Saving Banksy? A film about taking street pieces off the wall

April 18th, 2016 | By | 1 Comment »
Still from Saving Banksy

Still from Saving Banksy

This week, a curious film will premier at the Nashville Film Festival: Saving Banksy, a documentary about the legality, politics, and ethics of removing street art from the street, and what happens once you have a giant unauthenticated Banksy sitting in your garage. I’m curious to see how this turns out. If anyone is in Nashville this week and sees the film, let me know what you think. In the mean time, here’s the trailer:

For now, I’ll just add one thought about stealing/saving street art from the elements and the buff. Removing art off the street is a lot like an art theft. And not just because you’re stealing work from public view.

There’s a funny thing about art thefts: Usually, it’s not an inside job. Truth is, the heists are generally orchestrated by people who don’t quite know what they’re stealing. They just know it’s supposed to be valuable. Maybe they steal a painting that could be worth millions if it were sold legitimately at Sotheby’s. Except that stolen art is worth barely a fraction of non-stolen art, but stealing, transporting, and storing the art can be expensive.

Similarly, chopping up a wall to “save” a Banksy isn’t cheap. And then you have to ship it. And store it. And ship it again to where it might go on display. And to the buyer (if there is one). All the while, the vast majority of collectors would rather buy an authenticated painting than an unauthenticated piece with a shady history. Just because a giant authenticated Banksy canvas can go for $1,000,000 doesn’t mean that a similar street piece can be sold to anyone for any price. But by the time anyone figures that out, it’s too late. The piece is already off the wall and in private hands.

From what I’ve heard, Stealing Banksy touches on a similar point, which should be interesting to see play out on camera.

Still from the Stealing Banksy trailer


Category: Art News, Videos | Tags: ,

From Bumfights to #BlackLivesMatter, Indecline exploits it all

March 27th, 2016 | By | No Comments »
Still from Indecline's #BlackLivesMatter: Hollywood film

Still from Indecline’s #BlackLivesMatter: Hollywood film

Indecline, the street art collective known for their Rape Trump mural and the world’s largest illegal graffiti, are back at it with a #BlackLivesMatter-themed piece. Last week, they posted a video of their team creating some custom stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, applying the names of eight black men and women who have been killed by police to unused stars. Indecline called the action #BlackLivesMatter: Hollywood and gave the hashtag a shoutout at the end of their video.

Except that Indecline is more than just a street art collective. They are also the team behind the controversial Bumfights video series. If you’re not familiar with Bumfights, think Jackass, except with homeless men paid $10 per stunt. Oh, and in 2014, Indecline stole human remains from a hospital and tried to ship them from Thailand to the USA.

And now, from the assholes who brought you Bumfights, here comes some vaguely political street art:

Did you notice those circles glued immediately below the names Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Dontre Hamilton, Oscar Grant, Kimani Gray, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones? That was Indecline’s logo. Rather than working as allies and making work in support of #BlackLivesMatter (like you can find at Artists Against Police Violence), Indecline is stamping their logo on the movement.

This latest video and their history of being terrible (which I wasn’t aware of before now) has me taking another look at some of Indecline’s greatest street art hits. Their Wheel of Misfortune is meant as an attack on banks for making people homeless and puting them in hopeless and difficult situations, what about the homeless men who had the misfortune of working for Indecline? This Land Was Our Land was painted in an area that was once home to Native Americans, but it was signed “Indecline,” aka a white kid and his friends. And Rape Trump suddenly feels like an excuse to make a rape joke on a road trip to Mexico.

Indecline is not activism. It’s a brand exploiting political activism, and a history of systematic injustices faced by people of color, for amusement and self-promotion. Indecline is guys attaching themselves to a life-or-death movement for shits-and-giggles.

Still and video by Indecline


Category: Videos | Tags: ,

Posterboy’s bold tribute to a murdered Peruvian activist

December 3rd, 2015 | By | No Comments »

posterboy

In December 2014, Posterboy attempted one of their most bold installations yet. He was in Lima, Peru. It was election season. And just a few months before, a prominent environmental activist had been brutally murdered. Edwin Chota was killed by illegal loggers, who operate with impunity in the Amazon rainforests of Peru. Chota had been on a campaign to kick out the illegal loggers and reclaim the lands for the indigenous people of the area. After being repeatedly threatened by loggers and having those threats ignored by the authorities, Chota and three other men were killed for their activism. When Posterboy was in Peru, he heard Chota’s story, and decided to respond in the best way he knows how: A billboard.

