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Carol Chung reports on Ghetto Fab: The Photo-Graf Collection

Public urban art!!… scaled down for your viewing pleasure.

Last Thursday was the opening night of the month long Ghetto Fab: Photo-Graffiti exhibition. As the title implies, it contains photographs of graffiti mural art from the boroughs of New York City. The photographer, Jonathan Singer, is hailed as “The Ansel Adams of Graffiti Photography.” There are 45 limited edition prints on display (and for purchase.) It’s nice to see that each print credits the artist who created the work. It’s a pretty nice collection of work. Some of it you may have seen before as you’ve wandered the streets of New York. While others may not seem so familiar to the Manhattanites who don’t venture much into the boroughs except for Williamsburg.

However, the whole concept of owning a single print of piece of work that was created in a public space kind of ruffles my feathers. It’s not like I don’t think the exhibition isn’t worth checking out. It’s rather neat to see so many different pieces in one space albeit the grandeur is somewhat lacking when compared to the work’s actual scale. It’s just that the idea of art that was created for the general public can be commoditized and held in a private space. It’s like “Hey, own your own piece of the hood! You can hang it up in your loft in Williamsburg right by the window that overlooks the JMZ!” Although I strongly feel that this sort of artwork should be documented, there’s just something about the idea of buying individual pieces that undermines the context in which that work was created.

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