After Tania Mouraud, Tilt and Craig Costello, Mirko Reisser (DAIM), has come to Hangar 107 to complete a cycle of three exhibitions dedicated to the art of writing, the nurturing matrix of graffiti. I had intended for this cycle to be a form of manifesto. As I see it, addressing and exploring how the artists are connected to the letter, is a way of gathering your bearings in the complex – and often blurred – landscape of this dark object, so inappropriately called Street Art. Amidst the confusion, I wanted to shine a light on some fundamentals and to champion those who stand for demanding approaches, far away from brand images, effortless stardom and impostures.
For the first two exhibitions, we deliberately played the card of the opposite sides of a continuum. First, came Tania Mouraud’s exhibition because as an artist, she has invested the city other than with the graffiti expression, but she definitely shares with it the willingness to defy all conventions when it comes to writing, to ensure that its aesthetic and poetic significance prevail over legibility. Then, we displayed Tilt and Craig Costello’s because they have both distanced themselves from the movement’s letter, to remain as faithful as they could to its spirit of independence and adventure. After this double deconstructive process, we did have to go back to the act of writing in order to demonstrate that it remains, against all odds, the essential pillar of graffiti.
Mirko Reisser a.k.a DAIM quickly dawned on me as an obvious choice: his mastery when it comes to the 3D style has not only granted him with a leading role in the graffiti movement since the 1990s, but he has become one of its most widely copied representative member in Europe as well. His body of work has also demonstrated to people from my generation, that we were not bound to repeat over and over again what Dondi and Futura had done, that we were completely able to trace our very own path, far away from the dictates made in USA. When I was a teenager, DAIM was the one whose little gems I relentlessly searched for in Graff it ! or Radikal, where I just found further confirmation that he was unfailingly raising the bar higher and higher, but mostly that he could do anything but disappoint me.
Since then, some of the graffiti artists from his generation have made their own way into contemporary art, while avoiding the pitfall of graffiti on canvas. DAIM stuck to his guns, and his “coming out” as Mirko Reisser did not fundamentally alter his approach. What might look like as a limit has actually reinforced my decision: the fact that he does not hide his past as a graffiti writer, that he knew how to resist what was expected from an artist like him at a certain period of time, simply strengthens the deep-rooted consideration I already have for him. Reisser is a purist and a hard-liner. Nothing could make him drift away from his guidelines.
These are all the reasons why I am more than honored to be chosen by the artist in return, and that he had agreed to celebrate his thirty-year career at Hangar 107, far from Germany, the land of his first steps. The pieces he will be presenting in Rouen, including a monumental mural painting, actually symbolize an invaluable gift for me: they bring back to life that amazed kid within the tenacious graffiti promoter that DAIM has inspired me to become… without him even knowing anything about it.