Dams are not generally known for their striking aesthetics, and Poland’s Solina Dam was no different, until an ingenious brainwave by Polish energy company Polska Grupa Energetyczna completely transfigured the face of the concrete monolith.
Teaming up with comic book artist Przemek ‘Trust’ Truściński, PGE aimed to design an enourmous mural covering over half of the 269 foot dam, paying tribute to the wild plants and animals found in the surrounding Bieszczady Mountains. However, not a splash of chalk, paint or paste touched the surface. A team of workers armed with pressure-washers used a technique called ‘Reverse Graffiti’ to carve the design out of the muck which covered the dam. Despite the inevitable re-build-up of grit and grime, due to its size the mural is expected to be visible for at least a year.
The inverted graffiti technique was most notably establish by British artist Paul ‘Moose’ Curtis in the late-90s. Curtis was the artist responsible for Nissan Leaf’s air quality campaign last year, which saw the London skyline etched out of the dirt on a Waterloo wall. However, due to its canvas being part of the urban commons, reverse graffiti, much like the traditional form, is often restricted by controversy and misinterpretation. In an interview with The New York Times back in 2006, Curtis claimed that viewing reverse graffiti as just another act of vandalism was a rather cynical way of comprehending it: “It’s re-facing […] not defacing. Just restoring a surface to its original state. It’s very temporary. It glows and it twinkles and it fades away.”
Nonetheless, this does not seem to have stopped the inspired minds at PGE, who in a statement claimed that more works of inverted art should soon be sprouting from the dirt on paths and roadways around the dam.