Ian Strange updates Gordon Matta-Clark for a new time and context

January 27th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
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“Untitled House 2″ by Ian Strange

Ian Strange aka Kid Zoom‘s latest work is FINAL ACT, a project somewhat similar to last summer’s very surprising and impressive SUBURBAN. The results of the project are on display now at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. As you can see in the photos and video in this post, the work involved artfully deconstructing four homes in Christchurch. The process was heavily documented in video and still photography, as were the results of the deconstruction. Really, the final artworks in this project are the photographs and films (and some sculptures that come from the process of cutting up the homes), and that’s what is on display now at the Canterbury Museum. It’s all a part of the Rise Festival that’s going on there now, and Ian’s response to the earthquake that shook Christchurch in 2011.

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Photo by Jedda Andrews

If I remember correctly, Ian and I discussed the work of Gordon Matta-Clark when he first showed me some previews of SUBURBAN. SUBURBAN seemed to me like a uniquely Kid Zoom project, but also clearly influenced by Matta-Clark. And there’s nothing wrong with influence, especially if you bring a fresh perspective. I feel that Ian’s work does that. Because he incorporates these intricate photography, videography and lighting setups (as well as paint in the case of SUBURBAN), there’s something different going on than what Matta-Clark was doing. And Ian has grappled with ideas of suburbia in his work for years before FINAL ACT or SUBURBAN, and he’s also acutely aware of the power of documentation. So the work has a different impetuous and a different meaning from Matta-Clark.

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“Untitled House 3″ by Ian Strange

Still, when I saw the photos of FINAL ACT, I could not help but say to myself, “Wow. I can’t believe Ian’s just taken a quintessentially Matta-Clark visual and thrown in some fancy lighting, and then done some quintessentially Matta-Clark sculptures.” I suppose I could have brushed this off, except that nowhere in any official descriptions of FINAL ACT could I find a reference to Matta-Clark. It’s not like there was no explanation of the project. There was a written press release, and a sort of making-of video has been released in addition to the 12-minute video art piece and the still photos. Why, in none of that supplementary material, would such an essential reference point be neglected? It would be like this Sherrie Levine piece being described or displayed without any reference to Duchamp. That neglect rubbed me the wrong way.

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Photo by Jedda Andrews

In the Juxtapoz-friendly art world (or maybe just among PR people), I’ve found that it’s just not usually considered cool to acknowledge an artist’s influences or references unless they are somehow subversive or could be a way of getting more press attention (ps: that’s not a dig against Juxtapoz, just a way of describing a very large scene). I’m guilty of falling into similar traps sometimes too. There’s a lack of critical exploration of the artwork that blogs like Vandalog cover, and examples like this going unacknowledged only continue that pattern. And it’s even worse that museums perpetuate the same issues when education is one of their traditional responsibilities.

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“Untitled House 1″ by Ian Strange

But maybe I’m just a pretentious “high brow weiner” (sic). So before ripping into FINAL ACT, I decided to reach out to Ian and ask for a comment on the similarity to Matta-Clark. Here’s his response:

Matta-Clark is a huge influence on my work – Also artists like John Divola, who’s work documenting suburbia and his vandalism series using aerosol, also his recent dark star series.

In Final Act, the initial idea was to use light if it was paint – Allowing the negative space of the cuts to be filled with light and in a sense be an extension of the painted gestures and markings from Suburban.

The house cut works in the exhibition have a strong reference to Matta-Clark’s work. But in this this body of work they were also a way for me to physically archive the Christchurch homes in their museum. The homes I worked on will be demolished, along with the entire neighborhood they are in, that neighborhood is part of over 16,000 homes which will be eventually demolished. I was interested in the works being artifacts which will remain long after the homes are gone – Ultimately I would have loved to move an entire house into the museum, which wasn’t possible.

That’s a well-considered and enlightening comment in what was almost an immediate reply to my email, so it couldn’t have taken too long to write up. And Ian has mentioned Matta-Clark in interviews before, so it’s not like he’s been trying to hide anything. Why couldn’t something like that have made it into a press release or some wall text in the museum (and if someone has been in the museum and they do have some wall text like this, please let me know, but it seems unlikely to me given the text I’ve seen about this project)?