The whole story, including a very angry local politician, is captured in this exclusive video, which Posterboy is only now releasing for the first time:

Video and video still courtesy of Posterboy


Category: Videos | Tags:

Street art tackles the crisis for migrants

November 7th, 2015 | By | 1 Comment »
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A still from DE-FENCE. Image courtesy of DE-FENCE.

Earlier this week, two very different pieces of street art landed in my inbox within half an hour of each other. That’s not so strange. Plenty of people send me photos and videos every day. What was strange is that both pieces aim to shed light on the crisis facing the thousands upon thousands of people in the midst of international migration, and that both pieces were installed without authorization.

The first piece is by two of my favorite artists: John Fekner and Fra.Biancoshock. “Family Portrait ” (Displaced And On The Run…) is the first time these two artists have collaborated. Fekner comes from the first generation of contemporary street artists, putting up his first stencil in 1968. Biancoshock is a young Italian street artist making some of the most exciting interventions in public space today.

"Family Portrait " (Displaced And On The Run…)

“Family Portrait ” (Displaced And On The Run…). Photo courtesy of Fra.Biancoshock.

Fekner and Biancoshock have intentionally avoided saying where Family Portrait is located, but they do have a bit to say about why they did it:

Drawing on the spirit seen in Dorothea Lange’s photographic portrait documentation of rural poor families and migratory farm workers during the Great Depression, the artists’ intent is to create an empathetic reflection of the plight of the migrant; an intimate portrait of a family “left hung out to dry” and on the run.

While Fekner and Biancoshock’s intervention is quiet and meditative, a group of artists and activists in the Czech Republic have responded to the plight of the migrant with a very different energy.

A still from DE-FENCE. Image courtesy of DE-FENCE.

A still from DE-FENCE. Image courtesy of DE-FENCE.

The DE-FENCE collective has made their presence felt at detention center (a former prison) in the Czech village of Drahonice. The detention center currently houses refugees that were caught by the Czech authorities. The refugees are incarcerated indefinitely and watched over by up to 100 guards, and each refugee is charged $275 a month for the privilege. On September 28th, Czech Statehood Day, DE-FENCE visited the detention center, which they compare to a concentration camp. DE-FENCE brought with them a can of paint and some bolt cutters. Here’s what happened:

Now, the heart-shaped section of fencing that they cut out of the detention center is going to be auctioned off, with all profits going towards “grassroots refugee aid activities.” The starting price is 10,000 euros. If you’re interested in buying the object, contact de-fence@riseup.net.

The  DE-FENCE object. Image courtesy of DE-FENCE.

The DE-FENCE object. Image courtesy of DE-FENCE.

PS, in case you missed it, Banksy also recycled materials from Dismaland for use in the camps in Calais, and then someone stole the sign.

Photos courtesy of Fra.Biancoshock and DE-FENCE


Category: Photos, Videos | Tags: , , ,

Largely self-promotional link-o-rama

August 10th, 2015 | By | No Comments »
stikman in Philadelphia

stikman in Philadelphia

Apologies that this particular link-o-rama is full of self-promotion and conflicts of interesting, but I do think these are all interesting projects and I hope you do too:

