From Rolling Canvasses To Rolling Billboards | Jaime Rojo & Steven Harrington

February 12, 2015 4:36 PM

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"If I had my way, I wouldn't put in dogs, but wolves," New York mayor Ed Koch suggested famously as a facetious proposal for releasing ferocious animals on graffiti writers in the train yards in the early 1980s. For Koch and his two predecessors the graffiti on trains was a searingly hot focal point, a visual affront to citizens, an aesthetic plague upon the populous. It created a discomforting atmosphere described by The New York Times editorial board as evidence of "criminality and contempt for the public."* The fight against this particular blight began in earnest, and by decade's end all 5,000 or so subway cars had become clean and the famed era of graffiti on trains was terminated.

Twenty-five years later, whole-car graffiti trains are back in New York. Visually bombed with color and stylized typography top to bottom, inside and outside, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is pocketing some handsome fees for it. It is not aerosol anymore, rather the eye-popping subway...

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