Nomi Kaplan, fascinated by the immediacy of graffiti writing as a form of communication, began photographing graffiti-covered walls and alleys during visits to the Lower Park Slopes area of Brooklyn, New York. Returning to Vancouver, she was struck by connections between these photographs and Renaissance, pre-Christian and early Christian art and iconography. Combining these elements resulted in the photomontage series Brooklyn Illuminations produced between 1984 and 1987.
“Graffiti is seen as destructive and wasteful, yet for me, graffiti is an opportunity for my imagination to float beyond the wall’s surface. Using photographs of Renaissance art, and applying them judiciously to photographs of the graffiti, a wall in Brooklyn becomes a street romance, a passion play, a wandering vagrant, or bodies wrestling with their souls. Time and place are shuffled, reshuffled, and dropped into new contexts. Soldiers, saints, Madonnas, devils and cherubim wander through the graffiti-covered streets of Brooklyn.” — Nomi Kaplan