on which he draws with a red paint bomb the outlines of a « Marie ». “It’s for my grandmother who has the Covid”, he slips. It takes him less than a quarter of an hour to fill in the five letters with blue, yellow and red. He goes back to the platform, pushes the exit door of the station, and evaporates in the cloud of passers-by on the Champs-Elysées. Mission accomplished.

This is the fourth time he’s gone down this month. Among those he has already taken, there are “old” like “Rice”, a 45-year-old tagger who had not gone down to graffiti on a subway for twenty years. “I didn’t want to miss it! It’s incredible what happens on the 6. This period will remain engraved in the history of graffiti ”, then ensures this veteran of the Parisian tag.

«New York sur Seine! »

Like him, many aficionados believe that we haven’t seen so many graffiti subways since the heyday of Subway Art in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. On Instagram, the comments «New York sur Seine! » or « Paris South Bronx » have been coming back for more than three years under the photos of the “panels”, these graffiti painted below the windows, between two car doors. Posted every day, these pictures are formidable viral objects, which have not escaped the graffiti artists of New York, Berlin, Rome or Barcelona. Many of them come to Paris just to “Type the 6” and get the Grail: take a photo of your graffiti on a metro with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

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