A series of rail graffiti by the KCBR collective, renewing the practice with an original reflection on the medium, concealment (including, of course, with regard to police services), the trace, public reception and ephemerality, as the works are obliterated by the artists themselves immediately after completion.
What's so exciting about the unknown, about things veiled or covered up? And about the covering itself?
Is it because, amid an unremitting deluge of images and a seemingly infinite amount of information at our fingertips in this digital age, we yearn for those last remaining mysteries that can still pique our curiosity, for something beyond our ken, something to liberate us from purely passive viewing and prod us into active reflection?
It seems like an anachronism that this craving should be slaked by such an analog, downshifting medium as a book. And the crew's "Vom Silber verweht" ("Gone with the Silver") piece, an allusion to the tearjerker Gone with the Wind, hints at the fundamentally romantic thrust of their endeavor. While the world-famous 1939 movie was temporarily "canceled" in 2020, the infamous protagonists of this street art, in contrast, engage in a pro-active form of self-censorship here.
The KCBR crew propel the genre of the graffiti book into new spheres here with their unmistakable wit, media-specific reflection and very own twist. In this series of works, the original graffiti never actually reaches the public, nor do pictures thereof appear on any of the countless spotters' Instagram forums, because immediately after completion they are obliterated by the artists themselves within the time it takes to snap a snapshot. Which gives these contemporary train decorations an exclusivity you won't find anywhere else in the present-day graffiti scene.
Concealment becomes the supreme discipline here. As a result, the work's immanent beauty is not in competition with the painting that lies underneath. Viewers are called upon to come up with their own interpretations to complete the work. While assiduous aficionados attempt to construe the traces or distinguishing marks, the project is already going full swing. The artists use every tool in the box to conceal the work in question, including everything from an overturned ketchup bottle, the acrobatic swallowing skills of a "Snake"-like snake and recreating the original design of a coach previously tagged by the artists themselves to painterly pixelation, "bombing" it, "walling it up" and covering it up with a monochrome coat of paint.
While the artists are on the run from the men in silvery blue, the photographs of their ephemeral artwork shot before its concealment are instantaneously stowed on a secret hard disk for safekeeping—and have now found their way into this book in absolutely inexplicable ways. This book is a kind of apocalypse, a moment of revelation or epiphany that enraptures its quasi-religious fan base. Its rubbery scratchcard cover suggests the prize to be won in KCBR: acting on our impulse, we can scratch the surface to reveal the secrets that lie underneath, to pay due attention to these true mysteries of our day and age.
KCBR is a graffiti crew from Zurich, focusing primarily on the spray painting of trains, metros and other types of public transit. Since 2008 the Sprayers from KCBR have been working intensely, putting their names on pretty much every corner of Zurich—on building facades, rooftops, delivery trucks, trams, bus stops and SBB trains. They pursue their activities with great discipline, planning everything down to the very last detail. They know the public transportation schedules by heart. This is essential since the timing of their activities requires a high degree of precision.