Endless Perspectives

Architecture and graffiti are intrinsically linked. Buildings, like a train in a siding, are a blank canvas for writers to create art. Yet this relationship remains relatively unexplored. Far from working with writers, architects design against them; anti-graffiti glazing, cladding and all sorts of materials are available to deter ‘vandals’ from adding colour to a building. Occasionally, firms will include a permanent mural as part of their design, but these 2D facades fail to push the boundaries of either architecture or graffiti. The potential for cooperative design is (largely) yet to be realised.

The exception is ITN Architects. This Melbourne based firm are doing things never seen in Australia and possibly the world, combining street culture and architectural design to create unique and eye-catching buildings. Their first project was The Hive apartments in Carlton (pictured below), a collaboration between ITN and renowned graffiti artist Prowla. Prowla designed the letters and they were incorporated into the facade as structural panels of precast concrete, creating a beautiful amalgamation of the two artforms. The interior is also quite unique, like something out of a sci-fi flick.

Hive Banner

ITN’s second project in their series of three street culture themed buildings is an ambitious design in Collingwood. Dubbed the End-to-End Offices, it is an ode to the glory days of Melbourne graffiti, when whole-cars rattled along the rails bringing colour to the masses, from the city loop to the suburbs. Perched atop the six offices are three decommissioned Hitachi carriages that house boardrooms for their owners. When completed, the design will certainly turn heads.

End-to-End Banner

And here, in ITN’s half-finished construction site, among the piles of reo bars and timber frameworks, DOES set up his Endless Perspectives exhibition. The spot was perfect. And popular; the queue for entry on opening night was an hour long. As it was a building site, visitors had to be shown through in groups of no more than 10, which explained the wait. Once we arrived at the front of the queue we were issued with hard hats and briefed. Then we were in.

The exhibition itself was a curious one, based around five pieces and five cities. Amsterdam, Basel, London, Paris and Melbourne. DOES visited all of these cities and painted a mural in each, based on the colours he experienced while there. Once each piece was finished and filmed DOES buffed his own work, leaving not a trace of the original, taking only a canvas of each letter. Given the quality of his work, it seemed a shame that these incredible murals are no longer available for the public in each of these cities to see. But herein lies the point of DOES’ exhibition; to highlight the transient nature of the artform. Graffiti doesn’t last forever. If it isn’t buffed or painted over with grey, it will eventually be capped or have a new piece painted over it. The death of a piece is inevitable, DOES takes his work into his own hands.

Endless Perspectives showcases all five works; the thirty-two canvases from Amsterdam, Basel, London and Paris, plus the full original painted on a precast concrete panel of End-to-End. Each piece is mounted alongside the original sketches and a projected video of the city they came from. The designs blend an impressive palette of colours. DOES’ attention to detail is obvious, each letter is well considered and executed. The full-colour letter canvases sit on black and white prints of the whole; memories of what used to be, but is now gone. The contrast is visually stunning, and leaves the viewer thoughtful. Four are gone already, and once the viewer leaves, the Melbourne mural will also be taken down. Ironically, this fact makes DOES’ paintings more memorable than the ones we see daily on our train lines.

I wonder what the old heads and ‘graffiti doesn’t belong in an art show’ purists thought of the exhibition, since the pieces were definitely painted on walls originally. One thing is certain though, it was popular. The exhibition tour spilled out into the alleyway behind the building where a DJ and bar with free Jägermeister and Red Bull had been set up, and it was packed. DOES himself floated around the crowds, as did architect Zvi Belling of ITN. It was an impressive evening. Endless Perspectives ran all this weekend but unfortunately is now over. The canvases were for sale, so will be dispersed and probably never come together again once the exhibition has been toured, but such is the nature of the art.

Below is a handful of photos from opening night. Visit DOES’  website here, and his Vimeo channel here to see videos of the stories behind each piece.

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Robert Hunter Cup

It’s not hard to spot a hip-hop head if you know what you’re looking for. Hoodies, caps and kicks were thick on the 12:53 Lilydale. Warriors and Kings tees. Sunglasses, probably hiding the hangover from last night’s All Stars gig. Pretty sure I even saw Fraksha fare evading up the other end of my carriage with his dog. Needless to say, we all disembarked at Glenferrie station for the pilgrimage to the Robert Hunter Cup, a charity football match in memory of Hunter (of the Syllabolix crew) who was taken by cancer 366 days previous.

