Henry Chalfant

Currently living between Paris and Los Angeles, Belgium-born filmmaker Cedric Godin was recently in New York City for the US premiere of his award-winning film, “X art,” at the Chelsea Film Festival. After viewing the insightful film and panel discussion featuring Patty Astor, Henry Chalfant, Enrique Torres aka Part One and Nick Walker — moderated by Marie Cecile Flageul — we  posed a few questions to Cedric.

What inspired you to produce this film?

I had just completed my first film, PTSD, and had returned from California to Paris. I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible, and as I was seeing street art exhibitions and events everywhere, I decided to do a documentary about the street art movement and culture. Even though I had followed the movement since 2012, I never really thought of doing something on it until I returned to Paris from California.

What is the significance/meaning of your film’s title, “X art?”

After I decided to do a documentary, I started to research the street art culture. Rapidly, I realized how complex the world of street art is. So many artists, techniques, movements, markets… It appeared to me that as street art is such a huge subject, it would be an interesting challenge to get people to better understand it. I had a working title but after a few months “X art” came, as the X suggested “the unknown,” “the transgression,” “the X factor” and more.

So I chose the letter X to start  from “the unknown” —  in order to learn and digress to a point where it would become clearer for an audience and hopefully awaken within viewers the curiosity to investigate the culture on their own after seeing the film.

How did you go about choosing/deciding which artists to focus on?

They had to have a career, a real social or political message in their work, a continuity in their journey and an artistic goal. It was important for me that the artists had enough experience on every level to be able to transmit their passion, techniques and journey to as large an audience as possible.

When did you begin filming “X art”

I started to meet with artists in 2016.

In the film there is a focus not only on the artists and their artwork, but also on the art market. Why did you choose to turn your lens on this aspect of the scene?

Simply because these days, you can’t avoid the financial aspects of things. Fortunately or unfortunately, the market has a big influence on how artists develop their careers. Of course, there are pros and cons, but I wanted to give the audience an idea of what’s happening. From there they could visit galleries, events and auction houses and form their own opinions on the subject.

Did anything in your findings particularly surprise you? In what ways may have making this film personally impacted you? Do you find yourself paying more attention to street art and graffiti?

Of course, I do pay more attention. It is funny to see how my eye, three years later, is more “educated.” When I see a painting or a wall, I can recoup more information to understand and form an opinion on that particular piece. I have also learned how to be a good collector.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this project through?

The usual challenge of being an “indie” filmmaker… time and money. Fortunately, the world of street art is a very generous world for the most part. 99% of the artists were just amazingly helpful. My friend and partner Olivier Le Quellec, a street art fan, financed the project with me. Dotmaster and Ben Eine, two famous UK-based artists, offered to design the poster. Eric Brugier, the French gallerist, connected me to several artists who themselves connected me to more. I think you can’t get into this world if you are not well-connected, but once you are in, you feel like a family member.

How have viewers responded to it?

Amazingly! The most touching thing is when people come up to me and say they have learned something; some are even motivated to further research artists or elements they weren’t aware of.  To me, if filmmaking has a purpose. It is to learn and to transmit.

What would you like your viewers to walk away with?

The will to go deeper into the subject  —  to read, to research, to see events, to meet artists. And we have an incredible chance to be able to do it.

What’s next?

Ideally to secure distribution for “X art,” as I humbly think that this little film has its cultural role to play. I’m currently working on a TV show and a feature film. I work in so many directions these days that I couldn’t tell you what is going to happen next…I will let you know very soon!

Congratulations on “X art.  We certainly hope it is widely distributed and, yes, we are looking forward to what’s next!

Images:

  1. Film poster designed by UK-based artists Dotmaster and Ben Eine
  2. Cedric Godin
  3. Film clip featuring Ben Eine and Pure Evil
  4. Parisian graffiti artist Nasty
  5. Patti Astor, co-founder of the legendary FUN Gallery
  6. Henry Chalfant, noted American photographer and videographer, whose current exhibit, Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987, at the Bronx Museum is a must-see!
  7. The famed UK-born street artist Nick Walker at “X art” Chelsea screening

Photo credits 1, 2, 4 – 6 courtesy Cedric Godin; 7 Ana Candelaria 

Interview questions: Houda Lazrak, Ana Candelaria and Lois Stavsky

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"subway graffiti"

Moving Murals: Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s All-City Graffiti Archive, a mosaic of 850 wall images of subway graffiti photographed by Chalfant — along with a series of Martha Cooper’s artist portraits — continues through this Thursday, December 18 at 4pm.  A homage to the boundless creativity of the graffiti artists whose talents and passions paved the way to the global street art movement, Moving Murals is the first exhibit to grace the City Lore Gallery at 56 East 1st Street.

Another close-up from Henry Chalfant collage, featuring the legendary Iz the Wiz

Henry-Chalfant-subway-graffiti-City_Lore

Martha Cooper’s portraits

"Martha Cooper Photography"

Including such contemporaries as Lady Aiko (top left)

Martha-cooper-photography-city-lore-nyc

And next Saturday, December 20, 12pm – 6pm, you will have the opportunity to take home one of Henry Chalfant’s graffiti train prints as City Lore will be offering Chalfant’s train photographs from the Moving Murals exhibit with each membership purchased. Membership begins at $35. Hot cider and a variety of gifts by local NYC artists will also be available for sale at the City Lore Store

City-Lore

Moving-Murals-City-Lore

Final photo courtesy of City Lore; photos of Henry Chalfant’s installation by Lois Stavsky; of Martha Cooper’s by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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SinXero

Opening tomorrow evening — Tuessday, November 26 — at the Dorian Grey Gallery in the East Village, Fine Flavas is an ode to the creative energy of the streets. Featuring an eclectic mix of artwork by SinXeroAndrés Correa, Will Power and Kool Kito, the exhibit continues through November 30. Here are a few more images:

Toronto-based Andrés Correa

Andres Correa

The legendary Kool Kito, Ex-Vandals

Kool Kito

Jersey City native Will Power

Will Power

Dorian Grey Gallery — one of our favorite spaces for street art, graffiti and a range of contemporary art — is located at  437 East 9th Street between 1st Ave and Ave A.

fine flavas

First image is a collabo by SinXero with a vintage 80’s photo of Crazy Legs captured by the legendary Henry Chalfant. All others as identified; photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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