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Photo by Jedda Andrews

While I still thing the similarities to Matta-Clark’s work are a bit much in FINAL ACT (less-so in SUBURBAN), I appreciate that Ian is trying to do is a bit different. While I suppose he would argue that it’s more than this, I see FINAL ACT as a modern update on a classic, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we acknowledge it.

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Photo by Jedda Andrews

Photos by Ian Strange and Jedda Andrews


Category: Featured Posts, Festivals, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Videos | Tags:

Troy Lovegates, new mural in Miami

January 19th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »
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Detail of “Falling”. Photo by Troy Lovegates.

Last December, during the famous Art Basel Miami Beach 2013, Troy Lovegates (aka Other) did a stunning mural in Wynwood. Beautiful, always. Rather than describe it or try to explain Troy Lovegates‘ work, I invite everybody to check out the video, and to listen to his own words….Beautiful, always.

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Large view of the mural “falling”. Photo by Troy Lovegates.

Photos courtesy of Troy Lovegates


Category: Festivals, Videos | Tags: ,

WASTEDLAND, film by Andrew H. Shirley

January 4th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »

Andrew H. Shirley sent over this film of his, WASTEDLAND, that he just recently uploaded to the web. It stars writers Wolftits and Mike 907, and revolves somewhat around a surreal version of the lives of contemporary graffiti writers. This is definitely a bit different from the sort of things I usually post on Vandalog, but it creeped me out and I thought you might want to be creeped out too… Plus it’s interesting to see writers making costumes for themselves.

Shirley sent over this description of the film:

wastedland was shot during a blizzard in january of 2008 in various graffiti spots in brooklyn and queens to create a sense of a post apocalyptic world. two of these spots exist no more having fallen victim to urban renewal. the “toilet factory” was an abandoned industrial space in crown heights, which got its namesake from piles of toilets that had been discarded there. it has been replaced with a paved parking lot. the second, was the old “con edison yard” in red hook which consisted of beautifully stacked concrete monoliths, which is now home to a shitty department store in which the contemporary new yorkers decorate their homes with.

the actors were asked to create wardrobes of what they percieved to be their “inner soul spirit animals” and from these creations a script was written around the characters-  the plight of the modern stoner and/or booze hound, a proverbial lifelong vision quest of sorts that is taking place in a graffiti covered purgatory.

WASTEDLAND (2008) by Andrew H. Shirley from andrew h. shirley on Vimeo.


Category: Videos | Tags: , , , ,

Melbourne Monthly Madness – November 2013

January 2nd, 2014 | By | No Comments »

Wow! What a year it has been in Melbourne street art and graffiti, this is my 2nd last post covering 2013. December post coming soon. I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Years Eve whatever you got up to.

I’ll start off with this great talk Ghostpatrol gave at Renew Newcastle Creative Talks. GP talks about his current life as a full time artist, growing up and the influence and importance of street art on his current work. GP also mentioned the ABC documentary made about him (and his partner – Miso) which is also definitely worth a watch – available here.

Kaffeine used the All Your Walls event as a launching board for her latest project HEARTCORE. (I’ll be doing a separate article on All Your Walls Part 2 soon).

Kaffeine painted her 1st piece for her new project HEARTCORE. For this amazing project Kaff is working with Berry Street, a child and family services organisation, and using real stories created by young people at the at Berry Street.

Kaffeine's HEARTCORE sketch. Photo by Kaffeine

Kaffeine’s HEARTCORE sketch. Photo by Kaffeine.

Kaffeine. Photo by Kaffeine

Kaffeine. Photo by Kaffeine.

Kaffeine. Photo by Kaffeine

Kaffeine. Photo by Kaffeine.