  • It takes a lot to get my excited about a mural festival, but this year’s Wall\Therapy in Rochester, NY looks great. It’s difficult to put on a mural festival. One short cut is to work with obvious artists. Your festival will look like 50 other festivals, but the walls will probably seem impressive. Wall\Therapy has not gone that route. This year in particular, they put together a surprising and diverse line up to create an arguably cohesive body of new work, and the quality of the murals is still strong pretty much across the board. Check out Brooklyn Street Art’s photos and review for the full story.
  • From the selections I’ve read, I’m still not sure how I feel about the book What Do One Million Ja Tags Signify? by Dumar Novy, but a philosophy book centered on the work of a prolific graffiti writer seems like something that should at least catch the interest of Vandalog readers.
  • Phlegm is in the middle of his latest art-making experiment, spending a month making art in the woods of rural England. I’m loving the results so far, and of course the concept of challenging himself in this way.
  • Shepard Fairey’s latest print about corporate greed and campaign finance reform is about to drop. It’s a nice print, and I’m always glad to see Shepard tackling this important but not particularly sexy topic. Plus, the profits from this print go to two great organizations fighting for campaign finance reform. I’ll just note that Shepard is working on a couple of projects right now for my employer, but campaign finance reform and political corruption really are topics that I care a lot about.
  • Speaking of my employer, I recently got to work on a really fun project with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Ben Eine. Back in June, Eine came to Philly for a few days and painted almost 40 of his classic shutter letters. Philly now has a complete Eine alphabet, and then some. Eine’s work can be found throughout the city, but the shutters are definitely clustered in South Philly around Southeast by Southeast, a community center and art space for the neighborhood’s large Southeast Asian refugee community. Brooklyn Street Art has more on this project.
  • And one more Mural Arts project to mention: JR recently installed a huge mural right in the heart of Philadelphia as part of Open Source, our public art exhibition curated by Pedro Alonzo. The mural is a portrait of Ibrahim Shah, a local food truck chef who came to Philadelphia from Pakistan about a year ago. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a great profile on Ibrahim. I love how this mural looms large on the side of one of the biggest buildings right in the center of Philly, but isn’t actually that visible from the ground except from a few choice locations. Sounds like that could be a problem, I know, but the mural actually pops out from behind buildings in the most surprising places, and catching a glimpse of it winds up being a thrill, a bit of hide and seek. Plus, that game plays into the meaning of the mural, which is about how immigrants are a big part of our cities, but aren’t always celebrated or allowed to be made visible.
  • Okay, actually, Mural Arts has something coming up with Steve Powers too, but hopefully it will last longer than these signs in NYC! No surprise, a great series of street signs by Powers, installed legally as part of a project with the NYC Department of Transportation, seem to be being ripped down and stolen by greedy collectors or maybe thieves hoping to make a buck. It’s no surprise, but it is still disappointing.
  • A few days ago, I appeared on Al Jazeera English as a guest on their show The Stream. Gaia and I joined their panel to talk about street art. You can watch the full episode, plus some bonus online content, here.
  • If you’re in New York City, do not miss Faile’s exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s on now, and visiting is a really exciting experience. Vandalog contributing writer Caroline Caldwell currently works as an assistant at Faile’s studio, but even hearing bits and pieces from her as things were coming together did not prepare me for the awesomeness that is Savage/Sacred Young Minds. Without a doubt, the highlight of the exhibition is the latest and (I think) largest iteration of Faile and Bast’s Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, with custom foosball, pinball, and of course video games. It’s just an unabashedly fun experience. Arrested Motion has photos of much of the exhibition.

Photo by RJ Rushmore


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

Sabe KST officially has the best blackbook, and here it is…

July 29th, 2015 | By | No Comments »

Sabe

For me, one of the most interesting writers in contemporary graffiti is Sabe KST. I have to give Faust credit for really turning me to on Sabe’s work, although I doubt that Faust realized he was introducing me to a writer whose work perfectly matched up with what I’d been interested in seeing from contemporary graffiti.

Credit goes to Evan Roth for introducing me to the idea that graffiti is a series of hacks. Graffiti is about re-purposing tools as much as re-purposing space. But modern graffiti writers have access to 1000 tools custom-made for them. Sabe not only continues the art of hacking together your own graffiti implements, but he brings that same energy and ingenuity into his legal work. For his paintings and drawings, Sabe creates custom motorized tools that give him an aesthetic that other artists can’t match, because they don’t have the tools to do so.

With his latest project, Anime Blackbook, Sabe has combined old-school animation with digital art and video art, something else I love to see from writers and street artists. Just watch:

Is that not one of the best possible digital displays of tags? Anime Blackbook works for the same reason that INSA’s GIF-ITI is so popular. It’s an eye-catching way to activate graffiti in digital space of endless scrolling. Actually, Sabe should probably convert each tag into a GIF.

Of course, Anime Blackbook is reminiscent of Graffiti Markup Language (GML)/#000000book/KATSU’s FatTag Deluxe and associated projects from F.A.T. Lab. In fact, I was surprised to find out that Sabe hadn’t simply used GML to capture everyone’s tags for this project.

Regardless of the underlying technology, which is what those F.A.T. Projects were really about, Sabe’s video is a new favorite of mine. By simply adding some music and cool backgrounds, he captures the unique vibes of each writer in the video, something that a tag on a blank background can’t do unless you’re acutely attuned to the intricacies of graffiti. The pairings are perfect. For the writers I know, they make sense, and for the writers I don’t, they immediately tell me something extra about them. Pixote’s tag makes sense on a rocky cliff. Sabio’s tag means something different against a forest. Of course Faust’s tag is set against skyscrapers, and KAWS’ name appears on some ethereal starscape. The idea behind Anime Blackbook is relatively simple, but so many good ideas are. With this piece, Sabe has captured something about writing and the people who write, and any fan of graffiti should be able to appreciate that.

