I will be the first to tell you that graffiti is vandalism and should not be tolerated. However, I do have a respect for the artist behind the crime. I don’t respect breaking the law, but I have a respect for the talent. Their calligraphy and illustrations are a work of art. It’s a shame that this talent is exercised in a criminal manner. You also have to admire their determination and fearlessness. I have seen graffiti in places that look impossible or dangerous to access. Even if they were able to get there, how did they escape getting caught?
This brings me to the photo in this post. After photographing the Nashville Skyline from the Jefferson Street Bridge overlooking the Cumberland River, I took the shot below. You can see the skyline shot here. I made a black and white shot from this same location awhile back, but I didn’t remember seeing the graffiti on the stack. This is something I would have noticed, so this must have been a recent addition within the last year. Upon seeing the “MOIST” signage, I knew I had to take the shot. I grabbed my OM1 loaded with Kodak Portra 400. I waited for a while to see if I could catch a cyclist, jogger or even a city bus driving by in the lane next to the sidewalk. I believe either of those would have added something to the shot. Waiting proved futile so I went ahead and clicked the shutter.
I always like to search the internet for the graffiti I discover. There are some interesting and infamous characters behind these urban canvases. Moist is definitely one of them. I found a lady who actually did an interview with Moist. Her name is Rachel Callahan. She runs a blog called “Grasping for Objectivity”. Her interview with Moist can be read here. Below is a couple of excerpts from her interview.
Rachel: When did you first discover that you were Moist?
MOIST: Well I went for a walk one day about four years ago when I just started getting into graffiti, I walked really far.
I love just walking sometimes, like Forrest Gump.
It started raining super hard and I was in Highland Park, and instead of running for cover, I just stood there in the rain. I watched people pack up and scatter in fear of getting wet like it’s going to ruin their lives or something. What’s the big deal with getting wet? Its water, we need it to survive, but oh no when it falls from the sky and lands on us we all trip out and run for cover.
So I just sat on a concrete stair and scratched the word MOIST into the step with a rock I found all while getting drenched. From then on I wrote MOIST.
I also love that so many people legitimately hate that word. It’s more likely to stick in peoples heads and more likely to be brought up in conversation. I love it when people hate it. It’s weird.
Rachel: How do you choose your targets?
MOIST: I like your questions. I get on Google maps and place a bunch of pins all over the city that spell out my name then I try to hit them all. If it’s a spot that gets a lot of attention, then it’s good, or if it looks really cool in a photo, like an old falling apart abandoned building that most people wouldn’t think twice about.
The interview really provides some good insight on the mindset of the artist and why he does what he does. I almost forgot to mention that there would be no way in “H” “E” double hockey sticks I would have climbed that stack. I took a look at what he had to do to get to the stack. He has nerves of steel! I’m pretty sure he broke all the rules and regulations written my OHSA for working over 6 feet off the ground, LoL.
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