From the Just Another Blog “Creative writing and poetry from young people in Berry Street School will be interpreted by renowned Victorian street and contemporary artist Kaffeine and painted as a series of large and small street art murals on walls across Melbourne; including one that will take up a whole inner-‐city laneway. A coffee-‐table book titled HEARTCORE will then be launched at the conclusion of the project, made up of professional and artistic photographs of the murals together with the writing”.

Plus here’s a great interview (via an article in The Age newspaper) with Kaff talking about the project/piece.

I’m really excited to see what else Kaff produces as a part of this project.

Read the rest of this article »


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Art for a condemned building

December 29th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
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Bisser for Last Breath

I love the idea of Last Breath, a new project out of the UK. The idea is to send one artist into an abandoned due for demolition shortly before the building is knocked down and to document each “last breath” on video. The interventions are done without permission. The idea isn’t completely unheard of, but this first video with Bisser turned out really well, so I’m excited to see what’s next from Last Breath.

Here’s a little something from Tom, Last Breath’s founder, about Last Breath’s work with Bisser:

In December 2013, Bisser gave Blackfriars Cafe in Southwark what it deserved: a one-off beautification before its materiality will be replaced by a residential construction on the back of regeneration plans in the area. Blackfriars Cafe closes its eyes after a brief lifetime of 35 years; half the expected lifetime of a human being. When Bisser finished, we gathered, photographed the work, admired the building and waved Blackfriars Cafe a final “good bye”. With the first beautification and exhibition behind us, we are currently preparing for the next episode.

Photo courtesy of Last Breath


Category: Videos | Tags: ,

Mujeres Creando’s feminist graffiti in Bolivia

December 28th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

This video from MOCAtv is a must-see. Mujeres Creando are a Bolivian collective who have been promoting anarcho-feminist messages through protests, street interventions, graffiti and much more for over twenty years. Very powerful and inspiring stuff.

It seems worth noting the similarities between Mujeres Creando’s graffiti and Situationist International’s graffiti, if only to point out that there is a history of political graffiti as art, but of course it’s also an interesting connection because so much contemporary street art can be traced back to the ideas of Guy Debord and Situationist International.


Category: Videos | Tags:

Turning newspaper bins into parties

December 26th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

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Josh Gordon and Danny Gonzalez have a mission. They say, “We take gross newspaper boxes and turn them into parties.” Check out the video below to see what they mean:

I don’t think anyone has ever truly been excited to open up a newspaper bin to grab their daily paper, but party boxes make that activity fun. I would love to randomly open up a Party Box. So much street art today is just decoration, but Gordon and Gonzalez are bringing back that element of surprise that is essential to the best street art. Sure, the party boxes are labeled so they might not be a complete surprise to everyone, but I doubt most people opening up the boxes will recognize the purple lightening bolt and think, “This is a Party Box.”

Finally, yes, I’ll acknowledge that party boxes are a bit silly, but they’re also kind of awesome, and the idea makes me smile.

Photo courtesy of Party Box


Category: Videos | Tags: , ,

You’ll never guess what Peter Drew did when the local government began supporting his street art

December 12th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

This new film by Peter Drew is a great example of how street artists can continue to mess with authority even as they are embraced by it. Rather than saying, “Awesome, thank you! Guess it’s time for me to go legit,” when the Adelaide city council began to support his street art, Peter very publicly asked, “Why me?” and looked at larger questions of how and why institutions and governments respond to street art and graffiti.

The questions that Peter brings up in this video are close to my heart. I used to give tours of London street art and graffiti, and I tried to start each tour by pointing at a tag and saying, “Everything else I’m going to show you today, all the stuff that you want in your neighborhood or maybe even on your own house, began with and is forever linked to tags like this.”


Category: Videos | Tags:

Melbourne Monthly Madness – October 2013

December 4th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

This post is super late but definitely worth sharing with you all. I have been flat out working on the 2nd and final installment of ALL YOUR WALLS (last Wednesday through Friday – which was a HUGE success, I’ll be doing a full post on that soon). October’s post is short and sweet with some amazing content. Take some time to watch the videos and check out some of the awesome pics below.

