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: , , , ,

Three mural hubs where the cracks are beginning to show

February 24th, 2015 | By | 2 Comments »
The Bushwick Collective. Photo by Mr Seb.

The Bushwick Collective. Photo by Mr Seb.

What do Bushwick, Chicago, and Detroit all have in common? Their mural cultures are under threat. In Bushwick, gentrification and greed some to be putting the final nails in the coffin of The Bushwick Collective. In Chicago, the city is failing to pay artists and organizers for murals that they commissioned. In Detroit, city officials are trying to tame graffiti’s Wild West with regulations that are bound to cause problems.

The Bushwick Collective’s year hasn’t started out so well. There was always suspicion among artists and art fans about the project’s motives. Behind closed doors (and sometimes publicly), you’d hear suggestions that The Bushwick Collective was an exploitative gentrification effort rather than a celebration of art, and its no secret that the project is anti-graffiti and doesn’t usually allow political messages in murals. But they have walls, so plenty of artists set aside their reservations and paint there anyway. Now, those rumbling frustrations about gentrification and whitewashing of graffiti have gone explosively public, with ZEXOR dissing over a dozen Bushwick Collective murals with his tags and throw ups.

But are ZEXOR’s accusations based in fact? The latest development at The Bushwick Collective suggests so. This month, what appear to be frames for two billboards were installed on top of Bushwick Collective murals. The (currently empty) billboard frames were installed with complete disregard for the murals they partially cover by Concrete Jungle, The Yok, and Sheryo. So much for subtly transforming the neighborhood in the name of art. Seem to me though that with these billboard installations, The Bushwick Collective is finally showing their true colors.

Sheryo said that she hasn’t asked The Bushwick Collective what happened, but her thoughts on the situation are clear: “It’s such an eyesore they shoulda at least buffed it first… I think there should be mutual respect. Do things right.”

I’ve reached out to The Bushwick Collective on Sunday for comment, as well as for more information about the billboard frames and the building owner’s relationship with the Collective. As of Tuesday night, I have not heard back.

Roa in Chicago, a mural organized by Pawn Works. Photo by Kevin Tao.

Roa in Chicago, a mural organized by Pawn Works. Photo by Kevin Tao.

In Chicago, there are a number of great murals by artists like Gaia, Roa and Troy Lovegates that Pawn Works organized in collaboration with the city and Alderman Danny Solis. Unfortunately, it seems that the alderman seriously messed up and the city has so far failed to pay the artists or reimburse Pawn Works for $16,000 in out-of-pocket expenses related to the murals. The city and the alderman claim to be working to fix the problem, but Pawn Works and the artists have been owed money for well over a year. For now, Pawn Works has stopped organizing murals for the city. That mural project was shut down because of Solis’ fiscal mismanagement and bureaucratic snafus, and of course, the artists and Pawn Work still haven’t been paid. At least Solis is “very sorry.”

A mural in Detroit by The Weird. Or is it graffiti? Photo by RJ Rushmore.

A mural in Detroit by The Weird. Or is it graffiti? Photo by RJ Rushmore.

Finally, politicians in Detroit are trying to change the city’s reputation as the Wild West of graffiti. A city council member is working on new anti-graffiti regulations that would fine property owners for not cleaning the graffiti on their buildings. It’s unclear how new regulations will be different from the tickets that the city is already issuing, but presumably they would make it even easier for a Detroit building owner to be ticketed for graffiti. As the Metro Times asks, how do you determine what’s graffiti and what’s a mural? That’s a determination that the city is already messing up, and the proposed solution of a database of all the legal murals in the city is bound to be incomplete and difficult to maintain.

Regulations like these make me nervous, not just for the graffiti and for property owners, but for all public art in Detroit. Imagine you’re a property owner in Detroit and an artist comes to you about painting a mural on your property. Even if legally that’s okay and you’d love some art on your wall, do you really want to take the risk that there will be confusion and you’ll be fined and investigated by the city? These regulations could have a serious chilling effect on the muralism Renaissance taking place in the city right now.

Detroit can’t seem to properly manage the system they’ve already got to ticket property owners for graffiti. Why give that system more power? More intense regulations like the ones being developed now will only serve to hurt Detroit’s property owners, artists, and public art.

In recent years, a lot of great art has come out of The Bushwick Collective, and Pawn Works, and the overall mural culture in Detroit. Maybe, hopefully, I’m just being a Chicken Little about all this news. After all, there are other murals in Bushwick and Chicago, and the Detroit regulations are a long way from being implemented, but let’s not pretend that everything is all okay. These amazing mural cultures, often held up as some of the best in the nation, are under threat from greed and mismanagement.

Photos by Mr SebKevin Tao, and RJ Rushmore


Category: Art News | Tags: , , , , ,

Replacing ads with your own messages just got a lot easier

January 31st, 2015 | By | No Comments »
An ad for PublicAccess, I suppose

An ad for PublicAccess, I suppose

Ever wanted to place your own messages into bus shelter advertising kiosks? Well, now it’s easier than ever with PublicAccess from PublicAdCampaign, a new service that will provide you with just the proper art object for opening up ad kiosks in your city.

Since November 2013, Jordan Seiler and a handful of other artists and street art photographers have been using the somewhat curious hashtag #yeahwegotkeysforthat on Instagram. While it was never quite a secret what was going on, perhaps PublicAdCampaign’s most ambitious project to date remained in semi-stealth mode until today. The results of the project were never secret, but it was never fully explained either.

If you were paying close attention, you would discover that Seiler was manufacturing and distributing sculptures to artists around the world. These sculptures double as “keys,” to bus shelter advertising kiosks around the world. Slowly, Seiler has been buliding up an inventory of various key designs (the locks are standarized across a given public transit system, but can vary from city to city) and mapping out where each design works. New York? Yeah, he’s got keys for that. London? Yeah, he’s got keys for that. San Fransisco? Yeah, he’s got keys for that. Hence the hashtag.

Some of the PublicAccess keys

Some of the PublicAccess keys

Until today, Seiler was just distributing the keys to friends and word of mouth connections, but now he’s opening up the project to the general public. At PublicAccess, you’ll find a map telling you which keys work in which cities, as well as links to download each design for free as a 3D printable file or buy a premade key for $35. Now, everyone’s got keys for that.

The open source project is still in the process of expanding, with keys for more cities coming soon. In the mean time, even with just a few key designs, PublicAccess has greatly expanded the general public’s access to bus shelter advertisements.

Of course, the site carries the disclaimer, “THE TOOLS OFFERED THRU THIS SITE ARE HANDMADE ART OBJECTS AND NOT INTENDED FOR USE…” so keep that in mind while you’re using your key.

Photos by Jordan Seiler


Category: Art News, Products | Tags: , ,

Debunking some “leaked” “Banksy photos”

January 10th, 2015 | By | No Comments »
Part of an installation from "Banksy vs the Bristol Museum." Photo by fingertrouble.

Part of an installation from “Banksy vs the Bristol Museum”

Ugh… Another day, another ridiculous article about Banksy about to go viral. On Friday evening, Whitehot Magazine sent out an email with the subject line “Banksy Unmasked: Real Photos of Banksy WORLD EXCLUSIVE.”

Basically, I suggest that you ignore Whitehot Magazine’s post and photos. They’re essentially nonsense. If you’re content to leave it at that, feel free to ignore the rest of this post. If you want to know why Whitehot Magazine’s post is verifiably hooey, read on…

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Art News, Featured Posts | Tags: ,

Banksy has NOT (yet) responded to the Charlie Hebdo shooting

January 8th, 2015 | By | No Comments »
Photo that was posted to the @banksy instagram account

Photo that was posted to the @banksy instagram account

Yesterday’s terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris has led to an outpouring of tributes from visual artists worldwide. One artist who has not (yet) responded is Banksy, but that hasn’t stopped sites like Mashable and the Huffington Post from reporting that Banksy’s response might be the illustration above, since the image was posted to the @banksy Instagram account.

Here’s the problem though: That’s not Banksy’s account, or Banksy’s illustration. Jo Brooks, Banksy’s pr person, has confirmed to Vandalog that the only official Banksy Instagram account is @banksy.co.uk, and that the illustration posted by the @banksy account is not by Banksy.

The illustration that the media is calling Banksy’s is actually by Lucille Clerc. She tweeted a (much less filtered and low-resolution) version of the illustration shortly before it was reposted by the fake @banksy account. Also, the post by @banksy now credits Clerc as the artist behind the powerful illustration, although the credit might not have been there when the post first went up.

For future reference, the rule of thumb is that a Banksy is a Banksy if it’s been posted on his official website.

