Cultural Heritage and Ficto-criticism: The Ballad of Utah and Ether

Once dubbed “the Bonnie and Clyde of graffiti”, the globe-trotting, train-painting duo of Utah and Ether occupy a central place in contemporary graffiti folklore. Having both served jail time in the US for graffiti offenses, the couple skipped parole and embarked on a long term “probation vacation”, painting subway networks across Europe and Asia. Their exploits were carefully documented through photographs and web videos, including a collaboration with the Grifters, a ground-breaking video series. In 2016, Ether was again arrested and jailed while placing stickers on a Melbourne street. This paper considers the implications of Utah and Ether’s graffiti practice. Using ficto-critical writing techniques, it attempts to fill in the gaps of Utah and Ether’s fantasy life on the run and think through its implications for cultural heritage and graffiti research in a late capitalist world.