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The Return Of Mayor Koch in Mural

from The New York Times

Graffiti of New York’s Past, Revived and Remade


Robert Wright for The New York Times

With “Joan of Arc,” at a warehouse along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, the graffiti collective Slavery is paying homage to a 1980 work that read “Hand of Doom.”  More Photos »

Anyone who has been lost in the last few weeks around the southern reaches of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn could be excused for experiencing a powerful Koch administration flashback. On the wall of a brick warehouse there, visible from the parking lot of a furniture store, a huge mural unfurls itself, a loving, seemingly spray-by-spray re-creation of one of the more infamous pieces of graffiti ever to ride the subway: a 1980 work by the artist known as Seen that covered the length of a No. 6 train car with the ominous phrase “Hand of Doom.”

The original work — among those canonized in Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper’s 1984 landmark photographic history, “Subway Art” — was a token of its troubled urban times, a reference to the Black Sabbath song of the same title with the words flanked by a hooded executioner and a time bomb. The 21st-century version, on closer inspection, turns out to be a bit gentler and a lot more oblique. It reads “Joan of Arc,” and the hatchet man has been replaced by an armored representation of the martyred French saint.

A few miles away, on a streetfront wall in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, a similarly odd example of historical revival has sprung up: a kinetic-looking 1980 piece by the graffiti writer Blade has been recreated, with the five letters of his name changed to read Plato. On a coffee shop wall in Bushwick, a name piece from the same year by the artist known as Dondi has been faithfully resurrected but changed to read Gandhi. And a copy of an early-’80s subway tag by the artist Sin appeared just last week on a row of lockers inside Louis D. Brandeis High School on the Upper West Side, with the addition of a few letters and some philosophical heft; the name is now Spinoza.

[ click to continue reading at the New York Times ]

Posted on October 26, 2010 by Editor

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