Roa, Pin and Pixelpancho together in Italy

July 28th, 2011 | By | 3 Comments »

Roa

Roa, Pin, Pixelpancho and Blu are some of the first arrivals painting at the Draw The Line festival in Campobasso, Italy. All in all, over 100 artists will participate in the festival, which officially launches in September. In the mean time, artists are coming by to paint. There was some initial controversy about Blu’s piece, but that has since settled down.

Pixelpancho

Pin

Photos courtesy of Draw The Line


Category: Festivals, Photos | Tags: , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

July 24th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Swoon in New York City

A day late, but here’s the link-o-rama. Let’s just say it feels like I’ve been competing, exactly one year on, with Ben Eine for the title of having had the strangest week. Here’s what I’ve missed:

Photo by Sabeth718


Category: Art News, Interview, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A sign of the times: Kidult, Blu, Maismenos and Katsu

June 27th, 2011 | By | 6 Comments »

Kidult tag on an agnès b. store

A note from RJ: After writing this, I read Rub Kandy‘s interview in the most recent issue of IdN, where he speaks about street art that is created for and best experienced on the web.

What do Kidult, Blu, Maismenos and Katsu have in common? They are all examples, although not the only examples, of artists using the internet in a similar way to how graffiti writers and street artists have traditionally used the streets. These artists are each trying to spread a message at all costs. That’s standard street art/graffiti. But with these artists, a traditionally static artform is turned into a performance, what they do might be fake or impossible to see in person and, most importantly, they see the spread of their work online as at least as important as the physical pieces.

Check out these videos from Kidult (the first one is hilarious), Blu, Maismenos and Katsu…

This later came out as potentially faked:

Kidult x MR Brainwash from eric on Vimeo.

KIDULT ITW (uncensored) “ILLEGALIZE GRAFFITI” from eric on Vimeo.

± THE OILY LAND ± from PlusqueMinusque on Vimeo.

This is fake:

This happened:

With all of those videos, the resulting films are more important than the actual physical artworks. And yet, they were all done by street artists and graffiti writers and include (or pretend to include) art that is generally considered street art/graffiti. Who cares if anyone ever sees any of those artworks in person, or if they are even real? Even in the case of the real works that are depicted in those videos, most of those were seen by far fewer people, or at least art/graffiti fans, than these videos. In the case of Katsu’s tag on MOCA, that was buffed in less than 24 hours and it was a while before the existence of the tag and the story of it being buffed was even confirmed. The important thing for these artists is that the videos get seen. These videos and photos are more impressive than the actual work they capture. The intended audience for these street pieces is not the public on the street. These, and many other, pieces of street art and graffiti were created with an online audience in mind rather than a physical one.

So what does this mean for street art if the streets and a medium for viewing street art are being used in this way? Is street art just as legitimate when specifically designed, executed and documented for an online audience? What about graffiti? Does it even matter if a piece is real, so long as people see it? I would say that, at least when it comes to graffiti, it does not really matter if a piece is real or not. So long as it creates fame. Of course, fake videos won’t work at creating fame forever, but they are a temporary technique that can accomplish one of the goals of graffiti. It seems the case is more murky with street art. Certainly the street art in these is still art and probably still street art, just maybe not “street art” as the term is generally understood today. I consider the work in The Underbelly Project to be street art and graffiti, but others do not because it had to be viewed through photographs. Street art that is specifically designed to be viewed through the filter of documentation is still street art, but it’s an evolution too. As I’ve said before, I think hacking is 21st century graffiti, so maybe the internet is the new “street.” It’s quickly becoming a better avenue for artists to show their work to the public than real life.

What do you think?

Photo by totordenamur


Category: Featured Posts, Random, Videos | Tags: , , ,

Photos of the Week

May 15th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Here are just some of the week’s best works Vandalog has come across on the Interwebz:

Blu & Erica Il Cane in Bologne

Phlegm in Sheffield

Sten & Lex in Denmark for Walk This Way Festival

 

Photos courtesy of Blu, Phlegm and Walk This Way Festival


Category: Photos | Tags: , , ,

Credit Confidential tries to do Blu

April 27th, 2011 | By | 3 Comments »

My friend sent me over this video for some bank advertisement. Looks like some young hot shot animator liked Blu, because they took the stop animation look a bit too far in his likeness. Well, except that a- this isn’t real and b- no one really compares to blu and his more than 1 million views on videos attest to that.


