In the graff world there is still persons who are not visible on the internet or instagram, who doesn’t give a fuck about how many likes they have on their personally writer name associated profiles. Never the less some of these individuals are making a difference, and continue non stop painting, writing. This is the first in many focus series to come, focussing on writers who have done or are making a difference, in their approach to this thing called graffiti. Maybe they don’t do big lavish color fillins maybe they have never done a single train. But they have done something else. They have continued what they like to do, the way they want to do it. In a often really rule bound conservative culture as the graff culture, we want to focus on the people who break the rules inside the culture or just deserves the focus because they are not visible if you don’t know where to look.
In the first issue of this series meet old-school Danish writer Avelon31 TDR, The Killing Fields for a Q & A session.
ARL: Can you give us a introduction about yourself for all the many persons who have no idea who you are?
Avelon31: Introducing a smelly old fart with all the bollocks that come with the office.
I started back in autumn of 1984 at the age of eleven. People of that and the generations to come, will agree that those were very different times compared to “the scene” and world of today. The history of Copenhagen graffiti is very much also a greater view on world politics and the development of the electrical media and the rise of the internet.
“The cold war” – a phrase known to most people from history class only, ended by and large on a November night in Berlin in ´89 when I was at the tender age of 16. There was still the Soviet Union, there was Reagan ( and Nancy ) and the Iron Lady. Not to mention AIDS and very bad hair. Culture was embedded in punk and the thoughtful leftovers from the worries of nuclear extinction. Looking back at the signs of the time, via magazines and paperphotos, most of the gestures seem naive, not at all cool or superficial, but personal and scared. The shape of the bomb configurated the mindset for that generation : “The Red scare” – not completely unlike the “War on terror” of today.
I am an only child from a middle-class home a bit north of Copenhagen and my parents are still not divorced. The chubby kid in school who was never into sports but wanted to be a porn photographer from the age of 8 : leaving the idea of wanting to be a fireman, a soldier or a ninja behind, the summer of ´84 provided new horizons.
Images in magazines showed something I had never seen before, big colorful wall paintings presented as the visual backing to the latest fad – a thing called Break Dance and Electric Boogie.
They had me at “Hello”.
31 years later and a hiatus from 2001 until 2007, concentrating on fine art, painting with spray still hold a position in my life. As much as I don’t even consider myself neither a writer or graffiti. – walls have been the main focus, I have never done a train.
I have been involved with a lot of people over the years and a part of more than a few crews. Currently the crew of which I became a member during early summer of ´93, “The Dark Roses”, seem well revitalized and I guess the oldest and still running crew in Denmark. On the side of that crew, “Killing Fields” still operate as well but not to the same extend.
ARL: For many years you where out of the picture and not visible at all, and then all of a sudden you came back with a blast? Why? What triggered your comeback?
Avelon31: “Don’t call this a comeback”
I was lured into collaborating on a wall in the late fall of 2007 which proved anything but a success, 4 months later the same thing happened again but for tragic reasons. Later that year it happened again without the tragic lead, and going now and then had become a bit like a picnic, loads of beer with old pupils and other assholes my age. Comfy and fuss-free for a while. Late 2010 I picked up the gear and went for my self for the first time in ages and once again it started proving a problem that had to be dealt with.
ARL: Since the start you have had a very open mindset on how to be a part of this graffiti game. You have for almost 30 years painted abstract, on the walls? Where does that come from? “Is it a fuck you” to the whole conservative mindset of graff? Or what have been your motivation to go in that direction? Tell us about your concept:
Avelon31: “Counter-” within a subculture
Before most individuals establish a vocation of their own, one tends to cover what one sees. But at one point, early, the classical points of reference proved not to be enough. A few people will always stand out as influential whereas the rest more or less will follow and not stand out in their lack of originality. The Copenhagen scene in the late 80és was a very conservative one and since I was beginning to feel like me, it was beginning to show through the gestures I made. Limiting myself to just imitating or even impersonating others, lacked the integrity I felt needed in the word “expression”. I grew completely out of hip hop in ´88 and could therefore not relate to the a lot of the uni- and conformity at the time and I guess it showed. I went for myself.
“Practice” and “Choice” seem more deliberate words than “style” to me. Painting is to me an important existential gesture which places me neatly away from a romantic use of a term which nobody have felt the need to re-examine since Charlfant and Cooper contributed the blue prints back in ´82. The reason most of my stuff bears the resemblance it does, is that I was always drunk or/and high while painting. At one point it just stayed that way, but usually I still get pissed while working.