TOKIDOKI: You’re so young! When did you start tagging?
BAROK: I’m 20. I started when I was 13. (TD: wow!) I was “Sugar” at the start. (TD: I know ‘Sugar!’ That was the first tag I saw when I arrived in Chiyah in July. I had no idea that was you!) See previous post: http://jacquelinemhadel.com/?s=sugar&submit=Search
TOKIDOKI: But, now you’re “BAROK.” Where did that come from?
BAROK: Yeah, Sugar seemed too ‘sissy’ after awhile and as I became a better writer, I wanted a stronger name. I was studying art history at the time, and I really liked the Baroque period. So, that’s where “Barok” comes from.
TOKIDOKI: Why do graffiti? What does it mean to you?
BAROK: Basically, I want my name out there. I want to be remembered. Since a young age, I’ve had the feeling of invisibility and anonymity and I just want a ‘piece’ of me to remain out there for all eyes to see. Making my mark.
TD: I can see that. A lot of taggers say the same kind of thing. To have some kind of voice somewhere…
TOKIDOKI: Do you like Banksy?
BAROK: Yes. Definitely. People SEE what he’s doing, they HEAR his messages, and he has remained virtually anonymous. Smart.
TD: I mean, he is a multimillionaire and veteran graffiti writers generally hate his guts due to their feeling that he ‘sold out,’ but strangely enough, whenever I’ve asked any graffiti writers this question, they always say “Yes.”
*NOTE* We actually got caught by security under the bridge at the bus depot. I was trying to video Barok doing a tag, when we heard shouting. I just kind of pretended to not know they were talking to us and just kind of slowly walked away, leaving Barok to deal with it, haha. Not funny, I know, but I was like, what should I do? So I kept walking away, pretending to fiddle with my iPad and I kept hearing shouts, but figured they were just yelling at Barok…and a security man walked past me, but then immediately turned around and caught me.
SECURITY: Where are you from?
TOKIDOKI: (I hate answering that question in the Middle East. I don’t mind it so much in New York, let’s say.) Uhhh….merr…i…..kuhhhh?
SEC: What are you doing?
TD: Huh? Uhh…just taking pictures of all of the graffiti (pointing around)…it’s so beautiful! Don’t you think it’s beautiful?!
SEC: Do you know him? Pointing at Barok…
TD: Umm, nahhh….not….(in a whsiper) really….
SEC: Did you see him use a pen?
TD: Huh? Nahh…I… (he had a can, so I was heavily relying on semantics here…) just…pictures of graffiti! So beautiful!
SEC: Are you with him?
TD: (Semantics again) Huh? That…? No…..not……(in a whisper) right now….
SEC: Hmm! Ok…sorry I had to ask you questions…
TD: (relieved that that was it! I tapped him on the shoulder and said…) No problem! I understand! Graffiti is beautiful!
Then I continued to walk as though I weren’t pissing in my pants at all, never looking back at Barok, and then he eventually caught up with me and said everything was OK. When I saw him, he was surrounded by four policemen, so forgive me if I was skeptical. But, it must have been OK, because we proceeded to move on to do another tag! Both of us were operating on pure adrenaline at that point.
The day before the interview, I spotted the below tag in Hamra:
After he left me, he took some quick pics of some other tags he’s done and sent them to me. Photos by Barok:
Graffiti writers earn more credibility and respect on the streets when they are able to tag difficult to reach places, vehicles, police signs, etc…I see he got someone’s truck above!
SUGAR & BAROK!! The evolution. Photo by Barok:
And here’s the tag Barok did just minutes after being caught by the police yesterday:
Thanks Barok, for a day I’ll never forget. Go Beirut graffiti!