This Means Nothing


THIS MEANS NOTHING by Le Bijoutier

published by Powerhouse Books Brooklyn, NY. 2008

Here is a presentation of what the book looks like, it’s available worldwide in all good bookstores…

Followed by an interview published in TwoOneFive magazine.

Enjoy.

Feel free to contact us for more infos, interviews, prints, exhibits and more at

le_bijoutier@hotmail.com

For years, French-Italian photographer Le Bijoutier has roamed the five boroughs of New York City, documenting street art as it has developed over the past decade. Unlike graffiti writers, whose bombing campaigns mark them in the public eye as vandals, the work of street artists is celebrated as progressive. Many make their name first on the streets before hitting the gallery world. But before they move on, Le Bijoutier has caught them in all their illegal glory. In This Means Nothing, his first book, Le Bijoutier chronicles these works in sticker, chalk, marker, stencil, wheat paste poster, painting, and even sculpture, revealing a new direction in public destruction for the sake of aesthetic construction. The war continues…

Born and raised in Paris, Le Bijoutier started traveling to the United States at age 12. When he moved to Marseilles, he received recognition for his acclaimed radio show, which airs weekly. He currently travels throughout Europe, promoting reggae and raggamuffin dubplates with his sound system, Dissident Sound. He has exhibited his photographs in Marseilles and Brooklyn.

Interview for TWO.ONE.FIVE MAGAZINE By Rachel Nichols

What do you remember about your first visit to New York at 12 years old ???

I remember i was rocking the brand new Cons sneakers, and blasting the Run DMC LP’s, that train got graffiti on their flanks ; i remember hookers and dope dealers in manhattan, black dudes walking around with fat headphones on their heads… I remember it all like if it was yesterday. But over all I remember that New York  was like what i saw on TV, I felt I knew it all already. I had seen it everyday in the movies and tv series, for years and it was huge, urban dirty and wild, i was only a kid, but i could feel New York was special, it was calling a kid like a me… i was starting to feel that edgy culture, 12 years old is when you start to change as a teenager. I knew i wanted to be part of hip hop, so i started getting involved.

How did you stay connected to Hip Hop culture living in France as a kid ? who was the favorite artists ?

From 1987 and on, I really got lucky to be able to travel every year for at least a month and a half, mostly during summer time, i had acces to everything that i wanted hip hop wise. Record stores, and mixtape sellers, back then there was no internet or cd to burn or stuff like that. All there was to keep updated to hip hop culture, was to build a network. So i had made friend, Hip Hop fiends like me. Growing up in the suburb of Paris, i was exposed to the rising of hip hop the Zulu’s , early days of the Universal Zulu Nation in France. I remember religiously listening to DeeNaStyle on Radio Nova when they received Afrika Bambaataa. We were always swapping cassettes, dubbing them, trading and selling. The things I brought to my friends coming from the states were Run DMC, Fat Boys, Biz Markie, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Rob Base and DJ Ez Rock, KRS One, Jamalski, The DOC, N.W.A, Epmd, Stetsasonic, and above all, the B-boy breaks and instrumental like Inspektor Gadget. Little after came Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, and Tribe Called Quest,….that’s how you stay connected. My first years were a struggle to meet guys like me, hip hop was unknown to most. By the year 1992 you got to understand that France is the second largest market for hip hop in the world…Back then it grew fast, crews were everywhere.

Can you remember the first time you realized you were addicted to street art ?
The first time was probably when i traded a bunch of tapes for a Graff drawing a friend of mine had done. I loved his style. A b-boy character and a lettering saying New Zulu Teenagers, back then we were the « New School ». It was 1988 or 89 I was in Junior High….And ten years after when i realized most of my pictures where walls and stuff i had seen in the street.


What is it about photographing graffiti that is addicting ?
I am Hip Hop, I love graffiti, i was always about discovering more of hip hop, founding spots where hip hop was being made, records being sold, graffs being done, and taking photos as always been fun. As a teenagers i didn’t own a camera, i mostly used single use camera so i have very few good quality souvenirs from these times, but now i make sure i keep tracks of what i see in the streets. It’s important to me to keep tracks.

What equipement did you use in the making of « This Means Nothing » ?

Well, the making of This Means Nothing took about three years, so i must have used about 6 pairs of sneakers, few work pants, dozens of tee-shirts (you gotta look fresh !!!), socks and underwear in accordance, my 15 inches Metal friend, two cameras, a walkman , a fat headphone, spay cans, glue, scissors, markers, a big backpack, a Victorinox multi-tool, some booze, some smoke, good friends and a all lot of guts. Had a hand full of 100 dollar bills…blood, sweat and tears.
The rest is top secret.

