Eloquent Vandals: A History of Nuart Norway

Chris Stain at Nuart 2009

The Nuart festival of Stavanger, Norway is one of a handful of trailblazing street art festivals that have been popping up over the last decade or so. Actually the predate most, if not all, of the significant festivals. Last year, the organizers of the festival put together a book documenting Nuart’s history, Eloquent Vandals: A History of Nuart Norway.

Extensive photographic documentation of Nuart is already available, but Eloquent Vandals also has texts that you won’t find anywhere else. Essays by Logan Hicks, Carlo McCormick and Brooklyn Street Art’s Steven Harrington and Jaime Rojo provide some context for the festival and the festivities that happen there.

Hicks gives the inside scoop on what it is like to be a participant at Nuart. He acknowledges what so many artists and festival organizers really love about places like Nuart: The best festivals are made up of the best people, and the best parts of the festivals are the unexpected fun bits, not the murals. The artwork mostly just facilitates the good times and helps to justify to the rest of the world why a bunch of people getting together in a small city in Norway.

McCormick’s essay begins with one of my new favorite quotes about public art “Public art, when it is commissioned and produced according to some vague idea of the public good, is by and large really lousy art – and as such arguably the very last thing people need.” He goes on to show how festivals like Nuart can breath new life into the realm of public art.

Harrington and Rojo’s essay is not only the most important in the book, but one of the most important essays written about street art in this decade. They lay out what so many of us have thought about, but few have written about so eloquently and with such serious consideration: THE INTERNET IS REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF CONTEMPORARY STREET ART. Sounds simple and obvious right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than what I just wrote and the complicated aspects of this obvious fact deserve serious consideration, a conversation that Harrington and Rojo have now begun.

If you are interested in street art festivals like Nuart, and especially if you are one of the many people out there thinking of starting a street art festival, I highly suggest that you pick up a copy of Eloquent Vandals: A History of Nuart Norway.

Photo by RJ Rushmore