Street World: Urban Culture and Art from Five Continents

Street World: Urban Culture and Art from Five Continents

By Roger Gastman

A friend bought me a copy of Street World: Urban Culture and Art from Five Continents for my birthday and it's definitely not the kind of book I would buy for myself. First of all, don't plan on taking this book on vacation for beach reading because it will tear the bottom out of your backpack: it must weigh nearly five pounds. I have a feeling it was quite expensive as well, but it is a very beautiful book nonetheless. It contains a fair amount of text, but much more of pages and pages of beautiful photography of graffiti, urban wear, tattoos, skateboarding and skateboarding culture, urban cars and car culture, bikes, etc.

The concept of Street World: Urban Culture and Art from Five Continents is that hiphop and punk rose from the ashes of urban blight and so a celebration of this type of art is a celebration of these cultures as well. We all know how problematic this can be: the “everything but the burden” appropriation of an oppressed minority's art and even style. However, what saves it Street World from being appropriation is that the cultures are clearly named and that the photographs of the “urban culture” includes real names, real people and real stories. The fact that Street World describes urban culture outside of that which developed in North America makes it especially unique. The descriptions provided and tales told demonstrate how an urban movement can be built with the help of art, even in the absence of capital.