Outside the wall

Dan and Sarala’s blog from Hohhot


Sidewalk sales

25 Jun 2015

Graffiti in Hohhot is more about commerce than about making art or marking territory. Sidewalks and blank walls here are plastered with stickers and spray-painted phone numbers advertising various services, most of them illegal.

The stickers below are all advertising fake documents made to order (having the right documents with the right stamps is very important in China). Like many such advertisements, they are literally on the street.

This is our front door. The layers of stickers are adverts for locksmiths; the big red thing is a new year’s decoration.

The stairs leading up to our apartment are stencilled all over with phone numbers for locksmiths and plumbers. Some of the phone numbers have been partially blacked out, presumably by their competition.

This collection of stickers adorns the metal curtain in front of a closed storefront.

This sticker offers cash for medicine that has been purchased using medical insurance cards (typically the card carries a fixed amount of money that can only be spent in drugstores).

And these are all for prostitutes. Many of them mention “we have students”.

This last photo hopefully conveys just how common these stickers are.

In fact, the day we decided to photograph graffiti and stickers, we were able to capture all but one of the above just while walking home from lunch.