Tag.

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There is an attempt to leave a mark. Art, it can be said, is one such process of mark-making. The appropriative gesture, then, is a double-edged mark, at once creating a new work through re-contextualization as well as leaving a trace, a signature of the appropriated object's history. Appropriation places us upon this blade, this double-mark, where artistic movement is juxtaposed against (and beside) the object's past. On this edge artistic intention is exploded, always outwards - forward into new readings, backward to the material, while both sides move associatively towards one another, transgressing intention in the same breath of its pronunciation.


 
"Tag." asks the question, "How does one appropriate the site-specific?" Indeed, what does it mean to transgress material intention, as the site-specific declares? Thus, "Tag." is a series of wall segments with graffiti tags: site-specific paintings of street artist's names. These spray-painted cinderblocks, removed directly from the walls of the buildings they were installed in, are now presented in a fine-art gallery setting, sitting upon hand-crafted white shelves, individually designed to articulate each piece as art-object.

The appropriated site-specific object finds its double-mark exemplified in "Tag." We have both work and site presented in the object: the surface is the original graffiti tag, while the object itself is the site, the actual wall transported physically, calling into question the "specific" of site-specific. Yet, "Tag." also makes a metonymic gesture. The tag is not appropriated in its entirety, but rather only in segment (thus disabling the utility of a tag, as it is now unreadable). Contained within this metonymy is a reference to the original work, while at the same time a new, singularized sculpture, organized only in terms of aesthetics (again, disabling the "readability" of the tag). This new gesture is an abstraction, wherein materiality is highlighted: the tag becomes paint, color, while the wall becomes cinderblock, concrete, and the arrangement becomes pure aesthetics, fine-art.


 
Looking at "Tag." from afar, we see more. Appropriating a tag as fine-art is a political transgression. What makes tags street-art are their site-specificity. The fact that tags are only meant for the streets activates what it means to be street-art. There is a politics behind tagging, and behind the culture of staying "street." Thus, bringing the tag into a fine-art gallery, and glorifying its mark (through appropriation, through sculptural aesthetics) as an art-object, is thus forcing the work itself to "sell out."

Which brings "Tag." full circle, back again to a comment on appropriation itself. Since we are always within language, as human beings, every gesture is always already reference. Because language is iterable, so must every mark we make come from somewhere. Since art in the capitalist society is tagging par excellence (artwork is always only marketing, the artist always only branding) then "Tag." is at once a double-tag. "Tag.," as an art object, exemplifies the nature of the mark as trace, as reference, as always already a multiple tag. This appropriation of the mark is but a self-aware gesture; it is nothing new. Art, as language, is always appropriation. Thus "Tag." is a trace of a trace of trace, always re-iterating its own name.


 

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