From THREE THOUSAND —
This 2007 doco is an impressive achievement. Director/producer Jon Reiss (Better Living Through Circuitry) travelled the world and interviewed a who’s who of street artists (Shepard Fairey: younger, hotter and douchier than I’d thought), to illuminate a cultural world war. Graffiti artists call themselves bombers and see their work as ‘typographic terrorism’.
Bomb It! doesn’t romanticise its subject matter or settle for easy answers such as, ‘It’s art!’ ‘It’s subversion!’ ‘It’s vandalism!’ ‘It’s marketing!’ or ‘It’s identity!’ Even with a voiceover saying how rad tagging is, a building covered in tags looks pretty ugly and disrespectful to me whereas a Barcelona mural is beautiful; but I also see the bombers’ point about the commercialisation of public space, and that kids graduate from tagging to big, beautiful murals.
There’s an impressive sense of cultural specificity to the ways graffiti has evolved in various cityscapes, from racial politics in Paris and Cape Town to gang culture in LA, conformity in Tokyo, surveillance in London and homelessness in Sao Paolo. (Funnily enough, ‘stencil capital’ Melbourne doesn’t figure in Bomb It! at all. Jibbed!) And while some graffiti artists see themselves as activists or entrepreneurs, others are anarchists. As the nihilistic Fuckin Revs says, ‘We’re just basically blue collar, workin’ jackasses.’
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