“…The letters are weapons. Instead of Orson Welles stating that the books will be burnt, the books will stay there. The letters have left the page, and once it went up then they had better be ready to fly. It was our competition, called the burners, that made those letters get so bad, so dope, so illuminating them bastards actually ended up with wings…”
The flamboyant and mysterious sculptor, graffiti writer, art theorist and MC, Rammellzee, passed away in Queens, New York on 27 June. Like many, he began his career by writing his name on the trains and walls of New York in the 70s. He went onto become an MC, and is featured on the microphone here at the grand finale of Charlie Ahearn’s film Wild Style. Rammellzee progressed to sculpture and performance art, taking on a complex and intriguing persona who camouflaged himself just as the graffiti writers camouflaged their work. Read his New York Times obituary here.
Here he describes the evolution of graffiti in an outake from Style Wars by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant:
Twitter is an interesting thing. The whole world can have access to an event, as I did with this one, courtesy of a tweet made today by the one time Public Security Secretary of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Eduardo Soares. His tweet said “lamentable, summary execution, practice of the Rio police”, with a link to a Youtube clip. The existence of the clip itself is a tragedy. A sniper and a spotter (police according to Luiz Eduardo’s tweet) follow three armed youths as they make their rounds in Fallet, a community a stone’s throw from the trendy Santa Teresa district, a bohemian area that is hugely popular with gringo tourists. The sniper talks, takes aim, there is a shot, one of the youths falls. I thought hard about whether to post this. It’s not nice. But it explains a lot. It was uploaded 5 days ago and has already had 75,000+ views. Anyone interested in the context of life for the millions who live and work in Rio’s more than 1000 favelas could watch this. Anyone who is disturbed by violence should not. [Note: A day after posting this the clip was removed and a police investigation was announced]
Upcoming fashion stars Retalhos Cariocas have been making waves in Rio’s São Cristovão neighbourhood since 2008. This weekend the label, run by six friends, was displaying its wares at Rio-A-Porter, the business wing of the city’s bi-annual fashion show, for the first time. The business operates out of the residents association in the Barreira do Vasco community, a stone’s throw away from the stadium of Vasco football team and uses recycled fabrics donated by factories in the region to make accessories, footwear and coming soon, a clothes collection. The colourful and exuberant work of Retalhos Cariocas typifies the best aspects of life in Rio and is sure to go a long way. Watch this space!
Vigário Geral will be celebrating the opening of an entirely state of the art building on 26 May. Named after the great poet and inspiration for AfroReggae, Waly Salomão, this Cultural Centre offers state of the art facilities in dance, theatre, and music and is a great testament to the work of AfroReggae in the community over the past 17 years. Parabens!