One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years. Tom Wolfe
7&8SEP13. New York City.
Here’s another beautiful piece by Yazan. He specializes in Arab calligraphy, which has fast become his “signature.” It’s getting easier and easier to spot a “Yazan Halwani” around the city. And that’s a good thing.
24AUG13. Beirut, Lebanon.
Capturing shots of graffiti murals isn’t the safest passion. Especially, as I do more than take full shots. I like to ‘dissect’ them and capture them piece by piece. Some of the graffiti posts you see on my blog, sure, lots of people can safely wander in those areas and take pictures, but more and more increasingly, I am getting pictures of murals that locals will tell you not to risk going near. The fact is, the best graffiti, the graffiti that tells the real story of disenchantment, poverty, unrepresented people, anti-government…that all comes from graffiti that is naturally, in lower-class neighborhoods. And that’s the graffiti that I want. That’s the graffiti that teaches me a country’s politics, a country’s culture, a country’s history. It’s an adrenaline rush to step closer and closer into an area that I know is sketchy. I always survey my area, I always look for police, I always make sure no one is near me, and I always look for the quick exit. But, it is dangerous and I am serious about it. For now, this will be my last bit from Caracas, as I am now in Maturin, the fifth largest city in Venezuela, and an area that has specific issues of its own. Much which I will explore later. Back to this last Caracas graffiti post. I found an alley. Already, that’s not safe. But, I did. It is off of the Brion plaza area in Chacaito. At first, I just saw an entire block of a building covered and immediately started heading for it, and then I saw the group of people at the front of the alley and I thought better of it. They looked high on something and they were trying to sell bits and bobs of handmade jewelry and stuff, but, you could see in their eyes a vacancy that I read, “you can take a chance, but even I don’t know what could happen to you.” So I walked on along the Plaza, but could not get that mural out of my head, and thought, “there’s got to be a way that I can get in there and not get harassed.” So, after quite awhile, I turned around and walked down a safer side street, turned again, and walked to the other end of that alley and chose to enter from there. There was a man outside his shop working and I think of people like that as ‘witnesses,’ so I felt a bit safer. There was still a small contingent of addicts along the other wall, but I progressed slowly, kept looking around, and I had my whistle in my mouth. I always have a whistle ready to blow when I’m in those situations. I hope that it will startle and freak out the perpetrator and they’ll run, and that police will come, and that other people will take notice. It’s a little less secure in Venezuela, as it is a bit lawless and criminals don’t really fear the police. Here are the pictures. They didn’t get here easily.
It was actually too dangerous on this day to get a full shot because that would have required my Canon 550D, so I had to go piece by piece, very carefully, with my iPod using Instagram Lo-Fi aspect (that aspect tends to bring out the vibrancy in the colors.)
9JAN13. Caracas, Venezuela.