Lectureformance:  Kadir “Amigo” Memis  (DE).

“Movement of letters” 



TAG: name writing in public space
A conference about tagging, in history and today

14 & 15 September 2017
Freie Universität Berlin, GSNAS/JFKI
Lansstrasse 7-9, Berlin

Written signatures, or tags, are the central element of graffiti culture, and the most widely practiced form of public art. Yet tagging has rarely been the subject of serious examination. The Tag Conference is a first attempt to conceptually frame contemporary tagging, and to study it alongside its abundant but largely ignored historical antecedents.

The Tag Conference provides space for the discussion of a wide range of underexplored topics, such as the study of tagging as a form of calligraphy, tagging’s role as a device for understanding the environment, the history and folklore of past and present tagging cultures, and the relation of tagging with other forms of art in public space.

Informal name writing in public spaces is a time-honored practice, probably as old as writing itself. From children and anonymous laborers to famous authors, politicians or archaeologists, people of all kinds have felt the urge to mark their passing through a particular place and time by leaving a personal trace for other people to see.

This practice has played a particularly visible role in different points in history, such as Ancient Rome and Romantic Europe. It has served as a cartographic tool and as a way to keep track of people in unexplored landscapes. It has been used as a symbolic weapon in wars. And, in the last century, it has acquired unprecedented intensity and has become the central feature of several full-fledged folk cultures throughout the globe.

The most sophisticated of these cultures is the graffiti tradition that developed in the subways of New York City during the 1970s and has later become an expected part of the landscape of most cities worldwide. By influence of this tradition, name writing is today generally referred to with the slang term “tagging”.

The Tag Conference provides a space for discussion about tagging, about its nature, its meaning and its history, and about the diverse tagging traditions and cultures that exist and have existed. The conference is open to anthropologists, art historians, archaeologists, philosophers, geographers, urbanists, calligraphers, artists and other intellectuals with an interest in the field.

Executive committee:

Edward Birzin – JFK Institute, Freie Universität

Javier Abarca – independent researcher


*Performance accompaniment with Bağlama :

 Haydar Kutluer with Kadıoğlu Zeybeği


Fotos: Don Stone