Grrlz Gettin Ova: Graffiti Grrlz Map on Google Maps

By - Monday, July 15th, 2013

An exciting new “Map” is now featured on Google Maps: The Graffiti Grrlz Map. What is the Graffiti Grrlz Map? Well, basically, it’s a special “map” on Google Maps that can be used to mark sightings of graffiti done by women around the globe. As of June 2013, Miss 17’s “path of destruction” has traversed 10 countries and 31 cities (although there are certainly more locations in 17’s path of destruction yet to be plotted on the Graffiti Grrlz Map). How does it work? First, as the disclaimer states, you should use a Google Plus account that does not reveal any private information that you do not want shared on a public map. Next, you find your location and take a look at the marker that appears next to your name, and click “Save to Map.” A drop down menu will appear that says “Graffiti Grrlz Map,” you click “save,” and presto: you’ve just plotted your graf on the international Graffiti Grrlz Map. The map was started by Dr. Jessica Pabón, a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts who conducts research on the politics of women in graffiti subculture. When asked why she decided to create the map, Pabón replied: “I have been thinking about mapping ‘graff grrlz’ for a few years now. Originally, I was hesitant to make the map public because of legal reasons, but then I realized that writers are ‘taking’ Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, etc. everyday. Just like those digital spaces, writers can choose if and how they will make themselves accessible to a digital public, to online archiving, to sharing, etc.” Writers who chose to plot their graffiti on the Map are making many of the same decisions they make when they chose to create a Facebook or Instagram page for their graffiti: they chose to put their work out there on the internet for the public to see, while hiding certain aspects of their identity to minimize the legal consequences of posting their work online. The map works in a similar way, although instead of showing the graffiti itself, it shows where the graffiti is located. The Graffiti Grrlz Map also serves the purpose of enhancing the visibility of the work of female writers in a male-dominated subculture. “If visibility is a primary concern for women writers,” says Dr. Pabón, “who have been, and continue to be, generally invisible as active innovators in graffiti art subculture worldwide, I asked: how can I use the tools of cyberspace to address the lack of visibility? How do we make ourselves, and our connections, visible? Maps. Maps, quite simply, show us things. They allow us to see proximity and distance. They allow us to see quantities and topographies. They represent places and the people in those places. A Google map does the work of making these women ‘visible’ to one another, other writers, and to the random individual surfing the net.” Let’s fill up the Graffiti Grrlz Map and keep it going strong–tag it now!

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