Milan Hearts Burzum

Burzum as a grafitti tag. What could be more inevitable? A one-man black metal project, led by an unrepentant neo-Nazi and murderer, implacably opposed to modern European (multi)culture – an irresistable signifier of transgression for those who feel drawn to write on walls. If you’re going to deface a wall, let it be with a symbol of uncompromising hate.

But there’s also a rich irony involved in using Burzum as grafitti. Burzum stands for rural purity and isolation against the mongrelised city. To scrawl the name on an Italian city wall is at once to engage in an essential urban form of transgression, albeit an urbanism against itself, perhaps. Burzum grafitti cannot but be implicated in everything Burzum stands against. Then there are the connotations of blackness.

Graffiti may be an ancient practice. However,  its contemporary forms are indelibly marked by its development within the black American inner city. Burzum graffiti therefore despoils Burzum’s racial purity. Is this a subversive irony in which Burzum’s transgression is turned against itself? I doubt the artist thought of it that way.

There’s also a further layer: Burzum is itself an ironic act – as all neo-Nazi metal is – utilising a musical form forever shaped by black American experience. Is Burzum graffiti therefore an ironic commentary on an irony? Maybe it’s better to see it that way, than what is likely to be the mundane facts: some stupid kid, possibly a racist one, scrawling a name on a wall.

Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit

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