Nerv, a Los Angeles graffiti artist, emphatically states: "I want people to know who I am." It's too bad that this is so difficult in our commercial society if you have no money for school. But some derive free expression from an aerosol can --- the city is their canvas.
Graffiti Verite' is a documentary exploring the underground art of Graffiti. It focuses on the West Coast, but it is a voice for graffiti artists everywhere.
Too frequently, 'tagging' and 'graffiti' are used interchangeably. But while taggers simply want to get their names out, it can metamorphose into an amazing art form - graffiti art - that speaks for itself. It has little in common with tags scribbled on a wall.
As one of the 24 artists interviewed in Graffiti Verite' says, "Conservatives think that it's vandalism, that there's no intrinsic value in it." Another artist, Spine, feels that people are brainwashed: "It's not vandalism, it's a beautiful crime... I feel alive when I'm painting. ... When I'm finished I've created something beautiful."
Why should non-artists pay attention to graffiti? Because they might learn something. "If you want to find out about a city, read the writing on the walls," says one Los Angeles artist. Graffiti artists absorb their environments, and their art becomes the translation. Whether graffiti contains blatant messages about society or subliminals, it's an intense, colorful voice.
Succinct editing, incredible murals, and passionate statements from artists make producer Bob Bryan's love for graffiti obvious. If you regard graffiti as defacement of property - something that gentrification should erase - you must see this video.
1995, 45 minutes, color, VHS, $21, post paid. Bryan World Productions,
P.O. Box 74033, Los Angeles, CA 90004. Telephone: 213 / 993-6163; fax:
213-856-0855. Allow two to three weeks for delivery.