Tribeca FF

Selina Miles, Martha Cooper – Martha: A Picture Story #Tribeca2019

Play Podcast
12 min. and 11 sec.

“I don’t want to shoot something that’s done with permission. It’s an outlaw art.” – Martha Cooper

Play Podcast
12 min. and 11 sec.

PODCAST| Samantha Sartori interviews Selina Miles and Martha Cooper, director and protagonist of the film Martha: A Picture Story.

To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture

We attended the world premiere of the feature documentary about the iconic photographer Martha Cooper screened in the spectacular new section of the Tribeca Film Festival “This used to be New York”. We met with Selina Miles, the director, and Martha Cooper herself to discuss Selina’s idea to make a movie about Martha and how they worked in dangerous situations. Martha loves illegal graffiti and so Selina followed Martha on her rides to capture street artists at work. And while Selina was very worried about Martha jumping and running all over the place, Martha, in her 70s, was totally in her element and not worried at all. This journey is not only the story of a photographer, it is so much more. It shows what it means to have lived a fulfilled life without following the conventional rules of this society. Selina Miles’ ability to balance these double aspects of Martha’s life is striking.

Martha: A Picture StoryMartha Cooper is an unexpected icon of the street art movement – a tiny, grey-haired figure running alongside crews of masked graffiti artists. In the 1970’s, as the boroughs of New York City burned, she worked as a photographer for the New York Post, seeking images of creativity and play where others saw crime and poverty. As a result, she captured some of the first images of New York graffiti, at a time when the city had declared war on this new culture. Martha and her co-author Henry Chalfant compiled these images into the book Subway Art. However, the commercial failure of the book forced Martha to leave graffiti behind, moving on to document many other hidden cultures of New York. 20 years later Martha discovers she has become a legend of the graffiti world – a culture that has now exploded into a global movement. Subway Art became one of the most sold – and stolen – art books of all time, photocopied and shared by graffiti artists for decades. At 75 years of age, Martha finds herself navigating a culture vastly changed. The small community born from struggle and adversity, has grown into a commercial industry fuelled by the rise of social media. Now every new piece of street art is immediately uploaded, and crowds line up for selfies in front of popular works. Martha struggles to find her place in this new world, driven by a passion for capturing the creativity that helps people rise above their environment.

To discover more about the film, click here.

  • Reporter
    Samantha Sartori
  • Guest
    Selina Miles / Martha Cooper
  • Interviewee role
    Director / Protagonist
  • Film title
    Martha: A Picture Story
  • Festival section
    This used to be New York
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