Dicing with death – 70s and 80s New York


Dicing with death: the original New York graffiti artists – in pictures New York in the late 70s and early 80s was a place of blackouts and train strikes, riots and looting … but those dark days before the birth of CCTV gave rise to some of the world’s most pervasive subcultures. Here, notorious subway painters of the era tell their tales as Sacha Jenkins, the photographer who logged their art, opens up his archive. Bil Rock, Min and Kel in the City Hall layup, 1983.

Bil Rock says: ‘Our peak years (79-82) were the golden age of graffiti. You could get away with so much. We had our own world. The only time Jean-Michel Basquiat ever went to a train yard was with me. We bombed the entire train. Those were the good old days … before crack took hold.’

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