Whilst hanging in the gallery and surfing through SAMA's rich book collection, I stumbled upon the first book that is not a photo book but a story-telling exercise by those writing graffiti - from walls to music.
This book is compilation of texts chosen by a unique criteria: a romantic, or you might say - idealistic, vision of graffiti.
I found the introduction very beautiful. It was about the lovers shadow on the wall about how "Graffiti started". I found it quite beautiful because, it was like a poem with a warm and romantic feel to it, almost like an aesthetic:
“ the mommy says how the ancient Greek girl was in love with a young man. "But the young man was from another country and had to go back, the mommy says. (...) So the last night the girl and her lover would be together, the mommy says, the girl brought a lamp and set it so it threw the lover's shadow on the wall. (...) And the mommy says how the girl traced the outline of her lover's shawdow so she would always have a record of how he looked, a document of this exact moment, the last moment they would be together. (...) And the Mommy says how the next day, the girl's lover was gone, but his shadow was still there. (...) The can of spray paint hisses, and the mommy says that before the Greek, nobody had any art. This was how painting pictures was invented. She tells the story of how the girl's father used the outline on the wall to model a clay version of the young man, and that's the way sculpture was invented. For serious, the Mommy told him, "Art never comes from happiness." -Chuck Palahniuk, Choke”
In addition, by studying the texts, I learned that street art and graffiti can also be political in some stance, for example Kieth Harring made some very nice, and interesting pieces of work relating to it. It may be "simple" but in a way it's powerful, also the usage of color are very sympolistic for example red could mean anger, blue for sadness and orange for distrust etc. You may also see this with other street artist of people who do graffiti like for example DELTA, SHOE, MOSTE and STINKFISH.
This book changed the way I understand this art movement, because I no longer see Graffiti and Street art as either vandalism or something pretty you just happen to see on the street, decorative, you might say. I now know that a lot of works have meanings behind them and many artists are politically polarized. I understand that Graffiti artist, unlike many Street Artists, may not give a crap whether they can or can not create in a certain place, they claim it. They want to be heard and seen. Street Artists rely a lot on permissions and budgets, which is where the movements begin to split.
Graffiti is kind of like more of a simple thing with much stricter rules and writing the name is the key mission. Street art is very experimental, where nobody still can agree on terminology and rules or practices - everything goes, to me, because at times it can be a very complex piece with a very simple meaning behind it or it can be a very simple piece with a whole story behind it. Street art is very broad, with different styles, different ways of creating the pieces and so on.
I like the book overall, you can tell there was a lot of passion written in here. The language is a mix of casual and poetry which gives this book and interesting feel to it and uniqueness. The major themes in this book are "Criteria, art and graffiti". The authors tells us about marketing and political graffiti, how they're many ignorant people who don't understand the true meaning and don't dig deep enough into ones graffiti. I find this book interesting because it teaches a lot about such things, things that you normally wouldn't think or have thought off.
The thing that i kind of couldn't get used to was the lack of illustrations, I find that in a book about graffiti and street art there should at least be 5 or more illustrations.
If i would have gotten a chance to put an illustration in the book it would be something like this:
The book is free and can be downloaded here.