A project several years in the planning and making and finally arrived just last week to be with us in Shanghai in this post-Covid era, the most ambitious, comprehensive, and monumental graffiti and street art to hit this city ever.
It’s "Beyond the Streets". And it’s massive. Just the stats and names alone. In a viewing space of 100,000 square feet (around 9,300 square meters), thousands of works in installations, paintings, photography, film, and sculpture are on display, name-checking over 100 artists, from early taggers and bombers like Zephyr, Barry McGee, Revolt, Crash & Daze, and Snake1 to '70s New York iconoclasts, Futura, Kenny Scharf, Fab 5 Freddy, and Keith Haring, right up to China representation in the 21st century: GASakaNIT, XEME, and DEZIO.
They've got an installation of an entire record store stocked with albums of cover art inspired by graffiti. They've got a bodega installation with "dead media" forms… like books. (haha.)
They've got a full-on movie theatre playing "Wild Style".
(They've got Mark Mothersbaugh’s drawings!)
(They've got Keith Harring’s cool-ass leather jacket in a plexiglass box!)
The neon specter of '70s New York looms large in the bulk of "Beyond the Streets" with graffiti exploding at the epicenter of disco, hip hop, punk, and club kid culture; witness the fall-out damage into the art world proper, film, photography, and fashion. Grafitti and street art culture are traced forward into subsequent generations in New York (FAILE), the UK (Paul Insect), Europe (VHIL), Japan (AIKO), and beyond.
It's comprehensive. It's exhaustive. It's something you have to see in person. "Beyond The Streets" comes across as a sampler’s mash-up of a bunch of different formats: a gallery of ideas; a museum of important events and moments in an evolution; an international exhibition of a certain shared attitude of humor, style, and defiance.
You need more humor, style, and defiance in your life.
Scroll through for a truncated photo tour of the show and get yourself to check it out. It’s in Shanghai until October 7, open Tueday-Sunday, 11am-8pm. Tickets are available at 138rmb for weekdays and 188rmb for weekends and holidays. Try to go on a weekday to avoid the crowd. Search for "Beyond the Streets" on WeChat to order from their official platform.