A documentary filmed in the South Bronx of New York over three years, this
is a realist's "Basquiat" in the ghetto. Tim Rollins is an artist
and guru who transforms a select group of kids' non-conformist attitudes
and natural talent into art. Some of the works are quite good - anti-establishment
mural-size canvases that owe more to Rollins' organization than to graffiti
and are good enough to get into a major Soho gallery.
The kids learn the tough lessons of the art world - a show that makes no
money, critics who turn against them after setting them up as The New Phenomenon,
lack of inspiration, etc. One of the kids is killed, and the group has
to make sense of the senselessness of that. We hear from ideologues who
think Tim Rollins is too white or that not enough kids are being saved from
life on the streets. Hey, folks, it's a start.
The most impressive thing is Tim Rollins' iron-clad discipline. If the
kids don't come to the studio and work, they're not artists, therefore they're
no longer part of K.O.S. It's that simple. Art is something you have to
do, not a languishing life style. It's admirable and even correct in going
beyond the cute hopefulness of art as a social movement.
Filmmakers Geller and Goldfine let the art speak for itself and pursue the
workings of the studio - how do kids relate to each other, how do they
unify their talents, how do they quarrel or make decisions? They've achieved
an insight into one method of rescue that ought to serve as a beacon for
people wondering how to help kids survive. Good work!