Text by Karin du Maire
Beyond the Streets NYC: Vandalism as Contemporary Art
“Graffiti and street art would not have become what they have without New York City.” This statement by curator Roger Gastman is posted at the entrance of the Beyond The Streets exhibition in Brooklyn, New York. Roger Gastman is a curator and filmmaker, who specializes in the history of graffiti and street art. His documentary film Wall Writers honored original graffiti writers from the 60s and 70s from New York City and Philadelphia. His first Beyond The Streets exhibition was in 2018 in Los Angeles and attracted 220,000 visitors in 2.5 months.
A few weeks ago the highly-anticipated Beyond The Streets exhibition opened in a newly developed office building in Brooklyn, New York. The exhibition covers 100,000 sqft (~ 9300 m2) divided over 2 floors. The exhibition has 9 sections: New York City, The After School, Freight Trains, West Coast, New Pop, Activism, Figurative, Innovation, Beyond, Obey. The first 5 sections are on the 5th floor and have more the look and feel of a museum with informative signs, photos, display cases and installations. The last 4 sections are on the 6th floor and have more the look and feel of a high-end gallery. Actually all art is for sale and there are 4 sales consultants with iPads ready to assist art collectors. And for those on a smaller budget there is a well-assorted gift shop.
The New York City section has a wealth of information about the history of graffiti. It includes information about original graffiti writers like Taki 183, Mike 171 and SJK 171, the development of subway train graffiti, styles and characters, the role of hangouts and crews, the relationship to Hip Hop culture, the photographers documenting the movement like Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, and the producers of movies like Style Wars and Wild Style.
The Beyond The Streets exhibition runs through August 25, 2019. Tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for kids and can be purchased online or at the ticket desk at the building entrance.
Header Photo: Canvas by Daze