The very idea of graffiti is to transform the industrial landscapes around us by using it as a blank canvas without limitations on what can be created from that blank canvas; from simple tags to murals to installations to large-scale projects, the goal is to subvert the vast infrastructure we live within. It’s only fitting, then, that some artists have taken that idea to a logical extreme, subverting the urban industrial infrastructure by creating hybrid ecological works of art on the streets, using living, respiring materials to change the face of urban landscapes. It’s a pretty dope concept that essentially amounts to a guerrilla environmental restoration and reclaiming project (only it’s way more rad than just that, because you can’t use planting a tree to call someone else a toy).
Anna Garforth is a London-based artist who specializes is text-based moss graffiti, inspired by guerilla gardening collectives who aim to enrich dilapidated public spaces, and Andy Goldsworthy, a British artist who creates site-specific art installations from materials and tools found on site. She Anna is currently working on an on-going moss street art project.
Edina Tokodi‘s work is just as adventurous, if not more so; alongside other members of the Mosstika Urban Greenery, such as József Vályi-Tóth, she takes the environmental idea to a visual extreme, exploring a new middle ground between the natural and the industrial by putting moss illustrations of animals on the walls right here in Brooklyn, as well as adorning abandoned spaces and subway trains with moss art.
Other artists specialize in Reverse Grafitti (also called clean tagging) which is the practice of creating images on walls or other surfaces by removing dirt from the surface, creating the piece from the negative space – like writing “Wash Me” on a car covered in dirt with your fingertip, although artists such as Moose and Stook have taken that idea to new levels, using water jets on dirty city walls to create large-scale pieces that challenge the idea of grafitti as “vandalism”.
Among other artists who’ve gotten involved in reverse grafitti (including fucking Banksy) Brazilian artist Alexandre Orion stands out – he created perhaps the largest-scale work of reverse grafitti in 2007, alongside Moose; the “Ossario”, an urban mortuary scene accomplished by using rags to polish metallic walls of São Paulo’s Max Feffer Tunnel.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN MOSS GRAFFITI
FIRST, WHAT YA NEED TO DO IT: One or two clumps (about a small handful) of moss, 2 cups of buttermilk – you can also substitute with yogurt (vegan yogurt can be used), 2 cups of water (or beer, we prefer beer), 1/2 tsp. sugar, and optional corn syrup)
1. Gather up as much moss as you can find or buy.
2. Wash the moss to get as much soil out of the roots as possible.
3. Break the moss apart into manageable pieces and place into something to mix it in (a blender is easiest but if you wanna do this shit the hard way, by all means, do this shit the hard way)
4. Add the buttermilk/yogurt, water/beer and sugar. Blend/mix it all together until completely smooth. You’ll want it to have a paint-like texture. This is where the corn syrup comes in; if the mixture is at a consistency where you feel it will drip, add corn syrup until the consistency you desire is reached.
5. Check back weekly to either spray the design with water (to encourage moss growth, especially if you live in a dry environment)