Friday, March 25, 2011

November 2010 recap

I'm ambivalent about November. It was a great month for shots: I got a lot of nice stuff over the course of the month. It was also a month of heavy reflection following the tragic deaths of Dylan (Jays), Mitchell (Aber), and their friend Ricardo. RIPs could be found abundantly populating the walls and other viable surfaces everywhere I went across the city and into the West Island. I was out on flic missions through out the month, the heaviest and most poignant of those missions reflectively was Turcot on Nov 6, just one week after the three boys had been struck and killed by the passing via rail train.

There were so many RIPs out on the streets. I didn't even realize how many I had taken pictures of until I got through all my shots. So many, in fact, that I decided to create a separate post dedicated to only those flics. You can view those shots here. With everything else, there just wasn't enough room for even a big post such as this one, though there are a few peppered in this one anyway.

I walk the streets almost on the daily with my camera taking pics and trying to keep up with the local scene as much as possible. Though I'm not a writer, I have dibble dabbled a bit here and there, but nothing substantial. What I do have is a deep appreciation for the subculture, both academically as a cultural researcher and as an enthusiast of street art, graffiti, and liminal spaces in the city. My research and deep appreciation connects me to the subculture and the people who are a part of it. So it was pretty shitty to have to snap so many RIPs but nice to see them up from everyone out there.

I went through some of my regular haunts, like Stinky's, CBR, the TA wall and factory area, Wellington, and all the streets and spots in between. Some nice stuff up but pretty quiet here and there. I plan on getting back into the ol' Stinker at one point to get some solid interior shots (pause) in the near future, and, depending on how that goes, I'll have some quality flics of that area. CBR wasn't much except for a few interesting cross outs. But thanks to the MTQs fine work of renovating the plumbing in the area, a few spots on the far little wall in the back were freed up. Construction was still keeping the TA wall pretty quiet and the factory was what it was: a smelly, soggy, mess, and a few nice pieces. I got some quality shots from the roof at one point though and a few random encounters of writers and folks passing through.

November was also a month to remember Brian Kachur (Razor) who was killed by two younger writers in November of 2009 for allegedly going over some of their graffiti at some point prior. The local news reported a couple pieces last week concerning the verdicts handed out to the two youths charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in his killing. These verdicts will not bring Brian Kachur back to his grieving family or friends and they are bittersweet victories considering what has been lost. Again, I had never known Brian, and had only been following his graffiti for a short time, however, I felt that same empathy, and it weighed on my mind even a year later as I walked through Turcot, Cote St. Paul, St. Henri, Stinky's, CBR, TA, and the city streets collecting shots throughout the month.

One particular editorial  left a rather deep impression on me. In reflecting upon the deaths of these four over the last 2 years the author wrote:
What makes the deaths of these young men all the more tragic is that many people, who regard graffiti as visual pollution and vandalism, will be inclined to suggest that they were asking for trouble and hold their fate up as an object lesson.

This is an unduly harsh judgment and glosses over the undeniable fact that courting danger in the pursuit of mischief is a near-universal impulse among young males of the human species, and was most likely indulged in by many of those who judge the fallen graffiti writers harshly.
It adds that writers should ask themselves whether what they do and the chances they take are worth risking their lives over.

I'm sure that has been a question in the minds of many writers out there, especially those who were close to any of these four boys. Although they may be thinking more of the consequences of their actions, these events have not silenced their voices or lessened their numbers. On the contrary, the streets have been more active with many writing RIPs with messages of love, respect, and remembrance.

And another thing (slightly off topic):

Arguments aimed at graffiti (apart from the writers themselves) -such as many of those brought forward in the commenting on these media articles over the last 2 years (especially more as of recent) -revolve around property damage, vandalism as cheapening street culture, and the need to clean up communities that have been plagued by graffiti. Although the argument for the safe keeping of public property and the positive maintenance of our neighborhoods is an important one, it does little to explain the core reasons behind graffiti in the first place, or why such neighborhoods are in such disrepair to begin with.

Usually media articles or segments do little to explore the reasons behind graffiti at all. Instead focusing more on the human and capital damage of tagging or bombing in general framing graffiti as a primary reason for these community ailments, rather than unemployment, drugs & alcohol abuse, lack of public spending or effective community programs, or other crimes for that matter. When graffiti is described positively, it is in the legal and sanctioned events involving graffiti or hip hop inspired art which presumes that the only "good" graffiti is that which is sanctioned by the city or community governments. But there's plenty of good graffiti going on in non public places. Sure there have been some pieces touching upon the subject, however, it is hardly the main theme of a majority of articles.

Anyway, here are the rest of my shots over the month of November from TA and Turcot. December to come soon. And a real 'update' soon to follow.

 Till then keep posted. RIP Jays, Aber, Ricardo, and Razor.

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