Parasites and magnets: a story about street art and photography

July 27th, 2013 | By | 6 Comments »

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I am bored. In fact, I am not that bored, I am more disillusioned. But why?

Firstly I am slightly fed up of seeing a lack of creativity in much of the street art I am currently viewing in London, hence these photos of interesting pieces by Monkey and the ATG Crew in Hvar, Croatia I snapped whilst on holiday a couple of months ago. It may just be that I am looking in the wrong places, and don’t get me wrong, there are a huge amount of artists living and working in London that I admire, but it seems I keep seeing the same dull work from many others.

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But that is not quite why I am writing. It is a second point that has caused me to become even more disillusioned. Money makes the world go around and money always seeps into everything eventually, street art included. This is not necessarily a bad thing, artists need money to keep doing what they are doing in addition to feeding and clothing themselves, but at the same time money brings parasites.

These parasites, as I like to call them, come in various forms and varieties. You have flippers, forgers, and reclaimers, who just steal street art off the street to sell. Then there are others, such as agents, who I will never understand really. An agent, really?

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But there seems to be a final parasite that is increasing in numbers, and that’s the photographer. Actually photographer is a bad term to use, but they call themselves that so, so be it. A photographer to me is someone that is creative, an artist with a camera. Someone who sees a shot, frames it, and shoots it. Taking light, composition, angle and various other important aspects into account. A good photographer (at this point note Mark Rigney, Sandra Butterfly, NoLionsinEngland, RomanyWG, HowAboutNo, Martha Cooper, Ian Cox et al), makes an image come to life in a photo. They add something to a picture.

I see photographers as important for a couple of reasons, firstly as I have previously alluded to, they are artists in their own right and I am all for creative people who have something interesting to exhibit. But secondly, and more importantly to an extent, is their ability to document. Martha Cooper is the prime example and others have followed suit. My pictures in this post are a documentation of street art in Croatia and this blog is a documentation of street art from around the world. In essence it becomes a window to history and that’s why I have a penchant for photography.

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Yet over the last two weeks in particular, and over the last few weeks, months and years in general, I have become disillusioned. In no small part because of the increasing numbers of people printing Banksy images onto canvas and selling them at every market in London, but more recently by photographers tapping into the same practice.

Over the last two weekends I have attended two outdoor art events. One in Brixton, and one near Old Street. Both these events have included some fantastic, talented artists, and in particular, Brixton had a few great photographers who’s work I really admired. But both have also had those types of photographers who steal others’ creativity.

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Poor photos are one thing, but couple that with a market stall, price labels, and in one case fridge magnets and Oyster card holders and you have a recipe for disaster. Gone is the creativity and the innovation of a good photographer or even if the documentation that the mediocre photographer can provide. All you are left with is poor photos, bad cropping and product.

There has been a recent breakthrough on this subject with regard to Wooster Collective working their magic to ensure than Art.com offers commission to artists and show artists the photos they are hoping to use before they start selling them. This really is a massive step in ensuring that companies who deal in wall art act in a moral manner, but as RJ mentioned in his post on the subject, this is far from a complete problem solver.

In one of the cases I came across, I asked if the photographer had got permission from the artists. He said yes of course, the majority had agreed and that they are extremely grateful for their work getting promoted.

I would have loved to have been there when the guy asked Banksy, Eine, Phlegm, Mr. Brainwash, Os Gemeos and others if he could use their images to make money for himself. I hardly believe they are happy that others are making financial gains without paying any dues, in this case commission.

At a time when there are so many good artists releasing high quality affordable screen prints and even originals, it annoys me that some members of the general public are paying out sums of money for awful images. The stall at the street party near Old Street always had a large crowd around it with people paying good money for pictures they could have taken themselves and printed at home.