For more about Anime Blackbook, check out Animal’s brief interview with Sabe.

PS, the full list of writers included in the video is… JOZ, EASY, VEEFER, CES, SKUF, RIME, VIZIE, NEKST, WANE, JEST, SACER, ARK, NOV, SYE5, PIXOTE, SABIO, KADISM, RASAD, END, AMUSE126, SEGE, HOUND, KORN, DCEVE, SNOEMAN, CINIK, FAUST, YEAR, REHAB, AKS, REMO, NEMZ, FORES, SHAUN, GUESS, REAS, ESPO, KAWS, LEWY, ADEK, MALVO, KATSU, DAYS, GUNS, OPTIMIST, RESQ, BEGR, PEAR, ZOMBRA, PHAT2, UDON, NUNO, FANTA, TOM246, WANTO, QP, VERY, and SABEKST. Also, the film was produced by Sabe KST with animation direction by Celia Bulwinkel and a soundtrack by Trouble Andrew/Gucci Ghost.

Screenshot from Anime Blackbook by Sabe KST


Category: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Exploring Ghent with Chris Dyer

June 16th, 2015 | By | 1 Comment »
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Bue the Warrior and Chris Dyer

In early spring, I had the chance to meet up with Chris Dyer in Ghent, Belgium, while he was visiting the family of his wife, the lovely Valerie. As he regularly spends time in this part of Europe, and in order to avoid getting bored and to take advantage of this time away from Montreal, his home city, he met with the local street artists and ended up collaborating on a bunch of projects. And because Chris is so generous and positive, he naturally became friends with many of them.

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Chris Dyer, Bue the Warrior, and Scarpulla

For me, it was an opportunity to explore the city with Chris, to get his take on Ghent and see what he’d painted there. Actually, as he said to me, Ghent should be re-named Bue the Warrior City! When you enter Ghent, you see Bue’s art everywhere. Whether it’s illegal or legal pieces, his art covers a multitude of walls and doors… All of it painted in a joyful spirit, yet always controlled.

While we were walking through the city, looking for some cool spots where he used to paint, Chris explained to me how he improved his bombing technique each time he worked with Bue. It’s the same gratitude you can feel when he speaks about his beginnings in Montreal, where he was invited, in the early 2000’s, to join an exhibition organized by the best of the best,Troy Lovegates and Labrona, after he moved from Peru for study illustration in Canada. What a lesson of humility, when you can hear the admiration and respect for his peers by an artist like Dyer! He also told me about his early life in Lima, Peru, where he began tagging as a teenager while he was part of a street gang.

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Chris Dyer

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Chris Dyer

Ghent is a small town compared to bigger neighbors like Brussels, but it appears to be an incredible canvas for Belgium street artists and graffiti writers. ROA is the most well-known among them, as are Dzia, A squid called sebastian, Resto, Bisser, Scarpulla, and of course Bue the warrior, just for named a few.

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Dzia

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A squid called sebastian

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Bue the Warrior and Dawn

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Graffiti Factory

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Graffiti Factory

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Bisser, Bue the Warrior, and Chris Dyer

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ROA

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Bue the Warrior

Thank you very much Chris!

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Chris Dyer behind the Graslei, the historical center of Ghent.

Positive Creations in Belgium (Artventures Webpisode #8) from Chris Dyer`s Positive Creations on Vimeo.

Photos by Aline Mairet


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

How many street artists can Hyundai rip off in 30 seconds?

April 28th, 2015 | By | 12 Comments »
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Screenshot from the Hyundai ad

Major hat tip to Ian Cox for coming across this one, as well as Caroline Caldwell for alerting me to Ian’s find and for research help.

A car commercial currently airing on UK television for the Hyundai i20 appears to steal the work of at least half a dozen street artists in just 30 seconds. Here’s the ad:

I guess this just goes to show you what advertising executives mean by “inspiration”.

How many stolen pieces can you spot? Spoilers after the jump.

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Featured Posts, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Street art for a rainy city

March 22nd, 2015 | By | 3 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: ,