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There are caves in the north of Spain and in the south of France with markings from the Upper Paleolithic era.  The markings take two forms, outlines of hands, fingers splayed, and drawings of various animals.  The outlines are primal: I am alive on this planet, they say, and my imprint will remain long after I am gone.  The drawings reach beyond the self: I have stood before the bison and before the auroch; I experienced something terrifying and beautiful, something that I must kill in order to live.  

In the twenty-first century, our caves are the dark spaces under freeway overpasses.  Our markings take the same forms, primal tags and the graffiti that bear witness in word and image.  To these has been added a third form, buffing or painting over, performed by municipal employees.  This new category of painters seems unaware that they, along with taggers and graffiti artists, co-create a multi-layered testament.

Each of us—to different degrees—longs to leave our mark, to bear witness to life on this planet, and to establish and maintain some order.  Often we are not present to our part in the broader creation.

The lower portion of the image is a concrete wall, interrupted by columns that support the freeway overhead; the wall is painted over with layers of graffiti and buffing.  The upper portion is the retaining wall several yards behind the wall, where the bridge begins its span.  The retaining wall, deliberately out of focus in these photographs, also has layers of graffiti and buffing.  These eight images are part of a larger series.  

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