The moral of this story is that if you are reading this thinking about lining the pockets of one of these so called photographers, then I urge you to invest that money in your own camera, get outside and take some photos yourself. And if you need a bit of training then get yourself along to one of NoLions photography workshops if he organises a few more soon, fingers crossed he does, as they were very well received. Be creative, don’t let others steal what in essence is meant to be free art for all to enjoy.

This problem is not going to disappear completely, but you can all do your bit by not handing your money over to these parasitic photographers, and don’t let your mates do it either. In fact, I believe this is where street art tours come into their own as they get the general public into places where they can take their own documentary images. It is summer, so get yourself outside, walk around, see what turns your head, and just be creative.

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Photos all by Shower. Not purchased in any way. Taken himself whilst on holiday in Hvar, Croatia. And they will not be printed onto magnets any time soon!


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Weekend link-o-rama

June 22nd, 2013 | By | No Comments »

It’s that time again. Enjoy the rest of the interwebs…

Photo by Wayne Rada


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Louis Vuitton decides that street art is couture

March 27th, 2013 | By | 3 Comments »

It’s not my intention to shame artists who collaborate with labels and “big brands” to support themselves, however I feel that there is a distinct line between using a brand’s notoriety to proliferate one’s own art and “selling out”. D*Face is an example of good corpo-collaboration as he seemed to have a lot of freedom when he worked with Smirnoff on a project which allowed him to do things he would have never been able to do on his own. By definition, selling out is what happens when an artist is willing to compromise their personal goals (i.e. propagating a message, promoting a distinct style, nurturing certain ideas/reactions, etc.) because of cash cash cash cash cash.

Louis Vuitton has invited Aiko, Os Gemeos and Retna to help design a series of scarves. Aiko refers to her work as having a graffiti influence and says ,”We break the law with wildstyle”, which seemed a bit ironic given that she is the only artist involved who does not come from a graffiti background and yet was the only artist to mention such things. As one commenter says, “Just waiting for Kidult to hear about this…” 12ozProphet has an interesting little read on some more examples of graffiti in couture, including a previous line from Louis Vuitton. Similarly, Krink and Coach will be releasing a collaborative line of bags this spring. That might just be coincidental timing or it maybe it was some Devil Wears Prada-esque trend carefully planned by the cigar smoking board members of some fashion-world back room.

Who do you think will buy these products?

Do you think they will know the significance or want to learn more about the artists?


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Web hosting craziness link-o-rama

March 12th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
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Photo by Luna Park

For the last week or so until today, we’ve been in the process changing Vandalog’s web hosts. No need to get into the technical details, but now the site should run more smoothly and with less downtime. Unfortunately it means that we haven’t been able to write anything new on the site since that process began (everything that’s gone online was pre-scheduled). So this is a mega-link-o-rama combining the usual weekend link-o-rama content with stuff that I could have written about last week even if I’d had the time.

Photo by Luna Park


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Re+Public’s augmented reality app at Wynwood Walls and Bowery and Houston

January 14th, 2013 | By | 5 Comments »

From the great minds of The Heavy Projects and Public Ad Campaign, Re+Public has emerged as the collaborative effort to revision and “democratize” public space through the use of their Augmented Reality app. Two new videos have recently been released which show this technology in full effect: (above) the app reacts to preexisting murals by How & Nosm, AikoRetna, and Ryan McGinness at Miami’s Wynwood Walls by turning the murals into giant 3D animations, and (below) the app unveils the timeline of New York City’s Bowery and Houston wall, including the work of Keith Haring, Faile, Barry McGee, Aiko and others who have historically left their mark on the wall.

You can sign up to download the beta version of Re+Public’s Augmented Reality app on their website. Follow them on Facebook for updates.

Keith Haring’s wall depicted in place of How and Nosm’s wall at Houston and Bowery

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Photos courtesy of Public Ad Campaign


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Aryz and Os Gemeos for Galeria Urban Forms

September 12th, 2012 | By | 3 Comments »

Os Gemeos and Aryz are the latest artist to complete a mural in Lodz, Poland for the Galeria Urban Forms. Hopefully this piece doesn’t cause as much controversy as other recent works featuring nudity or Os Gemeos’ characters, because it would be a real shame if this piece had to be buffed.

