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A Night Out with ND'A
If I could do it ideally, I'd do it all legally. I'd like to work on a legal, large scale, but to supplement those times that I get to work in that kind of environment, I've got to go outside. It's studio work that I put up afterwards. I've tried to put things up in a gallery context and it never felt right. This is a way I don't have to go through any channels, I can do exactly what I want. The curation is in the actual physical nature of the work. The communities that we work in, some people get really upset and some people get really happy when they see what we're doing. But there's always a lot of skepticism in any form of public art. The night that I got arrested was weird because the people in the community were very positive about the work but someone called the cops. Even the cops were positive for a while, and taking pictures, but then two vans pulled up and all of a sudden it was 8 or 9 cops for 2 skinny kids.
We were joking around with the cops inside the van but we got to the Bed-Stuy precinct and the sergeant clearly didn't know what we'd done. He thought it was just regular graffiti and he tore into me. He said something like, Would you like it if I came to your house and spray-painted all over it? How would you like it if I tagged you? Which really made no sense but he was just angry. And it got worse. What are these prisoners doing without handcuffs? Throw these motherfuckers in cuffs!
Then we were in a tiny little cell, 10x10, with twelve guys. We were the only tiny people there. These were big men. Most of the guys were pretty nice. One guy was in for robbery but almost all the rest were in there for minor drug possession. The whole experience wasn't so bad except for the waiting around and the terrible, terrible sandwiches. And the dirty toilets. And it was pretty bad because they'd bring in women too and I saw some guys make a prostitute cry.
I'm a little more paranoid about putting work up now. I still go out and do it though. Doing this means I can work with a specific neighborhood in mind or just go out there and let the space activate some new component in my art. I don't have to answer to anyone else.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen