- Source: Kaleidoscope Magazine
- Author: Katja Horvat
- Date: FW21-22
- Format: Print
A FRAGILE MYTH
Not many people are capable of living this life to the fullest, but Dash Snow was one of them. To me, he feels more like a myth, like folklore. People I call my friends, he called his family, and through them, I can get a glimpse and taste of the person he was or might have been. It’s impossible to know how he truly felt, but I can imagine it by tracing the inﬂuences he left on them, on the scene, and on the culture, whether he did it knowingly or not.
Oftentimes the best work an artist creates is themselves. In that sense, Snow was one of the best artists out there. He created a myth that transcends time and lives across cultures. His whole oeuvre looks almost like one elaborative work combining photography, graffiti, collage, installation, music, ﬁlm, and performance. You can see he was guided by impulse and feelings, and those feelings had to be brought into existence in order to be validated and perceived as real. There is a sense of comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable in everything he did. He had the ability to portray his pain in a way that was easy to apprehend and identify with, as he somehow always found a way to depict (t)his world, illuminate what makes us all human, and antagonize the loneliness that dominates people. There is something about his work that makes you think about who you really are and who you ought to be.
“Dash liked to take photos in the most uncontrollable environment. He was fragile, vulnerable, and completely wild. His polaroids were kind of like instant archival prints—can he take as many crazy photos of people doing the craziest shit, the most fucked up, shocking stuff that he could ﬁnd… And being so spontaneous and not so contrived he was creating these magical moments, dark moments, that just captured the scene for what it truly was,” recalls friend Aaron Bondaroff.
Snow was never not working. Every minute of his day, every situation, every encounter, every story, every memory ended up being more than just that one thing; he made art out of everything and anything. “I feel like such a dick saying my work is my life, but if I wasn’t living, I wouldn’t be working, and if I wasn’t working, I wouldn’t be living. Creating keeps me alive. Some live it, some love it. I really don’t know if people like what I do or not. I really don’t fucking care,” as Snow once put it.
He only shot ﬁlm, mostly polaroids. His whole idea was more about preserving time versus creating art; the latter sort of happened naturally and unintentionally. It took him a long time to even show his work as he didn’t see it as art—the things he made were for him and his friends to document and remember. Later on in life, he became obsessed with documenting his family, photographing and keeping memories alive with his partner Jade Berreau and their beautiful daughter, Secret Midnight Magic Nico Snow.
Next to photography, graffiti was an instrumental element in Snow’s practice. He was one of the most prominent members of the IRAK graffiti crew, which, still to this day, is one of the most culture-shifting and taste-defying groups that shaped New York and its downtown scene. “The mix of people and minds and culture that made up IRAK reﬂected our New York world and just came together naturally. It was not a calculated thing, there was no quota or requirement… just a bunch of weirdo kids that clicked. New York City, graffiti and the art world all run on ego. Combining those delusions of grandeur with being young and dumb, there was always a sense that we were doing something bigger than ourselves. We were kids, and we were trying to have fun and have friends. Some of us were just trying to survive, and we made our own little world out of it,” says IRAK’s founding member Ben Solomon.
The scene became something bigger in the apartment on the 7th Street, where Teddy Liouliakis, Ryan McGinley, and Dan Colen lived together, “The 7th street apartment was the headquarters. That’s where we all met up—people were getting fucked up, getting arrested… everything was going on down there. That was also the spot where everyone kind of came into their own and started building their practice as an artist, discovering themselves without any containment and control,” says Bondaroff.
What these people did there shaped the scene and changed the trajectory of art and fashion as we know it today. “We knew something was happening but we didn’t know the level of it. We knew what was being made would last or leave an impact, and that was also the pressure, as we had the audience and we had the platform but a lot of us were getting really fucked up at the time, so maybe we were not using the voice to the best of our abilities, and that kind of was affecting us, but, I guess you got to go through that experience as well,” adds Bondaroff.
There were many layers to Dash, and he meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people as each person got their own version of him. Now, these elements make up for the person we think he once was—fact or ﬁction, it’s all about the story as he would have said. One of his aliases was Tropical Fantasy which he often used as his DJ name. His childhood hero was a baseball player Darryl Strawberry. He feared the police and George Bush. Larry Clark once wrote a screenplay revolving around Snow and IRAK crew but could not get it produced, as no one really understood the magnitude and importance of the scene at the time. Dash was highly suspicious of surveillance, disproving much of technology, and called it a fool’s game. He didn’t own a cell phone and was famously hard to trace or get ahold of.
His estate is now being represented by Morán Morán Gallery, and co-run with Jade Berreau and artist Dan Colen. The ﬁrst extensive solo show of Snow’s work at Morán Morán, titled “DASHCAM” and curated by Matthew Higgs, feels cyclical as the ﬁrst work the gallery sold back in 2008—when Morán Morán was still operating under the name OHWOW—was a work by Snow.