Oh these hands, Buff Diss’s trademark – “Bridging the Gap” in Berlin
All images courtesy of Buff Diss
Melbourne-based graffiti artist Buff Diss is on a mission to find the perfect place for his graffiti so that it completes and complements what is already there: A friendly hand lending a match to light a random pile of wood, the same hand now shattering a brick wall, adding to the debris below, or in another place, taping shut a historical gate. And local authorities are not too upset either as Buff Diss has long since exchanged his spray paints for simple masking tape.
Buff Diss says about the work above: “When I did that piece with the match I liked the idea of the aftermath. How did it start and was it a match? That piece was so enjoyable to do. And I felt so lucky to be able to find that space and to be able to create something in a space like that.”
“Train train” – even the Germans didn’t know what to make of it:
On a recent trip to Berlin, he even got the chance to use his graffiti art on an InterRegio prototype, one of Germany’s new regional trains. Asked about reactions by officials, Buff Diss replies: “Because it comes off, a majority of authorities doesn’t know what to do. When I see that it comes off and it doesn’t affect the architecture, I enjoy the confusion it creates.”
In a local Walrus TV Artist Feature, Buff Diss talks about his motivation and constant interaction with the urban environment and the city’s architecture.
“If you decide to civilly disobey, then how far do you take it? … Naturally I consider myself to have a graffiti mentality but then when I’m having to explain my art or when I’m meeting new people I keep having to remember that it doesn’t sit in the graffiti vein.
More permanent than chalk yet less environmentally damaging than spray paints, could masking tape be the new graffiti medium? Says Buff Diss:
“I just always loved traditional graffiti and I think I’m sort of completely indebted to that as allowing me to see the city as a canvas. Street art is a graphic language, a visual language and you don’t have to verbally be able to communicate with someone to have a great conversation. There’s a fluency involved with graffiti or street art in the visual language that is sort of numinous perhaps in the traditional art sense.”
Found in the trees – “Winter Burn”:
For Buff Diss, it’s all about the vibe, the relationship graffiti artists have with the environment they’re in. Like urban explorers, they discover a city’s underbelly and go where most citizens would not. He explains:
“The interactions street artists and graffiti artists have with derelict buildings and architecture in general is [all about] where they leave their art and where you place a piece and where you put the stickers. It really sort of has an incredible meaning in regards to the interpretation of space and how to use it. So a derelict building is an eyesore to some but an incredible canvas to others.”
Under the skin of the city – “Tax Deductable Darls”:
“I think graffiti artists are really blessed in that context; they get to see under the skin of the city. All the skeletons that sit in the city that [have] got so many stories – and that’s what’s fascinating.”
“I really love having the tactile interaction with the architecture and I think that while I’m working ‘cause a lot of the time with most of the pieces, I have an idea of what I want to do and let it grow. And in that growth it’s really sort of about a conversation with the architecture: A scaffold becomes a ladder, a rooftop becomes a canvas, a broken chair can sort of be weaved into a piece on a wall.”
At the recent GAS exhibition:
From the WOW exhibition at GPO:
Would Buff Diss ever want to do anything else? Not likely, he says: “I could spend the rest of my life finding derelict warehouses and just playing in the room, and just leaving art in the room play. Interpret it in the different spaces, just having conversations with old buildings perhaps.” We sure hope he’ll do this a bit longer to put into context for us what would be hidden otherwise.
“In Company with Giants”:
Here’s a video of the artist creating one of his tape art works from start to finish, with just the right kind of background music:
We’ll even throw in a free album.