Tapebombing in Wynwood: Miami Artist Johanna Boccardo Sticks It Wherever She Wants

Remember the 2000s, when crafty hipsters expressed themselves by "yarnbombing" trees, signposts, and other public objects? Artists like Olek have elevated the practice of covering strange things in knitted or crocheted yarn to gallery-acceptable heights, sure. But in general? Yarnbombing is, like, sooo ten years ago.

Tapebombing, on the other hand? That's just getting started.

We noticed the "tapebombed" building in the photo above last week in Wynwood. At first, we just thought it was funny, especially with the "bomber's" response to a notice warning that the property is in violation of city code: "AND NOW THAT IT HAS BEEN TAPEBOMBED, EVEN MORE SO!" But an online search for "tapebombing" revealed that this wasn't just a random attack. It's the art of Miami artist Johanna Boccardo.

Since Art Basel 2012, Boccardo estimates, she has tapebombed over 50 objects and spaces, covering them in bright strips of all colors. But it's not really what the tape's sticking to that matters. "To me, tapebombing is all about the absence," she explains. "Since it has a temporary lifespan, I enjoy transforming subjects, but feel really satisfied with the void it leaves once it's gone."

Boccardo, who painted in watercolors before switching to her latest medium, says she became enamored with tape while creating video pieces with a friend. "The end of the year is a time when I usually get restless inside walls and rather spend time outside, so I wore my tapes as big bracelets and went around town to find bigger toys to play with," she said.

So how does she decide what to "bomb" next? "It's like finding shapes in the clouds," she says, explaining that she simply sees the tapebombing possibilities before anyone else. "I'm the modern Robin Hood of objects and spaces, I'll fight for their right to be seen.... I've gone from tapebombing bike racks, to friend's shoes, to myself before risking my behind in a 13,500 feet skydive fall, to a house that was getting demolished, to an antique Hereke rug in collaboration with a Miami-based brand [Odabashian]."

And so far, she's avoided too much blowback from property owners who didn't ask for their buildings and bike racks to be covered in tape. One man told her, "This is worse than graffiti," she recalls wryly: "I'm the scar in the face of Wynwood.... Most people enjoy the evidence though."

For now, tapebombing hasn't yet achieved yarnbombing levels of popularity. Boccardo works alone, and says she hasn't noticed other Miami artists doing any tapebombing of their own -- "although I caught a clone once. Somebody tapebombed a street sign right beside one I had transformed. I thought it was awesome!"

So for the time being, Boccardo's going to keep doing what she loves. Right now, she's traveling and tapebombing in the Mediterranean. But when she comes back, she has a few dream projects in mind.

"I'd love to keep transforming places where people interact with each other everyday. More construction sites, more demolishing sites, NY fashion week runways, the White House, a bird, a plane, Superman! An airplane cabin would be awesome."

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle