Artists Talk: Henry Chalfant in Discussion with Ganzeer on Engaged Art

Wed, December 10, 2014 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Henry Chalfant and Ganzeer (Alwan Artist in Residence) discuss Engaged Art

This series of conversations is an occasion that aims to bring attention to the work of Middle Eastern artists.

In this event, the participants Henry Chalfant and Egyptian artist Mohamed Fahmy, known as "Ganzeer" (the Chain), will address art as an engaged practice, as a way of being and thinking aesthetically, outside of the studio, and responding creatively to quotidian events. Art seen through these lenses and practiced by the brush of lived-experience is particularly pertinent to the volatility of the urban enviroment, an environment that by its nature and on general principle is marked by social upheaval, economic transcience and political unease.

The Middle East is, to put it mildly, an interesting place, constantly in the air-waves, eliciting curiosity, response and offering spectacular ground for artistic commentary and intervention.

Artist, archivist, videographer, and author of several publications, including Big Subway Archive - an interactive photographic anthology of graffiti found predominantly in the subways of New York City - Henry Chalfant will deliver expert insight into the history of graffiti and street art, and their powerful nature as an effective form of communication and political artistic expression.

Politically-engaged artist Ganzeer, Alwan's 2014-15 Artist in Residence, who has been an active participant in events in Egypt over the last few years and is embroiled in a conflict with the authority of the military coup, will reflect on his engagement and provide a presentation of samples of his work. This conversation with Henry Chalfant launches his residency at Alwan and provides an opportunity for contemplating the larger implications of cultural productions, their relevance to a world that is restless, saturated with crises and brewing with simmering conflict, but also hope.


Stanford University alumnus, HENRY CHALFANT is a photographer, filmmaker and author of several in-depth studies and documentary projects on street art, graffiti, break-dance, and hip hop culture in New York.

Chalfant co-authored some of the most historically influential documentations of aerosol art including: Subway Art, 1984; Spraycan Art, 1987; and more recently Henry Chalfant's Graffiti Archive: New York City's Subway Art and Artists, 2013, the first volume of a multi-volume iBook archive comprising his entire collection of subway graffiti photographs; and, Training Days, a book co-authored by Chalfant and Sacha Jenkins, published in October 2014. In 1983, he released the film "Style Wars" which he co-produced with director Tony Silver and which documents various artists claiming New York’s ramshackle subway system as their public playground, battlefield, and canvas while meeting opposition from then-mayor Ed Koch, the police, and the New York Transit Authority.

Considered the definitive chronicler of these ephemeral moments in American cultural history, Chalfant has lectured extensively on the topic of graffiti at institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His photographs have been exhibited at the O.K. Harris Gallery and the landmark ‘New York-New Wave’ show at P.S.l, in addition to various galleries and museums throughout Europe.


Currently residing in Brooklyn, New York, Egyptian multidisciplinary artist GANZEER gained global recognition following the 2011 Egyptian Revolution through his politically engaged street artwork that employed the themes of critical civic responsibility and social justice. Noted for his implicit and explicit criticism of consecutive Egyptian regimes, particularly the military, Ganzeer created a series of murals depicting those who were killed during the Egyptian revolution.

Ganzeer does not identify as an author, comic book artist, installation artist, painter, speaker, street artist, or videographer, though he has assumed these roles in a number of places around the world. Quite accustomed to adopting completely new styles, techniques, and mediums to adapt to the topic he is tackling at any given time, Ganzeer has participated in lectures and debates around the world and his art has been shown in Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Jordan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and the United States, as well as in myriad Cairo galleries.

Ranked on the Huffington Post list of “25 Street Artists from Around the World Who Are Shaking Up Public Art," in addition to the Al-Monitor.Com "50 People Shaping the Culture of the Middle East", Ganzeer is also one of the protagonists in a critically acclaimed documentary titled Art War by German director Marco Wilms.



Alwan's programs are made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council.
This series of conversations is an occasion that aims to bring focused attention to the work of Middle Eastern artists.

Last updated: 2014-12-01 23:32:33

Ganzeer, Alwan 2014-15 Artist in Residence
Ganzeer, Alwan 2014-15 Artist in Residence
Henry Chalfant
Henry Chalfant
"Soldier" Mural, Ganzeer, 2013
"Hand of Doom" by Seen, in Big Subway Archive, Henry Chalfant, 2013

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