In Rome they have “captured” Geco. The news of the identification and complaint of the gEurope‘s most wanted raffle maker The mayor of the Italian capital gave it to great fanfare, Virginia Raggi, of the 5 Star Movement. Raggi was exultant and, due to the tone used to congratulate the NAD guards (Núcleo Ambiente y Decoro, the Local Police specializing in the protection of environmental heritage and urban decorum), some might think that a dangerous criminal had been arrested. But Geco is not a bandit, but a 28-year-old, who grew up in the student and bohemian neighborhood of San Lorenzo de Roma, accused of having stained the walls of several cities with his nickname, using the technique that in urban art jargon is called «bombing».
Mayor Raggi wrote a post on Facebook to praise the victory of her NAD police officers, noting that they had managed to hunt down someone who “had been deemed impossible to catch”: “Now Geco has been identified and reported. It has stained hundreds of walls and buildings in Rome and other European cities, which must be cleaned with citizens’ money. A story that already it is not tolerable», Said the councilor. The investigation took a year to find the whereabouts of the European champion of graffiti “bombing”. The Local Police, using images from video surveillance cameras scattered throughout the city, tracked Rome at night in search of a character with an invisible face, a ghost.
It’s not Banksy
In addition, with the coordination of the Rome prosecutor’s office, they reconstructed their possible movements in half of Europe, taking into account the complaints received from European associations and municipalities. Lisbon Police, which collaborated with the NAD, estimated the cleaning of the works that the graffiti artist had done in the Portuguese capital at 500,000 euros. The NAD policemen and the Rome prosecutor’s office conducted a thorough investigation. They found out that Geco chose European cities that had airports with low cost flights. “His modus operandi was systematic and obsessive, with quick actions, at low cost and making use of a network of collaborators,” according to NAD sources. For years, the graffiti artist marked with his nickname, Geco, written in capital letters, Roman subway stations and bridges, abandoned schools and buildings, parks and galleries. Stickers with his name have been placed on countless street signs, lamp posts and newsstands.
Clearly, Geco is not as well known as the British Banksy, the world’s most famous street artist, whose real identity remains a secret. His style is completely different. Banksy creates works of social denunciation on walls in different parts of the world, while Geco mostly repeats his signature in seemingly unreachable and inaccessible places with some variations, including the most famous, a phrase written in Rome in via Magna Grecia in the highest part of a building: “Gecko gives you wings”.
Geco became famous in Italy, although his identity, as in the case of Banksy, was not known. Now it has been made public, as well as details of the complaint: Lorenzo Perris, alias Geco, has been accused of repeated damage, in protected monuments such as the tower of Termini station and the Aurelian Walls; 6 mobile phones, 2 computers, more than 13,000 euros, various cars and some of his tools to carry out the bombing were seized in his house: ropes and climbing equipment, cans, “modified” fire extinguishers filled with paint and transformed into a kind of giant format spray.
Controversy and debate
The identification of the graffiti artist Geco has immediately raised a great controversy in Rome. The great joy and satisfaction shown by Mayor Raggi has been the subject of all kinds of comments. Most Romans agree that the italian capital needs a big cleaning, including graffiti, but the almost unanimous complaint is that the City Council of Rome has much more serious problems to deal with, with seriously deprived neighborhoods, devilish traffic, permanent potholes and garbage in its streets. While Councilor Raggi was exultant, some organized a “bombing”, a bombing to attack the email address of the first citizen of the capital with this text: “Art does not stop, incompetence does, Raggi resign, Geco free”. Some Romans agree with the mayor, others, as the digital newspaper «Fanpage» has done, criticize her harshly: «Tell Raggi that Geco he is a graffiti artist and not Pablo Escobar. She is a Banksy fan, but she has treated Geco like a criminal. “
In any case, the identification of Geco has served to make the old debate between “vandalism and street art” current, according to the newspaper “La Repubblica”: “It is difficult to justify art in the face of the narcissistic repetition of a name, It is difficult to exclude it by observing the dizzying height of some of his works. Therefore, it is legitimate to wonder if street art does not reside only in the pictorial technique, but also in the place chosen to leave the signature. Graffiti and street art – “La Repubblica” concludes – they have a common origin: the dichotomy is created by the public, also according to their cultural background, their ability to “read” the different languages ».