Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of
Artistic Maneuvers in the Dark
The opening months of 1981 witnessed an intensification of the conversation that had begun to take place between downtown artists, new wave musicians, and graffiti writers. Diego Cortez curated the New York/New Wave exhibition at PS1. Keith Haring curated the Lower Manhattan Drawing Show at the Mudd Club. Haring then invited Brathwaite and Futura 2000 to curate a Beyond Words graffiti show at the Mudd Club; Bronx DJ Afrika Bambaataa played at the opening-night party. Meanwhile Basquiat quit Gray, played the lead role in the downtown film Downtown 81, and then, following introductions made by Cortez, staged his first solo show with Emilio Mazzoli, in Modena, Italy. Downtown actor Patti Astor joined the cast of Wild Style after Brathwaite took her to Beyond Words. Soon after, she started to run a tiny gallery, the Fun Gallery, and invited downtown/graffiti artists to show their work.