Tag Archives: graffiti

Make this the year YOU discover a new destination!

Excellent visual argument about Palestine.  Compelling visuals, crisp juxtaposition and significant argument about the importance of graffiti.

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Filed under capitalism, colonialism, critique, do-it-yourself, graffiti, human rights, juxtaposition, media, propaganda, protest, representation, resistance, vulnerability

Graffiti deterrence: SABE KST

Vice has a cool interview with SABE KST. about is perspective on the evolution of bombing.  I like the graphic stories from old graffiti writers.  SABE has an epic story about graffiti beef going bad:

Aside from commodification, how has the game changed since?

A lot of the writers I grew up with gave it up for different reasons. Either they can’t get up in the middle of the night to go bombing, or they have a boss and a wife, or can’t afford to get locked up. I think it’s a privilege that I’m able to keep writing, so I exercise that liberty whenever I can. Probably the most notable change is the drastic drop in violence. Looking back, I was involved in some pretty serious beefs back then.

How serious?

A friend of mine cut this other kid’s ear off with hatchet over some graffiti nonsense. I was 17 at the time and we lived together in a two-story house in the Bronx. He was one of those kids who didn’t really think about the consequences of his actions and didn’t make a big deal about it. But, I knew for a fact that this kid would come around eventually, so I went out and came back with an M16 assault rifle.

How’d you manage that?

A mutual friend put me in touch with a guy who I guess you can call a good Samaritan. He let me borrow the rifle which he apparently stole from a military base. The guy literally had an empty apartment full of guns and grenades. This was in 1995.

This doesn’t seem so far-fetched. This kid ever come looking for closure?

Yeah, sure enough. And the kid came with his crew. I went outside to talk to them since my friend wanted a fair fight with the kid, but they kept insisting on jumping him. So he grabbed the rifle and lit up the whole block from the top of our stoop. It was like a movie. Everybody started hitting the corner and I ran down the block until I felt this cold heat.

So you caught a stray?

Yeah… Once everyone scattered and I saw the blood, I knew I was shot. And once my friend realized he just ran—he threw the gun in the backyard and took off. When the police discovered the weapon, his prints were all over it and he ended up doing two years. Like I said, he never really thought anything through. Luckily the bullet missed my heart and got lodged in my solar plexus.

via Conceptual Vandalism with Sabe Kst | VICE United States.

A few thoughts:

– this is the quintessential moral panic about graffiti, including the friend who just doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions.  “cut a kid’s ear off with a hatchet . . .”  whoa.

– It is exactly the kind of tantalizing story told in graffiti magazines and books.

– I wonder why the public service announcements in our health education are focused so heavily on the negative consequences of the actions they are trying to prevent, when that seems to be the kind of war story used the most often for authenticity within the subculture?

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Filed under forbidden fruit, graffiti, prisons, representation

Twist on tagging

I woke up thinking about the fame/anonymity line that successful artists/graffiti practitioners have to navigate.  Made me think about SF’s Barry McGee/Twist.

From a cool interview by Samuel Borkson where Barry McGee emphasizes living, eating kale and going surfing.  When asked what he’d do with a lot of money Twist replies:

BMG: I’m more interested in less than more. Our society has become obsessed with having more, having it all. To what end? Excess, while fascinating to watch, is not the answer to me. Most over budgeted art projects I have seen are terrible.



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Filed under art, communication, graffiti, health, media

Cool “Disco” Dan documentary promo

Hell yeah!  Thanks to Dante Ross for the tip!

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Filed under art, communication, documentary, funk & soul, graffiti, music

Reader re-articulation against crap ads

Thanks to Chloe at feministing, I discovered #notcool the website which helps angry viewers to alter wretched ads.  Simply by adding “NOT COOL” in  spray paint style (MS Paint anyone?) the ads become a parry/response kind of read.

Although I like #notcool, I think there is a further discussion to be had about the symbolic energy sponge of angry web-based re-articulation.  I think this site might satisfy the desire to actually graffiti terrible advertisements.  I cheer on those who alter public space with graffiti and billboard modification, so I guess I just wish the response meme could somehow swamp or poison the brand.

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Filed under capitalism, communication, media, protest, resistance

graffiti in Libya: mocking a dictator

photo by Rory Mulholland, The Guardian

Rory Mulholland writes of the new graffiti critiques of Libyan dictator Qaddafi in The Guardian.  Smooth documentation of some cool art.  I liked this paragraph:

The revolution has lifted the lid on a repressed society and the people of Benghazi are making up for the lost years. They have quickly set up newspapers, radio stations and rap bands to say things that just a few months earlier would have got them locked up or worse. But the Gaddafi caricatures are the most striking manifestation of the new-found freedom of expression.

via The Libyan artists driving Gaddafi to the wall | World news | The Observer.

I’ll also note that this graffiti proves the inability of the dictatorship to control the image and the word.  The people can now circumvent state controls, and graffiti is one of the modes of communication which is most likely to allow for anonymity.  Vital for earnest criticism, especially when the subject of critique is likely to shoot you.  I suspect that a fair number of westerners who have been inculcated into the moral panic associated with graffiti read the heavily painted walls of various Arab spring uprisings with anxiety.

It strikes me as a deeply authentic medium of expression which emerges in the context of necessity.  Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and China have all used internet blockades to prevent people from communicating with each other during community mobilizations.  Painting in the street became part of internal communication and collective articulation.

Look again at the painting above.  This image communicates something about the area in which it is painted.  It might mean relative safety from repression, it might be a meeting point, it might even allow non-involved citizens to avoid areas where there might be fighting.   Speaking nothing of the ability of such an image to crack through the conditioning of decades of unquestioning obedience to a terrifying force.

Remember Timisoara?  It’s a small Romanian town, where in 1989, a few citizens rallied around a pastor being bullied by the dictatorship.  After troops were used to put down the protests, a few more people started to make some noise and the town was put under martial law.  To rally the citizens the wretched dictator Nicholau Ceausescu gave a live TV broadcast.  When the crowd started to chant Timisoara and push against security forces, Ceausecu’s face went blank, and seventy six percent of the citizens who were watching got an image they had never seen before — evil on it’s heels.

And a few hours later, Ceausescu was dead.

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Filed under art, human rights, propaganda