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Martha Cooper: Remix

Street artists reinterpret photographs that captured their own history

by Wendy Dembo in Culture on 07 April 2011

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A major part of the early graffiti scene, photojournalist Martha Cooper is now on the other end of lens as the focus of a new exhibition at L.A.'s Carmichael Gallery. "Martha Cooper: Remix" sees over 50 artists recreate their favorite images by the ever-present documentarian, including works by Lady Pink, Faust, Neck Face, Fumakaka (all pictured here) and more.

Cooper has been compulsively documenting street culture since the late '70s, when she began photographing the kids she would see on her way home from working at the New York Post. Her valuable insight on the medium is seen both in the images themselves, as well as the educational book "Subway Art" that she co-authored with fellow photographer Henry Chalfant.

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"Remix" underscores MoCA's highly anticipated "Art In The Streets" exhibition, where Cooper's works will also be on display. When asked to have a show coinciding with MoCA's, Cooper says she "thought it would be fun to have a sort of retrospective including artists I had had some kind of relationship with over the years. I asked artists to pick any of my photos they liked to work from and the show ranges from a shot of a tattooed woman I took in Japan in 1970 that Aiko chose to a shot from Baltimore from 2010 that Blanco picked. That's 40 years!"

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Cooper continues, saying "I prefer to think of the show as a 'Martha Loves Graf and Street Artists' than the reverse. In any case I'm happy about the show. Contacting the artists and collecting the work from them in person whenever I could enabled me to reconnect with some artists that I don't get a chance to see as much as I would like."

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"Martha Cooper: Remix" opens 9 April 2011 and runs through 7 May 2011 at Carmichael Gallery. The massive "Art In The Streets" exhibition at MoCA—which will also give a special nod to L.A. with Californian cholo writing, Dogtown skate culture and local artists like Craig R. Stecyk III, Retna, Saber and Mister Cartoon—runs from 17 April to 9 August 2011.

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