Zameen Brar, Editor
Aye Joke is a photographer, videographer and masked model based in Birmingham. Backpacker Hacker got in touch to find out more about his street photography and involvement in Birmingham’s underground graffiti scene.
I haven’t got anything to hide but the mask comes from growing up in the graffiti scene, obviously not wanting to show my face because of cameras and police. At the same time, I didn’t want anyone to know that I was a graffiti artist.
The whole model thing comes from Urbexing [urban exploration aka roof-and-tunnel hacking]. Because I was with photographers I didn’t want my face to be seen on camera. I would bring masks out to wear instead of wearing like a hood and a bally. Things went from there, modeling masks in abandoned buildings. I carried it on because of being paranoid. I don’t have a clue why I’m still paranoid about my face being on a photo, but I like that people see my work on instagram and wonder what the man behind the mask looks like.
The streets have always been around, growing up in Birmingham and going to a school there, meant there were a lot of graffiti vandals and mc/rappers and gangs around… But I don’t know why I like urban, it’s just the vibe and looks.
It’s not something I got into, its just always been with me. Plus I ain’t really in to clean photos, I like to have some sort of dark moody look to my work.
It’s hard to say because some ‘artists’ like to spend hours on one wall painting their name, then you get ‘vandals’ that just like to walk round and spray their name on anything. Me, I never had the patience to focus on one painting, I was more of a vandal.
Yes… graffiti politics is bullshit, let’s leave it as that.
Because I ain’t painted in so long, or seen any old graffiti partners, I missed the whole graffiti scene; The missions, walking round looking for spots to paint, having to watch out for police. The whole rush of it. So I messaged a couple of crew members [CCS Crew], like let’s meet up and I’ll follow with the camera and document it for a change. Instead of being involved in the crime I’ll show the crime. I didn’t have any ideas what or where I’m going with it, I was just getting a few old graffiti members together. Just all have a laugh and do some damage.
I only ever got caught once and it was a random stop and search. They found 1 spray can in my bag so they took me the station got my details an finger prints then let me go with an N.F.A, “No Further Actions.”
To see a load of graffiti then the main spots to go are Digbeth or Selly Oak graffiti park.
I don’t drink so wouldn’t know, but visit your corner shop and ask for ‘grape bigga’ if you haven’t tried it.
I go the odd rave when I can. I guess Digbeth is the place for me if I’m partying.
Check out the shisha bars around Digbeth and Birmingham central. Good vibes and music.