Before I’d even set eyes on the oval I could hear the chanting. “HUNTER! HUNTER! HUNTER!” The Eastside Kings, a mass of blue, were running laps of the oval. The Westside Warriors were warming up on the far side. A crowd had already started to gather in the shadow of the Michael Tuck grandstand. Goonbag Radio had set up a portable broadcasting studio in a truck on the sidelines (out of eyeshot of the scoreboard, which would prove troublesome for the commentators later). Beatbox Kitchen was supplying the food. Monster was dishing out freebies from the back of a ute. Dvate was starting the mark-up of a mural dedicated to the West Australian legend. Fans were setting up on any available space around the oval. It was all coming together.

Shortly after 2pm Marley, Hunter’s son, took to the oval for the coin toss. The two teams, Warriors in red and Kings in blue, converged on centre field, forming two opposing lines. Marley, surrounded by his father’s peers, tossed the coin. The Warriors would kick east, Kings west. Then the game began.

Safe to say the Warriors dominated from the first bounce, largely due to the efforts of Mr Grevis. The Kings failed to score a single goal in the first quarter, a fact that Suffa and Sesta at the Goonbag commentary desk were only too happy to point out. Repeatedly. Apart from very biased observations, the commentary consisted mainly of discussions of who K21’s real dad was, uncertainty of the actual score and who would get the first hit on Beats (and win the 18YO Chivas Regal bounty). But the first hit was on Crispy. From my vantage point it was difficult to see what happened, but one minute he was dashing for the ball, next he was on the grass surrounded by St John’s Ambulance personnel. Thankfully though, Crispy left the field on his feet, not on a gurney.

The first quarter ended with Suffa shouting “Stop! This is the siren!” in lieu of an actual siren, although I believe a vuvuzela was provided by Dedlee Jr. for future use. The score was 0-0-2 vs 3-3-21 to the Warriors. The Kings huddled around their captain, Trem, for a pep talk. Trem himself was off the field due to an injury at their last training session, but he must’ve said something right because the Kings came back swinging in the second quarter, scoring two goals and a further point. At the end of the first half the Warriors still lead though, 2-3-15 to 4-4-28.

By the end of the third quarter it seemed like the Westside Warriors had the cup in the bag, widening their lead to a massive 18 points, 4-4-28 to 7-4-46. But the Kings fought back in the final quarter, largely thanks to some deadly accurate kicking by Scott Dooley. In the dying minutes of the game they were only two points short of the Warriors. The Westsiders fought to maintain their lead but were unable to stop Reason kicking the final goal of the match, putting the Kings ahead by 4 points and winning the game 7-8-50 to 7-4-46. Fists went skywards from the Kings contingent at the final siren. What a win!

Players and their families, friends and spectators all came together for post-game speeches. An esky was passed around to collect donations for Make-A-Wish. Trem received the trophy for the victorious Eastside Kings. Scott Dooley was awarded Best on Ground, as well as picking up the bottle of Chivas for getting the first hit on Beats. Dools also managed to get sponsored $100 per goal he scored from Hong Kong Phooty (who actually donated a round $500) and Stuart Haven from Vibe Electrical. Dedlee announced that the match ball would be given to Marley. The teams gathered for photos, Dvate finished off his mural, Goonbag clicked off and a huge collective of Australian rappers left Glenferrie oval to either go home and sit in a bath of salts, or more likely, to have a drink in Hunter’s honour.

The objective of the Robert Hunter Cup was twofold; to remember a legend in the Australian hip-hop scene and to raise money for Make-A-Wish, both of which were achieved spectacularly. While the Kings won the match, the Warriors were the clear winners in donations, raking in a massive $9,671 from generous supporters. The Kings collected a not-to-be-sneezed-at $5,268 for a grand total of $14,939 (not including money collected on the day) donated to Make-A-Wish. Bloody incredible. Massive thanks and congratulations to Dedlee, Bias B, Heata and Stewbakka for organising the entire event and pulling it off on the day.

But the event achieved a third, less expected success: bringing together an incredible number of artists and contributors from every corner of the genre. Seeing Headlock and Dazastah playing alongside each other, Bias B handballing the leather to Crispy, Trem patting Urthboy on the back, Chris Gill clashing with Kai in the ruck or Drapht dodging a tackle by Tornts was special. I don’t know of any other scene in Australia, or even the world, where such a diverse range of musicians could come together from all over the country and play a ball game to celebrate the life of a fallen comrade. Such is the spirit of the hip-hop community in Australia and the strength and importance of Hunter’s position within it. I hope the Robert Hunter Cup becomes an annual tradition. It deserves to be. RIP Huntz.

A full list of the players involved can be found here.

Keep an eye out on the Goonbag Radio website for the audio commentary, which should be available soon.