Photo from @banksy, an illustration by Lucille Clerc


Category: Art News | Tags: , ,

Blu goes black, buffing his own work in Berlin

December 17th, 2014 | By | 4 Comments »
Photo by Dario-Jacopo Lagana.

Photo by Dario-Jacopo Lagana

Last week, Blu shocked Berlin by orchestrating the removal of two of his own iconic murals, including a mural that was at one point a collaboration with JR. The murals were located in the city’s famous Kreuzberg neighborhood, which was once home to squatters and artists, but is now undergoing significant and swift gentrification.

The squatters in the buildings Blu had painted were recently evicted, and a real estate developer is about to build on the empty lot in front of the murals. Apparently, the new condos would have had a great view of the murals. So, one night last week, a team with two lifts painted the walls black, and they did it with Blu’s support.

Blu commented, “After witnessing the changes happening in the surrounding area during the last years, we felt it was time to erase both walls.”

You can read more about the story here and read Blu’s full statement here.

Here’s a gif of the buff job from Blu:

Gq1vop6

Courtesy of Blu

Even though I’m not sure I entirely agree with his actions, I definitely say bravo to Blu for sticking to his principles. I’m sad to see these murals go, but their removal is one of the greatest statements made about street art this year. Blu’s street art is highly political, as was this act. Blu decided what to do with his murals before that right could be taken away from him or the murals could be co-opted by a property developer. He took control of a space, just as he did when he first painted the murals in 2007 and 2008. These pieces were painted for old Kreuzberg, not yuppie Kreuzberg, and the yuppies can’t have them.

Finally, of course, here’s what the murals used to look like (after JR’s wheatpastes had decayed and Blu painted goggles in their place):

Photo by Frank M. Rafik

Photo by Frank M. Rafik

Photos by Dario-Jacopo Lagana and Frank M. Rafik and courtesy of Blu


Category: Animation, Art News | Tags: ,

A new space for digital exhibitions

December 1st, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »
Encrypted-Fills-Glitch

Ryan Seslow

Today, artist Ryan Seslow and I launched Encrypted Fills, a new digital exhibition space and archive for creations at the intersection of digital art and street art. Essentially, the site is a site to archive artworks being produced specifically for the internet by street artists. Encrypted Fills brings together the best of a usually disparate set of artworks onto one website and into what will become a collection of digital exhibitions. If you’ve read Viral Art, you’ll probably be familiar with a lot of the content on the site, or at least understand my interest in it.

Ryan and I have been watching for years (and Ryan’s been participating as an artist himself) as people in the street art and graffiti world have turned to experimenting with new mediums like GIFs, video art, and related forms of electronic documentation to express their ideas on digital platforms. Sometimes the aesthetics of the work are nearly indistinguishable from static street pieces, and other times these digital works are hardly recognizable as related to street art or graffiti, but we believe that these new works come from the same place. Artists who have been getting up outdoors are now reaching out to a similar digital public, and it’s opened the door for those artists to reach beyond static images.

“We are very excited about this development,” says Ryan, “We want to promote this work and identify it as something particular and distinct from other art being produced in the street art and graffiti communities, and we also want to preserve the best examples of it for posterity, lest in the future we think of these works as standard and forget the artistic leaps that were made in the last few years and those that will be made in the years to come.”

In addition to archiving works already available, we plan to use Encrypted Fills as a platform to exhibit new digital works, specially commissioned for the site. As Encrypted Fills grows and develops, exhibition lengths will vary, but all of the works and exhibitions presented will be archived on the site for future reference.

For Encrypted Fills’ inaugural and eponymous exhibition, we have collected a range of pieces from more than a dozen artists to show the breadth of what street artists are doing when they move into digital art. Exhibited artists include Peter Drew, John Fekner, Olek, Vandalog contributing writer Caroline Caldwell, and more. You can view the inaugural Encrypted Fills exhibition here.

