A new photo series by Alan Ket is a quiet and beautiful, but still extremely potent, form of activism at a time when it’s desperately need.
As it seems new headlines comes up almost every day about another person murdered at the hands of the police, more than a few people have taken to memorializing the victims by simply writing their names in public. Sometimes the message is a major production, sometimes it’s small and rushed. Lately, Ket has been photographing some of these small memorials, just tags in black ink, during his commute around New York City.
The act of writing these names is important because it helps get them into our limited head-space: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, Delrawn Small, Tamir Rice, Anthony Hill, Freddie Gray… of course the list could go on much longer. But these are tags on New York City subway trains. They won’t last long. They’ll be buffed quickly, because that’s how New York City deals with tags on the subway. They don’t want commuters to see any of it. Which is what makes Ket’s photographs all the more important. They serve as a document that these names were written, and might even inspire others to pick up a marker and start writing.
As too many police departments try to sweep misconduct under the rug and wish that we’d all just stop saying, writing, and seeing these names, clearly the thing to do is the opposite. These tags won’t last, but Ket’s photos will. Here are a few more, and you can see the full series on Ket’s Instagram:
Are you feeling the Bern? Artists definitely are. On Saturday night, Bernie Sanders stopped by The Hole in NYC to check out an art exhibition inspired by his campaign. Artists are also taking their love of Bernie to the street, with pro-Bernie murals popping up in Philadelphia and NYC (and probably other cities too, so let us know if you’ve seen others). Here’s a bit of what’s been going up…
Nick Kuszyk has painted two murals in Brooklyn. One (above) welcoming Bernie back to his hometown in anticipation of the New York primary (takes place on Tuesday!), and one highlighting Sanders’ commitments to criminal justice reform.
A mural by Alan Ket, Noxer and Tres (pictured above) was buffed by two NYPD officers this week. Ket says that the store owner was contacted by the police about having the painting removed, even though it was painted legally. Ket was planning to go talk to the police and see what was up, but then the police just went ahead and painted over it. The owner of the store where the wall is let the police go ahead and paint over the wall once they had started because she did not want any problems with them. More on this censorship at Hyperallergic.
This week, the annual NY Art Book Fair is taking place at PS1. Pantheon Projects, a group being launched out of the Pantheon exhibition that took place earlier this year in NYC, has a booth at the fair, as does the Italian publisher Drago. The fair is open, with free admission, this Wednesday the 30th through this Sunday the 2nd.
Pantheon Projects has a couple interesting projects going on at the fair as part of the zine tent. They will be launching a graff zine called Signal as well as selling Adam VOID & DROID’s graff zine, Learning to Die, Live the Dream II. They’ll also be selling Daniel Feral’s history of graffiti and street art poster and the exhibition catalog for the Pantheon show. On Saturday from 3:00-3:45, there will be a signing of the exhibition catalog featuring Charlie Ahearn, Chris Pape aka Freedom, KET1 RIS and Toofly.
Drago will be showing off their latest titles, including launching a new book by Chris Stain: Long Story Short. Chris will be around presenting and signing the new book on Saturday from 1-4pm. More on Drago’s plans can be found here.
Images courtesy of NY Book Fair, Pantheon Projects and Drago
Originally focused on bombing trains back in the late 80’s, GHOST has developed into a first-rate painter. I love his spirited work on exhibit through Sunday at TT Underground (91 Second Ave. in the East Village): its zany characters, brilliant colors and synthesis of styles. Here’s a sampling:
For a historical perspective on the graffiti of GHOST’s era and GHOST’s personal and artistic evolution, Ket’s book GHOST RIS CREW (published by From Here to Fame) is worth a read.