Graffiti Grrlz: Performing Feminism in the Hip Hop Diaspora
An inside look at women graffiti artists around the world
Since the dawn of Hip Hop graffiti writing on the streets of Philadelphia and New York City in the late 1960s, writers have anonymously inscribed their tag names on trains, buildings, and bridges. Passersby are left to imagine who the author might be, and, despite the artists’ anonymity, graffiti subculture is seen as a “boys club,” where the presence of the graffiti girl is almost unimaginable. In Graffiti Grrlz, Jessica Nydia Pabón-Colón interrupts this stereotype and introduces us to the world of women graffiti artists.
Drawing on the lives of over 100 women in 23 countries, Pabón-Colón argues that graffiti art is an unrecognized but crucial space for the performance of feminism. She demonstrates how it builds communities of artists, reconceptualizes the Hip Hop masculinity of these spaces, and rejects notions of “girl power.” Graffiti Grrlz also unpacks the digital side of Hip Hop graffiti subculture and considers how it widens the presence of the woman graffiti artist and broadens her networks, which leads to the formation of all-girl graffiti crews or the organization of all-girl painting sessions.
A rich and engaging look at women artists in a male-dominated subculture, Graffiti Grrlz reconsiders the intersections of feminism, hip hop, and youth performance and establishes graffiti art as a game that anyone can play.
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