GIF by Ryan Seslow


Category: Art News, Vandalog Projects, Viral Art | Tags:

Link-o-rama

October 19th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »
Gane and Texas in Philadelphia

Gane and Texas in Philadelphia

Sorry if some of these links are a bit dated, but hopefully they’re still interesting:

  • Don Leicht, the original Space Invader, has a exhibition of his work on now at Mary Colby Studio & Gallery on City Island in the Bronx. Leicht has been making space invader characters for the street and for galleries since 1982, often in collaboration with John Fekner. Both Leicht and Fekner have never really embraced the spotlight in the way that others from their generation have (particularly in recent years), and so Leicht’s place in early New York street art often goes unacknowledged. Whereas Space Invader’s characters are generally lighthearted and fun and more about interesting placement than interesting content, Leicht’s content is political. His invaders, painted in camo, serve as a reminder/warning that war is real and of the relationship between videos games and the military.
  • The app NO AD, which I was pretty excited about when it launched and even more excited about once I got to try it out myself, recently announced their next exhibition on the app. NO AD is working with the International Center of Photography to display images from their current exhibition, Sebastião Salgado: Genesis. I love that the ICP is into this idea. NO AD is a fantastic exhibition platform, but it’s also a bit of an odd one, so it’s very cool to see the ICP embracing both augmented reality technology and an anti-public-advertising platform. Click here for more info on the exhibition.
  • Speaking of public advertising, this crazy thing happened in Hong Kong.
  • And over on Hyperallergic, Julia Friedman addresses the major discrepancy in how  New York City enforces laws relating to public advertising. Essentially, the current enforcement strategy seems to punish artists and activists while leaving corporate interests to do whatever they please.
  • I really enjoyed this article on the painfulness of advertisers appropriating street art and graffiti for their own ends, to the point that Perrier actually replaced a mural of Nelson Mandela with an advertisement featuring the hashtag “#streetartbyperrier”.
  • Speaking of water companies, street art and hashtags…  The folks being the for-profit bottled water company WAT-AAH (aka Let Water be Water LLC, or as I like to call them “Evian for Kids”) sent The L.I.S.A. Project NYC a cease and desist letter for using a hashtag that they claimed to own the trademark for (they don’t). Animal has more on that ridiculous story.
  • Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada created a massive piece on the National Mall. Impressive piece. Impressive location. Good stuff.
  • Conor Harrington had a great show in NYC, at a pop up space with Lazarides Gallery from the UK. I went up for the opening, and despite the space being lit like a haunted house and seemingly pumped full of mist from a fog machine, the work looked even better than I had anticipated. Plenty of artists can paint traditionally beautiful paintings, and plenty of artists can use drips and tags and half finished elements and things like that to make their paintings look “street” or to make it look like they are saying “screw you traditional notions of beauty and fine art painting!” Few artists can do what Conor does, which is to utilize all of those styles and techniques, from beautifully staged scenes painted with perfection to all the different ways to make a painting look rough and cool, but utilize those things in the right balance and with respect. To Conor, it looks like a drip is no different than the a detailed brush stroke. The “disruptive” elements look like they belong. He isn’t trying to destroy painting. He’s trying to bring it to new heights, and he’s much better at it than most.
  • It was a surprise to see that Jonathan Jones at The Guardian actually liked a recent Banksy piece, but then again it was a good piece with an even better story in the end.
  • This article on the utter failure of a major “street art biennial” in Moscow is an absolute must-read.
  • This fall I’ve seen (online) two interesting pieces of endurance art, both of them by female artists in New York City who took to endurance art to address what they see as crises.
    • gilf and Natalie Renee Fasano walked 15 miles barefoot around the city. 60 million or more people worldwide live every day without shoes. Interestingly, Gilf’s project was not so much an awareness campaign as an opportunity for self-reflection that she documented and publicized. None of her Instagram posts on the performance provide information about what can be done about this problem, and the video documenting the work provides no context except the text “A day in the Shoes of the Shoeless with gilf!” On some level, I find that frustrating. But of course the work wasn’t about raising national awareness for this issue. gilf’s own description of the project makes that clear. It was more a project for herself. And that’s great and useful too, but on some level I can’t get over the missed opportunity here to make the project more than personal suffering/meditation and self-promotion. Why not simply say, “And if this project is bringing the issue of people without shoes to your attention and you want to help, here’s something you can do.”? Yes, it’s a personal project for self-reflection, but it’s also an artwork that was promoted all over the web. So, I’ll close by saying that if you do want to help provide shoes for people in need, Soles4Souls seems to be the place to go (thanks to Animal for that tip).
    • Emma Sulkowicz has to be one of the bravest, most impressive people I’ve read about in a long time, and I almost hesitate to call what she’s doing an art piece, lest it devalue her actions in an age when so much art is devoid of the kind soul this particular performance/way of living requires. For nearly two months, Sulkowicz has been carrying her dorm room mattress with her to every class, every lunch break, every party, and everywhere else she goes, constantly, and she says she will continue to carry her mattress with her “for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist.” More about this piece, and the reaction she’s received from her fellow students at Columbia University, at Hyperallergic.

