Sunday link-o-rama

April 12th, 2015 | By | No Comments »
"the beauty of un-advertising" by VladyArt in Catania, Italy

“the beauty of un-advertising” by VladyArt in Catania, Italy

Got a few things that caught my eye recently, so I’m going back to the old link-o-rama format for a day:

  • A group of anonymous artists installed a bust of Edward Snowden at a park in Brooklyn, but the piece was almost immediately taken down by the city. Luckily, as the artists noted to ANIMAL, “The fact that a risk was taken, the fact that an image comes out of that event that can be passed around can never be undone. So you can rip the statue out, but you can’t erase the fact that it happened and that people are sharing it.” It’s all a bit reminiscent of when the British government forced The Guardian to destroy hard drives containing files leaked by Snowden, even though there were other copies of the files outside of the UK. Of course the sculpture wasn’t going to last. Take it down or leave it up, it hardly matters. We have the photos.
  • Faile and Bast are showing at the Brooklyn Museum in July. So I’m looking forward to that, and you should be too.
  • But if you’re looking for something up now in NYC, definitely stop by Roa’s solo show at Jonathan Levine Gallery. ANIMAL very cleverly made a series of GIFs of the show. I had a pretty similar reaction to this show as I had to Roa’s show at Stolenspace last year in London. Basically, I went in with a negative attitude of thinking I’d seen the work before, and I left happy as a kid in a candy store because Roa’s pieces are so damn fun to experience and play with. It’s a really stupid fear/attitude that I have about Roa’s shows, and it’s one that the work always seems to overcome, proving my preconceived notions wrong. Good stuff, as always.
  • And if you’re in Paris, Know Hope just had a show open there.
  • Check out this spot-on anonymous critique of crappy stencils in Shoreditch by terrible street artist Bambi.
  • It’s great to see Aakash Nihalani getting some love from Juxtapoz for his interactive work.
  • Niels “Shoe” Meulman is retiring his use of the term “Calligraffiti”, because he feels his work is now better represented by the term “Abstract Vandalism,” now that his work is moving away from letters and becoming more abstract. Okay, he’s evolving as an artist, but really: who cares? That’s a pretty standard evolution these days for artists coming out of graffiti. Two reasons this is interesting. First, he’s published a short manifesto of Abstract Vandalism, which I love, and I highly recommend picking up a copy for the great little tidbits like “The difference between art and vandalism is only in the eye of the law upholder.” Second, Shoe is giving up admin control of the Calligraffiti facebook page, which has over half a million likes. In a few days, Shoe will be selecting new admins for the page, artists whose work he feels is in line with Calligraffiti now that his work is not. You can learn more about that, and suggest yourself as a new admin, here.
  • Gotta love Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada’s latest pieces.
  • I’ve never really cared for MTO‘s realistic figurative murals, even though they do play with space in an interesting way, but he’s really piqued my interest with a new piece for Memorie Urbane 2015 in Gaeta, Italy. The piece is a conceptual look into the future, a future where Google controls what information we have access to (oh wait, maybe this isn’t so futuristic…) in public space. The mural is a response to the Google Cultural Institute’s Street Art Project, which ostensibly acts as a digital archive for street art and murals. The project is highly curated and controlled, begging the question: Who decides what’s included, and what isn’t? MTO’s piece also hints at a future where augmented reality is the norm. The re:art has a great article with photos and analysis of MTO’s mural. For now, I’ll just add: I can’t wait for this mural to show up on Google Street View.

Photo by VladyArt


Category: Animation, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#RexisteMX and the radical distribution of protest art

April 6th, 2015 | By | No Comments »

B5kM6bhIcAEaj3T

#RexisteMX, an anonymous collective of Zapatista-trained activists with a focus on using street art may at first appear to be your standard street artists with a political message, but that’s not quite right. For one thing, the internet is essential to their project, even though they’re trying to spread messages on Mexico’s streets. The group’s main artistic output consists of poster and stencil designs, which they post on the internet for free, explicitly encouraging others to cut their own #RexisteMX stencils, use #RexisteMX posters at protests, or remix and reuse the designs.

