The Tag Conference Brooklyn 2023

THE TAG CONFE-
RENCE BROOKLYN

THE TAG CONFERENCE BROOKLYN

NAME WRITING IN PUBLIC SPACE

14 MAY 2023
NEW YORK CITY

RICHARD GOLDSTEIN, JOE AUSTIN, BILL DANIEL, CARLO MCCORMICK, SUSAN PHILLIPS, STEVE ‘ESPO’ POWERS, GREGORY SNYDER, FRANÇOIS CHASTANET, CHRISTIAN ACKER, ALAN KET, LACHLAN MACDOWALL, MR. KAVES, TOMMY REBEL, JAVIER ABARCA, EDWARD BIRZIN

Where does American tagging come from, and how has it evolved? What special chapters in its history took place in New York City? How does tagging play with space, and how do artists play with tags?

The Tag Conference Brooklyn gathers an unprecedented lineup of speakers, including some of the key voices in American graffiti studies, to discuss the unsung artform of tagging in the city that made it what it is today.

The Tag Conference Brooklyn 2023

PROGRAM

9am – 10:30am

TAGS OF OLD AMERICA

Susan Phillips (US)
Bill Daniel (US)
Javier Abarca (ES)

The marks left by hobos on freight trains as they stowed away across the continent were spoken, written, and sung about over a century ago, but with the decades they fell into obscurity.

Recently however, ‘monikers’ have found a new following in America and across the world. A scene is emerging in Europe, and marks on freight cars can be spotted from France to Russia.


10:30am – 12pm

HANDSTYLES FROM THE U.S.A.

Gregory Snyder (US)
Christian Acker (US)
François Chastanet (FR)

Local tagging traditions have a long and rich history in the U.S.A, from the ‘placas’ of L.A. to the handstyles of Philadelphia, on which Chastanet is currently conducting on-site research.

Speakers will discuss how tagging across the U.S.A. shares deep roots yet differs greatly, and will look into the groundbreaking tag-based mural painted by Barry McGee on Houston Street in 2010.


1pm – 2:30pm

GENESIS STORIES OF N.Y.C. GRAFFITI

Richard Goldstein (US)
Joe Austin (US)
Edward Birzin (US)

Austin’s essential 2001 book ‘Taking the Train’ examined the media-driven demonisation of N.Y.C. graffiti. Birzin has recently studied how other media elevated graffiti into an acceptable form of art.

Veteran journalist Richard Goldstein, who witnessed and reported on early N.Y.C. graffiti, will join Austin and Birzin in fleshing out the different genesis stories of the culture.


2:30 – 2:45

KEYNOTE SPEECH

Susan Phillips (US)


2:45pm – 3:30m

SPOTS MATTER: TAGS AND SPACE

Lachlan MacDowall (AU)
Screening of ‘Symbolic Threats’ (DE)

Tags exist in space, and the way they play with this dimension is a key aspect to their value. This panel will open with an exclusive view into ‘White American Flags’, the now mythical 2014 intervention by artists Wermke & Leinkauf on the Brooklyn Bridge, a brazen translation of graffiti into the language of art.

MacDowall will then discuss how graffiti found a perfect home on Instagram and the internet, in a radical expansion of the spatial arena for tags.


3:30pm – 5pm

THE TAG AFTER GRAFFITI

Carlo McCormick on Brad Downey (US)
Steve ‘Espo’ Powers (US)
Alan Ket (US)

Tags are the foundation of many professional careers, and a tool for artists. In this panel, McCormick will present the intriguing tags of American artist Brad Downey, Ket will recount his rise from tagger to media mogul and museum director, and Espo will delve into his unique blend of handstyles, poetry and art.


5pm – 6pm

‘INSIDES’ AND BROOKLYN HANDSTYLES

Mr. Kaves (US)
Tommy Rebel (US)

Tags were the founding brick that led to colorful graffiti. For golden-era N.Y.C. writers, the tagged inside walls of the trains were as relevant as the pieces on the outsides. These tags were however neglected in appreciations of the culture, and remain largely so today.

Kaves and Rebel will offer a look into particularly influential writers to understand the evolution of Brooklyn handstyles over the decades, and share a peek into Rebel’s unique and extensive photographic archive of tagged insides.

The Tag Conference Brooklyn 2023 Wermke Leinkauf

Special feature:

‘SYMBOLIC THREATS’
Matthias Wermke, Mischa Leinkauf & Lutz Henke (DE)
Germany, 2015, 15′

The 2014 intervention ‘White American Flags’ by Berlin artists Matthias Wermke and Mischa Leinkauf is one of the most infamous public artworks in the history of New York City.

‘Symbolic Threats’ recounts their feat on top of the Brooklyn Bridge through a collage of clips from the huge international media record about the incident, including the finding of the white flags and their dismantling.

The Tag Conference is proud to host the American premiere of the film documenting this milestone work.

The Tag Conference Brooklyn 2023 What Do One Million JA Tags Signify

‘UNLOCK SHOWCASE’

A pop-up bookstore for independent graffiti publications.

The world of independent graffiti books is thriving, and publishers are raising the bar in both quantity and quality. The Tag Conference Brooklyn will showcase a range of titles from a select list of European and American publishers.

The Unlock Showcase is a peek into the Unlock Book Fair, the international meeting place for the independent graffiti publishing scene.

FEATURING PUBLICATIONS FROM

Bill Daniel
Butch 2
CarnageNYC
Clayton Patterson
Kurt Boone
NovYork
Possible Books
Steve ‘Espo’ Powers
Urbanario
Village Works

The Tag Conference Brooklyn 2023

‘THE TAG CONFERENCE’

The Tag Conference is the spearhead event in the growing field of graffiti studies. Since its founding instalment in 2017 at the Freie Universität Berlin, the conference has travelled to different European cities to host talks from over 70 speakers coming from 19 countries on 4 continents.

The event’s groundbreaking focus on ‘name-writing of all eras’ has brought together academics studying historical wall-writing with the new scholars of contemporary graffiti, often insiders of the culture, creating the first point of contact between these two research spheres.

The Tag Conference is proud to showcase as well the work of independent researchers and ‘rogue archivists’, culturally invaluable but often overlooked by academia.

The Tag Conference Brooklyn is an invitation-only instalment of the Tag Conference with a focus on 20th century American tagging. A full-format Tag Conference with an open call for papers is scheduled for June 29th to July 1st 2023 at the Hamburg University and the Museum for Hamburg History in Germany.

‘THE TAG CONFERENCE BROOKLYN’

While the working field of graffiti studies is taking shape in Europe, its most veteran and fundamental voices hail from the U.S.A.

This Brooklyn instalment of the Tag Conference gathers an unprecedented line-up of established American figures, both underground and institutional, plus special guests from Europe and Australia.

Welcome to the first American celebration of graffiti studies.

Industry City
33 35th St, Building 5
Room Five-Two-A
Brooklyn,
New York
No entry fee

Directors: Edward Birzin (US), Javier Abarca (ES)
Chair: Susan Hansen (AU)
Visual archivist: Mike Delmar (US)

The Tag Conference is produced by the Unlock Book Fair team

The Tag Conference Brooklyn 2023 support
The Tag Conference Brooklyn 2023 poster