Monday, November 23, 2015

Canvas 11.23.15


"Egyptians wrote on walls"

The Death of a City

Art is synonymous with New York City's history.  From Mark Rothko to the Notorious B.I.G our city is known for both the artist and the legacy of the art that has been left behind. But what happens when that legacy is tarnished? When it is destroyed? When no evidence of its existence is left behind? That is exactly what happened to Five Pointz in Queens.

Mural of The Notorious B.I.G. on the interior of Five Pointz
  Five Pointz was (and despite the fact that it no longer exists, other than in our minds eye, it still is) a cultural representation of not only Hip-Hop but of the vibrancy of New York.
Many people don't consider graffiti an art. I disagree, some of greatest contemporary artists got their start in graffiti such as Basquiat.  Many of the artists featured at Five Pointz are the major artists in the graffiti world.

A mural of my future husband, the rapper Nas.

Mural of Jam Master Jay, the slain DJ for the iconic rap group RUN DMC.

 Five Pointz provided artists with an area where they could both express themselves and have a community with other artists.  Now that that has been ripped away in order to give way to the current trend of gentrification that is plaguing multiple areas of New York City (luxury housing is being built in its place) there is a void left in the heart of New Yorkers.
View of Five Pointz from the Court Sq Train Station.

View from 7 Train


 There was a petition to save Five Pointz, but by now we are all aware that it was unsuccessful and this is all that's left of Five Pointz.

Demolition of Five Points.

White-washing of the graffiti.  Do you see the text that states "ART MURDER"?

 Five Pointz is not only dedicated to Hip-Hop culture, but it is also dedicated to events that have taken place here such as the 9-11 attacks.

 I truly believe that Five Pointz is an accurate depiction of life in NYC beyond just Hip-Hop culture.  There was something on that building that supported everyone, regardless of their musical choices or their lifestyle.  The saddest thing is that it only exists now in images and in our memories.  I have to question the legitimacy of art.  Who determines what is art? Who determines that some structures are worth saving while others are not?  Why did that luxury housing complex have to be built at that particular sight?  Why didn't the city protect Five Pointz by giving it landmark status?  They would never tear down MOMA, The Guggenheim or The Met.  It makes me wonder,  is it about class (and lets us not forget race)?  The fact that these "classic" or traditional art museums have endowments and people have to pay money in order to access these spaces while Five Pointz was visible to us, for us and created by us.  I feel as if the neo-liberalist structures at work are creating a hierarchy within the city separating us into the haves and have-nots while simultaneously reshaping the city we once knew into something unrecognizable.  New York City is transforming, and I don't like what it's turning into.

One Love,

Lisa Del Sol

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