And conversation with Director Charlie Ahearn and curator Carlo McCormick
Wednesday, November 29
Center for the Arts Lecture Hall, Room 112
In the forty years since Wild Style (1983) was released, this small-budget independent movie has stood as a testament to a scene, a subculture and a city that seems almost unimaginable today. Amidst a flurry of change, the nascence of a renaissance, a happenstance of abandonment and neglect colliding with the exuberantly wayward energies of invention and hope, Wild Style captured something all too illusive, fleeting and ephemeral and set it down as an indelible record, like lightning in a bottle or a dream journal, truth and witness to a crazy fantasy so fantastic we might otherwise imagine it an urban myth. What started as a game of make-believe ended up changing reality for a generation of participants caught up in its imaginary, as well as for subsequent generations who have chased its impossible liberties ever since.
Artist and filmmaker Charlie Ahearn is best known for documenting street culture and the rise of hip-hop in 1970s New York City. Through photography, film, and slideshows, Ahearn captures the excitement and raw energy that infused the movement. After moving to New York City to attend the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Studio Program, Ahearn became part of the artists’ group Colab (Collaborative Projects), a multidisciplinary artist collective working to expand the traditional art world. It was at CoLab’s art show – The Times Square Show – featuring works by Basquiat, Scharf, and Haring, that Ahearn was approached by graffiti artist Fab 5 Freddy to make a film about hip-hop and graffiti culture. Ahearn wrote, directed, and produced the iconic feature-length film Wild Style (1983), which is recognized as the first and most beloved movie in the hip-hop industry. Wild Style featured prominent hip-hop music, break dance, and graffiti figures including Futura and Rammellzee.
Carlo McCormick is an American culture critic and curator living in New York City. He is the author of numerous books, monographs, and catalogs on contemporary art and artists.
Program Date: November 29, 2023