Article Archive

ARTS - Graffiti Interview

Author: Darryn King
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Guillaume Chesneau photographs graffiti artists in the process of creating their works, resulting in candid portraits of artists in their zone. You can see a collection of his work at this weekend’s Platform 1 Hip Hop Festival at Carriageworks. 3D’s Darryn King caught up with the Frenchman.

You’ve been taking photos since growing up in Paris – what sort of things were you interested in taking pictures of-
I have done my “photographic training” with engaged photojournalists and have since been concentrating on social documentary and street photography.

How did you develop an interest in graffiti in Australia-
By luck really… I had the chance to meet with a few of them at some gatherings. After that, it was about connecting and showing dedication to document their group and work – the same dedication that they give to their passion. It’s a society phenomenon for which the process has rarely been documented, so the challenge for me was very exiting.

Is there much graffiti in Paris- If so, is it different to the graffiti you see here-

There is a lot of graffiti in Paris and everywhere in Europe. I never documented it but I am convinced that the spirit is quite close.

Are most of your photographs of finished pieces- Have you ever had the opportunity to take photographs of a graffiti artist in the process of creating his work-
As you will see at the Carriageworks’ exhibition, that’s exactly what it’s about – the group, the energy and the process. I mainly concentrate on the action and its environment, much more than on the actual finished work, which is already there for public consumption.

Is there one graffiti artist whose work particularly impresses you- Have you developed a close relationship with any graffiti artists-
I do not have any particular preferences. Each piece has its character and uniqueness. After that it’s a matter of taste and interpretation. I generally develop a close relationship with all people that I spend time with and take photos of. Beside work, I do my best to maintain a level of connection with them, regardless of their background or occupation. I must say that the guys in Art Tracks are quite special to me.

What do you think of graffiti as artistic expression- What would you say to the people who still think graffiti is simply vandalism-
It’s a fact: graffiti is widely recognised as art. It is one of the rare remaining free and public forms of artistic expression. It and has been a key source of inspiration for a massive amount of major contemporary artists and trends. Just have a read of the latest Vogue Living; a full page is dedicated to how graffiti has evolved from subway walls into fashion and homewares.

Are you interested in the other aspects of hip hop culture-
I have been listening to hip hop for most of my life, all of that mixed up with jazz, classical, Arabic and Latin music!

What will we see at your exhibition at the Flexing Skillz event-
My photographs are only one part of the festival. The energy of Platform 1 will be a result of all the elements of hip hop culture being combined over the two days. If you come down on the Friday night, you’ll see Art Tracks representing Australian graffiti artists, the performance Stiltbreak, fusing breaking and stilt acrobatics and then Flexing Skillz, the massive freestyle jam and comp! So it’s really about fusion and creating a vibe that encompasses all the elements.

WHO: Guillaume Chesneau
WHAT: Art Tracks: Photographic Exhibition at Platform 1 Hip Hop Festival, Carriageworks
WHEN: Friday 28 – Saturday 29 March