Category: Videos | Tags:

Review: Art in the Streets

April 23rd, 2011 | By | 10 Comments »

Retna. Photo by Lord Jim

Last week, The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art opened an exhibit of street art and graffiti that promised to go down in history, Art in the Streets. It’s a massive exhibit of over 100 street artists and graffiti writers. I visited AITS three times, and still wasn’t satisfied that I’d appreciated the show fully. I think MOCA has delivered something special, but maybe did not quite fulfill that original promise.

I want to spend a good amount of time addressing criticisms of AITS, because that should not be ignored, even if they are far outweighed by the good of the show.

This isn’t the show that I would have put on. This isn’t the show you would have put on. AITS is the show that only Jeffrey Deitch, Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose would have put on. Artists that I would have included without a moment’s hesitation (Judith Supine, Faile, Brad Downey, Jenny Holzer…) were oddly absent, and some artists in the show were out of place or allotted too much space (Geoff McFetridge, Terry Richardson, Mr. Cartoon…). For a show attempting to paint the picture of a history, the historical timeline was given a strange second billing to a hodgepodge of individual artist installations.

The selection process for a lot of the show seems like it was a political battle rather than an ideal model of art curating. When the curators’ names were announced, a good chunk of the show’s line up could already be predicted based on their personal relationships. Luckily, the curators are connected to many of the same people that anyone would have put in a similar show to AITS. What would this sort of show be without a contribution from some Beautiful Losers and artists who had shown at Deitch Projects? The unfortunate thing is that there definitely could have been less of a focus on those well-connected artists, and the many talented artists who aren’t connected to the curators probably had a harder time getting invited to be part of the show (or weren’t invited at all).

Os Gêmeos. Photo by RJ Rushmore

Briefly, it’s worth mentioning the lack of strong political artwork in the show. Any political statements made were “safe” ones, and the most controversial (Blu’s message of “war sucks and people make money off of it”) was removed. But just as all illegal street art and graffiti is inherently political, putting work by street artists and graffiti writers in a museum is a political act, even if the content of the work is not explicitly political.

The outdoor murals and the way MOCA has generally dealt with truly accepting the “street” side of street art and graffiti has also been a bit of a mess, but I think that would be true of almost any institution of MOCA’s size. The buffing of Blu’s mural and then the buffing of Katsu’s tag both tainted AITS, regardless of MOCA’s right to do what they want their walls, and the murals that replaced those two are not fantastic (although Push and Futura’s contributions to Lee’s mural work pretty well). And just this past week, Deitch’s inability to publicly defend and embrace illegal street art being committed near the museum has been laughable and depressing. Critics of the show are right to point out the hypocrisy of his position on the legitimacy of street art being produced today versus that of a few years ago. But just like it is the critics’ job to point out that hypocrisy, it is Deitch’s job to say politically wise things to reporters. Simply put, MOCA haven’t been very ballsy when it comes to the “in the streets” part of “Art in the Streets.” This minor fail is maybe what best points out what AITS is and what it isn’t.

In essence, the show has the wrong name. It is not “art in the streets.” It is “documentation of art in the streets or art by artists who began their careers by making art in the street but probably don’t do that too much now, or maybe they do but this is a different side of their artwork.” Yes, a lot of these artists still get up outdoors, but, for many but not all of the AITS artists, it’s a different sort of thing these days: OBEY posters are advertising, Banksy stencils are tourist attractions that last a few days before ending up on eBay and Steve Powers paints amazing murals for an organization founded with the expressed purpose of covering graffiti like his. I’m not saying that artists can’t or shouldn’t evolve, but many of the street artists and graffiti writers that AITS focuses on make “museum friendly” art. And that’s great for them. But AITS is not a show of art in the streets but art by artists who have, as I’ve heard a few people put it, “graduated” from the streets, even if they still get up a bit. As Unurth points out, there is a general lack of names from the last 10 years. So let’s reframe this for what the show is, and look at it that way. Putting aside the politics and minor flaws that only a street art or graffiti fanatic will pay much attention to, AITS is a huge hit.

AITS has two main components: it has a brief history of street art and graffiti, and it has mini-shows of fine art from some of the most acclaimed street artists, street culture documenters and graffiti writers over the last few decades.

Part of the timeline. Photo by Lindsay T

The timeline is the most “museum-y” part of the show, and it should provide newcomers a history of what graffiti, street culture and street art are about, as well as give long-time fans some new insights. While visitors should also take a trip to see the show currently on at Subliminal Projects to get a better idea about 1980’s street art in NYC, the timeline definitely does its job as a brief overview of the history informing the rest of AITS.

Most of the highlights of the show can be found in the installations.

