Appellation trail

For one New York artist, it's all in the name.


If you’ve spied a line of red spray paint meandering down the street in different parts of town lately, you’re not alone. “A lot of people have noticed it, and written about it on their blogs,” says the person behind this bit of urban divertissement. “But nobody could quite figure out what it was.”

“It” is an art project that gives new meaning to the phrase writ large. Its creator is a street artist who goes by MOMO—an ID you could confirm if you bothered to fly over lower Manhattan, since that intriguing red line spells out his nom de guerre from one side of the island to the next.

MOMO won’t reveal his real name, and specifically requests an all-caps rendering. “It’s a silly name,” he allows.“I’m pretending it’s an acronym for something, like ABBA.” He began working on the project over the summer, spray-painting from his bike to create the tag, which starts at Pier 59 on the West Side, then loops through the Meatpacking District, the West Village, the East Village and the LES, before terminating at East River Park near 13th Street. “I wanted to try something truly monumental,” he says, likening the piece not to mere graffiti, but to such classics of Earth art as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and James Turrell’s Roden Crater. “It’s bigger than either of them,” he points out, only half-serious. He says the tag is already disappearing in spots, which suits him fine. “Eventually it will wear down, but it will become more mythical that way,” he says. “Sort of like Manhattan itself.”—Howard Halle

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