A #RexisteMX design posted for download on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

A #RexisteMX design posted for download on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

You may think you’ve heard about street artists doing this sort of thing before. Off the top of my head… Shepard Fairey has been giving away or selling his stickers for decades, and the “Urban Renewal Kit” on his website includes three classic OBEY designs that anyone can download for free; group like Artists Against Police Violence have repositories of high-resolution downloadable protest art from a wide array of artists; the Guerrilla Girls have a handful of free downloads on their website but the group definitely has strong feelings about strict copyright controls; and Just Seeds released a series of downloadable artist-designed posters advertising the People’s Climate March.

But #RexisteMX goes a step further than most similar projects from artists, even artists taking an activist stance. Fairey, Artists Against Police Violence, Guerrilla Girls, and Just Seeds all encourage people to use their work, but only within strict limits. Shepard does allow some remixing of his work, but that’s more about fair use, parody, and promoting Fairey’s own OBEY GIANT campaign than letting people take ownership of his content and encouraging new artistic creations (although that is a nice side-effect). There are plenty of artists participating in activism and lending their skills to various causes, but generally speaking the artist still more or less maintains control of their work.

However, #RexisteMX’s strategy isn’t unique among activists. There’s Occupy* Posters, for example, and CrimethInc uses a custom license similar to a Creative Commons license for their work. Which leads to the conclusion that the members of #RexisteMX are activists using street art as a method, rather than street artists participating in activism.

A #RexisteMX design posted for download on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

A #RexisteMX design posted for download on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

The collective actually does actively resist the label of art, saying “Rexiste is an idea, not an artist. We prefer personal anonymity and creative commons; our designs and ideas are open spaces to be shared, reappropriated and reinterpreted. We don’t make art, we create collectively, we feel collectively. We exist because we resist.” And they provide anyone who is interested with the opportunity to resist too.

Ironically, by avoiding the label of artist and the trappings associated with that, as well as relying on the internet to distribute their work, these activists are taking street art back to its roots as a tool for self-expression by anyone with an internet connection and the simplest tools.

Stickers by #RexisteMX

Stickers by #RexisteMX

Photo and designs by #RexisteMX


Category: Photos | Tags:

A bucket of black paint in the heart of Mexico

April 2nd, 2015 | By | 2 Comments »
Censored mural by Ericailcane. Photo by RexisteMX.

Censored mural by Ericailcane. Photo by RexisteMX.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from the anonymous artist/activist collective RexisteMX. I want to thank RexisteMX for drawing attention to and providing this local perspective on a recent case of censorship in Mexico City. – RJ Rushmore

Everything started on a February evening when a bucket of black paint and a roller met a wall in Mexico City, a wall that had just been painted by a well-known artist as part of a local gallery’s street art festival. That evening, the festival succumbed to fear, a deep fear that runs through the veins of this country, permeating citizens’ hearts and souls.

#ManifiestoMX is a street art festival organized by FIFTY24MX, a gallery of “young art”. For the festival, they invited artists such as Blu, Swoon, Ericailcane, JAZ, Bastardilla and Saner to create murals around Mexico City. The goal, in their own words, was to create murals that “pointed out themes about the protest and the awareness of the contemporary situation in Mexico. Using art as a social tool to complain, debate and propose.” The artists were there “to express through murals their opinion.”

Mural by Blu. Photo from FIFTY24MX.

Mural by Blu. Photo from FIFTY24MX.

Mural by Bastardilla. Photo from FIFTY24MX.

Mural by Bastardilla. Photo from FIFTY24MX.

At first, this project awakened a great interest among local artists and fans of street art. For the first time, we would be able to see international icons of critical art and resistance creating murals in our neighborhoods.

One of the #ManifiestoMX artists best known for critical and politically charged muralism, as well as the resistance to the commercialization of art, is Ericailcane. It was his mural that sparked a controversy at #ManifiestoMX and brought the deep-seed fears of so many Mexican citizens to light.

Ericailcane's original mural in progress, photo from FIFTY24MX, and President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto wearing the Mexican Presidential sash.

Ericailcane’s original mural in progress, photo from FIFTY24MX, and President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto wearing the Mexican Presidential sash.

Ericailcane’s mural was a critique of Enrique Peña Nieto, “President” of Mexico, pictured as a circus monkey who dances to the tune of applause and clanging pesos. Powerful, right? Perhaps because that’s the truth about a man who found his way into government thanks to the applause of television and the power of the money, buying the votes of the poor; maybe because it is the reality of a Mexico governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has worked hard to dismantle the country’s democracy and kill indigenous people to steal their natural resources, all the while feigning a war against drugs that leaves thousands of civilians dead while the drugs are still running and reaching the United States. It was an honest mural. Too honest for a Mexico where the government has made its people fear that anyone who thinks differently from the PRI might be silenced or disappeared, just like the 43 students from Ayotzinapa.

Ericailcane's mural post-censorship. Photo by RexisteMX.

Ericailcane’s mural post-censorship. Photo by RexisteMX.

On the morning of February 22nd, we went to photograph Ericailcane’s mural, but we were surprised that instead of the tricolor band shown in FIFTY24MX’s photo, which was how the mural made clear reference to Enrique Peña Nieto, there was a thin black line around the monkey’s neck. We tweeted at the organizers and asked why there had been censorship, but the only thing we got was silence. Silence and more censorship. Later, we noticed that the comments addressing the mural’s censorship were being deleted from FIFTY24MX’s Facebook page. The pressure on the gallery intensified as the question echoed across social networks: Why was there censorship at ManifiestoMX?

Only after continued pressure on social media did the organizers of ManifiestoMX at FIFTY24MX respond briefly to say, “The owners of the building asked for the colors of the strip to be changed so the piece would not be taken down,” and “they are people of another generation who are accustomed to living in fear, and you have to respect that.”

Screenshot from FIFTY24MX's Facebook page. Click to view large.

Screenshot from FIFTY24MX’s Facebook page. Click to view large.

Case solved, right? As long as the government didn’t paint out the mural, what does it matter? But PRI has been in power forever. This censorship only proves that the PRI are not a political party; they are now a way of life. It’s a daily terror, so why worry?

That fearful February evening, the owner of a wall, the gallery, and the artist accepted self-censorship. With a bucket of black paint and the fear to question or be critical, an artwork was painted out. Why? Because fear is natural and respectable; because urban art is cool; because it’s “in”; because being critical is good so long as it keeps selling, so long as it doesn’t cross the imaginary lines drawn by the state; because in Mexico art is only supposed to be a hollow shell without content, something pretty that doesn’t say anything.

Contradictory to his gallery’s practice of deleting comments reacting to the censorship on FIFTY24MX’s social media pages, Emilio Ocampo from FIFTY24MX told the Huffington Post, “They wanted us to change the colors to black. But you know what? We like that censorship, and the reactions it produced. That also means that the message bothered someone. We love both images: with the tricolored ribbon and now with black.”

And what about us, the spectators? Do we like censorship? Is censorship good now? Do we reproduce it? Do we accept it? In the face of censorship, do we protest, or we do remain silent? Is it that censorship is not so bad? Is it just part of our daily lives now, so we have to accept it? And what if we, like FIFTY24MX, like censorship? How do we express our “Manifesto”? Do we self-censor and paint nothing? Do we paint something controversial and then censor it? Or is that anti-censorship? We’re lost now.

“We think this incident is a reflection of the self-censorship that we decide to live in,” FIFTY24MX’s co-director Liliana Carpinteyro told the Huffington Post. But others, like us, believe that the normalization of censorship is a reflection of a country that we do not choose to live in. We cannot produce art that reveals or pushes boundaries at the same time that we follow the rules of a government that is keeping us silent, disappearing us, killing us. To start making critical art in Mexico, we must expel the tendency towards self-censorship that the PRI has instilled in all of us.

We should paint in a country where we do not accept silence about censorship, whether imposed directly by the government or self censorship out of fear. We can’t let another bucket of black paint cover another mural that we all know speaks the truth and points towards our shared dream of freedom. Ericailcane’s mural cannot stand as a monument to self-censorship. It has to be a starting point for discussion and debate. Its desecration will not silence us from further reflection or action. We must continue using critical art to transform our reality.

Ericailcane's mural. Click to view large. Photo by RexisteMX.

Ericailcane’s mural. Click to view large. Photo by RexisteMX.

