From graffiti to art: Style Wars

Posted on February 23, 2012 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

The most famous street art gallery: East side gallery, Berlin


I have always been fascinated by street art and graffiti, and I have taken photographs of these works of 'art' for quite a few years esp. during my travels. Hence I was glad that I managed to get one of the last few seats to see "Architecture on film: Style Wars" at the Barbican, curated by The Architecture Foundation. The screenings included: "Style Wars", directed by Tony Silver in 1983 and a short film: "The subconscious art of graffiti removal", directed by Matt McCormick in 2002.

In "Style Wars", it documented the battles between the pioneering graffiti artists in New York in the early 80s. Silver interviewed these artists, their families, the then-mayor, Ed Koch, MTA workers, metro passengers and even passerby. The most interesting part is seeing the relationship between graffiti and hip-hop (including break dancing and rapping), and how this emerging subculture movement that started in the late 70s became part of the mainstream modern day culture. The film also shows graffiti entering into the New York art scene in the early 80s despite many who saw it as simply as vandalism.


Southbank, London


Portland-based director, Matt McCormick directed "The subconscious art of graffiti removal", a short documentary that has taken a rather unique and mocking approach towards the subject. It documented the removal of graffiti by city council workers, who according to the director, managed to create works of art that could be compared to Rothko without realising it! The tone of the narrator by fellow artist and her use of terms seems to be indirectly mocking those pretentious art critics (professional or not!) who we sometimes encounter at art exhibitions. Humourous and unusual, with interesting cinematography.

It is interesting to see the ambiguous meaning of what we call 'art' these days. It is certainly more subjective now and more influenced by cultural trends than it used to. I have gathered and posted photos that were taken over the years onto my Pinterest board, you can click here to view them. Check out the Berlin ones, I think this city has the best 'graffiti/ street art' in the world!


This post was posted in London, Travel, Films & documentaries, Street art & graffiti and was tagged with London, documentaries, graffiti/ street art