The BORF mystery

“BORF?” said freshman Hayley McDonough when she was informed about graffiti around campus by the anonymous humorist. “What is BORF?”

Despite writing in high visibility areas of campus, such as outside the Marvin Center and near the Foggy Bottom Metro stop, some students have not taken notice of what some call art and others call vandalism. But quips such as “Taking showers are for dirty people” and “BORF is immortal” are not the only examples of BORF’s exhibitions.

The person’s graphics and inscriptions can be seen along the Whitehurst Freeway, on M street in Georgetown and past the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Some of BORF’s works include a stencil of a face, such as the one on the Key Bridge, while others are just random scribblings, like the ones in Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan.

While some students have yet to catch appearances of BORF’s drawings around the city, others are taking an even closer look.

“I know a few people who follow the ramblings of BORF as well, but it’s surprising how many people stare blankly at you when you mention him,” said sophomore Dennis Petersen, an avid BORF reader.

Though Petersen does not know BORF, he has his own ideas about the scribbler’s identity.

“I’ve seen BORF tags inside GW buildings, including a New Hall elevator, so it’s probably an off-campus frat,” he said.

The “BORF hates school” inscription that appeared on the ceiling of a New Hall elevator has since been removed by GW Facilities Management, which also effaced several other markings around campus.

University Police Chief Dolores Stafford said last week that no complaints have yet been reported regarding BORF’s graffiti.

Though some of BORF’s on-campus art has been erased, it is alive and well online at the street art Web site, Despite the anonymity, BORF has an eclectic following on the site, which features a portfolio of stencils in D.C., New York and Raleigh, N.C., along with comments from the site’s members. Rarely does BORF receive criticism; almost all members, many of whom are street artists, praise the work for its creativity and placement.

One patron of the Web site is senior Reid Wilson, who joined a week ago after he spotted a “Globalize BORF” tag outside an International Monetary Fund building on his way to work.

“I wanted leave a comment because it gave me a chuckle,” he said. “I wanted to let him know that it was appreciated.”

Wilson said he enjoys all of BORF’s work and praised its sense of humor.

“A lot of taggers tend to (politicize) their message, but I don’t see a political message in him,” Wilson said. “He’s doing stuff that’s funny. It’s clever.”

Some students expressed a different opinion of BORF’s work.

“They are pointless unless there is some hidden meaning,” sophomore Rick Lucas said.

One thing that is undoubtedly hidden are the identities of BORF and many of the tagger’s followers. When members of the Stencil Revolution Web site were contacted to comment on BORF, many declined to talk. Those who know BORF said they are sworn to secrecy.

A stencilist from the forum, who asked to remain anonymous, said the name that is popping up on signs all over the District is just a street artist who wants to get his or her work recognized.

BORF’s work on campus may have been cleaned off, but comments posted on the Stencil Revolution Web site indicate that BORF tends to put up new art once authorities have taken some down. Perhaps a better indication of what is to come lies on a piece of concrete along the Whitehurst Freeway that reads, “BORF is winning.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.