Some Historic Political Graffiti Pieces in New York

By - Thursday, June 21st, 2012

With our last post taking a look at the political subway graffiti recently being painted in Dortmund, Germany, we wanted to post the visuals for the historic pieces we referenced in our text. {image-1} “The groundbreaking visuals of MICO’s subway paintings were unparalleled by those of his peers. His work possessed a political and social awareness more consistent with the political revolutionaries of the time. His work often reflected the plights of the Latino community; such as the oppression of Puerto Rico by the United States controversy . MICO had six definitive Politically motivated campaigns. “Free Lolita Lebron”, “Free Carlos Feliciano”, “Free Puerto Rico”, “Free Mandela”, “Free Sisulu” and “Hang Nixon”.” –@149st In an interview with the @149st website Mico spoke about his Hang Nixon piece: “Hang Nixon was a very important piece because it was a very strong political statement that was something that a lot of people, I’m talking the average everyday people, the average Joe on the train saw that and said “Yeah okay now I can relate to this. The guy is a vandal, but something I can relate to.” “Now, if you notice doing a piece like Hang Nixon or Free The Five Nationalists takes paint and time. One of the reasons I declined to write Ex Vandals was because I didn’t want to waste my time and my paint because I was trying to do El SALVAJES. I did spend the time and the paint to do something that was not necessarily MICO, but like the Hang Nixon piece, because that was an important statement for me to make at the time. I guess I did not realize at the time and now I do, that that line of work identifies me. That is why I always had social themes in my work. I would always write things;way back then, like Free Mandela things that people became more aware of and became larger campaigns against social injustice. That was really my motivation, social injustice.” {image-2} This piece by Spin was painted in response to New York City Mayor Ed Koch’s war on graffiti and famously featured in the documentary Style Wars where is was shown to Mayor Koch himself who said “I’m getting to them.” Check out this vintage clip we recently posted on Mayor Koch talking about his war on graffiti here. {image-3} In the continued reaction to Mayor Koch’s war on graffiti in the 80’s this billboard definitely made a statement.

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