- Note: I didn’t attend this show in person, only through images released online
Since it’s inception, graffiti has always been about branding. If you saw a tag, throw up or piece delivered from one side of a city to another, there should be enough visual points to confirm that it was by the same person. Whether it be a swooping outline, type of paint used or even a selection of colours used by said writer, visual identity is a key factor in the culture of graffiti, as writers goes through different paths in their careers. Some are lucky enough to take advantage of making a living through this platform, others find jobs with skills obtained from it and then there are those who, respectably, participate completely outside of their own worlds. Nothing is set in stone and grey areas cover the culture in two-folds, as those three examples alone have and don’t always intertwine. But the identity of a graffiti writer is always prominent within the act, getting noticed and recognised is the name of the game, and comparisons between this essence of the culture and that of advertising are dangerously close. Mortal enemies until the last drop of paint, advertising and graffiti share a lot in common, both exist to get as much coverage as possible, both visually repeat themselves and both fight for space in their respective fields. While advertising has a legitimate upper hand on the other, it’s easy to see graffiti’s influence on it, via the use of space and coverage. Billboards, bill posters, bus shelters, stickers and even trains are now covered in travelling advertisements for brands that will pay, creating an aggravated double standard by those deemed vagrants for essentially doing the same thing. But graffiti isn’t just about where you put it, but how you do it, and as trends come and go from this culture as much as the fashion worlds does, graffiti writers continue to have the same inventiveness as it’s predecessors. Two of (arguably) the worlds most prolifically true graffiti writers, Taps and Moses aka Moses and Taps, are such individuals. Having broken down the concepts of documentation and the overall nature of train writing in the past, the duo have (more recently) experimented with the idea of branding themselves outside of the letters they present across the globe, with Corporate Identity, being the a triumphant instalment.
When we think of corporations, a handful of things come to mind: catchphrases, jingles, typography, logos and colours. For a lot of people, before any product is even put in front of us, a swooshing logo, accompanied by a simple slogan evokes a lifetimes worth of experiences associated with it. This is another comparative trait found throughout graffiti, a mere piece from Corporate Identity’s conductors Moses and Taps could (and have) provoked a Bible’s worth of knowledge, stories and pieces. Notoriously unstoppable and incredibly varied, the pair have efficiently painted almost rail system across this green and blue dot, giving them a reputation that only proceeds the pieces they plant. Having presented works at a number of shows previously, this recent incarnation delves into compiling all their body of work into it’s most basic of presentations via colour representation. Spread amongst a number of sculptures, photographs and canvas’, Moses and Taps attempt to explore their own visceral identity throughout the competitive world of graffiti and it’s encompassing surfaces. Be it subliminally laid or completely covering it’s display, these blue and yellow subjects represent the individuals who laid them, the same way any piece of graffiti would. Having travelled the gamut with a seemingly endless supply of paint and colours, they have geniously simplified themselves into the most primary forms of representation imaginable, much like a coat of branding. No logos, no jingles, catchphrases, not an inch of a lettering, just two trademarked tones of ying and yang. There have been countless attempts at conceptualizing graffiti over the years, but none have even come close to this, and furthermore, it doesn’t hide from the story of graffiti, owning the spaces their presented on, whether inside or out. The photographic pieces in particular stand out, as you can only imagine the confusion found between transport teams as they stumble upon such a display. With arguments of graffiti in the gallery space being made since the idea was first conceived, this exhibit alone is a true example of it’s power on display, as the duo have produced the concept both in it’s natural habitat and in other formats along the walls of Golden Hands Gallery.
While Corporate Identity is a body of work, pointing out the intricacies found between traditional advertising and graffiti, Moses and Taps have presented a show stepping in the opposite direction. A true definition of vandalism, this one of a kind show has the potential to set the world of graffiti towards a new course, obliterating some of the obligations set in the past. Artists of all forms use the same traits throughout their creative fields, repetition, colour palettes, design, themes, but it has rarely been used like this in the cult of graffiti. This a fearless show that sets one foot in contemporary art world, while screaming about graffiti, as a whole, with the other.
Congratulations to the ever elusive Moses and Taps™ on another amazing show of work and showing us that graffiti has truly evolved over the last decade. Corporate Identity is open to the public now at Golden Hands Gallery, in Hamburg until June 10. If you’re in the city or planning on heading their in the near future, this is a show not to be missed. Massive thank you to Good Guy Boris of The Grifters for allowing me to use the images shown above and review it all the way over here in Melbourne. If you would like to see more from opening night, hit the link above.
- Click here for more from MOSES & TAPS™ via The Fourth Walls
- Click here for more from THE GRIFTERS via The Fourth Walls