What Do One Million Ja Tags Signify? – Dumar Novy


What do one million JA tags signify? What does it mean, when a writer is present through his tags and pieces since 1985 in a city like New York? On 100 pages Dr. Dumar Novy describes and analyzes not so much the work itself, but what JA’s stuff means to him, without having ever met him in real life.

A phenomenon every writer is familiar with: you see other people’s graffiti, you read it, you follow their traces while being part of the target audience he or she maybe had in mind. By not knowing the creator a myth begins to form in your mind and you wonder who the writer is and his or her intentions while doing tags and pieces. In the case of JA, a writer who is up in the streets of the graffiti Mecca for more than 30 years, you idolize this guy and a legendary status emerges, the bombing archetype.

„NYC is Vatican City & JA tags are those Swiss Guards protecting our sacred sites.“

This reader is a manifesto in which the author takes us on a journey into his world of thought in eleven chapters. He is analyzing and interpreting actions of the manic writer which makes this book an homage, heroization and urban poetry. While once New York City was a glorious place for the graffiti culture in the 70s and 80s, it morphed into a unreal, artificial and destructive city due to repressive politics and foreign investors. Novy sees JA as last remaining fighter from the good old days, somebody who represents the original New York citizens, the John and Jane Does, the soul of the city.

„He is keeping alive the most revolutionary movement of our time inspiring some to write their existence & pushing others to join in shaping their world.“

The author’s thoughts on JA include abstruse visions of the future in which JA tags are mantra-like repeated and ritualized, dialogues with god, prayers, thoughts on racism, the criticism of society and capitalism or intimate stories on Novy’s passed dad. JA is part of every aspect of life whether he or she is inspiration, role model or companion.

This book is proof that graffiti is more than trivial writing of names, more than primitive communication between anonymous representatives of a (sub-)culture. Graffiti can affect, influence, help to reflect on yourself and open your mind. What Do One Million Ja Tags Signify? is an entertaining and fascinating insight into the effect writings of a single person can have, although the actual creator is never really in focus.

The dayglow orange edition will be the final one. If you already have the first edition in your collection, you might want to get this one too because of a completely new (ninth) chapter and some smaller changes here and there.

108 pages, 13,5 cm x 18,4 cm, second and last edition, paperback with sleeve
Author: Dumar Novy
Language: English
Release date: April 2020
Publisher: Possible Books

Out of stock