We’re honored to be interviewed by Miss Rosen in the photography magazine Blind. Here is the introduction of her article with a link to the full story.
By Miss Rosen for Blind Magazine.
“If graffiti changed anything, it would be illegal,” street artist Banksy said. Jaime Rojo and Steven Harrington of Brooklyn Street Art reflect on the relationship between street art, activism, and photography.
Though we are surrounded by omens portending the future before it occurs, many refuse to read “the writing on the wall.” The confluence of graffiti and political action dates back to the Biblical story of Belshazzar’s feast when a disembodied hand scrawled words on the palace wall in a language no one could understand. According to the Book of Daniel, the young hero deciphered the message and warned the king the great empire of Babylon was going to fall.
The parable, contained within the larger story of apocalypse, is uncannily timely given the resurgence of graffiti and street art, two of the most vital, viral forms of contemporary art. Long intertwined with photography and activism, today’s “writing on the wall” has become the medium of the proletariat in the fight against the oppressive power structures dominating everyday life around the globe.
Throughout history artists have taken to the streets to draw attention to the issues at stake in the hopes of radicalizing the populace. From the use of wheat-pasted posters in the 1910 Mexican Revolution and John Heartfield’s anti-Nazi and anti-Stalinist crusades of the 1930s to 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Mexico City, artists have long taken to the streets to expose the corruption of political institutions. Although their works are local and temporal, photography has played an integral role in preserving and distributing their messages far and wide.
“Humans have always had the urgency to leave their mark behind. Walls and rocks have been their canvases for millennia,” say photographer Jaime Rojo and editor Steven P. Harrington of Brooklyn Street Art. “By the 1980s, graffiti writers like Lee Quiñones routinely addressed social and political topics when using New York City subway trains as canvases. Likewise, street art in 2020 has referenced police brutality, structural racism, feelings of alienation, disgust with politicians and a vast economic chasm that is shredding the fabric of society.”
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Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer focusing on art, photography, and culture. Her work has been published in magazines and websites including Time, Vogue, Artsy, Aperture, Dazed, and Vice, as well as books by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, Jane Dickson, Arlene Gottfried, and Allan Tannenbaum. As publisher of Miss Rosen Editions, she has produced books including the legendary hip-hop epic Wild Style: The Sampler by Charlie Ahearn (2007), Do Not Give Way to Evil: Photographs of the South Bronx, 1979–1987 by Lisa Kahane (2008), and New York State of Mind by Martha Cooper (2007).
Blind is a magazine that invites you to take the time to see, read and understand the language of photographers. Photography reveals not just what our senses perceive, but also how our sensibility acts: what moves us, touches us, and binds us.