The writing on the wall

<strong>Graffiti Woman</strong>

Nicholas Ganz <em>Thames & Hudson, 232pp, £19.95</em>

ISBN 05005

Who said feminism is dead? Graffiti Woman: graffiti and street art from five continents witnesses the wrenching open of another area of creative expression previously conceived as a male preserve. The stereotypical image of the urban artist is a cool twentysomething in hip-hop regalia, dripping with daredevilism. No more.

This colourful and lively book is a fast-paced, gender-conscious jaunt through the graffiti underworld. It focuses exclusively on female artists from all over the world and showcases work daubed on walls from Belgium to Brazil.

It is a distinct possibility that the female-only line-up is just a good selling point in a saturated market, but the end product is a success. The foreword by the artist Swoon opens in truculent tone when she recalls starting out and people asking who "that Swoon guy" was.

The next 200 pages are a tour de force. Each page features a different artist, ranging in style from Wildstyle lettering to Banksy-style stenciling. The introduction of the female form into this genre opens up new interpretations of one of art's oldest subjects. Each artist has a short profile in which she comments on her incongruent position in graffiti culture. You can’t help feeling they won't be incongruent for long.

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