Moses & Taps is a collective of German artists who have been disseminating public interventions around the world since 1994. Railway stations and city spaces represent the ideal environment, the magnetic centers from which every action radiates: on trains, writings, signs and sprays spread codes that travel to unexpected places. Essential protagonists of Street Art, they have succeeded in the attempt to vaporize writing into colored spots, giving shape to what they call the “Corporate Identity”: it is the color, rather than the tags, that defines recognizability. Everything comes together in the Reggio Emilia exhibition, where personal research presents new elements in different relationships between shape and color, between exuberant splashes and regular patterns. We talk about it in this interview.
Domenico Russo: Liquid Crystal exhibition, at Spazio C21 in Reggio Emilia, showcases a series of works created during a residency. How was the journey structured?
Moses & Taps: We have already prepared some works for the exhibition in our studios in Hamburg. But our painting comes from graffiti and it is therefore characterised by spontaneity and site-specificity. For the essence of a painting, however, the environment in which it is created is immensely important. It simply makes a difference whether you work outside in the bright sunshine under a blue sky or in the studio. One or the other does not make the picture better but it gives it a different character.
And how did you decide to connect geometric patterns, usually on the background, with your impetuous spots?
LIQUID CRYSTAL™ is a retelling of our SPLASH™ series. One of our inspirations for this series were broken or destroyed LCD displays at railway stations and on trains, in which the liquid crystals spread out without regard to shape and colour. We painted over such displays thousands of times without seeing the parallels to SPLASH™. In fact, the initial spark of the “Splash” series was also to dissolve letters and thus graffiti, which is also symbolised by the destroyed spray cans. What emerged from SPLASH™ was graffiti without letters. Just the ingredients, without a recipe. And the geometric patterns in the LIQUID CRYSTAL™ works symbolise the same thing: they are the basic grid and fragments of digital writings. Just the ingredients, without a recipe. What happens when the two levels are combined is ostensibly an interplay between chaos and order, between digital and analogue, but in fact, despite their visual differences, both pictorial levels also describe the same thing.
During your stay in Reggio Emilia, did you have the opportunity to delve into the area and work on trains or other things?
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So let’s just let the exhibition catalogue do the talking and hope that it won’t end up as part of the investigation files.
Some emblematic projects, such as INTERNATIONAL TOPSPRAYER™, which saw you paint 1000 trains in 1000 days, and SPLASH™, have continuously questioned and distorted the relationship with tags, up to the final point of a definitive explosion… until they are squashed, expanding, into large, colorful abstract patches. Where are the latest works located within this methodical process of profoundly radical change?
In Via Emilia San Pietro 21 in Reggio Emilia.
What remains altogether, once the letters have been blown up, the writings have been eliminated, and the very idea of representation has been made to falter?
Everything! The freedom for us and the viewer to see in a picture more than an obvious, flat message and to use their own imagination, creativity and intellect instead.
To what extent do your interventions relate to the people who come into contact with them?
To the extent that people relate to the interventions with which they come into contact.
As it born in the Seventies of last century, graffiti writing is an established performing art. How do you think graffiti writing is evolving? Where is it going? Is it over?
That graffiti writing is an established art is probably more of an opinion that not even we would share so unreservedly. But at least the exciting graffiti art has shown time and again over the last 50 years that it can remain true to itself and yet reinvent itself again and again. So as long as it continues to succeed, it will never be over. And if it doesn’t, it won’t be a loss.
Moses & Taps. Liquid Crystal
30/09/2023 – 09/12/2023
Spazio C21 – Palazzo Brami
Via Emilia San Pietro 21, 42121 Reggio Emilia
Domenico Russo, curator and art critic, addresses his commitment to the research of new trends with a particular look at the ways in which contemporary art connects and interacts with other areas, convinced that it is a sensitive truth through which to read the time that lives.