Revisiting the "Detective Show," the Moment Street Art Changed Forever
Street art, or should we say, work sprung from the urban environment, has journeyed so many waves over the last forty years that it's hard to pinpoint some of the origin stories. We widely consider NYC to be the epicenter and birthplace of what we call graffiti and street art, and the Detective Show is one of the markers by which we make this distinction. Amazingly, it was almost forgotten by time, until Bio Editions and Studio Bergini created this incredible book as a historical document of a landmark moment. Organized by conceptual and urban artist John Fekner in Jackson Heights, Queens in 1978, the Detective Show was perhaps the first “immersive outdoor urban art event,” a street art festival as we might call it now. It was, at the time, and arguably continues to be, a moment when we began to reconsider the power and utility of art in public spaces.
This was a generation of artists, influenced by the Situationists, who began to perceive the places we live as canvases for critical communication and artwork. Graffiti was just one element, but what the Detective Show accomplished through Fekner’s curation demonstrates that a generation of artists evolved outside the institutional art world, conceiving ideas with the same, though often unrecognized intellectualism. In addition, there was a sense of adventure growing in NYC captured by the Detective Show. This wonderfully important 84-page book features original photographs, written words from some of the participating artists, as well as text from Jux contributor Carlo McCormick and John Fekner himself. A must-have. —Evan Pricco
Published by Bio Editions, in collaboration with Studio Bergini, Bioeditions.com