Writing The Memory Of The City – Daniel Tagno

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“The realization of the necessity of reanimation” in “Writing the Memory of the City” shows the development and duality of the writer COST and the artist Daniel Tagno. When wild writer COST is in action Daniel Tagno’s restless spirit calms down. But also fear arises when the writer meets the more delicate artist. Often their wishes seem incompatible. That is why Tagno composes a love letter to his Alter Ego COST. This personal perspective of an inner conflict represents many artists in the book. Because Tagno combines train writing with the art industry he is the first artist presented in the book by Markus May and Thomas Wiczak which was published end of last year at Dokument Förlag.

What is the book trying to show, what is “Writing the Memory…” about?

The book presents a current state of events: Fifteen writers from Berlin at personal crossroads, questioning conformities. Most of them are not classically trained artists, their common root is writing. They still write their names but each one looked further in his way. A lot of them got involved in the art industry. For some it is not only about painting and letters but different concepts of occupying space, installing graffiti concepts in art history. The book focuses on the development of some of them and like in a sketch book every artist could create his chapter himself. The book has the ambition to go deeper than the ones before it without losing sight of the writers.

What is the necessity of reanimation?

Reanimation means COST was once alive, came alive at the age of twelve and began his way but Tagno has forgotten him, has even detested him for a while. He was reanimated because one cannot deny his roots or what one loves. But before reanimation comes the destruction of what one has built. It is difficult coping with all the influences, you sometimes forget who you are and where you came from. COST and Tagno were so different that they mostly just fell out. Now they are sitting at the same table and if Tagno decides to work for the art industry he no longer denies being a writer.

When did you start occupying yourself with art history?

At the age of fifteen. A lot of writers do not care much about cultural history, which has done no harm to writing. To me writing is closed art-historical space. Certain elements, designs or forms are often quotations of renowned writers. Art industry has the same conditions. I view myself as well as other writers as part of art history. Writing is introverted, violent, expressionistic, egoistic, hedonistic, animalistic. The art industry is mostly self contained and the crowd “cultivated”. COST is not reflected but emotional. Tagno came into play in 1993 under the name Techno as a sort of advertisement strategy. He wanted to swim against the stream and be different at any cost but this does not necessarily lead to something new.

What is the soul of graffiti – especially your graffiti?

COST has soul. The soul of graffiti definitely lies beyond all conformity, the way it exists in HipHop for a long time. Soul, to me, means doing what you have to do. Graffiti only has soul through individuals, who actively and fearlessly search for themselves and express it in the form of writing.

Mare 139 says in his chapter that he finds himself today in unexplored territory. How about you?

Tagno also stands searching on unexplored territory. Compared to COST Tagno has not found his formula yet. COST has his four letters functioning like four figures or characters as one picture. Tagno concerns himself with the history of scripture. The traditionalists have devoted themselves to one thing and pursue a sort of epiphany through perfection of their discipline. Traditional style writing seems to follow an unwritten code, similar to a shaolin monastery. If this frame starts to become too cramped you inevitably find yourself on unexplored territory. In NY at the end of the ‘80s graffiti was dead for lot of writers when they could not paint trains anymore. But some of them looked for new possibilities and automatically found themselves on unexplored territory.

Why do you think Berlin has a special role for graffiti in Germany or even Europe? Is it because of social relations or the east/west connection?

When I came to Berlin in 1989 I could not believe what was going on. An old, shabby, rusty city with ghost train stations and trains so slow you could jump out while they were running and paint the line. At night Berlin had this warm and dim flair due to the post war illumination. Also a certain street kids feeling was always present. Berlin was not always comfortable but it had this fire burning deep inside. The feeling the city communicated influenced a lot of people, not only writers. At the end of the ‘80s/beginning of the ‘90s Berlin was really fucked up, similar to New York in the ‘70s. Today everything is cleaner and more commercial. But as writer you can still live and create – for now!

How important are the non commercial aspects of graffiti to you?

All-embracing, it is what constitutes graffiti. Writing is non commercial, that is the most important part of it. It stands in drastic contrast to advertising because it only promotes one single person without charging any money, as there is no product to sell. Opposite to street art writing cannot be commercialized. Everyone seems convinced that writing conquered the art market like figurative street art. But which writer sold for prices like Swoon or Banksy?

Why the art scene for Tagno, because he is growing up?

Where is my work going if I decide to fully live of it? And does this question inevitably lead from thief to servant? There are no arguments in favor of the gallery, only a feeling that I have to paint. I will have to see where my output takes me. I always hated it when old school writers said bombing is for kids. It is just that as kid you have more time on your hands, you can run faster and prosecution is less severe. It is hardcore to live the lifestyle all your life. Returning to the streets is always a possible alternative. But no one wants to ride the same ride all his life.

How is your view of the world – pessimistic or optimistic? Why?

More pessimistic but there is more than these two extremes. Of course everybody wants to see the light.

What does Daniel want when Tagno and COST withdraw?

Then I will be blind and make music. Or will be about to snuff it

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