Burningham’s Live Graffiti Battle: Tagged@EXYZT

To give a fair and non biased review of an event that you co-curated is quite possibly impossible. So, I’m not going to even try. Tagged@EXYZT was a triumph, a marvel, a spectacle that the Royal Wedding could only dream of matching.

The event was created in conjunction with the fantastic Fierce Festival who own the area, provided the materials and infinite good judgment and what a site it is!

Situated on Eastside Green in Digbeth, it is essentially two shipping containers that have been turned into a house, complete with working stove.

The brief for construction of the site:

What burns in our city’s soul?

And with this ‘Burningham’ was born.

Brief in hand, all we needed were the artists. At this point a mad scrabble through phone books took place, and after much finger gnawing three of Birmingham’s biggest street artists were secured; Lisk, As1 and Tempo_33.

Briefs were distributed, ideas outlined and then the process of actually putting on an event caught up with us. The cold terror when you realise you have a day to white wash a whole building, or when the paint delivery arrived two hours before go time. But arrive it did, and at 5:30pm the first DJ dropped his first beats and the artists started painting… to an audience of about four that somehow when my back was turned transformed into fifty.

Viewing an event that you have organised is a strange experience as you are caught between constantly looking for problems and trying to enjoy the art as much as possible. And the biggest problem was basically having no idea what Tempo would paint. Spraying backwards, a giant ‘UCKS’ was present, and at that point a silent prayer was mumbled, “Please let that be an S next, there are a bunch of small kids sat next to me…

Thankfully, it was, with the motif ‘Birmingham street art’ above it. It was this sense Brummie of self deprecation that came through each piece. As1’s beautifully shaded version of his mug motif, with ‘chipped, cracked, broke and proud of it’ embodied this. His juxtaposition of vibrant red alongside grey illustrating the flashes of culture and art that adorn our city

Lisk created a piece built on a combination of paint and pastes, handcrafting a sea of individual robots emerging from the Birmingham skyline, surveyed by a 5 foot tall robot.

A personal favourite, personifying the city’s machinelike tendencies whilst paying homage to our humanity taking it over.

We hope Tagged@EXYZT opened new minds to street art and showed the soul and joy a community the city would rather not exist can create. For all of us involved it was an evening where Birmingham sparkled.

About the author

James Reevell is a Birmingham based culture writer. He is co-editor of Arts and Culture at Redbrick Newspaper. He is also co-curator of EXYZT graffiti art gallery. Approaches culture like a kid approaches sweets, is easily distracted and is normally found in a bar talking rubbish. Follow him on @JamesReevell.

Image credit: Sarah Gasby

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