Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jan T.and D'Love, Nearly Famous Around Here--

Now mind you, I understand this tagging or graffiti is vandalism, a crime. However, I am interested in it as a way that some express identity and hostility--or if not hostility, how they extend their space in the world.

I think taggs are similar to Queen Elizabeth's elaborate panniered skirts, soaring cathedrals, and election signs--extended "space-taking" through "decoration".  They can be critiqued, therefore, and analyzed. The stakes in this activity are different for different people; you can kind of tell what the stakes by the actual tags that you see. I use a kind of amateur handwriting analysis coupled with number of tags, and amount of effort expended to reclaim space and fill it in.

A guy like Che needs to have a venue. He's developed some techniques. I'd like to see a large canvas from him--what he could do on the legitimate side.

I had this one figured out except for the J. Fortunately, Janti provided a helpful key.
On painted cinderblocks, along an alley. This is a pawn shop wall. As you will see through this post, he's still trying for the perfect signature. Don't ask me why I think he's a he. Never met him.

A space with poor graffiti remediation ALWAYS gets more graffiti.
Now my next question is: if you look at Che above, there are initials associated. Is this his fans--they don't disturb his work--or is it a message of some sort from Che himself, or a tribute to a sponsor?  Then D'Love here has somebody R--k below them. Did R--k come first, then D'Love established supremacy, and then both of them were crossed out by someone else?

Here is D'Love not crossed out. This is a girl. I think so, anyway--after the jump.

She's got good control. Of the can, anyway. 

Janti has been busy. We have a non-strategic defense on the part of this business. All they did was give him a glowing white field to play with. Art criticism: he didn't extend himself much to his canvas. Still it's a public intersection. But I conclude he is more interested in claiming space than developing his talents. And I could go way out on a limb and say that's a problem with his personal security. Threat interferes with training.

If you look closely, Mars painted here before in black. The owner painted it out with a slightly different white. Now when Mars paints himself in again, his name has texture. Art criticism: Mars hasn't exploited the surface enough, or the possibilities of the can of paint. Also I've seen his tags nowhere else. This is the only place. If it's so important that you come back, why not dress your tag up a little? The impulse is met once the name is in. It's not art. It's territory.

Nineteen days later. Totally different neighborhood. It would be quite a walk. Not impossible though.

His name is starting to look like Jan Tsi. Still it's the same angular J. I think it's the same dude. If not, could this be the kind of thing that starts a tagger blast? I'll never know unless I look.

Two more. Two different names. I think this surface has been treated. You'll notice all the paint disperses on the brick, which means I think that it's going to wash off.

I think this next one reads differently between urban residential and suburban/rural residential. If this was on a house, it would seem like a personal insult to an inhabitant, or an invasion of privacy. (Or at least where I grew up.) But since it's in a highly gay neighborhood, very high rise, it seems more like an affirmation or call to arms, or just, territorial. More that "I'm here to stay" than "I want you to leave." It's political.

Here is (Amen?) MOA with Cuzo on top. This does look hostile to me. Can't explain it, exactly, it just does.
But I remain fascinated. I will look for these names elsewhere. See if I can confirm this impression.

The MOA is also one of the initials in the Che picture. I think it stands for something, but not Member of the Academy. Now racking my brain. If anyone knows, Please Write In.

And may it interest you, even if it doesn't thrill you--

Have a great day, everybody!
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suz said...

Intriguing. Marking territory like dogs, telling everybody who's in charge. I wonder if urban cops pay attention to graffiti.

Bob G. said...

I guess I'll never live long enough to figure out the whole "mystique" behind tagging, other than to show others that you cna oput a few letters together in some balloon-like sequence in a few colors...

I've seen wall MURALS in several cities and most of them shout out TALENT (as in artist-at-work here).

It all seems a bit narcissistic to me...but Im SO Draconian that

Good photos, though.

Stay safe out there.

Ann T. said...

Dear Suz,
Well, I think that police do pay attention to it, but not so much to this kind of "tagging". The flip side is--it tells you which neighborhoods have kids in them out past their bedtime.

In the case of gang marks (which none of these are) they can tell something about gang movements and even specific operations on specifice corners. I have an entire reference bibliography with pictures on it posted on my sidebar.

As to the dog comparison, LOL! THat is just as true if not more so than my Queen Elizabeth comparison. Which tells you that this impulse is basic in the "hierarchy of needs". Through history though, graffiti has not usually been the way that it got expressed.

Anyway, thanks for taking a look! It's just a hobby of mine, to look into these things--

Thank you,
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
Well, I think you are right that it is narcissistic--the name--and then what does that say?

The way you show your identity is with care for what you have and careful selection of items purchased and made. These businesses, opening every day, have signs and choose paint colors, sweep the sidewalks in the morning, and so forth.

I suspect these taggers don't have jobs, hobbies, or skill sets. Perhaps what they have left is their "me" and this vague hostility that doesn't even seem very personal. And that is something for me to reflect on too.

More psychology than art, eh?
It is disturbing in many ways. I flatter myself that by studying them I am also more aware of my street!

Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T:
I was fascinated by graffiti in NYC in the 1970s--ah those were the days! Of course, its running amuck was a marker of the urban decay of the day. Some of the people were genuinely talented and after some of the books and docs came out, were able to find a place in the art world.

I like the one with the little heart on it!

It is about identity and being known. More advanced taggers do start caring about how it looks.

Good stuff thanks so much!

The Observer

W. Butler said...

Every time I see tagging on walls it makes me feel like we ought to start caning these little vandals.

Ann T. said...

Dear Officer Butler,
That Cane! It crops up sometimes.

A little suffering for the Art.

Seriously, it's a huge headache for the business owners. And in the above, it hasn't really added anything except work.

Thanks for writing in!
Ann T.

Anonymous said...

the little writings beside the persons graffiti is his shout outs to his allies. usually d.c. artist tend to give recognition to other writers or just a shout out to their own group as allegaince

asadULTRAwalker said...

allow me to answer some of yr questions:

"D" is indeed female. and a pretty well-known wheatpaster.

The initials look like:
KGB (the oldest graffiti crew in DC, est 1983)
JU (another member of KGB, may have been w him that night)

The D and other tag were gone over by anti-graf vigilantes who seem to be based around 14th and P St.

This is MAR5, another member of KGB. This is done at intersection of 14th and U St. and probably done fast for obvious reasons. MAR5 is up quite a bit throughout the city.

KWEER is a gay graffiti artist.

In the AMEN pic, HOA stands for Hoods Of Art, a graf crew from mid 90s. The CHE reference is probably to MOE, another graf artist.