MINE IS SMALLER THAN YOURS
Project by Name:
Curated by Anja Zver
On a three-week tour across Europe, Name: joined the old-school graffiti game, using witty aphorisms to cleverly mark 12 European cities. Iconic locations in Milan, Zürich, Lyon, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Maribor and Ljubljana were furnished with the tiniest graffiti art works, which are invisible to the naked eye.
Already since the 1980s, the height of the New York City graffiti era, the graffiti scene has been marked by artists battling one another to demonstrate the superiority of their skills in terms of every possible parameter (size, color, number, new typography styles) and to occupy the best, most eye-catching spots with their works. In the ever-present street art battles for a graffiti artist's place under the sun, Name: has used clever moves to assert his visible position on the scene. By developing nanograffiti, the smallest graffiti in the world, he humorously surpassed other graffiti works in size – which is also a way of actually giving meaning to the existence of invisible graffiti in the city streets. Secondly, he positioned his graffiti on highly visible, extremely bold locations with heavy traffic, even in the biggest European capitals; for example, one of the street lamps next to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, amidst all the city's hustle and bustle, now carries the sign "Veni Vidi Vici".
Just like this Parisian triumphant inscription, other nanograffiti are also often directly referring to locations or iconic monuments in their vicinity, or to situations in which their author has found himself during the journey.
In Lyon, Name: met a boy who told him that his father, a biologist, has also created a nanograffiti by putting his signature on the cells that he studied. The boy showed Name: the photograph, claiming that the graffiti created by his father was smaller in size. "And then I took out my photo of the graffiti I made in Lausanne, checked it to make sure how many microns was the size of his image and that of my own, and said 'no, no, no, look, mine is smaller than yours!' In my most recent series I went on to produce an even smaller piece than any of my earlier ones," says Name: On this occasion, the nanograffiti "Mine is smaller than yours" was created, which now adorns the main city square in Lyon. Undoubtedly, the event in Lyon is a perfect example of how to use a nanograffiti to provide a concise portrayal of some situation.
At the point of intersection between the established practice of developing graffiti typographies and styles, the employment of high-tech devices, and the use of real and digital environments, Name: uses a transmedia approach to develop and display his own artistic expression. Connections between new technologies and traditional media (in the given situation, graffiti is considered as a traditional medium, a form of typographic mural), as well as collaborations between scientists and artists, have become an established practice in many fields of art. Within this kind of artistic practice, Name: does not utilize nanotechnology only to be able to create graffiti art on a nanoscale, but also to imply the possible uses of nanotechnology in general, and to emphasize its future role in the promotion and development of the economic, political, and cultural spheres, as well as its applicability as a means of public oversight at a microcosmological level.
Size is certainly one of the elements used by Name: to provoke the subculture he grew up in; with nano-sized graffiti it is much simpler to occupy a city's best street art locations, and at the same time contravene the visual and production-related standardizations that define what a graffiti is. The discussion about what a graffiti is in the technical and processual sense, and about the possibility of extending the boundaries of making/creating graffiti (style development, time frame, space frame), was initiated by the author three years ago, with his first series of nanograffiti in the Swiss town of Lausanne. His newly created series, exhibited in Kibela Gallery, elevates the set of questions regarding the characteristics of graffiti and the process of their creation, to a discussion about the intimate framework of the graffiti subculture as a whole.
The insightful Lyon nanograffiti, "Mine is smaller than yours", as a kind of a motto for the exhibition, implies that we are entering a milieu laden with discussions on the rivalry, banter and humorousness associated with graffiti and graffiti creators. Furthermore, the exhibited work, which is related to the Maribor nanograffiti (map), bears witness to the collaboration and networking, to the forging of friendships, which are typical of any kind of small community, including the graffiti subculture. The Maribor part of the project was created in collaboration with several graffiti artists that Name: met during his 17 years of life as an active graffiti artist. To work on the project, he invited other artists who, just like him, push the limits of graffiti art policy while exploring the boundaries of graffiti making, and shifting them through experimentation on a visual level and in terms of their subject matter. For these kinds of art works, which move along the borders of what a graffiti is, it is in order to accept the term 'conceptual graffiti', named after the Prague piece "city of conceptual graffiti". The guidelines and features, according to which the author distinguishes them from traditional graffiti artists, who develop their tag names stylistically and typographically, are related to exploring the art of graffiti from the perspective of contents, i.e., the subject matter.
With the presented works, the art show is extended into a group exhibition of works by authors that have designed nanograffiti for the city of Maribor. The exhibition is thus also shifted from an institutional space to the external environment, onto the streets of Maribor, a city put on the world map as a nanograffiti capital by Name: and his project.