Three of the best installations make a point of acknowledging that their work is in a museum, even though AITS is meant to be about illegal outdoor art. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Street art and graffiti is about good placement and understanding context. Neckface, Os Gêmeos and the trio of Barry McGee, Todd James and Steve Powers all understand this very well, and it came across in their installations.

Neckface. Photo by Gelatobaby

Neckface’s section was billed as one of his “haunted house” installations, but ended up being a recreation of a dark inner-city alleyway (complete with a drunk, drugged up or just plain crazy homeless man) with some Neckface tags on the walls. Of course, suits and bloggers like me were lined up to check it out, but few of us would be smiling so much if we actually found ourselves alone in that sort of an alleyway at 3 in the morning. That’s the street, the thing MOCA is supposed to be celebrating. It is like a voyeuristic natural history exhibit for historically middle and upper class museum visitors, pointing out the impossibility and absurdity of bringing the streets indoors in the fashion that the title of the show suggests.

Os Gêmeos reinstalled a show that they had last year at a museum in Portugal. It was definitely a highlight of the show, with a little bit of everything from the twins. Hidden in a bit in their cluster of work was one piece of wood where it was written: “This is not graff the graffiti is outside!!” Simple. That installation is their fine art and it is awe inspiring and thought provoking and should be seen. The graffiti is outside. And so is the street art.

Os Gêmeos. Photo by RJ Rushmore

Street (Barry Mcgee, Todd James and Steve Powers). Photo by Gelatobaby

And then there is Street. Barry McGee aka Twist, Steve Powers aka ESPO and Todd James aka Reas reunited to make a new version of their historic Street Market installation, versions of which had previously been put on at Deitch Projects and the Venice Biennale. First of all, this might be the best installation in the show. Particularly when the area isn’t too crowded with other museum-goers, it’s like being transported into another, more Technicolor and mad, world. It’s a graffiti writer’s urban dreamworld where taggers can hide invisible bushes and bodegas sell cans of street cred. The space is an art-crowd friendly dreamworld of a street, where Style Wars isn’t a documentary but a musical without any real-world consequences. Again though, the installation touches on the impossibility of bringing a true street inside, going for the asurd illusion instead. Street is what would happen if graffiti writers could have a ride at Disneyland, and I mean that in the best way, but it’s still a ride at Disneyland rather than an actual street and the artists know it.

Street (Barry Mcgee, Todd James and Steve Powers). Photo by RJ Rushmore

Street (Barry Mcgee, Todd James and Steve Powers). Photo by RJ Rushmore

The show is just too massive to write about everything. This review is already far too long. Sections by Margaret Kilgallen, Roa (who again, understands that he is in a museum), Invader (who plays with the fact that he is in a museum), Shepard Fairey, Banksy, The Fun Gallery, Rammellzee, Retna, Chaz Bojorquez, Swoon, Kaws, Ed Templeton and many others add together to be the most substantial gathering of art by this group of artists that has ever been assembled. I rediscovered artists I’d overlooked, found new favorites and enjoyed revisiting the work of my old favorites. The show is so massive that a pessimist will undoubtedly find something that they do not like and many visitors will be overwhelmed, but it would be difficult to go through the entire show and not find a few gems, no matter your taste in art.

Swoon. Photo by RJ Rushmore

For a moment, forget about the BS and the politics and the buffing and Deitch-hating and Alleged Gallery controversies from a decade ago and the lack of this person and that person and why this person got an installation and that person painted a mural and blah freaking blah. Outside of our art-world BS political pissing contest context where AITS can and will be criticized on many levels, people are going to visit AITS and they’re going to see some amazing art by artists who were and are pillars of street art and graffiti history. I expect that the vast majority of visitors will like what they see and they will learn something. And that’s important. This is street art. It’s supposed to be for “the people,” and “the people” will still enjoy this show even if my or your 4th favorite artist was snubbed or whatever other minor flaw you can find. And if you go and visit the show and you can put aside your minor internal art world squabbles for a couple of hours, AITS should be a magical experience for you, just as it was for me. I highly recommend setting aside a day to visit AITS.

Photos by Lord Jim, Gelatobaby, LindsayT and RJ Rushmore


Category: Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blu print release

April 13th, 2011 | By | No Comments »

Later this month will see the release of Blu‘s latest print release for Studiocromie. The piece is based off the artist’s mural in Rennes, France last year. According to Nuart, all of the kinks haven’t been figure out with prices and edition numbers, but the physical size of the print will be a staggering 70 x 90 cm. At least the detail is trying to be preserved. The smaller the size, the crappier it will be.

