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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

5 Pointz Graffiti Space Faces Redevelopment

Nickie Phillips

photo credit: 5ptz.com

While New York City was going gaga over a month-long visit by Banksy, a homegrown virtual gallery of artistic street-tagging was on the brink of destruction.  5 Pointz, an area of abandoned industrial spaces in Long Island City where graffiti artists have covered all available spaces with their art, faces redevelopment that would destroy the art. Luckily, it won't be destroyed completely.  On October 10th, a deal was reached which will preserve the graffiti at the base of the buildings and remove and save other facades for auction.

The owner of the building originally planned to create 600 luxury apartments sans graffiti.  The tagging community was up in arms that their living museum was under threat, holding a number of community meetings and demonstrations earlier this month.  Although the deal is not ideal, it represents a compromise that the graffiti community can count as a win-- their community activism and outrage made a difference. 5 pointz can be seen from the elevated 7 train and grew up organically.  Easily, and some not-so-easily, scaled facades of completely abandoned had been abandoned for the last two decades and therefore, have been the perfect canvas.  As one Long Island City resident and blogger has written:

...5 Pointz—subtitled “The Institute of Higher Burnin’”—is a haven for what [taggers] and many others consider an inherently valid art form, one that needs no apology or context.

The buildings are covered in a mosaic of styles, colors and messages that have been added to, covered over, and embellished over the last 12 years.  Losing this treasure would have erased the work of hundreds of talented artists.

And as graffiti ethnographer Gregory Snyder has argued in his book

Graffiti Lives

, for many, what begins as street-tagging can spin-off into viable a career in the visual arts.  In essense, 5Pointz is the space where future new media moguls are potentially practicing their skills and perfecting their aesthetic.  Crimcast hopes that the spirit of 5Pointz lives on through the redevelopment phase  and that home-grown NYC graffiti lives on.