Photo by Aryz


Category: Photos | Tags: ,

Weekend link-o-rama

August 31st, 2012 | By | 2 Comments »

Don’t Fret in San Francisco

It’s back to school in a few days for the college-aged Vandalog bloggers. Caroline moving to New York City tomorrow, so say hello if you see her around.

Photo courtesy of Don’t Fret


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Event-o-rama

August 22nd, 2012 | By | No Comments »

Stephen Powers, who has a show coming up at Joshua Liner Gallery

There are a lot of shows coming up soon worth checking out. Here are some of I wish I could check out in person…

  • This week, the Iranian brothers Icy and Sot will have their first New York solo show, and it’s only open this Thursday through Saturday. Made in Iran will be at Openhouse, 379 Broome Street, New York.
  • Lush also has a show opening in NYC this weekend. His will be a show of drawings at Klughaus Gallery. It opens on August 25th from 6-10pm. Lush’s show are practically a place to expect surprises, so best get their opening night before a blog like this one ruins the shock value for you on Sunday. If you do miss opening night, the show runs through September 7th.
  • Next month, Stephen Powers aka ESPO will have his first New York solo show in over 7 years. A Word is Worth A Thousand Pictures opens September 7th from 6-9pm at Joshua Liner Gallery.
  • Galo Art Gallery in Turin has a great two-man show coming up with Bue and Chase. Brothers from Different Mothers opens September 9th from 5:30-9pm.
  • aMBUSH Gallery in Sydney, Australia has a big group show coming up with 67 artists including Anthony Lister, Askew, Does, Numskull, Vexta and The Yok. For Black and White All In Between, all the artists have painted on canvases of uniform sized and only used black ink. The show opens on August 31st from 6-9pm.
  • Jonathan Levine Gallery‘s next three solo shows open on September 8th and you will not want to miss any of them: Judith Supine, Audrey Kawasaki, and Jeff Soto. All three shows open from 7-9pm on the 8th. And speaking of Levine, I caught their current show earlier this week and it is great. Go it see before it closes.
  • Gold Peg’s Release The Wolves go-karting project in South London will have a gran-prix expo on September 1st. It’s gonna be some crazy and fun stuff. And art too, but I think that’s secondary.
  • Shepard Fairey is finally showing those paintings he did for Neil Young’s latest album. The few pieces I’ve seen photos of are impressive. Americana opens at Perry Rubenstein Gallery (which recently moved to LA) on August 25th from 7-10pm.
  • Finally, this last one is a mural festival, and it promises to be a big one… This year’s Urban Forms festival in Lodz, Poland includes Os Gemeos, Aryz, Inti, Otecki, Lump and Shida. Certainly the most-anticipated work of Urban Forms is the promised collaborative mural between Os Gemeos and Aryz. The events run from August 24th through September 30th and will bring the total number of murals organized in Lodz by the Urban Forms Foundation to 22. I can’t wait to see the photos of these pieces.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Liner Gallery


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Os Gemeos at the ICA Boston and around the city

August 7th, 2012 | By | 1 Comment »

The Giant of Boston. Photo by Weeklydig. Click to view large.

Last week, a small show by everyone’s favorite set of identical twin graffiti artists opened at the ICA Boston. The show is not the massive, playful and immersive installation you might expect from Os Gemeos, rather it is a much more traditional show in a white-walled room. I went to Boston hoping for an installation to rival their museum shows in Brazil or at least comparable to their 2008 show at Deitch Projects. But, in its own way, a white-walled show makes sense.

