On Friday night, Drasar Monumental and Planet Rocker, of the Northstar Zulus, spun old-school hip-hop, as heads mingled amidst the exposition of the culture’s first element. That was followed by an artist talk featuring Skeme, Refa, and Kufu the next evening, moderated by artist and author Duane Deterville.
Some interesting things came out of that conversation, such as Skeme revealing that the controversial word “graffiti” – which has been eschewed by aerosol practitioners of late – is actually his preferred term. “I ain’t no aerosol muralist, I’m a graffiti writer,” declared Skeme, who noted that the original Italian word graffiti is derived from, graffito, is a technique which involves making a drawing by covering a surface, then etching away at it, revealing the undersurface.
Skeme also ran down the storied history of the original TMT crew, whose moniker stands variously for The Magnificent Team, and Ten Million Tags, among other acronyms. The veteran writer encouraged younger artists to learn about the artform’s history, and also decried the cultural appropriation of graffiti by Caucasian writers whose efforts, he opined, tended to be more linear and less “funky” then black and Latino artists.
Refa explained the show’s inspiration came from Twilight 22’s classic 1983 electro-hop song as well as the energy conducted through the process of making art, which he said had “flow, vibration, rhythm.” There’s a connection, added Kufu, between present-day urban hieroglyphics and “ancient Egyptian electro-magneticism” reflected in color patterns which remain similar through “spans of eons and millenniums.”
-Eric K Arnold
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