Photos by RexisteMX and from FIFTY24MX


Category: Art News, Featured Posts, Guest Posts | Tags: , , , ,

Le Jardin Rouge

March 30th, 2015 | By | No Comments »
jardin rouge - marrakech - streetart

Krito. Photo by UrbanPresents

The Jardin Rouge is an artists’ residency center located in Morocco, near Marrakesh, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. Created by the Montresso Art Foundation, the idea was to have a place of exchange and creation open only to artists, with no other purpose than seeing them evolve and grow in their creative process. The residency boasts an amazing environment and very comfortable working conditions, and it is open to both well-known and emerging artists. The only requirement is to have talent. And those who have passed through “Le Jardin Rouge” have that in spades! Lucky for us, the owner has a particularly strong passion for urban art, and the residency offers urban artists complete freedom of artistic expression.

It sounds like paradise, and that’s not far from the truth. The photographic work of Bart, from UrbanPresents, makes me fall in love with this place. The landscape, the light, everything is there to sublimate the work of the artists, whether in the park (which covers is 13 hectares!) or inside a building that also serves as an exhibition space.

Reso-GoddoG_01

Reso and GoddoG. Photo by Damien Mauro,

French artist GoddoG was recently an artist-in-resident at Le Jardin Rouge. In his own words…

It was super welcoming. Le Jardin Rouge is one-of-a-kind. The main purpose of my visit was to deepen my technique on canvas by linking my work on walls with my work on canvas. The 10-week residency helped me develop my technical skills, and allowed me to concentrate on my work while expanding it. In addition, Le Jardin Rouge is a place to meet other artists and exchange opinions, which helped me develop further as an artist and as a critical thinker.

Read the rest of this article »


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

Aïda Gómez wins at street Tetris

March 28th, 2015 | By | No Comments »

tetris montaje small

Aïda Gómez saw a deteriorating wall in the Berlin subway and thought what we all think when we see a city’s infrastructure falling apart: “This is terrible. I can’t believe I just paid money to wait for a train in this place if they can’t even fix the walls…” Well actually, no. Gómez wasn’t quite so sour. She saw an opportunity to inject some fun onto the subway and use art to repair the wall. She did this:

tetris

Okay, I’m not sure “street Tetris” is really a thing. I suppose I just made it up, but if it were a thing, Gómez just won. She calls this project Mind the Gap. It reminds me of the Astoria Scum River Bridge by Jason Eppink and Posterchild, which I also really love.

Also, here’s a GIF version:

tetris

Photos by Aïda Gómez, GIF by RJ Rushmore


Category: Animation, Photos | Tags: , ,

Cash For Your Warhol is coming to Philadelphia

March 23rd, 2015 | By | No Comments »

CFYW

For years, I’ve followed the saga of Cash For Your Warhol, the Boston-based art experiment that’s been bugging art collectors, confusing the general public, and entertaining the street art world for years. Now, Cash For Your Warhol is coming to Philadelphia with a show at LMNL Gallery, where I’ve been curating shows since last fall. No Questions Asked! opens at LMNL on April 10th.

Cash For Your Warhol is the brainchild of artist and photographer Geoff Hargadon. The project began in 2009 in response to the financial crisis, and to an art market that treats paintings and sculptures as investible assets similar to real estate and gold. Through stickers, stencils, plastic signs, and billboards, Cash For Your Warhol has been a subtly hilarious part of the urban landscape and the art market for over half a decade. In 2012, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh even added a few of the signs to its permanent collection.

The Cash For Your Warhol project is such a simple and effective critique of art market and financial industry absurdity. From the moment I first saw the signs, I was hooked. The project is even more fascinating now that you can find Cash For Your Warhol art in galleries. That’s something I love, but I never expected. With No Questions Asked!, it’s all come full circle in a perfectly surreal way. Plus, it’s an opportunity to exhibit some of Hargo’s photos, and he is one of the best street art photographers active today.

No Questions Asked! will be Cash For Your Warhol’s first exhibition in Philadelphia. The Cash For Your Warhol team did, however, visit earlier this year to install work around the city. The exhibition will include photographs from that visit, an interactive sculpture, and the complete collection of the 24 Cash For Your Warhol signs created since 2009.

As the opening of No Questions Asked! approaches, keep your eyes out for CFYW to make its message heard in Philadelphia in a big way. In the meantime, remember to dial (617) 553-1103 for all your Warhol-selling needs.

See you at the opening on April 10th!

cashforyourwarhol-flyer

Photo by Cash For Your Warhol


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , ,

Street art for a rainy city

March 22nd, 2015 | By | 2 Comments »

rain

How have I not seen this before? Am I the only one?

