Directed by JON REISS
“Graffiti belongs to everyone and no one. On a section of a condemned wall, I put up a graffito. . . (A) bank director stopped the construction work, had my carving cut out as a fresco and inlayed it in the wall of his apartment.”
While some believe graffiti is as old as the innate human need for communication and self expression and may even predate language, graffiti remains a highly controversial issue and raises important questions about our contemporary social structure: Who has the right to express themselves? What is a canvas? Where should art take place? Who decides how public space is used? If public space is a forum for discussion, which voices are allowed to be heard?
BOMB IT explores how graffiti has developed worldwide to encompass stenciling, postering, and any unsanctioned graphic “interference” in public space.
Using myriad original interviews from around the world and guerilla footage of graffiti writers in action, BOMB IT tells the story of graffiti from its origins in prehistoric cave paintings through ancient Rome and more recent Latino placas to its notorious emergence as a visual adjunct to the rise of hip hop culture in New York in the 1970s, culminating in its current complex variations around the planet.
The most comprehensive documentary on graffiti to date, BOMB IT is the first film to explore the movement from a truly global perspective, examining how artists around the world have taken the medium and applied it to their particular cultural and social conditions, from its modern birthplace in the slums of Philadelphia and New York City to Europe, where a dadaist/surrealist tradition produces deliberately confrontational prankstering, to Brazil, where graffiti traces its roots to the anti-fascist pichaçao writings of the 1960s and 1970s, to Japan, where anime-inspired graffiti challenges conformist societal norms, and back to Los Angeles, where graffiti has been strongly influenced by Chicano and gang culture.
The controversy surrounding graffiti is an integral part of the story: from anti-tagging groups to the impact of New York’s infamous “Quality of Life” laws which directly targeted illicit writing, to the burgeoning resistance confronting the global proliferation of laws intended to stop graffiti.