In 1977, at the age of 17, Basquiat began collaborating with his friend Al Diaz as SAMO©, spray-painting aphorisms around lower Manhattan. With poetic and critical messages such as SAMO© AS AN END TO MINDWASH RELIGION, NOWHERE POLITICS, AND BOGUS PHILOSOPHY, the tag SAMO© became a familiar part of the culture of lower Manhattan in the late 1970s.
These film clips were shot in 1980–81 during the filming of New York Beat (released in 2000 as Downtown 81). The film was loosely based on the downtown art scene, with Basquiat playing a street artist. The soundtrack for these short outtakes is music by Gray, the noise band that Basquiat formed in 1979 with Michael Holman, Shannon Dawson, Vincent Gallo, Wayne Clifford, and Nicholas Taylor.
This film is part of the exhibition Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, January 22–April 23, 2017, in the Smith Foundatioin Exhibition Gallery, lower level.
Downtown 81 Outtakes, 2001
Film, color, sound; 3 min., 35 sec.
Directed by Edo Bertoglio (Swiss, born 1961)
Produced by Maripol and Glenn O’Brien
Written by Glenn O’Brien
Soundtrack by Gray
Courtesy of Maripol