NEW YORK – Locked In: Rikers Island 2013

Gute 2 Jahre nach der Aktion hier ging´s für die TATS Crew, Ces, Kemr, Dabs, Myla, Chino und viele weitere Graffitiwriter wieder mit einem Bus nach Rikers Island, eine Gefängnisinsel im New Yorker East River. Dort wurde die Wand am Handball Court der Strafanstalt erneut bemalt. Während 2011 noch ausschliesslich Writer aus New York dabei waren (Tuff City) wurde das LineUp dieses Jahr erweitert, uA mit Künstlern der SEVENTH LETTER Crew. Dokumentiert wird das Ganze wieder im Video von Brian Dwels der bereits 2011 mit der Kamera dabei war.

Adding another video to his long credentials of graffiti documentation, friend of FRANK Brian Dwels has dropped a clip called “Locked In” featuring Tuff City, TATS Cru, and curators of Chapter 41, the Seventh Letter, painting Riker’s Island.

The video opens with a lineup of graffiti writers including Kem5, Daze, Toper, Rime, CES, Dabs & Myla, BIO, MED, and BG183 boarding a corrections bus headed to Riker’s with a tangible energy piercing the caged windows. The artists took on a huge wall in one of the outdoor yards, as well as smaller individual tags and pieces scattered around the area complete with “Riker’s 2013” authentication.

Dwels tells us that the project is “the brainchild of TRIKE GND, TRIM and CES. This is the second year TATS and Tuff City have repped on Riker’s Island. The first year was solely NYC writers from multiple eras as well as legendary train guys like PART TDS, CHAIN3 TMT, TKID170 TNB and Slave from the Fabolous Five. This year the approach changed with Seventh Letter being in the city ready to rock Riker’s.”

What’s so great about the multifaceted piece is that no particular character or artist wins out; they are all bursting through with an upbeat energy and determination that compliment their neighbors and fellow creators. This cooperation makes sense, considering that the design was “preplanned by CES and RIME and everyone meshed together a lot of ideas onsite as well”. The artists kept a significant part of the wall as negative space, which works well to collapse the physical and social distance between Riker’s and its surrounding metropolis.

With a prolonged frame of the wall’s entirety with the city’s skyline and water rising above, the video captures how these talented crews contribute to a lively and authentic environment for inmates and visitors to admire. In Dwels’ own words, “this is what happens when East and West coasts hang out for the day. Being invited to Riker’s Island to do what we do made the day even more special. An added benefit that they didn’t keep any of us at the end of the day.”

The mural and its creators seize the tension between competitive edge and harmonious collaboration, ideas not lost on inmates using the outdoor recreation space.

Text: FRANK151
Photos: TATS Crew