Wastedland 2’s opening mural featuring (from left to right) artist Russell Murphy, organizer Andrew Shirley, photographers Austin Pinon and Marris Mielnick, 9/17/16. (Photos: Nick McManus)

Wastedland 2, an immersive film exhibition that’s been touring the country for the past year, rolls into Maspeth’s Knockdown Center tonight and pays homage to the hottest graffiti artists painting New York today. The exhibition premiered in Detroit a year ago; with most of its artists based out New York, this show will be a homecoming. 

Wastedland 2’s installation featuring art by WOLFTITS, RAMBO, UFO907,NOXER and CASH4, 9/17/16.

The show’s creator, Andrew H. Shirley, told us he sees it as “a new platform of film viewing, where the audience is immersed in the physical and psychological composition of the film so that it’s not just like they’re sitting in a theater. It’s like they’re sitting in the film itself.” The show will include a room of poetry and sculptures by RAMBO, a piece by Greg Henderson, large-scale sculptures created by UFO907 along with Ryan C. Doyle and William Thomas Porter, a 30′ by 8′ float by WOLFTITS, a metal installation by DARK CLOUDS, a papier-mâché installation by NOXER DOD, and work by CASH4— “New York’s most wanted graffiti vandal,” Shirley said.

Detroit Sign Painters owner Zak Warman (third from left) with friends in front of UFO907’s Wastedland 2 installation, 9/17/16.

The film itself is a post-apocalyptic graffiti fantasy that picks up where its short precursor, 2008’s Wastedland, left off. Life-size renditions of the spirit characters in Shirley’s 32-minute sequel are introduced to its viewers when they peruse the exhibition before coming to life in the movie. When I was in Detroit for the premiere I felt the immersion Shirley describes as I watched the cast wander around from one spray-painted setting to the next while I myself sat in a dusty, graffiti-filled warehouse. Knockdown Center’s 50,000-square-foot main room should provide a similar experience with the projection screen acting as a “phantom tollbooth” that the audience may feel they can walk right into.

Fans of artist SMELLS with his in front of his ‘Cranky Cat’ installation for Wastedland 2, 9/17/16.

Musical accompaniment will be provided by Philly’s doom-metal band Witching, Brooklyn’s Karma Kids, Jacer Racer and the UFOHOES, DJ DOG DICK, DJ DIRTYFINGER, My Posse In Effect, and Ninjasonik with the Beastie Boys tribute band Unstoppable Death Machines, whose recently released music video was directed by Shirley. The film screenings will be at 9p and 11p, with music going on throughout, until 2am.

Wastedland 2’s entry installation by EKG featuring artist Hugo Domecq (top, right), 9/17/16.

When asked if this one-year milestone marked the end of his exhibition’s tour Shirley demurred and told me, “This is just the beginning. Do you know what an ouroboros is? It’s a serpent eating it’s tail so, like, when one thing ends it’s just beginning. So, I never say goodbye, I always say see you later.” 

Detroit Sign Painters owner Zak Warman (center) underneath Wastedland 2’s namesake graffiti, 9/17/16.