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"Simply No One"
Kirill KTO, Moscow, June 2010.

Four years ago a graffiti festival was held at the Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art "Winzavod". Back then graffiti and street art were extremely popular. They served the purpose of attracting happy-go-lucky crowds to the emerging art centre. This anniversary was a formal occasion and the reason why Simply No One was created. It was possible to paint it because there was a huge wall available as well as some paint I have left since my times of street painting. However, the reasons for creating the work are deeper than that.

The names of famous (in the subculture) graffiti artists are listed inside the background title Simply No One. Among those names are both Western graffiti artists with a 30 year long (and even longer) history of painting their names (or those, who were popular at the end of the 60th-beginning of the 70th when the movement reached its peak) and Russian authors, whose names emerged fifteen or something years ago and have been known ever since. However, I wouldn’t characterize this as a dead end of this discipline in street art (that is, writing one's own name exclusively and development of one's own style, or the so called nickname style writing), in spite of artists using their own names, nicknames, new tags seen on the streets of Moscow (including those under the railway bridge leading to the Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art "Winzavod" or found in special subculture magazines).

This is the way I see the contemporary society, where every single person is pressed to make his/hers everyday life, habits and thoughts similar to the life, ideas and thoughts of the others, where everyone has to follow a uniform pattern of behavior, which allows for very few deviations in using consumer goods or choosing places to relax after a stressful week. I see this all as a signature, for which only one font is used. This signature is Simply No One. Tiny people are locked inside. It is true that everyone is unique but this applies only to the insignificant level of graffiti artists’ "name", "style" and handwriting. This is compulsory individualism so to say, which was willingly accepted by street artists. On the other hand, what other choices did they have?

Margaret Thatcher said once: "Civil society is nonexistent any longer. Individuals and sometimes their families are the only ones existing". Half a century later the situation changed dramatically. Nowadays there is practically no space left for cooperation or any interaction whatsoever. Instead we are offered heaps of opportunities to express ourselves, to demonstrate our own unique individuality and originality. There’s only one "but", we have to play by the offered rules. Graffiti writers (nickname style writers) have their own code of conduct, which is, writing their names everywhere, doing it as often as possible, in a bright and unforgettable way, polishing their penmanship and gradually earning a reputation in the community. Even though this name may not be deciphered by any outsider — so what? They simply have to be heard.

Text by author.