Today’s photo — the last in our weekly series on “handwriting” — depicts a colorful tag by EXAS, one of Beijing’s most ubiquitous street writers, in a process of half-hearted deletion. If you walk around Beijing’s central Gulou neighborhood, EXAS is everywhere: on storefronts, street signs, side-alley stoops. He even has a sticker of his tag for convenient pasting on the run.
I’ve always liked this photo — which I took to accompany a 2013 interview I did with EXAS and the equally ubiquitous ZATO — because it indexes a bit of interactivity. Someone disliked this pink-bordered EXAS enough to throw some industrial-grade solvent at it. But then halfway through they said fuck it and left the tag in situ, still pretty much legible, just now in two distinct tones.
No idea if that thing’s still there. Given central Beijing’s current overhaul, it’s probably gone, converted into a gray blank slate or a pile of red bricks. EXAS himself has spent the last few years studying at an art school in New York, but he tells me he’s just wrapped that up and will be coming back to Beijing in September. Can’t wait to see what fresh ideas he’ll have in store.
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