BORF!

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Bobby Fisher committed suicide at the age 16 in October of 2003. Troubled by what led to the death of his friend, John Tsombikos took on Fisher's nickname as his own tagging name.
BORF was born.

Borf was by no means dedicated to perfecting the craft or technical aspects of stencil graffiti or mastering the form. His style was simple, consistent, and persistent. Ranging from a simple tag, a slogan, or a stencil featuring Fisher's face, Borf's work proliferated throughout Washington DC to the extent that there were daily complaints to the city by aggravated citizens. Borf was eventually arrested just weeks after completing his most recognized piece.

Perhaps the only reason for there being any information about Borf is due to the revealing of his identity through the press after his arrest, for which he was sentenced to 1 month in jail, 200 hours of community service, and a $12,000 fine. The widespread desire for an explanation regarding the motivation of the pervasive mark was finally satisfied when Borf was brought to court. The Washington Post called his message "an earnest though sometimes muddled mix of progressive politics filtered through a lens of youthful optimism."

Borf's convictions were informed by anarchism, having decided to oppose capitalism, government, and considering property to be theft, ("as Proudhon says.") Through independent reading his politics progressed from everyday liberalism, leading him to identify with the Situationist International movement. Taking place in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the movement was most heavily influenced by Guy Debord and The Society of the Spectacle, which opposed the degradation of human life by capitalism and the manipulative misrepresentation of life by mass media. Instead, alternative life experiences were to be sought.

An article in the Washington Post says, "Over time, there was so much of his graffiti, a Borf backlash emerged. Borf said he's not responsible for graffiti saying "Borf is gay," and he certainly didn't write "Borf hates God" on a church. In February, a 27-year-old man was arrested for writing anti-Borf graffiti on the back of a sign in Logan Circle. He got as far as "Borf is a do-" before the police caught up with him."

Borf counted this incitement of reaction as a success, even though it was at his expense. There are many who think that the graffiti artist's cooption of his friend's nickname is in itself an unjust action for the movement it has created. The way Borf has been presented in the media casts doubt upon whether he could have accomplished everything he claims responsibility for, or which has been publicly attributed to Borf.

Indeed, Borf has become a scapegoat, accused of inspiring countless copycats. DC council member Jim Graham claimed that: "a Borf-like avalanche is occurring," referring to a recent rise in graffiti.

All of this information about Borf came to light through his arrest, after which his illegal activity has subsided. In the wake of his sentencing, though, a band of friends (several of whom had been arrested with him and subsequently let off) rallied together for a "Borf-in" at Dupont Circle in DC. Distributed at the demonstration was spraypaint, anarchist pamphlets, and the following communiqué:

Borf is not caught. Borf is many. Borf is none. Borf is waiting for you in your car. Borf is in your pockets. Borf is running through your veins. Borf is naive. Borf is good for your liver. Borf is controlling your thoughts. Borf is everywhere. Borf is the war on boredom. Borf annihilates. Borf hates school. Borf is a four letter word for joy. Borf is quickly losing patience. Borf yells in the library. Borf eats pieces of shit like you for breakfast. Borf is digging a hole to China. Borf is bad at graffiti. Borf is ephemeral. Borf is invincible. Borf. Borf ruins everything. Borf runs near the swimming pool. Borf keeps it real. Borf writes you love letters. Ol' Dirty Bastard is Borf. Borf knows everything. Borf is in the water. Borf doesn't sleep. Borf systematically attacks the infrastructure of the totality. Borf is a foulmouth. Borf eats your homework. Borf brings you home for dinner. Borf is the dirt under your fingernails. Borf is the song that never ends. Borf gets down. Borf gets up. Borf is your baby. Borf is neither. Borf is good for your heart, the more you eat the more you. Borf is. Borf knows. Borf destroys. Borf is immortal. Borf pulls fire alarms. Borf scuffs the gym floor. Borf is looking through your mom's purse. Borf is M. Borf is the size of Alaska. Borf likes pizza. Borf is in general. Borf is X. Borf ain't nothin' to fuck with. Borf runs it. Borf has reflexes like a cat. Borf is immortal. Borf sticks gum under the desk. Borf is omnipotent. Borf is flawed. Borf is winning.

The Borf Brigade's second communiqué came in video form:


Regarding the comment about the "purged" member, John Tsombikos mentions in an interview with anarchist zine Rolling Thunder, "The BORF Brigade has kicked me out of the group for too much media exposure and losing my anonymity. It's all up to them now, I guess."

The Borf Brigade's activity since has consisted of a parade featuring a Borf Riot Bike http://graffitiresearchlab.com/?page_id=44#video with speakers and a portable projector, collaboration with the Graffiti Research Lab: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWcDi1nZRCY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXPDi7C0twk and the creation of Bobby Fisher Memorial Building, an abandoned warehouse that was temporarily leased for free in exchange for repairs, and which became home to a DIY community and art gallery.

The landlord recently wanted to sign a contract and charge rent, leaving the Brigade orphaned for the time being, and in the process of considering real estate and non-profit status.

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