Curator Pedro Alonzo described the show as an attempt to show that Os Gemeos’ work could hold up in a traditional museum setting with just a few paintings being hung on walls and plenty of space between each picture. Another person suggested to me that hanging a white-walled show is a way to prove that Os Gemeos’ work will continue to be interesting long after the twins are dead and no longer make new installations. I think they are right, but I just wished that Os Gemeos picked another time to prove themselves, perhaps a time when I wasn’t taking six hours of buses to see their show.

So I went into the show with expectations that could never be met, but I did find something else there. Alonzo’s bet has been proven right: As hundreds or perhaps thousands of collectors around the world already knew, now the world too knows that an Os Gemeos painting may look great when put into one of their installations, but it can be absolutely brilliant just hung on a wall by itself too.

The piece originally made for Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape. Photo by Lois Stavsky

The two weakest pieces in the show are actually both pieces that are just the sort that might shine as components in an installation. One was made for Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape, a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego also curated by Pedro Alonzo. The story that Alonzo told about the piece turned out to be a lot more interesting than the work itself. The twins were in San Diego prepping for the show when they saw a bunch of tablesaws and similar tools that aren’t as widely available in Brazil, and they were inspired to use material that would have otherwise been discarded (including bits leftover from Swoon’s installation) to make something. Only problem is, the result of their recycling just doesn’t look like much alone on a white wall and without the story.

Upside Down Sunrise. Photo courtesy of the ICA Boston.

Thankfully, most of the paintings work well in a traditional gallery, and a few are absolutely brilliant. In particular, I practically couldn’t look away from Upside Down Sunrise and an untitled painting of vandals on the New York subway tracks (which happens to be owned by Lance Armstrong). For any graffiti nerds out there, it is probably worth seeing the show just to see how many names you can recognized painted into the subway piece.

Photo by Lois Stavsky

Of course, there’s also the sound installation, a corner of the gallery filled with brown and yellow faces shouting and singing, if the right buttons are pressed on the accompanying piano. I just hope there’s someone there during the show’s run to play it, since I doubt that visitors will be allowed to.

Photo courtesy of Arrested Motion (more of their photos here)

And for those of us who wanted a little more, the twins did not disappoint outside. They painted two murals (and a van) in Boston.

The smaller of the two murals is on the Revere Hotel, and features two writers tagging the wall. It’s a great little piece to be surprised by. I think I overheard one man trying to contact the police about just what the hell was going on, but most of the people whom I saw come across the mural were loving it.

Os Gemeos at the Revere Hotel. Photo by RJ Rushmore. Click to view large.

Both in scale and awesomeness, the piece on the Revere is nothing compared to The Giant of Boston, Os Gemeos’ largest mural in the United States by painted surface area, but it’s been causing a bit of controversy. The Giant of Boston is located at Dewey Square, and you really can’t miss it. But just what it is has proven to be not very evident to people who are not already familiar with Os Gemeos. The masked is most likely a protestor or a vandal, as the twins have painted in the past, but at least hundreds of Boston residents have looked at The Giant and seen a “terrorist” or a “towel head.” A photo of the mural was posted on the Facebook page of a local Fox station, and literally hundreds of people have posted similar ignorant/racist responses. Bostinno has more on this controversy.

Photo by Lois Stavsky

I do not think that this show is what most Os Gemeos fans were hoping for, and it certainly wasn’t what I was hoping for, but damn it I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time I was in the gallery or looking at either of their murals. There’s some good work, and Alonzo isn’t wrong to want to show that the work can hold its own in a white-walled space or brighten up the streets of Boston. Now, I’m just hoping that both murals stay up for the full 18-months that they could potentially be around for. Os Gemeos’ show is open at the ICA Boston through November 25th.

Photos courtesy of Arrested Motion and the ICA Boston and by Lois Stavsky, Weeklydig and RJ Rushmore


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

Weekend link-o-rama

July 28th, 2012 | By | No Comments »

FIGHT by Rub Kandy

I’m off for a few days of traveling. Expect lots of pictures. Here’s what we missed on Vandalog this week:

Photo by Rub Kandy


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