Photo by RJ Rushmore


Category: Art News, Festivals, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This app turns the NYC subway system into an art gallery

September 10th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
and_promo_1920-1

NO AD beta-testers and friends of Vandalog, Luna Park and laserburners

I should be working on something else right now. I should be doing writing that I really need to finish ASAP, writing that could bring me some considerable upside both in money and reputation. But then Jordan Seiler and the heavy projects (as Re+Public) and Subway Art Blog went and released their awesome and eagerly anticipated new app: NO AD. So I’ve become momentarily distracted, and you should be too. Go download NO AD right now (for Android or iPhone), especially if you live in New York City.

NO AD is an augmented reality application that gives you a glimpse of the New York City subway system without advertisements, a world where billboards are for art instead of ads. NO AD replaces the top 100 ads in the subway system at any given moment with art. How? By using the ads like QR codes. Simply download the app to your phone, open it while you’re on a New York City subway platform, and point your camera at an advertisement. On your phone’s screen, you’ll see the ad almost magically replaced by artwork. Download the app now, and give it a try with this image:

photo-1

See how amazing that is?

And here’s a short video about the app:

This idea isn’t entirely new. NO AD may remind some readers of Steve Lambert’s Add-Art or Julian Oliver’s The Artvertiser. But Add-Art hasn’t been functional for some time and The Artvertiser never really made it beyond a fun experiment and no longer appears to be in development, so it’s great to see other artists take up the mantle of digitally and legally replacing ads with art.

One question that I’m sure will come up: How does NO AD know what subway ads look like? The app developers essentially have to feed the app information about what ads are up in subway stations at any given time, which means that they have to go out and photograph every different subway ad they can find and rotate ads in and out of the app. As new ads rotate in, so will new artwork.

On some level, NO AD is an ad takeover tool. It takes space that is currently filled with ads and replaces those very specific ads with art. They could have just as easily used other objects around NYC as “triggers” for the art, but they decided to go with ads. Plus, for the initial launch, they’ve partnered with about 50 artists, many of whom have been outspoken critics of public advertising.

Today, NO AD is a kind of “what if,” a thought experiment to get people thinking about what it would be like to replace the ads with art, because of course you still need to take out your phone, open the app, and look at specific ads to see the artwork. So, essentially, it could be said that the app is a gimmick to get people thinking about replacing ads with art, rather than a tool to actually achieve that.

But NO AD may not be just a thought experiment in a few years. Fast forward to when everyone and their mother is wearing some version of Google Glass all day long. There will still be ads on the subway, but with NO AD running in the background on your Google Glass, you won’t see the ads. You’ll just see art exhibitions.

And that’s the other half of NO AD, the part that is more than just a thought experiment or a very long-term thinking anti-advertising strategy: It’s potential as an exhibition space. The first set of artists whose work is being exhibited through NO AD (including Vandalog’s Caroline Caldwell) are a motley crew of experimenters and friends of the organizers, which isn’t such a bad thing since these guys have some very talented friends, but imagine given a single artist a chance to take over all of the ads on the subway, or bringing in a professional curator to use NO AD and the subway system as an exhibition space in a more organized way. NO AD is an exhibition space that exists somewhere between the physical and the digital, always bringing with it an energy of political activism and chance.

NO AD is a glimpse into the future, a new exhibition space, and a platform for activism. I’m excited.


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

Link-o-rama

August 31st, 2014 | By | No Comments »
art_museum

Unknown artist in Philadelphia

Loving my time so far at the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, but it’s definitely more than a 9-5, so it’s time for me to play catch up yet again…

