Recently, Going Out Guru Julia reviewed the Borf show, The Consolation of Ruin, running through this weekend. The show, in an empty building on North Capitol Street, exhibits graffiti and multi-media stuff.
I usually like reading the GOG column, and while this piece was interesting, I couldn’t help but think that Julia was overly impressed with the whole Borf thing. She seemed infatuated with the “anarchy” of it all, and all but thrilled that she had to be blindfolded and led into the building.
That’s all okay with me. No accounting for taste. But then she writes that the show contains, among other things, a “pretty cool riff on the famous Eddie Adams execution photo made out of smiley-face stickers.”
I had to read that again to make sure I understood: yep. She said it. A “pretty cool riff.” Cool? COOL? COOL? Julia, what the hell is wrong with you? There is nothing romantic or cool or funny or ironic or anarchistic or radical or chic about this picture, about this death. The Borf Brigade appropriated it to use in their little side show of naval-gazing suburban angst because they are ignorant and self-centered. Julia, you should be ashamed of yourself for giving it any kind of credit.
So what’s this Borf show all about? Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few years, you know who Borf is. John Tsombikos was arrested in 2005 for spraying paint all over DC, and now owes DC twelve thousand bucks. The Borf Brigade hopes to raise money to help him pay his fine.
Tsombikos (and his Borf Brigade friends) is an artist. What’s more, he’s a protestor, and an anarchist, with important thing to say! Things like “grownups are obsolete” and, as the Washington Post reported in 2005, Borf “…doesn't believe in the state, capitalism, private property, globalization. Most of all, he doesn't believe in adulthood, which he considers ‘boring’ and ‘selling out.’”
I’m not sure if by “doesn’t believe in” he means that he doubts these are real things (sorry, Borf, they do exists), or he simply doesn’t like them.
I suspect it’s the first, because it couldn’t possibly be the second: Borf grew up in Great Falls, pays (or did) to attend the Art school at the Corcoran, apparently eats food and wears clothes, and even drives a car, and the spray paint he uses doesn’t grow on trees. All these things, plus the huge amount of free time and the freedom to come and go as he pleases, are all the products of “the state, capitalism, private property, globalization,” and yes, most definitely, “adulthood.”
Sorry, Borf (and your brigade), you’re a hypocrite.
Like all anarchists, Borf wants to believe that he supports the oppressed and down-trodden, the workers and the poor. But these are the very people who do things like go to work every day at places like spray paint factories so he can have something to steal from paint stores, where other working people work. You know why they work? So they can eat. And pay rent. (Steal enough paint, Borf, and they won’t have jobs any more.) Not everyone grew up in Great Falls, Borf.
And then people like me and the Metro bus driver and the bar tender and the bookstore owner and the minister and the paper seller and the packer truck driver and everyone else who lives in DC (but ironically, no one who lives in Great Falls) have to pay to have Borf’s spray paint washed off or covered up.
Borf Brigade, why not go out and study drawing and painting, and maybe a little history and literature while you’re at it, and then spend a few years working really, really hard learning to make the best art you can while trying to earn a living. Or, is hard work and studying and paying your own goddamn way also things anarchists don’t believe in?