Patrice Riemens on Wed, 20 Aug 2008 23:54:09 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Alan Ket: Graffiti popularity vs criminalisation

(bio from

Alan Ket grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. From a young age, he
fell in love with Hip Hop culture and the graffiti art movement, During
his college days at New York University, he founded STRESS, a publication
dedicated to celebrating urban communities, Hip Hop culture and educating
youth about their rights. This magazine went on to have international
distribution and being translated into Spanish language as well. Through
Stress magazine, Ket created a program with Riker's Island prison to
donate magazines to inmates and to take Hip Hop musicians to perform at
the prison system in order to reduce violence and connect them with the
outside world. He was also one of the founders of Black August, a
collective made up of Stress magazine staff and The Malcolm X Grassroots
movement, in order to raise money and support for political prisoners and
exchange music and ideas with youth in countries with emerging Hip Hop
scenes like Cuba. Most recently he was a founder of Complex magazine along
with Marc Ecko, and started a publishing imprint, From Here to Fame, to
preserve Hip Hop's rich history and to provide an imprint for marginalized
writers and artists. He also has served as a consultant to Ecko Unlimited
on both their apparel and video game businesses, MTV, Lugz, Vibe magazine,
PepsiCo, Timberland, Azzure Denim, and many other brands.


"Presently, Alan Ket [Maridueña] is the defendant in three cases in New
York City. He has been accused and arrested for alleged graffiti crimes
stemming from an October 2006 search of his home and office. In March
2007, police arrested him after a five-month investigation. He is charged
with over a dozen felony charges [all graffiti-related] that if convicted
could place him in prison for over ten years. Alan Ket has no prior
criminal record. He is being represented by Daniel Perez of the law firm
of Kuby and Perez LLP."

Alan Ket was interviewed for the summer issue of RUGGED magazine,
apparently Carhartt's equivalent of Benetton's  'Colors'. Like with
'Colors' u may not like the source, but some content is outstanding.

This is what he had to say on the zero-tolerance policies regarding
graffiti - and 'deviant' culture in general:


Q: Is there a lack of awareness with people as to the criminality of

Alan Ket: I think there is a lack of awareness or a lack of understanding.
The art form of writing is definitely demonised here but I don't
necessarily think that young people understand the consequences of it.
They don't understand the illegality and the criminalisation of it because
it's so popular now. You turn on the TV, open up  magazines, go to a
store, the visual languagge of graffiti is everywhere. It's being used to
sell everything and so, I think it's very easy to forget that it's illegal
and that it's serious. It's a huge problem when you have all those
corporations making money from it, but the people who actually do it go to


Q: What is the future of self-expression, freedom of speech, and graffiti
in the zer-toelerance environment of NYC? (and everywhere else, where
zero-tolerance is the buzz, I'd add -PR)

AK: I think it's in danger, I think ther's gonna be continued repression
and oppression of artists and people that wanbt to see free speech. What's
happened now is, the people that have taken over government are
businessmen and they're not concerned with the rights of citizens, they're
concerned with the rights of corporations. They're concerned with the
rights of business owners and our rights and civil liberties are in
danger. We are living in very dangerous times and I think cleaning up
graffiti and those kind of things are very much a distraction from the
real problems that are going on.


There are many more interesting statements in this interview, but I
reproduce here by hand, since Rugged is not on-line. Get it from you
nearest street-gear shoppe - if you can!
check it out at

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