Rainworks is a series of street art pieces by Seattle-based artist Peregrine Church that will only appear when the ground is wet. Using a commercially available “superhydrophobic coating” (basically a spray-on sealant that repels water), Church stencils Roadsworth-esque artworks onto concrete surfaces. On a sunny day, the artworks are invisible, but when it rains, as is known to happen from time to time in Seattle, the stencils appear. The rain soaks into the surrounding concrete, making it appear darker, and rolls right off the sections that Church has coated so that those areas stay bone dry and remain lighter.

Very cool idea. I hope this takes off. It shouldn’t be too hard for works like these to start appearing in other cities. The material Church uses is pretty pricey, but Rust-Oleum makes a similar product.

weather

Photo and GIF courtesy of Peregrine Church / Rainworks


Category: Photos, Videos | Tags: ,

Tinder as a platform for art

March 10th, 2015 | By | No Comments »
tinder

Screenshots from Swipe Left

So you’re swiping right and swiping left, swiping left and swiping right, swiping right and swiping left… Tinder is a practically mindless activity, at least anytime I’ve ever seen someone use it. But what are you swiping right and left, yes and no, to? Sometimes, it’s people’s lives.

This isn’t actually a new project, but last summer artist and hacker Matthew Rothenberg was inserting imagery of drone strikes and drone strike victims into Tinder for an artwork he calls Swipe Left. That bearded young man gazing off into the distance wasn’t another Williamsburg hipster. It was Hakimullah Mehsud, a commander in the Pakistani Taliban. Mehsud was killed by a US drone strike in 2013. Which way did you swipe? And what about that odd black and white photo that you liked on “Haki’s” profile? Blurry abstract art? No. Footage from a drone about to unleash hell on a target.

Since Rothenberg has already written so well about the social and political meaning of Swipe Left, I just want to make a note about its meaning within the art world. Rothenberg considers the piece to be performance art, and yes it is, but what I think is most fascinating about Swipe Left is its relationship with street art. It’s a great example of what I’ve called invasive viral art, art that treats digital public space like street art and graffiti treat physical public space. While Tinder users are expecting one thing, Rothenberg gave them another, and he used the app for something it isn’t intended for.

Swipe Left may not immediately appear as art to viewers, but that’s okay. Plenty of street art doesn’t either: John Fekner’s random dates series, Dan Witz’ Broadway Poem, Jenny Holzer‘s Inflammatory Essays when they first appeared on the street as posters, and of course Shepard Fairey‘s early work could all appear as something other than art to someone seeing it for the first time, but it could still reach them. And as Rothenberg points out, “Tinder members who encounter the images are forced to make a decision.” Unlike street art, which can be ignored, Rothenberg’s project can be swiped away or not understood by the view, but it can’t be ignored entirely, and any reaction to Swipe Left‘s content is a valid and interesting data point.

But even if Swipe Left is a bit hidden within Tinder, arguably really meant to be be considered by observers reading about the work later on, not the Tinder users participating in the performance/experiment, the piece shows the potential for a new venue for performance art and invasive viral art.

What if someone like Shepard Fairey joined Tinder and used it to put his art in front of a new and unsuspecting audience? Every day, he could upload a different poster as a profile picture. Suddenly, his work would be reaching people in a relatively random way, like a sticker or a poster on the street does. And if people are playing with their phones and browsing Tinder as they ride the bus to work rather than looking out the window where they might see some street art, why not place that art on Tinder instead of, or in addition to, the street? Reach people where their eyeballs already are. I’d swipe right to that.

Screenshots swiped from Matthew Rothenberg


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

BR1 and Elfo’s tribute to Houdini

March 9th, 2015 | By | No Comments »

BR1_elfo_2

Okay, I know I should be publishing more than just ad disruptions, which seems to be all I’m writing about lately in one way or another, but this piece that BR1 and Elfo did in Istanbul just made me smile and I couldn’t not post it. It’s called Houdini.

BR1_elfo_3

Photos courtesy of Elfo


Category: Photos | Tags: ,

mobstr cracks the code

March 5th, 2015 | By | 1 Comment »

sex

mobstr cuts through the crap with these latest ad takeovers. If you like what you see, here’s a link to mobstr’s online shop.

ads

Photos courtesy of mobstr

advertising brainstorming session 005


Category: Photos | Tags: