Crack On, Shine On - Will Robson Scott
RIP Paul Saeio. Paris, 2013.
London, May 2012.
When Will Robson-Scott and Freddie Fraser Forsyth connected through a British forum dedicated to graffiti writing several years ago, they quickly picked up on a shared interest for vandalism. But beyond the concern in operating on the fringes, they too noted a gaping hole in the realm surrounding London’s graffiti subculture: the lack of any authentic and extensive documentation of it, both for the writers themselves and for the outsiders peering into an increasingly visible—yet elusive—scene. What ensued between them was an unprecedented and inimitable exploration of graffiti culture, both in London and worldwide, through two books and two video series that offered never before seen snapshots of the scene’s most influential and elite.
The legacy of Crack & Shine and Topsafe London—both of which were born out of the photographer and publisher’s collaborative efforts—extends beyond the visibility of graffiti’s most intimate and articulate chronicle to date. It exists in their far-reaching video features from London to Los Angeles and from Berlin to Barcelona.
It permeates through the quiet but cardinal moments of reflection and apprehension captured in its subjects. Essential to it all is the position of the photographer and videographer, privileged in his access to these moments but moreover sui generis in his approach. To bridge the divide between the discerning general public and the proudly impervious circleof writing legends is not easy, yet Robson-Scott’s work over the books and video series is illustrative beyond measure.
Concluding this pivotal series is no simple task, then. The evolution of graffiti at its core, and also in its various and hotly-debated “street art” offshoots, continues to pan out, yet Crack & Shine and Topsafe will remain suspended in the places and times they managed to steal from the very front lines. While much more could be said (and hopefully will be) about the undercurrent of urban culture in London and beyond, we feel it fitting to end our documentation of it by centring on the expositor himself.
Will Robson-Scott, purveyor of the periphery, incurs many of the same risks as his subjects, and it’s this total embedding in and through his work’s context that makes it so exemplary. By expressing the most underexplored motives and sentiments of those ultimately concerned with free expression, his photographs serve far more than a coffee table cause. It’s with this reverence and respect that we are proud to present Crack On, Shine On — a comprehensive look
at Robson-Scott’s worldwide captures — in hopes that though our legacy ends here, those who identify with its ruthless hunt for the real keep.