“Graffiti is alive,” is one of several bits of agitprop that appeared not too long ago on the side of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The more drastic any act of suppression is, the more extreme will be the reactions to it. In our zero tolerance, quality of life, war on drugs, law and order prison-industry age, you have to wonder when the powers that be are going to wake up to the ramifications of this ongoing escalation. After decades and millions of dollars spent trying to eradicate the vital urban expressions of graffiti art, we’re just now getting a taste of just what we’ve sown in a new generation of graffiti writers hell bent on getting over at all costs. One of the more daring feats to enter into graffiti lore is the recent conquest of the Brooklyn Bridge towers by Year, a twenty-one year old recent Southern California transplant, and Sace, a nineteen year old New York City native.
Proclaiming “Graffiti Is Still Alive,” and “Fuck Gulliani,” their message continues the legacy of a medium that simply will not go away, an in your face, damaging, insulting and angry vernacular of subversion that Year describes as “a visual attack on consumer culture.” Rejecting the current politics of space, where every surface is being dominated by the greed of advertising billboards, Year contends “graffiti is our way of reclaiming public space from corporations.” Adding a tribute tag to Sane, the writer who first conquered this Federally protected national landmark, falling to his death in the process, Sace describes his intentions as “trying to encourage other people to go out and do this, to not care and to cause even more property damage in this police state.” Forget about the cause of art, this new school is set on “making a name for yourself” by covering as much surface as rapidly as possible. The Krylon spray cans of yore have largely been abandoned in favor of rollers, mops (home-made markers with oversized wells of permanent ink), and in a startling innovation, etching cream that eats away at glass. “We’re gonna fuck things up,” Year promises, Sace adding “they declared a war on the art form, so we’re at war.”
Sace and Year were not yet born when the Wild Style originated in the train yards of the Bronx, when subway cars were the canvass of choice for graffiti artists. Now, strangely, the subways are more closely guarded than the Brooklyn Bridge .