Throwback Thursday: 12ozProphet Issue 6 feat. Os Gemeos
For this weeks Throwback Thursday we take a look back at issue 6 of 12ozProphet magazine, published in 1998. Our cover story was the first feature on Os Gemeos, twin brothers from São Paulo, Brazil with a unique style, brilliant talent, and were widely unknown at the time. Twist had originally met Os Gemeos in 1995 and two years later 12ozProphet founder Allen Benedikt and Caleb Neelon made the trip. Re-reading this article after so long, it’s difficult to recall a time when these two were unknown. When the graffiti scene in Brazil was uncharted territory. Neelon gives an in depth first hand account of the experience, from arriving at the airport weary of the street crime São Paulo was notorious for, to his amazement that “São Paulo is as bombed as any city I’ve ever seen, New York included.”
Neelon continues to break down the social history of graffiti in São Paulo, “young people took to the streets to get political messages out using bucket paint and little paint rollers.” The origins of pichação, the distinctly Brazilian style of writing that covers so many building facades in São Paulo today and exists as its own culture outside the colorful artform of graffiti. Neelon writes, “pichação is a vehicle for the poor youth of the city to assert their existence and self-worth, and to do it loudly.”
Neelon recounts the adventures he and Benedikt were taken on by their tour guides, the twins. He relates Brazilian capoeira to American breakdancing and tells stories of bombing the hardest on Sundays, when the police apparently have off. In one afternoon they went from painting the the favelas, the slums of São Paulo, to painting a legal wall for a wealthy business owner, experiencing first hand the great disparity in wealth in the city. Following the success and fanfare of Os Gemeos’ recent exhibition, Miss You, on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, it’s sobering to read about the rampant poverty of São Paulo where they made their name.
“Over time the world of the twins began to make more and more sense to me. In a city where hell is directly on the surface of the concrete, there must be something, somewhere, that can take you away from the moment by moment assaults on your very will to live. For Os Gemeos it has been a world of fantasy, a world built from the best things in life. It is a world which emerges through the twins’ art into the world of reality. Their characters and iconography all come from this fantasy world, and the more they paint, the more their world emerges to us as well.”