Broken Fingaz, beef and lady parts

April 10th, 2014 | By | 3 Comments »
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(Click here for the original)

A few days ago, an anonymous person painted over two new walls by Broken Fingaz Crew in Hackney Wick, London. Both walls featured curvaceous women engaging in sex with skeletons, which the person buffed black and brandished with the words “Kill all men”. BFC responded to the defacement by altering it to read “Kill yourself” and adding “Why so mad? Give smile pussycat!” Broken Fingaz then shared the incident on their Facebook, sparking a surprising and intense response from their fans that has me questioning Broken Fingaz, their art and the people who enjoy it.

BFC-pussycat-m

(Click here for the original)

I have been a huge fan of Broken Fingaz for a while now. We’ve covered their work on Vandalog over the last few years and I cite them as a personal inspiration for my own art. Skeletons interacting with the living and sexualized women have been two prominent (although mostly separate) themes in BFC’s body of work. Over the last several months, Tant and Unga of BFC have developed a new, highly sexualized body of work. With their SuperSex series, BFC painted people having sex with various animals and a skeleton (which I covered for Vandalog here). The SuperSex series was predominantly women and animals, however they also included Unga’s fat male character, which led me to believe that the series was coming from a place which was inclusive of both men and women. In their more recent series, the crew has been painting women copulating with skeletons in massive colorful orgies. There’s one fat male figure slipped into one of the pieces in the series, but spotting him is like a game Where’s Waldo. My issue with this more recent work is not that it is sexual (though I could see why people might find it problematic in public spaces), but rather that it portrays only women as sexual and never shows women in a non-erotic manner. It’s a simple matter of equality.

I would be open to the idea that these images were painted in an effort to honor the feminine figure, not to merely objectify it. After all, the women are whole people and the men are depicted as skeletons, arguably neutered objects. Yet within the context of their larger body of work, these latest images emphasize BFC’s unequal portrayal of men and women. When men appear in their work, they are typically clothed in formal attire, or are humorously unattractive on the few occasions they are naked. Women are rarely shown in any other setting than a sexual one, and an objectifying one at that. Their fans and this anonymous protestor are not interpreting this as honoring women, and BFC’s comeback to the protestor doesn’t support that idea either with dehumanizing jibe “Give smile pussycat!”

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I’m not saying it’s wrong to show women in a sexual setting, but to only ever show them in such a way reduces their role to merely erotic creatures. One very easy solution to this: paint men having sex with skeletons (in lieu of dropping the series altogether), and paint women in formal, non-sexual settings every once in awhile. Might not be the perfect portrait of equality, but it’s one way to show that they hold men and women with equal respect.

Defacing two walls and writing “Kill all men” over BFC’s work is not a route I would promote, but the dialogue it provoked is important. Much like the commenters on BFC’s Facebook, my knee-jerk reaction was to write this act off as an overly-aggressive reaction from a radical feminist. In all likelihood, “Kill all men” is a derivative of the Twitter hashtag that was turning heads last month, which feminists were using as a space to vent their experiences with misogyny. Yet in closer consideration of this particular incident, this person isn’t saying anything that BFC didn’t say themselves first. Why should we take offense from the statement “Kill all men” when this was written on top of a BFC mural that literally depicted a group of dead men having sex with women?

To this act of vandalism, BFC’s responded with “Kill yourself!” and “Why so mad? Give smile pussycat!” Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and say that this response is comedic ribbing and graffiti bravado in response to being capped, their response incited a slew of sexist and objectifying responses on Facebook, with commenters calling the anonymous vandal(s) a “fucking slut”, “stupid hoe”, “fags”, etc.; which is all a bit ridiculous when you consider that these terms being used as insults are in defense of an artwork depicting women in a way that fits stereotypes of whore-ish/slutty behavior. One commenter said, “Must be one of them ‘broken-b**ches’ … Doesn’t shave under the arm-pits, yet goes to pole dancing class every monday and thursday…”. A female commenter said, “I guess they don’t like drawings of girls fitter than them”. This is exactly why portraying women (and only women) in an exclusively sexual manner becomes problematic. These comments were not made by BFC, but some their supporters, yet would these comments have been made if these fans had felt that BFC were strong supporters of women’s rights?