What do you think of graffiti as a fashion statement ?

For me graffiti is part of a whole culture. I can’t be isolated or it risks to loose its premiere meaning : rebellion. Graffiti as a fashion statement is a no no. Simply because graffiti is not for everyone. Trends and fashion….FUCK that (can we print that in the mag ??) I like Style. I remember we used to tag on our shoes and jeans back in the days, soon after they started branding those styles. Now graffiti sells from limited edition shoe laces to cars, alcools and pussies. I ain’t down with that. It sells, so guys are just making money…but on the other hand it’s normal, graffiti has been around for so long now, that a new generation of kids are using this « new code » of writing, of expressing, of signing…so graffiti is around, all aorund, like flowing in the air.

Which do you think is more inspiring, graffiti with a beautiful graphic or with a beautiful text ?
I think both should be, in different ways. Text has to hit you in the face for its ideas and political meaning or social issues, or just make you laugh and question. Graphic has to hit you up with colors and composition. I am sensitive to both really. I am also interested in a third ingredient beside text and graphic, the location, the spot. It also reveals a lot on a writer/activist mentality and point of view.

Have you ever seen a graffiti that has been offensive to you ? what was it ?
Bitch tags are offensive, discriminating statements on walls are offensive.
Otherwise graffiti is not offensive, me I want to see more, i want graffiti everywhere we can.

Besides NYC what other city that you’ve visited do you think has the best graffiti ?
For the US i will say San Francisco for it’s special flavor, LA for its undeniable richness of styles, In Europe definitly Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Liege, Toulouse, Marseille, …Europe is very active all over, there are plenty of good spots, there are talented people all over.

How do you prepare for you photographs when you’re not behing the camera ?
Really simply, i have a normal life, a girl, soon a baby, a job, photography is
One of my hobby. I have many hobbies, I produce music with a few collectives, reagge with Dissident Sound System based in Marseille, and Hip Hop with A Step Ahead Production based in New York ; I host radio shows, organise music festival and events, but also build sets for the movie industry. When all is done, i pack my camera tie my shoelaces and walk out the door, thats how i get ready for photos. i am busy and i love that…

How where you able to find so much graffiti in New York city ?
Honestly i should just say walking around town for so many years, knowing where graffiti is been made… My goal was actually to find the territories of action of graffiti writers and street art activists. I tried to identify their favorite spots, neighboorhood, and then find their frontier, the places they stopped by. Because New York always had a link of geopgraphy to its graffiti history, the locations of the train yard, the origins of the writers and so on. Nowadays these references are multiple when it comes to street art so i tried to understand them. The rest is just walking around for days and days, meeting peoples, inquiring taking notes, observing and walking.

What is the favorite time of day, or lighting to take graffiti pictures ?
I don’t have any favorite time, or lighting. But i do make choices. I can come back to retake a piece if i think it would be better by night or during day light ; if the painting is best exposed in the morning or afternoon i can come back at a more appropriate time. It all depends on the subject and the feeling i have in mind. I do like night shots in the city, when city lights make it all reddish and orange. I have been starting a « red serie » over the years.

What makes certain graffiti worth photographing ?
All and nothing at the same time
What they inspire….respect, fear, laugh, life…..

Where do you see Graffiti in the future and your work with it ?
Graffiti in the future, will be in the streets and on the walls. It’s been like that since the caveman. There is no way graffiti should change.
Now what about my work ??? I am only a witness to the self expression of the street. I hope This Means Nothing will be in Bookshelves preciously keep by owners as a reference book for the years 2004 to 2007. Personaly I will keep on exploring the streets to find new medias of street art expression and graffiti.
I have recently worked with Public Enemy, providing them with photos for their latest record release How You Sell Soul …in 2007. I am curently working on live music photographs with a selection of over 40 artists.
I am compiling shots about rusted american bicycle for a new exhibit i wanna put together.
Right now, i am really happy about the way things are going, I do what i enjoy everyday and i my work is being exposed.
I also have a lot of ideas and concept to explore, radio shows to host, record to make, books to publish, movies to make, but over all a wife to please , a baby to raise and a life to live. So who knows about the future…i would have never been able to anticipate what i am living today.
Take care, enjoy your life and do what you gotta do…

M aka Le Bijoutier

Marseilles, France    April 15th 2008

Interview by Rachel Nichols

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