The Faith of Graffiti

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The Wooster Collective just posted the first installment of a nice video interview with Jon Naar, the photographer behind the seminal 1974 book The Faith of Graffiti. When Faith was first released, it gained as much attention for Norman Mailer's bombastic introductory essay as it did for Naar's stunning images--it's fantastic to finally have it back in print, and for Naar to get the credit he deserves.

I wrote about Naar and Mailer, the anniversary edition of Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper's equally influential Subway Art and the "Born in the Streets" exhibit in Paris a couple months back for Bookforum. As I was wrapping up the piece, an amazing inter-generational face-off was happening underneath London. Banksy, the globally famous street artist whose passion for social criticism is paralleled only by the aggressiveness of his self-promotion, had painted over a decades-old piece by the locally famous 1980s graffiti writer ROBBO. The Wall Street Journal just did an insightful feature on ROBBO, who came out of retirement for a little retribution. Back in the day, ROBBO laments while at a Banksy auction, few could anticipate that graffiti and its instincts could be so effectively monetized. (Be sure to check out the WSJ slideshow.)

* * *
Today and Tomorrow has shots of another cat-and-mouse contest, this one pitting MOBSTR against the all-too-obliging Newcastle City Council.

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Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. More

Hua Hsu teaches in the English Department at Vassar College and writes about music, sports, and culture. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Bookforum, Slate, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe Ideas section and The Wire (for whom he writes a bi-monthly column). He is on the editorial board for the New Literary History of America.

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