There was once a sprawling network of river people who inhabited the banks of Britain’s waterways. They had their own economy, customs, mythologies, and methods of reading the water’s flow to indicate incoming storms and floods, a vital role in informing land dwellers of when the foreboding channel was prone to causing destruction. They had a desire to live away from the order of natural belonging on the inner land, seeking refuge where the river flowed like jewels through the city…
I recently picked up two nice local UK zines one covering the cities of Bristol and Leicester. The former is the fourth edition of a West Country gem that I’ve read before but unfortunately have missed a coupla issues of. Covering a range of street damage this zine does everything it needs to really; lots of tags, throwups, vans, rollers, dubs, pieces and a few sketches for good measure. The city is pretty battered and the untitled zine gives a nice feel for what it’s like walking around checking out the Bristol based crews and tourists stopping by to leave their mark.
They say never judge a book by its cover… well, when it comes to graff mags, the reverse applies, they should always be judged on their cover. So having first clapped eyes on TheLondon Line, produced by the photographer Cities At Night, I knew it was gonna have some nice content without even opening it! The zine is pretty self explanatory; the publication is made up of analogue photos showing London around the moonlit hours.
Subsolo: Ruas do ABC is the sort of publication that ticks all the boxes. Published by Studio Treze it has a specific regional focus, it has lots of tags, and the whole thing’s interspersed with mini-essays sharing a bit of history and politics.
This is the eponymously titled Depor Este zine which is a collaboration between two artists from Germany and Brazil. It’s a nicely produced little publication showcasing some funky styles. A few themes crop up such as ancient Egyptian motifs, cats, and high art juxtaposed with derelict graffiti covered walls. The photography throws out some cool scenes such as two gaúcho’s checking out graffiti or a cat perched on a piece beside an image of paw prints set in concrete.
Trees might seem an odd topic for the average reviewer of graffiti publications to discuss but here I find myself with not one but two graff related books about trees! The first is a large format zine called The_ Forest _Man which collects together tags scratched into tree trunks. The second is the Urban Jungle: Eindhoven which, as the title alludes to, is a graffers-eye-view on the flora of a Dutch city.
Livor Mortis is a tidy two-tone zine from the UK. The content is based around themes of decay from rundown cityscapes, derelict buildings, to graveyards. Obviously graffiti is a feature and issues 5 and 6 in particular include it almost as a representation of decline. I say almost because on the one hand a tagged up shattered pane of glass positioned alongside dark eery corridors leading to nowhere tips into some sub-genre of graff-horror. But elsewhere murals painted onto the crumbling plaster of tenement blocks signify a more vibrant deterioration of urban areas. A painting of a cat pouring out graffiti from the trumpet it’s playing or an Anarchist hitting back at the cops beating him are signs of life. And there’s humourus additions too with ET’s head on a giraffes body, two human-spiders shagging, or a throw-up across some Granny wallpaper.
The Berliner Mauern zine, the title of which is taken from the graffiti/street-art blog, is now on its third edition. This issue, which came with some extra prints and stickers, is a basic black and white photography zine. The content is a mixture of tags, stencils, paste-ups and street-photography. As I was flicking through the zine I thought about what brings all this content together. Aside from the aesthetic of the zine the focus is on the illegal side of things and, generally, the more awkward stuff.
for the record is definitely one of the more unusual publications I’ve come across. The zine documents, what I suppose could be called, ‘conceptual graffiti’. Rather than just observing the urban environment the artist abcdef acts as a kind of militant-flâneur whose photographs make a record of unconventional, often low-key, spray paint interventions.Continue reading →
Scholarly books on graffiti are all the rage at the moment and a chapter on ‘latrinalia’ is almost obligatory. It seems that the study of latrinalia came about as a way for bored academics to fill their time with a quirky project. Simply nip into the university’s lavatory and, hey presto!, there’s the material for a slightly amusing thesis with some bold statements about the state of society.Continue reading →