** Graffiti Writing **
Origini, Significati, Tecniche e protagonisti in Italia.
Interview with Alessandro Mininno
Is your original idea to make the definitive book about graffiti in Italy ?
No! You can’t do a definitive book about something that hasn’t yet come to an end (for the same reason there are no definitive books about contemporary art, for instance). “Graffiti Writing” is an introductory book about graffiti: it is meant to be readable by the widest possible audience. People tend to hate what they don’t understand: I wrote the book hoping that people will start reading and understanding tags and pieces. If they like them or not, I don’t care – yet I still think that tags are beautiful, and I wanted to show some nice panels and throw ups and explain what’s behind it.
Graffiti is an Italian word, but “Graffiti Writing” doesn’t sound much like the title of a book about graffiti in Italy, no ?
I didn’t like the word “graffiti” alone, but it has to be there for indexing and search purpose… so I used the expression “graffiti writing” as a single word. In Subway Art they say “graffiti writing in new york is a vocation, a tradition that is handed down from one young generation to the next….”. The book is about graffiti writing, not about “love” graffiti or “football” graffiti or cave graffiti or political or other street stuff.
In the 90’s Roma & Italy were known to be a good place to paint wagons. Train companies didn’t really buff the pieces. What’s the situation right now ?
I think Italy is still a good place to paint trains, but as you probably know wagons get cleaned very easily in a couple of days, thanks to a plastic protection film, since the end of 1999. It was a radical shift of mentality: before 2000 you painted to see your piece running for years. Now people paint mainly for the action, documentation of your piece is more important, it’s hard to find an already painted car and (because of the short running time) you have to paint a lot to get noticed. It has become a completely different kind of sport (it’s like everywhere else in Europe I think).
Hundreds of people still paint trains in Italy and you can see a lot of quality stuff in the stations. Many oldschoolers started to paint again this year, and I’m pretty happy to see again trains by Hekto, Napal, Rok just to name a few.
There are many many photos in “Graffiti Writing” where do they come from ?
Sara and me asked the 250+ photos in the volume directly to the writers (mostly). We collected some 5.000 pictures and we (me and Sara) have a completely different taste, so choosing which one to publish was pretty difficult.
I would like to thank all the writers who gave us pictures… without them the book would not exist. We received VERY nice flicks by some great photographers too, and we’re pretty happy about it (names here).
The book does NOT represent the Italian scene (that’d be impossible for a book, you have magazines for that purpose). The book tries to show some styles (throw ups, tags, whole cars and so on) and to tell some stories, in the most accurate and scientific possible way. I wanted to do a understandable book about graffiti with trains, tags and throw ups: there’s an overload of hyper-specialized book about graffiti (I read them) but I think that they’re cryptic for most people. Otherwise, wide-audience books only represented hall of fames or characters, so they’re easier to sell but I don’t like them (I particularly hate big collage books like Graffiti World and the like). I had the possibility to do something that represented my own view on graffiti: letters, trains and vandalism. I hope that someone will dissent and criticize – we made choices, we’re up to support them.
Can you tell us the name of an Italian graffiti writer we probably don’t know and that would deserve more publicity ?
No, I can’t.
I could tell you who are my favourite writers, but that’s only my personal taste… it’s worth nothing. I think that the only way to see what’s fresh in Italy, is to take a trip around Roma or Milano, and walk the streets or choose a good bench in the station. Remember always that what you see on the internet is only a very small slice of the cake, and not always the best. 🙂
Can you choose 5 pages from the book, and tell us something about them ?
First of all, I really love the page where Verbo (Meta2) paints in the Genoa layup, during the G8 manifestation, and you can see the demonstration on the background of the flick. I think that is invaluable documentation (the photo is by Olafpix.net).
That’s the same reason why I love the photos by Alex Fakso where people removes the anti-graffiti film from the wagons, using a cutter . That demonstrates pretty well that you can try to eradicate graffiti, but you can’t stop the writers. They always raise the level and paint higher, with stronger tools, on the most forbidden surfaces. That’s a magical struggle against he monochrome dictatorship.
I like this Spiner tag: scribbles are the most hated form of graffiti, yet totally I love them, and this particular tag (in my opinion) shows very well that a signature on a wall could be typographically beautiful, well executed and brilliant.
From the (little) historic chapter, I would choose the closing page: Muko and Nitro in 1995, masked in the trainyard, in front of a smashing whole car, developing a style that would not be possible without montana spraycans. graffiti was changing, becoming more aggressive, straight and ugly.
The interrailers chapter is one of my favourite. Very little books documented this scene, even if it’s one of the best things european vandals created.
All the photos that illustrate the interview are original unpublished photos. Thank you Ale.
29 € – 236 color pages