This latest post reviews Aestheticizing Public Space by Lu Pan which was released at the end of last year. The book studies graffiti in cities around East Asia; that is Hong Kong, China, Japan and South Korea. Lu Pan works with a broad definition of graffiti that includes everything from conventional graffiti letters, street-art, digital media and even traditional East Asian writing practices. Continue Reading
Muralismo Morte is the second book by Jens Besser I’ve reviewed. In this book the content is made up of photographs interrupted by short pieces of writing that link them together. Rather than examining the more theoretical side of muralism they discuss some history, first-hand experiences, or the ideas behind the work of the artists. Continue Reading
I recently got sent a copy of a book called Time for Murals. The book was published after a conference, organised by the artist Jens Besser, that took place a couple of years ago on the subject of the “contemporary phenomenon” that are urban murals. Now murals aren’t my usual area of interest but in my home town of London there are a few cool murals dating from the late seventies and eighties that I really like. The sort of murals that I see going up nowadays all seem to be large scale pieces of street-art rather than the community focused and often politicised murals that came before. Continue Reading
I got What Do One Million Ja Tags Signify? on a recommendation and from the title expected it to be some kind of very serious academic work. In fact it is more like graffiti meets Flann O’Brien and it’s fucking hilarious. The book, by Dumar Novy, is a monograph on the tag ‘Ja’ and the academic discipline of ‘Jaism’ that it has now spawned. I read it as a sort of parody of intellectualism that delves into race, religion, gentrification, the police, Darwinism, genocide, philosophy, capitalism and bum sex. Continue Reading
It used to annoy me on the few occasions when I picked up a coffee-table book on graffiti and the introduction would waffle on about the history of it stretching from the present all the way back to cave paintings done by neanderthals. That stuff just isn’t proper graffiti! – real graffiti is a recent thing I thought. Continue Reading
All City Queens is a new book about female writers that provides a snapshot of graffiti done by over fifty-three writers from around the world. The introduction declares that “there are no tits and arse shots” which is a bit of a hint at the feminist vein throughout the book. Many of the writers featured create graffiti as feminists and the book aims to address women as participants within the subculture. Continue Reading
I recently went on a trip to Warsaw and whilst there I visited the Polin museum to see an exhibition of work by the photographer Wojciech Wilczyk. The exhibition showcases some of the photos from his ‘Holy War’ project which were made into a book titled Święta Wojna. The book is a collection of nearly four-hundred photos of football graffiti from Poland. As a fan of both graffiti and football I was bound to be interested in this book really. The supporters in Polish cities have proper turf wars with graffiti used to mark out a clubs area, they even have graffiti reports in hooligan magazines. A quick search on Youtube yields loads of videos of this stuff such as Cracovia lads taking out a Wisła Kraków mural or a GKS Katowice piece which was subsequently altered by some Ruch Chorzów fans. Święta Wojna starts with an introduction and glossary of terms in Polish but fortunately I picked up a translation of it at the exhibition. English football clubs have unique and often convoluted identities and their Polish counter-parts are no different so this was quite helpful. Continue Reading
The Writing on the Wall by Roger Perry was first released in 1976 and has been out of print ever since. In 2014 a crowd-funding campaign was set up to raise the money to republish the book which was released this year. The new book contains all the original photos sandwiched between previously unpublished ones, a new introduction and reminiscences about the author.