Field Film Seminar – Style WarsPosted: January 30, 2015
Style Wars is a 1983 documentary on hip hop culture, directed by Tony Silver and produced in collaboration with Henry Chalfant. The documentary shows both the young artists struggling to express themselves through their art, their points of view on the subject of graffiti, as well as the views of then New York City.
I wasn’t expecting much when I found out the topic of the film was on hip hop culture. It’s not something I’m particularly interested in, nor am I a part of it. However, I decided to give it a go anyway and I actually found the documentary quite insightful.
I’ve always assumed that graffiti was just this spur of the moment thing and of course it has always had its artistic merit but I didn’t think it had any further concept than “I can do this and get away with it, so I will”. I suppose in the bigger picture it’s dealing with the concept of life and death, in the same sense as wanting to leave your mark on the world to be remembered by.
I learnt that this graffiti writing was being done by kids as young as 11 years old just wanting to get their names up on these New York trains for everyone to see. The artists didn’t really care about the public viewing it or the fact that most of the time the public couldn’t even read it; it was for them and the other members of their community. It was all about using this secret creative language to gain status and respect within the growing hip hop movement.