New to VOD this week:
MARTHA: A PICTURE STORY
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Vancouver, Tallinn Black Nights, New Zealand, Savannah, Napa Valley
A profile of Martha Cooper, who documented the emergence of graffiti and influenced its spread globally.
Martha Cooper pushed back against sexist attitudes to pursue work as a newspaper photographer in 1970s New York, developing an eye for atmospheric portraits of everyday people. This led to an interest in street culture, and led to her documentation of graffiti as artistic expression during a time of economic and cultural depression in the city. Eventually partnering with a fellow chronicler of street art, Henry Chalfant, they tried to publish a book on the subject but were unable to attract interest in the US, and finally released SUBWAY ART in 1984 via a German publisher. While not a commercial success, the book would end up highly influential, unbeknownst to Cooper, spreading around the world and helping to introduce others to street art and hip hop culture. When she learned of her work’s impact, Cooper jumped back into the scene and began to travel the world to continue its documentation. Filmmaker Selina Miles crafts an enjoyable project offering a unique perspective on the early days of graffiti and, by extension, hip hop culture, and, almost more importantly, the underground history of its dissemination.