Stations of the Elevated
Manfred Kirchheimer / 1981 / USA / 45 min. / DVD
Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.
Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 1:30pm
Presented by South Side Projections and Hyde Park Art Center
Post-screening discussion with graffiti legend Gabriel “Flash” Carasquillo Jr.
South Side Projections and the Hyde Park Art Center present a screening and discussion of Manfred Kirchheimer’s New York city symphony Stations of the Elevated (1981, 45 min., DVD), which weaves together vivid images of graffiti-covered elevated subway trains crisscrossing the gritty urban landscape of 1970s New York against a soundtrack that combines ambient city noise with jazz and gospel by Charles Mingus and Aretha Franklin. Gliding through the South Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, with a detour past an upstate prison, the film is an impressionistic portrait of and tribute to a New York that has long since disappeared. At a time when graffiti was largely dismissed as vandalism and a symbol of urban decay, the film explores it as a form of self-expression and a reaction to New York’s social and economic conditions, an artistic counterpoint to the “legalized vandalism” dominating the city’s visual landscape in the form of corporate advertising. Juxtaposing the colorful imagery of “tagged” cars with shots of hand-painted billboards depicting hamburgers and bikini-clad women, Stations forces audiences to ask: “What is urban art, and what role does it play in the daily life of a city?” To this we can add, how much has society’s opinion of graffiti really changed?