Graffiti Without A Face

Can a graffiti artist also be a history buff? Apparently, yes! Street art actually dates back nearly 40,000 years and has been an important tool for historians to document the lives of common men. So really, street artists like Australian Irkles Hands aka “Dead Wait” are actually creating historical records which future societies might even use to learn more about us! This is the idea behind the newest project from the girls at VAGEGraffito: Voice of the Common Man at the WYE. We sat down with one of these ground-breaking street artists, Dead Wait, to pick his brain on what we can expect in the upcoming show and how ancient graffiti has inspired his modern work. For security and legal reasons, we cannot show you his face, but we can share his unique artistic insights into the practice of street art.

BAPS: Can you tell us a little bit about what you will be exhibiting at Graffito: Voice of the Common Man. Which piece of ancient graffiti was your inspiration?

DW: My piece for Graffito is a direct use of a rough piece of graffiti that was the first recorded image of slander against christianity and in particular the icon of Jesus Christ on the cross. The piece is a rough scratching depicting Jesus with a donkey’s head and a man, Alexamenos, “praising his god.” I chose to not really re-interperet this image because I loved everything about it. The composition, the content, the message, the sarcasm and cynicism. In fact I think if Alexamenos was alive today we would be good friends. He seems like an ‘ok’ guy in my book. I did re-work it in my style though and I did one piece on a wall with aerosol and also one piece with my preferred medium of the moment: a shitty biro pen on shitty cartridge paper.


The “Alexemenos graffito”: An ancient inscription depicting Christ with a donkey’s head carved on a plaster wall in Rome.

BAPS: Aside from the exhibition on Thursday what else are you currently working on?

DW: At the moment I’m obsessed with typography and unique tattoo art. I love package design and advertisements of the mid 1900’s, say from 1930-1970. I love freak shows, images of hamburgers and hotdogs, and shit tattoos on old men and women. Maybe none of these inspirations are exactly unique and I know this sort of stuff is quite popular now, but fuck it. I’m obsessed and it makes me happy so I’m going to keep doing it. 


Brand new sheet of tattoo sketches by Irkles Hands. 

BAPS: How does your art assert your artistic identity or set yourself apart from other urban artists?

DW: I think the only way to any semblance of originality is by letting your emotions and experience and especially your personality come through your work. The style I’m focusing on now, has a bit of a bit of a creepy morbid feel to it, but still with a twist of comedy which is a definite reflection of my personality. 


  • The WYE VAGE Presents: “Graffito: The Voice of the Common Man” Thursday October 11th 2012: 7pm
Article by Kirsten Hall