My forays into benching have admittedly been few and far between – more for lack of time than opportunity – but I’ve fast become a fan of the freight moniker. Small and relatively easy to miss in comparison to the larger pieces that dominate many boxcars, monikers are part of a unique, symbol-laden language of and by those who ride the rails.
If you’ve got $20 to spare, I can highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of Bill Daniel’s excellent documentary on freight monikers, Who is Bozo Texino?.
Since the heyday of painted trains, there have been a number of excellent documentary films that highlighted the burgeoning graffiti movement. The legendary Style Wars and Wild Style come to mind, as well as the more recent Infamy and Bomb It. To date Hollywood has shied away from producing fictionalized accounts of graffiti culture, although that probably isn’t a bad thing, given that graffiti vandalism is often exaggerated and sensationalized. Fortunately for us, first time director Florian Gaag, an active member of Munich’s graffiti scene for many years, has delivered an impressive cinematic debut that accurately represents the writer lifestyle. Filmed on location in Munich and Warsaw, Wholetrain includes striking footage of rolling stock featuring the work of writers Won, Cemnoz, Pure, Ciel and Neon. And if that weren’t enough, Gaag collaborated with Hip Hop great KRS One on the film’s soundtrack.
Next Tuesday, New York will be treated to a free screening of Wholetrain, followed by a discussion between director Florian Gaag and writer Pure. No stranger to painted trains, Pure started writing in the late 70s and has since gotten down with infamous writers such as Reas, Ven, Jonone as well as fellow TFP member Sento.
Wholetrain Film Screening + Conversation Tuesday, February 16th, 2010, 7:00pm Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building 5 East 3rd Street (at Bowery) New York, NY 10003 Tel.: +1 (212) 439-8700 Closest Subway: 6 at Bleecker Street Admission is free, no reservations required.
But don’t take my word for it, here’s what others had to say about the film:
Ket: “I loved the movie. I thought that Wholetrain represented the scene the best – ever. It really captured what writers go through and their struggles; they were humanized, they weren’t caricatures. I appreciate that. I remember that it made me feel that I was there with those guys, living with those guys. It took me back to a time when I was living the way those kids were living. I thought it was very authentic in that sense.”
Henry Chalfant: “Wholetrain shows the human dimensions of Graffiti-Writing. The social conflicts of the protagonists are fascinating and allow you to take a look at the writers’ real lives. Real characters, real problems. Wholetrain is a very good film that not only reflects writing culture but also leaves room to authentically portray the writers’ social reality.”
Summer 2008 I spent a week in Paris – discovering Horfe was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. If you’re not familiar with his weird and wonderful work, be sure to check out his Flickr group.
He must have come through New York at some point, as I’ve recently come across a couple of pieces he did with Kuma, another favorite writer of mine.
“In the late 1990s the VIC crew made a come back. The revitalized VIC crew included veteran members like PEAK and PG (rip) as well as newer generation writers such as ADER. The female writers DIVA, HOPE and DONA were also counted among the ranks. Members like PEAK, REVS, and ADER implemented a tunnel bombing campaign. Armed with bucket paint and rollers they painted the walls of many NYC subway tunnels. DONA, EZO, PEAK, DIVA and HOPE contributed to a street bombing effort which included roller letters, tags and throw-ups. The crew also painted many elaborate murals throughout the city.”
Although a lot of VIC work has long since disappeared, you can still spot the odd wall here and there.
For more NYC graffiti history from the guys behind @149th St, be sure to pick up your copy of Graffiti New York.