Art & Design


City Of Paranoia

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If you’ve ever been privy to watching a graf crew leisurely paint a legal wall, you’ll know the kind of mesmerisation that comes from watching an elaborate mural materialise out of nothing in a matter of hours.  Watching a train transformed in a matter of minutes is the same sensation made raw—something a little more vicious and utilitarian but every bit as satisfying, perhaps more so.

This Thursday night, the cloistered back-alleyed ambience of The Croft Institute will host Dangerfork’s presentation of the new graf doco, City of Paranoia—a full dose of midnight train bombing set beneath London’s forest canopy of CCTV cameras.

Shot in London over a year and a half, City of Paranoia documents the exploits of a handful of graf artists as they prowl London’s train yards and tunnels with fingers firmly raised to the cameras overhead.  Edited by Melbourne local and Dangerfork founder, Chris Drummond, the film was the brainchild of London-based writers Doktor and Mania and also features footage by Kamikadze and Tati.

There’s something unique and roughly joyous to be found watching disguised figures sneaking up on trains as if hunting elephants, snipping fences in the dark and letting rip on their bland metallic flanks with jags of colour and bravado.  Running through bushes, down tunnels, panting — there’s a real sense of exhilaration watching these guys straddle train lines in the middle of the night, faces wrapped in scarves.

Those well into the graf world will appreciate the intricacies of infiltrating and painting in train yards and tunnels demonstrated in City of Paranoia, as well as the artists’ finished products.  Those merely curious will be amazed at the sheer fuck-off-ness of guys painting in broad daylight, hiding themselves in plain sight by eschewing protective facial coverings in favour of high-viz work vests.

City of Paranoia is a snapshot of guys responding to CCTV society as if to a dare.  You gonna film me?  Try and catch me.  If you’ve got any interest in the battle between artistic expression versus cold, gleaming, sharp-edged institutionalised society, Paranoia is well worth checking out.

City of Paranoia shows on Thursday 17 March, 6pm at The Croft Institute (21 Croft Alley, Melbourne). Tickets $5, available at the door and This Is It, 396 Church Street, Richmond.

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