Curious how our readers feel about Broken Fingaz’ response to this protester and their fans’ subsequent response to the back and forth.

Photos by Broken Fingaz Crew


Category: Art News, Featured Posts, Photos, Random | Tags: , , , , ,

Zoo Project, Parisian street artist, is dead at 23

March 29th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »
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Photo by urbanartcore.eu

Some very sad news. Earlier this week, we posted about the graffiti at Detroit’s Brewster Projects. What we did not know at the time is that Zoo Project, a 23 year old street artist whose work is very well known in Paris, had been found murdered at the Brewster Projects last summer. His body has only just now been identified.

Photo by gildas_f

Photo by gildas_f

I remember seeing a lot of Zoo Project pieces around Paris the last time I was there. They seemed to be everywhere and they immediately caught my eye. Unfortunately, I’ve never been all that good about covering Parisian street art on Vandalog, and I absolutely failed to properly cover Zoo Project’s work while he was alive. The why of that is unimportant right now. Zoo Project was like a young Blu: Painting large pieces on the street in black and white or muted colors, commenting on society, politics and technology with surreal imagery… He will be greatly missed, and his death is a loss to street art. To make up in a very small way for me neglecting his work on Vandalog despite my admiration for it, here are a few Zoo Project pieces…

Photo by G@ttoGiallo

Photo by G@ttoGiallo

Photo by kayexalate

Photo by kayexalate

Photo by Gaël Chardon

Photo by Gaël Chardon

Photo by marcovdz

Photo by marcovdz

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by Béatrice Faveur

Photo by Béatrice Faveur

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photos by urbanartcore.eu, gildas_f, G@ttoGiallo, kayexalate, Gaël Chardon, marcovdz, gillesklein and Béatrice Faveur


Category: Art News, Photos | Tags:

BNE lies to his fans, sells a fake collaboration with Banksy

March 25th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

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UPDATE March 29th: BNE has updated his website and posted a statement claiming that Banksy and he had communicated about a shirt release, but that BNE decided to announce the shirt and make it available for sale before getting confirmation from Banksy that the collaboration was on. That logic is about as reasonable as me emailing Banksy and asking him about doing a solo show in my bedroom, and then announcing the show without hearing from Banksy. Because, why wouldn’t Banksy want to do a solo show in a college dorm in suburban Philadelphia?

BNE continues to resist the use of the word “scam” to describe what he did, but he fails to acknowledge the numerous lies that he told over the course of this “product launch,” from saying that he was collaborating with Banksy, to saying that he hadn’t sold people something that he presented as BNE x Banksy t-shirt, to saying that this whole thing was a “social experiment.” BNE doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge that at best he messed up by jumping the gun and then he flat out lied, and at worst he orchestrated a massive scam.

He also claims on his site that nobody who picked up on this story requested a comment from him. That’s not true, which I know because I emailed him and requested an interview. Maybe he missed my email, or maybe he ignored it. I don’t know.

But now BNE is offering refunds for those who request them (although I’m not sure how that will work since his PayPal account is frozen). I hope this time BNE gets my email, since I’ve emailed asking for a refund. I’ll be donating a portion of my refund to Living Walls and Give Directly.

BNE also says that he’s working to start a company that will sell a variety of basic necessities like sustainably made shampoo and t-shirts, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. That sounds like a great idea for a company. If I still trusted BNE, I would probably support that business. But it also sounds like a B-Corp, and there are plenty of B-Corps that I’m willing to put a lot more trust into than whatever BNE comes up with.

Saturday was supposed to be a great day. BNE, a graffiti writer who has been raising money for water-related charities (primarily Charity:Water) through BNE.org since late 2011. Most of the money raised has been through the sale of products like t-shirts, lip balm, original artwork and stickers. Earlier this month, BNE released t-shirts by Invader, Shepard Fairey and Faile, some of the biggest names in street art. Shortly after all of those sold out, BNE announced that “a surprise from Banksy in support of our efforts to end the world water crisis” would be unveiled on BNE.org at noon on March 22nd, and that people who helped spread the word of the announcement beforehand would be entered “to win a collaborative gift from BNE + Banksy.”

