Iltalehti Article 6.9.1997

Below is the article featured in the Finnish newspaper "Iltalehti" on 6th September 1997. This is the English version translated by GraB of PMC. You can also read the the original Finnish version.

Iltalehti Saturday 6.9.1997

The railway gallery is visited with YLE's camera

Graffiti writers magazine on the 'Net contains secret language

Illegal wall-painters also known as graffiti writers have moved into the Internet era. Since last January there has been a graffiti site on the 'Net called The Helsinki Connection. According to graffiti writers a young writer from Helsinki founded the site. The site, which is in English and partially contains secret language, has over one hundred color pictures of graffiti from The Helsinki Area and Turku.

Helsinki Connection is an underground site and its address is a well-kept secret, only given to trustworthy writers. Helsinki Connection has a special live-camera, which shows pictures from Helsinki between Pasila & Ilmala. With this camera a writer from the Helsinki area or even Pihtiputaa can check out the new pieces and styles in this section which is called the Gallery. The site does not own the camera, it belongs to the homepages of the Finnish broadcasting company, YLE. Helsinki Connection has made a link to the camera, which may be controlled by the viewer. The site tells users to zoom along the railway line. By doing this the viewer can easily see new paintings. Helsinki Connection apologies for the inconvenience of the camera often being reserved, which is caused by a large amount of users.

It's no cheap entertainment

Helsinki Connection is being published on the 'Net's WWW-pages with it's own main address which isn't the cheapest place. The maintenance of the publication isn't that cheap either. Helsinki Connection contains dozens of pages and at least over one hundred color pictures of graffiti. Getting them online needs a lot of expensive webspace. The pages and pictures have been organized by districts in Helsinki. Espoo and Vantaa are also by districts.

Finding out about the secret names

There are 25 districts included from Helsinki. If a writer living somewhere else wants to know what kind of paintings have been painted lately in Haaga or in Vartiokylä all they have to do is press a button and the site shows the best pieces on screen. It's that easy for a writer who is on the 'Net to find what new secret names have been used whether painting walls in Turku or in Leppävaara, Espoo. The site's front page is like a foreword from a book of history of art. There is a long quote from the English Guardian newspaper, which says graffiti is just as much art as anything else. Many people don't understand the value of graffiti, but some day it will be recognized as a form of art.

Things written in a secret language

"It's in English because it's not meant to be understood by everyone. We use a lot of our own secret language and professional slang because it tells about our things which aren't meant to be revealed to the general public." This is how a writer who follows the happenings at the Helsinki Connection explains the weird abbreviations and unclear hints. The sites gives "special respect to the TDR-crew", which paints several meter high pieces. The relatives of many dead people may have a different view of them for painting tags on tombstones.

The address only given within inner circles

Because of the publication's content the address has been a well-kept secret. The writer thinks the address has spread and now police are visiting the Helsinki Connection regularly. Also people who hate writers and graffiti have now found out the address. The publication's guestbook is now closed because it didn't just contain writers secret language and English but also messages in Finnish saying "You're going to get it if you continue... stop while you still can." These threats did not make any differentiation between good and bad pieces. Every writer is said to get beaten up if they do not stop painting.

Getting published is recognition

Helsinki Connection has taken its place as a leading Finnish graffiti site. At least the writers think getting their pieces published on Helsinki Connection is a kind of recognition. Many writers have been sending their work to the site's email address. Helsinki Connection handles the arriving material just like any magazine: it checks out the pictures and decides which are good enough to be published.

Written by Iltalehti reporter Reima Luukkanen <-----> Translation into English by GraB of PMC
Now read the Helsinki Connection response!
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