  • Speaking of the Mural Arts Program, I am really pleased to say that we now have a major Shepard Fairey mural in Philadelphia. Find me some day and ask me the whole story of this mural, but let’s just say it’s complicated and thank goodness for Roland at Domani Developers for getting us a wall at the last minute.
  • We also have a new much more politically-charged mural from Shepard Fairey through The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, and while I’m sure the process for that was also quite complicated, my friend Wayne took care of that and all I had to do was pitch Shepard on the idea of a big wall in NYC and the property owner on the idea of a Shepard Fairey mural on his building (neither of which were too difficult). I’m absolutely honored to have played even my small role in each of these murals. It was my first time working with Shepard, and it was a pleasure.
  • Two real kings of NYC graffiti, Blade and Freedom, have shows open now at the Seventh Letter flagship store in LA. Blade is an undisputed subway king who also pushed graffiti forward as an art-form, a rare combination. Freedom is a personal favorite of mine (his piece in my black book is a real prized possession) for combining pop art, an ability to paint very well, comics, and graffiti in an intelligent way without too much of an ego. I’m sad to be missing both of these shows, but I hope LA will give them the love they deserve.
  • Hi-Fructose posted some interesting GIFs by Zolloc, but the best part of the post is the first sentence: “While GIFs have yet to find an established place in the art world, they’re fascinating because they have the potential to go beyond the frozen image in two dimensions.” Of course, Hi-Fructose is part of the art world, so just having them post Zolloc’s GIFs counts for something. Hi-Fructose seems to be saying (albeit hesitantly) that GIFs being in their corner of the art world, which is great. That’s not a bad corner to be in, and it’s a hell of a lot better than nowhere. So, why be hesitant? If the work is fascinating, embrace it.
  • Oh Olek, always the best of intentions, but the results are not so great…
  • Some absolutely great ad takeovers.
  • These projections from Hygienic Dress League are a bit different. Very cool though. Anyone know of other artists who are projecting onto steam?
  • Smart Crew have teamed up with Beriah Wall on a series of cool collaborations. Does anyone else see this as further evidence of Smart Crew growing up, aka transitioning from a crew producing illegal graffiti into a brand or collective that does legal (and sometimes commercial) work referencing illegal graffiti? Nothing wrong with that. I’m just noting the transition.
  • Even when recycling old work, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is always poignant and powerful. She’s also created a new poster of Michael Brown that you can download on her website.
  • I’ve been saying for a while that there’s great similarity between GIFs and street art, so I’m a big fan of this series of installations organized by Guus ter Beek and Tayfun Sarier.
  • Hyperallergic has been covering artist reactions to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Public performances in Philadelphia (by Keith Wallace) and New York City (by Whitney V. Hunter) exemplify to the unsurprising obliviousness to the situation or at least lack of caring that so many people openly display (for more, see Kara Walker at Domino). It’s amazing to see these two striking performances go widely ignored while it’s mostly pretty but empty murals that go viral. Is that the state of street art and muralism today? I hope not. And of course, maybe what makes those performances so jarring online is that they were ignored on the street.
  • I have tried to resit the allure of Pejac’s work for a while, but no more. Yes, some of the jokes are cheap and feel twice-told, exactly the sort of easy made-to-go-viral work that I am complaining about in the previous paragraph, but Pejac is painting them really well, and they consistently catch my attention. As much as I would like to write him off as a Banksy-ripoff who even came to that idea a few years too late, I can’t do so any longer. The work is actually quite good. Have a look for yourself.
  • Last week I was in Atlanta for the Living Walls Conference. A great time was had by all. I was there to speak with Living Walls co-founder Monica Campana and Juxtapoz editor Austin McManus about the evolution of street art and graffiti over the past five or so year, and Vandalog contributing writer Caroline Caldwell was there to paint a mural. Atlanta got some real gems this year, including new work by Moneyless, Troy Lovegates and Xuan Alyfe in collaboration with Trek Matthews. Juxtapoz has extensive coverage. Congratulations to Living Walls on a truly impressive 5th anniversary event.
  • This coming week I’ll be in Norway for Nuart and Nuart Plus. The artist lineup features some of my personal favorites, including John Fekner, SpY and Fra.Biancoshock. I love Nuart because it’s a festival that always strikes a balance between the best of the best artists painting epic murals on the “street art festival circuit,” and the oft-under-publicized but highly-political activist artists intervening in public space. Putting these artists in the same festival strengthens the work of everyone there, and reminds us that murals can serve many different purposes. I’ll be speaking at Nuart Plus on behalf of the Mural Arts Program in a few capacities. I’ll be moderating a panel about activism in art, presenting couple of short films during Brooklyn Street Art’s film night, sitting on a panel about contemporary muralism and giving a talk about how government-sanctioned art and muralism can be used to promote positive social change. There will be a lot of great speakers at Nuart Plus this year though. Brooklyn Street Art has the whole line up for the festival and the conference.

Photo by RJ Rushmore


Category: Art News, Festivals, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,