Cities are so fascinating. Architecture, history, personality, transit -- there's just something about all those little moving parts working in unison that draws me in.
Back in April I featured a video of a colorful subway ride from 14th & Broadway all the way down to Coney Island, in which I referred to graffiti as "a major problem with the New York City subway system in the 1970s and 1980s."
After watching Style Wars, I'll think twice before making that sort of statement again.
Above is a crew of 12 graffiti artists featured in this beautifully shot 1983 documentary that caught me completely by surprise. Some are heavy hitters in the underground world of NYC subway writing while others are merely background players. Inevitably, they're met with varying levels of vitriol by the opposition below who see graffiti as an insult to the city they choose to call home.
The artists in Style Wars share common threads of youthful rebellion and the demand for artistic freedom while their opposition hails from a varied range of ethnic, socioeconomic, and generational backgrounds. I see it as a matter of creativity versus rigidity. When the discourse is reduced down to its simplest form, this film aims to push our society towards a more conclusive definition of art -- a term that I feel will never truly be defined.
Do yourself a favor and watch the opening scene below. If spray paint and 80s fashion is your thing, it's a beauty.