The Milk Wrecking Crew: Taking Madonna NYC83 To The Streets

Madonna never cared about following the rules, so we decided to take part in a little rebellion of our own to spread the word of Milk Gallery’s upcoming exhibition Madonna NYC83, a collection of photographs of the pop deity by Richard Corman. The images were shot on the streets of New York in 1983, before Madonna was a star and she was just another kid trying to make it in the big city. So we took it back to the streets, setting out to paper the walls of NYC with Corman’s striking portraits of the icon.

Armed with our posters, adhesives, masks and our cameras, we set out for our first stop – Milk’s jam room. The walls were already covered in a collage of magazine clippings, paint and Polaroids, so it felt like a safe place to start. Getting that first poster up gave us a confidence boost (where’s Banksy when you need a pep talk?!), and then we strategized our plan of attack. The worst thing we ever had to face after TP-ing a house as kids was getting chased off the lawn by lazy security guards. This time around, the stakes were a little higher and we half-joked about whom to call if we needed bail money.

We started on doorways, bus stops and store windows scattered around the Meatpacking district. Passersby seemed perplexed, stopping to stare at our merry band of vandals. After hitting a number of prime locations and dodging cop cars left and right, we made a pit stop so one of our crew could try Pinkberry.

We rode the L out to Brooklyn, where wheatpasting runs rampant. Up the stairs from the subway was a wall just begging to be covered, with scraps from old posters providing the perfect canvas.And while we generally lament the gentrification of Williamsburg that’s created construction on every corner, we were actually grateful for Bedford’s plywood sidings that welcomed our posters like old friends. We covered walls high and low, embedding our bills amidst notices for new albums and upcoming music festivals, and we even hit the refrigerator at Bedford and Grand, though we certainly weren’t the first.

Walk down these streets and you’ll see Madonna staring back at you defiantly, daring you to come closer. We suggest you do what she says, and pay tribute to the goddess of pop November 15 through December 21 at Milk Gallery. You might feel inspired to engage in a little bad behavior of your own.

Photography by Milk Wrecking Crew

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