In November 2013, video and media producer Kevin Wood was approached to video-tape the entire 5 Pointz building in Queens, New York, for reasons unknown. Only 48 hours later, those reasons became apparent - "the world's premier graffiti mecca" and all of its artworks were whitewashed, and then demolished a year later, destroying twenty years of murals, throw-ups and tags done by the art’s most prominent artists. Now, the director has released what appears to be the last known video footage of the iconic site, a documentary called 5 Pointz in 5 Minutes, giving us one last look at a history long lost. The video work debuted at the Long Beach International Film Festival (Official) 4th annual Shorts on the Beach event on August 7th 2015.
For two decades, the 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) factory building at 45-46 Davis Street in Long Island City in Queens was the canvas and the meeting point of graffiti artists from the city and around the world. Purchased in the 1970s by businessman Jerry Wolkoff, it was established by Pat DiLillo as the Phun Factory in 1993, as a project which would encourage writers to stop vandalizing and start showcasing their works in a more formal way. The site became 5 Pointz, or 5Pointz, in 2002, when Jonathan Cohen (better known as Meres One), began curating the artworks, giving the location the name which donors the convergence of New York’s five boroughs and the status of a true graffiti landmark. But in 2013, the 5 Pointz dream turned into a nightmare. After forty years of ownership, the Wolkoff family decided to demolish the site in order to build housing condos and retail space, causing an outrage within the graffiti community. Although Meres tried to fight the decision by organising campaigns and rallies and by gathering signatures from 21,000 supporters, 5 Pointz was whitewashed in November 2013, which then led to its final end by the end of 2014.
Today, almost a year after 5 Pointz officially seized to exist in its original state, the graffiti artists mourn the loss of so many incredible artworks, but also a unique tradition. Although graffiti surely represented the backbone of the project, the building became the favorite spot of many musicians, breakdancers, bike riders, skaters, members of the hip hop and underground culture as well, anyone who wanted to be part of a particular spirit of youth and creativity. For them, 5 Pointz was a true museum of street art in all its forms, a place where people gathered to paint, share experiences, eat and hang out, build meaningful, life-long relationships. With 5 Pointz site gone, graffiti artists feel like they’ve lost a home, and since finding a wall to paint in the city is difficult, many of them took their murals to the Bronx or Jersey City. Those who stayed hope that 5 Pointz will resurrect at a second location soon, but the truth remains - the incredible community of the original project could never be the same again.
To see the full 5 Pointz in 5 Minutes documentary, visit footprint.tv.
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All images used for illustrative purposes only.
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