TO BE SEEN is a study of visual culture, of urban culture and an exploration of an age-old urban cultural phenomenon, street art.
The subculture of street art is significant because it is an embodiment of subversive content, which is rare in today's culture of consumerism and political amnesia. It functions as a way of 'taking back the streets,' when public spaces are increasingly privatized—through security cameras, Business Improvement Districts, and the profusion of corporate marketing.
This form of art—which is not a commodity (there is no price tag), is ephemeral, and that tends to address current political and cultural issues—is examined as a form of public expression, a form of media and a means of political and social protest.
TO BE SEEN integrates a mix of interviews (Stuart Ewen of Hunter College, the artists Swoon, Michael DeFeo, Dan Witz, Skewville, Faile, The Wooster Collective, marketing specialist Marc Schiller, sociologists Sharon Zukin and Anette Baldauf, and others) with the visual field of the streets. It looks at who is making street art and why, examines the cultural and political significance of these expressions, and investigates the public's perception of this work. Is it Art or Vandalism? And what is art's role within the context of public space and urban culture?
"In the spectacle of a perpetual mass mediation, here is the coded language of community that works secretly outside of our blindered consumerism. If you think these kids are criminals, watch this movie to hear the true eloquence and intelligence of their discontent."—Carlo McCormick, Senior Editor, Paper Magazine
International Festival of Film on Arts (Montreal, March 2007)
2007 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference
Artecinema, Naples, Italy, October 2006
Conflux Festival, New York, September 2006
Impakt Festival, Amsterdam September 2006
2006 Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival
2006 American Sociological Association Film Festival
"We live in a world where we are blanketed by corporate images on every conceivable surface. Whereas advertising is accepted, individual public expression is not. It's revealing to see and hear the street artists in TO BE SEEN thoughtfully explain their work."—Martha Cooper, Director of Photography at City Lore, New York Center for Urban Folk Culture / Author Subway Art (Thames & Hudson)
"A great film, if for no other reason than because it challenges the status quo...a catalyst for serious academic discourse regarding humanitarian values."—Leonardo Digital Reviews