I’ve been reading Jonathan Lethem’s novel The Fortress of Solitude. This novel along with my recent viewing of Exit Through the Gift Store, and after thumbing through the pages of The Faith of Graffiti, has piqued my interest in graffiti and street tagging. I’ve noticed it before, but I had always seen it as a lot of people may see it; messy scrawling on walls that could possibly be gang related, something I didn’t pay much attention to except as a blur of spray paint. I’d always liked street art, and when there was some artful design hidden in an obscure place waiting to be discovered by an overly observant eye, I wanted to be the observant eye, I enjoyed it, like I had discovered some secret shared between me and some anonymous artists, but I had never paid much attention to the street writers until now.
I see tagging in a new way as if I read a dictionary or took a basic language class on graffiti. I will never be an expert, but I feel like I’ve peeked into something secret, like a kid seeing that neighbor person naked by accident. You can’t stop watching and you know its bad because someone told you, and you barely understand it, but you know it has changed you, your different now. I have all these mental questions, like how old is this person, is anyone a girl, are they a street artist, is this a gang tag? I have a nerdish thrill at seeing Pinto or DTW in more than one place, or when I recognize the crown that is similar to Basquiat’s when he would tag samo with a crown over his name. Some, I find to be nothing but an ugly mess, and others I find fascinating because they appear to have been painted with a brush stoke and have left purposeful drips of paint. It’s like finding those hidden gems of art on the street finding that unique tag mixed within swirls of matted colors against a rusted garbage bin.
My photos are taken on a very crappy flip phone, but for now it is all I have. To me the quality of the photograph is not important (yet) right now I just enjoy capturing something that is viewed as trash, vandalism, a fear of gangs, or just a dirty mess that is ignored, something that will soon be painted over and eventually forgotten.