new project in the works

8 October 2011 § Leave a comment

When I don’t have something to work on, I melt. Deteriorate. Crumble. Recluse. Which is why travel and I are so well suited to one another, while stagnation – in no negative sense of the word, but simply not moving – and I tend to not be.

I have something to work on, which is not just school, and certainly nothing I’m getting paid to do, but an idea that has been festering in my mind since St. Louis, Missouri, April 2009. Behind an old railroad building, and around the whole of the industrial district next to the Arch and the Mississippi River, there were tags. Tons of them. Some of the sharpest graffiti pieces I’d seen up to that point, and I started taking pictures. It was early, maybe 7 am, before the streets crowded with tourists and 9-to-5ers. Rain drizzled and the brown river looked deathly ill. Mark Twain had been along here a few times, his fame disdained by riverboat captains foreverafter (he’d only spent a couple of years on the riverboats, they argue, where many captains have been running up and down the mighty waterway for forty years or more).

Tents pitched in warehouse doorways deflected raindrops, and a hanging sign advertised a squatted  ‘green studeo’ set up in an old railway depot. Half-bicycles hung from the rafters. Red, white, and blue ribbons hung from the ceiling. Piles of broken concrete block surrounded the building. Graffiti chronicled artistic evolution. An old man worked his chisel on a slab of wood, paint supplies sitting nearby.

I didn’t talk to him that morning. It is a small regret of mine.

Graffiti has always been, in the back of my mind, the purest form of art. Free and anonymous. Uncommisioned. A birth of inspiration. Sometimes it is a menace to city officials. It has been called vandalism, as rock music was once called pornographic. 

 The idea that we must pay for every sensation we’d like to feel is a modern invention, and is completely superficial. Must we pay to look at art, always? Ever? Ledges to a skateboarder are useful tools of growth and excitement. Why do courthouses always have the best ledges? Why are cities built up in monochrome? Some things must be rebelled against.

I am working my way into the street art of San José, Costa Rica, and eventually farther. There’s a whole world between the metal of the traincar and the fifth layer of sprayed paint making its way along the tracks, through communities long abandoned and bustling cities. I will follow them, camera and notebook in hand.

At least, that’s what the idea looks like in my head.

here we go.

 

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