Well, that was all a lie. BNE was not working with Banksy, and the t-shirts (which cost $92 including shipping to the USA) that were released at noon on the 22nd on BNE’s website just a few pixels away from a large Banksy logo were not done in collaboration with Banksy at all. It was all a ploy, or as BNE called it “a social experiment,” to raise money for Charity:Water, relying on the idea that people would be more likely to contribute to charity if they get something like a t-shirt in return. People were understandably outraged when they discovered that they had not in fact bought the Banksy t-shirt that they thought they had paid for. There’s a lot more to this story and it’s all a bit crazy, but Animal New York have done some great reporting on it, and I highly encourage you to read their post about what happened.

As a fan of BNE’s charity work, someone who has supported in some small way just about every fundraising campaign BNE has organized and a victim of this trick, I’m pretty upset. I’m all for pranks in art. Hell, I’ve even fallen for some before and the responsible thing to do is laugh at yourself. But this was no prank. This was BNE turning on his supporters. He’s lost my trust, and I won’t be supporting his projects in the future (if he manages to get anything off the ground after this fiasco).

It’s unclear at this point what is going to happen to the money that BNE  got from his con. BNE donated the funds to Charity:Water almost immediately after the 500 t-shirts sold out, but it’s not clear that Charity:Water will be accepting his donation. At the same time, BNE promised Animal that he will be refunding every single buyer whether they specifically request it or not, but BNE’s PayPal account has been frozen.

While everything is in limbo for now, assuming that those of us who bought a shirt get our money back, I hope that a lot of it goes right back to charity. It’s easy to donate directly to Charity:Water, who were not involved in BNE.org and are only the recipients of BNE’s donation, and if you do want some great art in return for helping to fund a water-related charity, try this auction that Juxtapoz is involved with. This might also be a good time to mention the current fundraising campaign for the 2014 Living Walls Conference, which includes a matching grant from Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs so that your donation goes even further.

Again, this whole fiasco is fascinating and ongoing, but if you’re at all interested, you should read Animal’s post about what has happened so far, including exclusive comments from BNE.

Photo illustration by RJ Rushmore, original photo by troykelly


Category: Art News | Tags: , , ,

Results: Street works by Banksy, Kenny Scharf and more at auction

February 18th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »
Do you have a bathroom in need of some "urban' decor? Look no further.

Do you have a bathroom in need of some “urban’ decor? Look no further. This piece failed to sell, so maybe it can still be yours. Photo illustration by RJ Rushmore using photos from Fine Art Auction Miami and by Leyla Arsan.

Fine Art Auctions Miami, the auction house that almost sold Banksy’s “Slave Labour” and “Wet Dog” pieces in 2013, is back at trying to sell street pieces. This time though, it’s not just Banksy’s whose street art and murals that they’ve put on offer. In an auction that took place this evening, FAAM have included cut up segments of concrete and metal that were removed from the street and contain what were once works by Banksy, Faile, Kenny Scharf, Bambi, Aiko and Terror161/J.SON. I say that these chunks of the street include what were once street pieces by those artists because the pieces have been removed from the street, destroying the context of the work. Kind of selling a ripped apart corner of the Mona Lisa. In Bambi’s case, it appears that she has given permission for the work to be removed and sold, so maybe that’s still her artwork. J.SON was unaware of the sale of the piece of metal containing his former artwork, but I do not have comments from the other artists, though I find it highly unlikely that they approved of the removal of those wall segments or this auction. Yesterday, Caroline posted an interview with FAAM’s resident street art expert, and today we have the auction results…

Below, I’ve got coverage of the street pieces that were up for sale, but it wasn’t just street pieces for sale. If you want to see more highlights, I was live tweeting the auction, so you can read some of the other results on my twitter or here.

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Art News, Auctions, Featured Posts, Photos | Tags: , , , , , ,

Egypt’s street artists now risk even more

February 14th, 2014 | By | 3 Comments »

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As more journalists are being arrested in Egypt, artists are under threat as well. A new law enacted following the recent referendum criminalizes graffiti and punishes those “writing abusive language on government and private buildings.” The sentence could extend to four years in jail as well as a fine. The classic excuse of equating graffiti to vandalism in order to ignore the issue of freedom of speech strikes again.

Political slogans and portraits of people who have died since the January 25 revolution are painted over by the government and replaced immediately by artists. The walls of Mohamed Mahmoud Street leading to Tahrir Square are layers of colorful murals over asymmetrical blotches of white paint. And despite its attempt to silence, the dictatorial white ironically makes a great primer for many of the artworks.

