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It’s a commonplace by now that graffiti is a modern urban art form, and that tagging takes the trope of an artist’s signature—traditionally small and discrete, confined to a corner of a canvas—and blows it up, makes it impossible to ignore. But what has gone largely unnoticed is the quiet beauty of a buffer’s work. Often a DPW, Transit Authority, or construction site worker, a buffer is simply someone who paints over tagging and graffiti. Whereas taggers employ exuberant day-glow colors, the buffer’s palette is as muted as Giorgio Morandi’s. Likewise, the buffer’s imagery is modest and refined, drawing upon a small repertoire of geometric shapes or blunt wide brush strokes, whatever it takes to cover a tag or graffiti. The tagger is, virtually by definition, making a claim, a boast. The buffer, by contrast, is anonymous, self-effacing. Taggers work at night, buffers during the day. Their aims are diametrically opposed: act/react; express/silence; create/erase. Each could accuse the other of defacing. Though it may seem adversarial, theirs is a symbiotic relationship. The tagger makes the buffer’s job necessary, and the buffer gives the tagger a fresh canvas to work on. What results is neither tagging nor buffing but something new, a palimpsest of the two. Urban abstracts, I call them .
Causes Bill Hayes Supports
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative