Back Arts & Culture » [Video] The Story Behind Urban Vietnam's Graffiti Advertisements

[Video] The Story Behind Urban Vietnam's Graffiti Advertisements

Splashed across city walls and on the sides of buildings, urban Vietnam is awash with advertisements for khoan cắt bê tông (KCBT), or demolition services.

These small businesses, sometimes unregistered, have drawn ire from local residents for their adverts, as some believe the graffiti-esque phone numbers spray painted around town are less than aesthetically pleasing, reports Channel News Asia.

Though Hanoi's municipal government outlawed KCBT adverts a few years back, freelance contractors continue to tag their phone numbers on walls across the capital. Local residents can call to report the numbers and have them painted over, however the tags usually return shortly after their disappearance.

While the advertising may not be attractive, Do Viet Hong, who owns a small construction company that sometimes employs KCBT workers believes the companies behind these phone numbers are a practical part of urban Vietnam.

“Sometimes, people even call the numbers on the wall to express their anger,” Hong told Channel News Asia.

“Many Vietnamese houses are located in tiny lanes,” he continued. “Big machines cannot be brought to houses in small lanes, so there are always jobs for these workers. That’s why they’re still around.”

However, one man's eyesore is another's street art: while some bemoan urban Vietnam's abundance of KCBT adverts, others – like French artist Lolo Zazar – view the graffiti phone numbers as contemporary art. Zazar, a Hanoi-based photographer, has captured hundreds of images documenting the city's KCBT ads, while clothing companies and souvenir shops have turned the spray painted phone numbers into a fashion statement, printing KCBT graffiti on t-shirts, bags, calendars and other accessories.

This, Zazar insists, is helping at least some people come around to the advertisements.

“Some people have really changed their minds and realized that there is something about their culture and city that is unique,” he told Channel News Asia.

[Viceo via Channel News Asia]

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