Who gets to write history? The actors spray the color and the revisionists armed with white paint attempt to redact. The street is still one of the few places where the revolution has a voice, and it would be a tragedy to silence it.

During a recent trip to Cairo, I was awed by the vibrant graffiti and immediately started documenting the artwork. Here are some of the provocative murals I captured. The translation of the slogans is in the captions. You can find more on my flickr.

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Portraits of: Samira in red an black, Mina Nabil with long hair, Alaa with glasses
Writing in blue: Despite the virginity tests, Egypt will remain civilian (not military)
Writing in turquoise: Correct your mistakes. The wound is deep.

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Text in white outline: martyr…
Text in pink outline: the martyr is Egyptian….
Text in bottom left: lotfy, ahmed
no for harassment…
Text in black spray paint: 26th jan, the revenge

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Category: Art News, Guest Posts, Photos

Melbourne Monthly Madness – December 2013

February 11th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

Damn, it’s February already. How did that happen?? (Actually – I have been extremely busy working on a new project which I hope to share with you soon). Sorry to keep you waiting for this post.

December 2013 was another MASSIVE month in Melbourne, a great way to end the year.

Darbotz, an Indonesian street artist, visited Melbourne in December and put together this great little video.

Adnate painted Strike Bowling in Macquarie in association with Red Bull. A great video by Michael Danischewski. Adnate’s photo realism is just amazing.

Wonderwalls, a 3 day street art and graffiti festival up north in Wollongong looked awesome, featuring a great line up of Australian and International artists. From Melbourne Shida, Wonderlust, Adnate, Two One, Idiot and Sirum.

Wonderwalls Festival 2013 from The Hours on Vimeo.

Backwoods Gallery had their last show “A Study of Hands” for 2013 and it was a cracker, continuing on in the anatomy series – which will apparently continue over ten years – epic. I particularly liked works by Dave Kinsey and Lister.

Alex Mitchell, Curator of Backwoods Gallery and writer for The Opening Hours was back in Melbourne for the month. Alex did some great studio visits with Two One, Miso and Ghostpatrol. Some great, intimate photos.

Two One - Photo by Alex Mitchell

Two One. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Miso. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Miso. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Ghost Patrol. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Ghost Patrol. Photo by Alex Mitchell.

Everyone’s been talking about this abando and I can see why. David Russell managed to find his way in and capture some amazing work. I really love Slicer’s geometrical shapes filled with his signature slices, as well as Deams, and Rashe’s pieces. All of this work feels so at home in this place. I do love abandos! More here.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Slicer - Photo by David Russell

Slicer. Photo by David Russell.

Deams - Photo by David Russell

Deams. Photo by David Russell.

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Category: Art News, Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alleged slumlord Stanley Rochkind fights back against Wall Hunters

December 24th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
LNY install at 539 N. Longwood Street. Photo courtesy of Wall Hunters.

LNY install at 539 N. Longwood Street.

Earlier this year, a group of artists (led by Nether) working under the Wall Hunters banner teamed up Carol Ott of Baltimore Slumlord Watch for the Slumlord Project, an effort to draw attention to “dilapidated vacant houses” in Baltimore that the project organizers determined were owned by peopled they considered “negligent property owners.” One of those property owners, Stanley Rochkind, is now suing Ott through two of the shell companies through which Rochkind owns property. The lawsuits demand that Ott remove two murals from buildings that were painted by the Wall Hunters artists. The lawsuits are particularly ironic because Rochkind initially claimed not to own these buildings and the Wall Hunters artists painted these buildings specifically because Rochkind has not bothered to maintain them.

So… Rochkind is suing for “repairs,” on dilapidated buildings that he has not bothered to actually repair in any way and which, in an effort to discredit the Wall Hunters, he initially claimed not to own. Sounds like a stand-up guy.

Check out the full story over at Balitmore’s City Paper.

