Alain KET Mariduena

Hall Of Fame New York City

From Here To Fame • 2012

From the subways to the schoolyard – in the 80s New York’s best headed back to school once they had successfully showed their skills off in town. Graffiti artists shifted their focus from bombing trains to spraying a particular schoolyard in New York City’s East Harlem where they could hang out and take their time to perfect their work after they had paid their dues on the subways. It quickly became a museum for the most talented, a rite of passage, a competition between the creme de la creme. It was the Hall of Fame.
»Hall of Fame« is also the name of the book that tells the schoolyard’s history through six chronological chapters. These chapters tell the story of this graffiti landmark, whose walls were reserved for »Strictly Kings and Better«, by starting off with an anecdote and continuing with heaps of pictures and quotes. Though the Hall of Fame’s history is explained as well as Harlem’s social climate at the time (dominated by violence, poverty and drugs) this book might not be so exciting for absolute graffiti beginners as graffiti artist names are just dropped without much of an introduction so jumbles of names like DC3, Sho, JonOne and TCD are thrown at you. If you already know your NYC graffiti scene then great – if not all these names won’t mean much more to you after you are done reading the book. The book’s in a landscape format, which makes it great to flick through and it only makes sense when printing photographs depicting large stretches of walls. The design work though, especially considering that this book is an homage to a visual piece of history, lacks creativity and doesn’t seem to have been well thought through. Quantity over quality unfortunately was the mantra here and quotes to tell more of a story between the separate anecdotes are strewn here and there, beneath pictures, squeezed in between, next to and below. It isn’t only the quotes placing that seems weird but also, at times, the quotes’ content as they lack the chronological guidance the chapters have laid out and again, if you don’t know who DOC, Chain3, Case 2 or Stan153 are, it’s just a collection of random thoughts once said by someone.
Nonetheless it’s an interesting flick through to give you a sense of the style that dominated New York’s graffiti scene in the 80s and early 90s.