Art – Substance = ?

5422575202_3bcd4b1ebe_z
Alec Monopoly. Photo by savagecats.

Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Nico Glaude, who will hopefully be contributing more to Vandalog in the future. – RJ Rushmore

RJ tweeted this a few days ago “Alec Monopoly is in the latest issue of @JuxtapozMag. Seriously? Come on Evan. I know you’re better than that!” Which got me thinking; what exactly is going on to the state of street art culture? For those that don’t know, Alec Monopoly is a street artist who “lightly” appropriates the Mr. Monopoly character in the streets, sometimes he’s playing a keyboard or even playing the turntables. His interior work follows the same guidelines of appropriation; Mr. Monopoly on canvas either pasted with monopoly money or news paper articles related to the economic state of the U.S. The point of it all? Maybe there is none.

Alec Monopoly
Alec Monopoly. Photo by Birdman.

Meaningless art is something that will always plagued the art world, and most definitely plays it’s part in the streets. Yes there will forever be the debate of subjectivity, but let’s just be closed minded for a minute and examine things. What’s make Alec’s art pointless? The lack of effort in it all, the irony of taking on the economic state as a message, yet selling his art for thousands upon thousands of dollars. There’s no sense of real purpose or substance in his work, no evolution. If you take a minute to think about it, the same can be said about countless other “artists” who are getting rewarded even though they’re in a constant state of mediocrity.

QG37LID1X
Love Me x Vans Sk8-Hi Slim. Photo courtesy of Vans.

Another case of substance abuse can be latched on to Curtis Kulig’s overly redundant “Love Me” campaign. It’s grown from a simple tag to becoming nothing more than a brand. In terms of marketing, it’s pretty genius, but at what point does it not become art anymore? Like with Alec’s work, Kulig’s work doesn’t evolve, what once had some substance, is now replaced with something that is lost in the world of pure redundancy. “Love Me” is now found on tee-shirts, skateboards, and sneakers. The slogan has become meaningless because the message is gone. It’s now become simply a marketing tool. Maybe, that’s all it ever was.

Love Me collection from Smashbox. Photo courtesy of Smashbox.
Love Me collection from Smashbox. Photo courtesy of Smashbox.

The point to all of this? Well just like Alec’s and Kulig’s art, maybe there is none. Yes meaningless art will forever be inescapable, this article won’t change that, and as I mentioned Alec and Kulig are only two cases of many. But we, as a culture, need stop validating such pointless attempts at attention, and realize that it is simply that, artists trying to get noticed by pawning off pretentious, uninspiring and empty art.  This fact will be true until the end of time, but we need to stop letting artists off so easy, stop granting them a “Get out of jail free” card, and make them realize that in order to gain our attention,they need to start making art that isn’t so meaningless.

Photos by savagecats and Birdman and courtesy of Vans and Smashbox