Book Review: Above: Passport
With snow flurries unusually early in New York, we could have been fooled into thinking Christmas came early when the new book Above: Passport arrived at the 12ozProphet studio. Lucky enough to get our hands on one of the limited Boxed Editions of the book (only 200 were made) a great deal of thought went into the packaging to resemble a larger-than-life US Passport. The title and design are emblematic of Above’s street art career, having painted in over 90 cities in 60 countries all over the world.
When Above began painting in 1995 there was no distinction between graffiti and street art. He got his start catching tags, slapping postal stickers, and painting freight trains in California. Above began exploring the use of a logo in place of a tag, in his case an arrow pointing up. This change reflected a trend in graffiti culture at the time; Shepard Fairey’s Andre the Giant icon was being stenciled and wheat-pasted up all over the world, and three of the biggest writers in Paris, Andre, Zevs, and Space Invader were all using symbols in the place of traditional tags. In 2001 Above relocated to Paris where his signature arrows became ubiquitous on shutters, walls, and trucks around town.
The mentality of a graffiti writer’s determination to go all city in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s has evolved in the age of globalization into aspirations of getting up all world. Above caught the insatiable travel bug and the chapters of this book are divided by each of his tours. In Passport, Above gives candid personal accounts of his travels and witty asides about his thought process and experiences executing many of the works in the book. Above has been included in countless books on the topic of Street Art but Passport is the first monograph on the artist.
Above: Passport features introductions by Shepard Fairey, Faile, Tristan Manco, and Marc & Sara Schiller of Wooster Collective. Zero+ Publishing worked very closely with the artist throughout the whole process of this book coming together. The book is released in three different versions, the Regular Edition, the Boxed Edition (which features a signed and numbered copy of the book in a vinyl clamshell box with a signed and numbered giclee print), and the Deluxe Edition (Limited to only 15, housed in custom hand-constructed wooden box signed, numbered and dated by Above. Including three screen-prints that are signed and numbered, a wooden arrow, and a screen-printed envelope with 25 vinyl stickers inside).
Above clearly comes correct in this book chronicling his adventures around the world over the past decade. No matter which edition you buy, this book will make a great addition to anyones coffee table or library.