Taking the art to the people
In August 2013, larger than life photos by renowned photographer Chi Modu began appearing on the exterior walls of select NYC buildings in SoHo, Brooklyn, and the Lower East Side, as part of an ongoing installation called UNCATEGORIZED. The massive images included a rarely seen photo of hip hop legend Tupac Shakur, a never released shot of 21 year old Snoop Dogg, a dramatic image of Method Man, an iconic photo of Notorious B.I.G. standing in front of the World Trade Towers, and a riveting image of young boys in the back of a church in Modu’s native Nigeria.
Modu, who is best known for his iconic photos of major hip hop artists, was searching for a way to make his art accessible to more people. According to Modu, “The art world tends to be very exclusive and full of obstacles for both the artists and the public. My goal is to make art more inclusive by pulling an end run on the galleries, breaking down the barriers, and bringing the art directly to the people. Like graffiti, but legal.”
As to why he calls the exhibit UNCATEGORIZED -- “People always want to put art and artists into neat little boxes. My work does not fit into any one stereotype and neither do I. I wanted to create something that is the opposite of putting labels on everything and make a statement against stereotyping in general. I don’t see this as just an exhibit. I see it as a movement that can’t be stopped. Power to the people!”
In the summer of 2014, UNCATEGORIZED moved overseas to Finland, where it was the main exhibit at the Pori Art Museum and drew record breaking crowds. Yielding to public demand, Modu published a photography book in September 2016 entitled Tupac Shakur: UNCATEGORIZED.
Since the book was launched, UNCATEGORIZED has shown up in dramatic new ways in Seoul, Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; Oslo, Norway; Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin, Germany; and will soon be coming to Los Angeles; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia and Milan, Italy. What began as making a bold statement in New York City has become a global movement, with Modu’s loyal fans traveling from city to city to see both him and his latest incarnation of UNCATEGORIZED.