Photo courtesy of Wall Hunters


Category: Art News, Random | Tags: , , , ,

The future is here with Re+Public 1.0

November 29th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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Re+Public, a new app from The Heavy Projects and Jordan Seiler’s PublicAdCampaign, offers a glimpse of a future where the everyday is augmented by digital readouts and signage, and Re+Public makes sure that art has a place in that future. Basically, Re+Public is an app for iPhone and Android platforms that reads certain walls like QR codes, but instead of sending you to a URL, scanning a mural pops an image onto the screen of your phone, overlaid on top of the mural. We teased this technology back in January when it was in beta, but here’s a reminder of what it looks like when the app is doing its thing:

And now Re+Public is available for free public download on Google Play or in The App Store. There are new walls that activate it too. The mural by MOMO at the top of this post is one, and if you download the app, you can test it out on that image.

This is some pretty amazing stuff. I’ve been listening to Jordan Seiler talk about the possibilities of Re+Public for a while, and eagerly awaiting its release. Yes, Re+Public 1.0 is definitely an early version of the software since you have to tell it to look for a specific mural before you hold it up to a wall and there are only a handful of sites that will activate any augmented reality content, but Re+Public is a fantastic proof of concept. Some day augmented reality will be the norm. Like in sci-fi movies, we’ll walk around with little implants in our eyes that will act as heads-up displays for everything around us. Do we want those displays to be showing us ads with deals for nearby restaurant deals, or art (or maybe both)? I vote for art.

If you’re in Miami next week, a lot of the murals that activate Re+Public are in Wynwood Walls (unless all that is getting painted over), so try it out. You can see all the locations where Re+Public works and test it out for yourself over on Re+Public’s website.

Photo courtesy of Re+Public


Category: Art News, Videos | Tags: , ,

5Pointz buffed, it’s over

November 20th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »
5Pointz on November 19th

5Pointz on November 19th

The bulk of the historical legal graffiti spot 5Pointz was unexpectedly buffed an ugly white yesterday. A sad day, for sure. Merez and Marie, who ran the space for years, put up a hell of a fight to save the space, but this was a long time coming. At the end of the day, the property owners want to knock down the building to replace it with luxury apartments, and it’s their property. Were their cultural and historical justifications for saving 5Pointz? Certainly. But the legal arguments were never very strong so far as I could tell. I’ll be forever grateful to Merez and Marie for fighting long enough for me to see 5Pointz, but now I guess it’s time for the next step.

For more on this news, Hyperallergic and The New York Times have articles on the buffing and and Gothamist has a piece on Jay Edlin aka Terror161′s opinion that the end of 5Pointz is not the end of the world.

Photo by WarmSleepy


Category: Art News | Tags:

Banksy + 5: October 16th

October 16th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
Banksy in the South Bronx. Photo courtesy of The L.I.S.A. Project.

Banksy in the South Bronx. Photo courtesy of The L.I.S.A. Project.

Another performance piece today from Banksy for Better Out Than In. This custom Ronald McDonald statue will be traveling to McDonald’s restaurants (okay, restaurants is a stretch) around the city all week, where you can visit it to see “his shoes shined by a real live boy.” Definitely check out the audio guide on this piece. Funny as always.

In random Banksy updates: Check what Hyperallergic found – a photo of a “signature” that the shoe shining actor in this piece gave to a fan (plus their description of the context for this sculpture is helpful); apparently the Bronx Borough President is a fan of Banksy, unlike Mayor Bloomberg.

As usual, we have a + 5 today. This time, I’m featuring work by C215, Clam Nation, Lisk Bot, Dylan Egon (although this piece is also a blatant ad for a show if you look closely, so there’s that…) and Beastie.

C215 in London. Photo by Boring Lovechild.

C215 in London. Photo by Boring Lovechild.

Clam Nation in Chicago. Photo by Brian Knowles.

Clam Nation in Chicago. Photo by Brian Knowles.

Lisk Bot. Photo by markheybo.

Lisk Bot. Photo by markheybo.

Dylan Egon in Jersey City. Photo by Bill Benzon.

Dylan Egon in Jersey City. Photo by Bill Benzon.

Beastie in Gloucester, UK. Photo by kennysarmy.

Beastie in Gloucester, UK. Photo by kennysarmy.

Photos by Boring Lovechild, Brian Knowles, markheybo, Bill Benzon, kennysarmy and courtesy of The L.I.S.A. Project (who have been visiting every Banksy)


Category: Art News, Photos | Tags: , , , , , ,