This interview from Upstart Magazine with Australian stencil artist Damien Mitchell is a great way to start (Damien now lives in Brooklyn NYC). Damien gives a good insight into Melbourne’s scene and some great shots of some of the city’s best spots for street art and graff. Being a dog lover I’m a huge fan of the story behind the dog stencil.

This great short doco reappeared on vimeo after a long time in hiding. Melbourne Ink was filmed back in 2008 by Julien Sena and Romain Levrault while visiting from France. The video features the work of and interviews with some of Melbourne’s best artists; right in the midst of the massive explosion of street art in our city. Big ups to Fletch for the link!

Melbourne Ink from romain levrault on Vimeo.

Seeing this music video was a great surprise. Australian band Spiderbait recently released the music video for the track ‘It’s Beautiful’ (from their self titled album). A great video showing off some of Melbourne’s best lane ways and featuring the work of many Melbourne street artists and some music by a rad band.

Miso’s latest show ‘Bright Night Sky’ at Backwoods Gallery was amazing to say the least! Each piece created with a series of intricate pin pricks that come together to form beautiful pieces. Sold out before it opened, nice! These great shots show off some of her work and the awesome installation (in particular the fish eye shot).

Miso - Photo by Dreaded Cat Studios

Miso. Photo by Dreaded Cat Studios.

Miso - Photo by David Russell

Miso. Photo by David Russell.

Miso - Photo by David Russell

Miso – Photo by David Russell

My friend Lou Chamberlin launched her new book “Street Art Melbourne” in Hosier lane. Lou has been collecting shots of Melbourne’s amazing street art in our streets and lanes for the last 6 years or so, and the result is this great new book, showcasing some of Melbourne’s best artists alongside interstate and international visitors. Lou also invited a bunch of artists down and provided some paint to help colour the lane. I was asked to write the forward for the book which I was happy to do. Check out some of the work painted on the day here. You can preview the book and grab a copy here.

Lou Chamberlin - Street Art Melbourne Launch

Street Art Melbourne Launch. Photo by David Russell.

Kirpy painted his iconic Metcard stencil at Revolver. A common sight around Melbourne a few years ago, before it was replaced by the latest ticketing system. If you don’t get why it’s ripped then you probably won’t appreciate the stencil as much ;) I love the crispness of the stencil against the texture of the wall, it sort of looks like it’s floating.

Kirpy - Metcard - Revolver

Kirpy’s Metcard at Revolver

Reka painted this awesome mural in San Francisco – a mad piece. He also did a great interview on the local news.

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Reka – San Francisco. Photo by Reka.

Reka - San Francisco

Reka – San Francisco. Photo by Reka.

He also painted in Portland this Autumn themed wall, titled “The Fall”. I’m really loving the direction James is taking with his work, to me it seems like he is incorporating more traditional shapes and objects meshed with his awesome style that we know and love!

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Reka – The Fall – Portland. Photo by Reka.

Reka - The Fall - Portland

Reka – The Fall – Portland. Photo by Reka.

This recap of Project 5 in Sydney, featuring Rone and Adnate from Melbourne. A great little project with Rone, Adnate, Numskull and Jodee Knowles. All proceeds from the works went towards supporting a great charity (ICE). A good close up of the live work and interviews with the artists.

David Russell’s “Through the Lens” for October brings the goods from around town, as usual. Here’s some of my faves.

RESUME - Photo By David Russell

RESUME. Photo By David Russell.

Facter - Photo By David Russell

Facter. Photo By David Russell.

Slicer - Photo By David Russell

Slicer. Photo By David Russell.

And to finish up a couple of rippers from Dean Sunshine’s Top Ten.

Taylor White - Photo by Dean Sunshine

Taylor White. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Two One and Senekt - Photo by Dean Sunshine

Two One and Senekt. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Adnate - Photo by Dean Sunshine

Adnate. Photo by Dean Sunshine.

Photos courtesy of Dean Sunshine, David Russell, Dreaded Cat Studios and Reka.

Video Courtesy of Ambush Gallery, Upstart Magazine, Romain Levrault and Spiderbait.


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Interview, Photos, Videos | 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: , ,