Photo by Blu


Category: Print Release | Tags:

More from JR in LA (including at MOCA)

February 23rd, 2011 | By | 2 Comments »

JR seems to be going non-stop with putting put murals in LA right now. The LA Weekly are covering that pretty well, but the above wall deserves a special mention. It’s part of the Geffen Contemporary at the MOCA, the same building where Blu‘s mural was buffed last year. This isn’t the same wall, but it’s the same building and JR did this mural for the same even, MOCA’s upcoming street art show. This is interesting because of the outcry over the buffing of Blu’s mural. There was definitely speculation that artists would pull out of the show over issues of censorship and to stand in solidarity with Blu. JR is the first artist since Blu to put up a wall as part of the MOCA show, which opens in April. Not to gloss over the events with Blu, hopefully this is a sign that the show will continue on without any more glitches and be a success. I suppose the other side of this is that someone could say that JR is turning his back on his principles or something, but I think that the TED folk generally are pretty smart about who they give large grants to.

Via MOCA’s blog

Photo courtesy of MOCA


Category: Featured Posts, Photos | Tags: , ,

Blu dvd out now

January 9th, 2011 | By | 1 Comment »

Blu‘s got a DVD out. While the signed edition of 100 is already sold out, you can still get the unsigned version, which is probably a better deal anyway at about half the price…

I haven’t seen the DVD myself, so I can’t say too much about what’s on it, but it’s described as “a collection of the videos made during the last 10 years including: wall painted animations, time-lapse documentation of many murals, other hand drawn animations and over 40 minutes of extra contents technical details.” Sounds like no interview with Blu, which is unfortunate, but plenty of other interesting content. It’s available online for 16 euros.

Here’s a trailer, which shows at least a couple bits that I don’t think I’ve seen before:


Category: Videos | Tags:

Weekend link-o-rama

January 7th, 2011 | By | 4 Comments »

Work in Guatemala by STRANGER

Well I’ve been back in London for about a week now, and I am beginning to understand why people think it’s so grey. When you live here, you get used to it, but wow I’ve only been away for a few months and already I think the constant greyness is annoying. Still, it’s good to be home. Here’s what the world has been up to while I’ve been watching it rain.

  • A group of artists protested the removal of Blu’s mural outside of MOCA this week by projecting images onto the buffed wall. Here’s a news story and a video.
  • José Parlá has a new book coming out and a solo show in New York next month. Arrested Motion has more info on both those things and the book is currently available online.
  • Dimitris Taxis does some great wheatpastes.
  • King Adz has put together a show opening this weekend in Ireland with Blek le Rat, Asbestos, Laser 3.14 and others.
  • Kyle Chayka went on a bit of a rant about Banksy’s possible Oscar nomination, but he makes some good points.
  • Also on the topic of Exit Through The Gift Shop, the NYTimes is reporting that a man who has come forward as an original editor of Mr. Brainwash’s film Life Remote Control wants some credit for making the film that eventually sort of morphed into Exit.
  • Carolina A. Miranda wrote the latest cover article for the magazine ARTnews about the future of street art and it moving away from figurative work. You can read the entire article online. On the one hand, a move away from pop-art and figurative art seems to be counter-productive to the “art for the people” ethos at the core of so much street art, but it’s also certainly easier to turn a pop-art image into a marketing campaign while an abstract painting may do a better job of brightening up a grey wall without the artist and the viewer immediately thinking of dollar signs. I think street artists will just have to be careful to not become so conceptual that the possibility for people to understand or appreciate the art on some level without an artist’s statement is lost.
  • Some graffiti writers are tagging up ancient rock art sites in Nevada.
  • Mat Gleason named Banksy and Shepard Fairey among the top overrated artists of the decade. Check out this video for why Gleason thinks that Shepard isn’t an artist!
  • A mural by Shepard Fairey was partially painted over in LA by some other artists/writers. No big deal right? Happens all the time, right? Wrong, apparently. The mural was painted over by another artist showing at a gallery nearby. According to JetSetGraffiti, the artist has since apologized and will be paying for Shepard to repair the wall with a new mural. Okay, so should that mural still be there untouched? Maybe. Sounds like the local neighborhood liked it. Can it suck when things get dissed or buffed or written over accidentally or whatever else? Yeah. Should the artist have to pay for damages? Hell no! That’s the sort of thing that happens when you get arrested by the police for graffiti or street art, not something that art lovers should impose upon each other. The mural didn’t last forever. That’s the nature of street art. It sucks sometimes and there are ways to deal with it, but don’t make the vandal pay for damages!
  • NBC has done a really disturbing promotion in NYC’s parks for their new superhero show. Publicadcampaign explains.

Photo by Not Another Street Artist


Category: Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,