Wrapping up ALL BIG LETTERS

March 5th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Graffiti Taxonomy by Evan Roth. Photo by Lisa Boughter.

As regular readers probably know, I recently curated an exhibition about the tools and strategies of graffiti for the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College. ALL BIG LETTERS closed on Friday. The exhibition featured work from Adam VOID, Aric Kurzman, BLADE, Biancoshock, CURVE, DB Burkeman, Egg Shell Stickers, EKG, Evan Roth, FAUST, Fumakaka Crew, Jordan Seiler, Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer, Lee George Quinones, Loiq, Martha Cooper, MOMO, NTEL, Smart Crew, Steve Weinik, stikman, and more. Before ALL BIG LETTERS fades into our rear view, I wanted to highlight two more bits of press about the show.

First, I spoke with Brooklyn Street Art’s Jaime Rojo and Steven Harrington for an interview on The Huffington Post. We spoke about curating an exhibition about graffiti for a general audience (and a gallery with an educational mission), the graffiti community’s skill at hacking tools and cityscapes, graffiti as a performance, and more.

And Very Nearly Almost published a short video from ALL BIG LETTERS:

Photo by Lisa Boughter


Category: Vandalog Projects, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Truth Behind Banksy (According to Portlandia)

February 21st, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Portlandia does it again. For their latest segment taking on the art world, Portlandia have Fred Armisen’s character convinced that he is Banksy. Watch what happens:

“Everything’s better, everywhere that we add the art.” Love it. Of course, there’s more than a grain of truth to this piece. Not only about the way that street art, by Banksy or by others, can increase property values and add a “cool factor” to a individual buildings or to entire neighborhoods, but the way that countless property owners added (or perhaps occasionally found) sub-par street art to their buildings, only to call the local news and say, “Oh man, I think Banksy just painted on the side of my building! This is crazy. Get over here and do a story about my building!”

So, kudos to Portlandia, as always.


Category: Videos | Tags: ,

Forged artworks, silly exhibitions, and the Banksy market

November 22nd, 2016 | By | 1 Comment »

Banksy

Melbourne’s controversial Banksy exhibition, curated by Steve Lazarides and unaffiliated with the artist, has been the target of much criticism since it opened last month. The exhibition has a ticket price of $30, was organized without the artist’s permission, includes a gift shop full of un-authorized Banksy merch, and just generally smells of slick businessmen trying to make a quick buck off of Banksy’s name. But don’t take my word for it… just ask the artist who was commissioned to paint a mural outside of the show, or Australian street art critic Alison Young who noted that, at best, the show takes great work and installs and displays it poorly.

Then again, who wants to read, when you can watch a video that explains it all? CDH‘s latest installation, FAKESY, sums up everything that’s wrong with The Art of Banksy (the exhibition I mean, not Banksy’s art) and the art market in general. For the performance, CDH set up a stall selling fake Banksy art outside of the Melbourne exhibition. Watch what happens next…

Did you catch that? The part where CDH is told that he can’t be selling his Banksy forgeries because it’s not good for business at the Banksy exhibition… At least the exhibition organizers seem to be admitting that their gift shop is also full of forgeries. That’s progress, sort of.

Bless you, CDH, for perfectly capturing this ridiculousness.

Photo by Duncan Hull


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Videos | Tags: , , ,

S̶k̶y̶ ̶T̶V̶Sly TV by Dr. D and Disobedient Films

June 6th, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Sky TV Billboard

Dr. D‘s latest project, a collaboration with Disobedient Films, takes his ad busting beyond billboards. Sly TV, a parody of the British satellite TV company Sky (a part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire), is perhaps most visible as a series of wheatpastes in East London.

Sly TV has its own website, and Sly’s ad campaign extends from street art to digital advertising.

It’s amazing what kind of targeting powers digital advertisers have. For as little as $10, you can buy an ad on Facebook and narrow your audience so that it’s only seen by wealthy young British men who go to university and love classic rock. Or just about any other audience you can imagine. Similar thing on Google. Want to reach people thinking about buying a new car? You can buy ads that display when people search “how to buy a car.” What if you want to reach people who are thinking about Sky TV? You can buy ads that display when people search for “Sky TV,” “Sky News,” or “Sky box.” And that’s just what Dr. D and Disobedient Films did.

google

Now, if you search any of the above search terms, there’s a chance that an ad will appear for the Sly TV website. Here’s what that ad looks like:

ad

Sly TV bought similar ads for Facebook. So, if you fit their target audience (English-speaking men who live in the UK), keep an eye out for Sly TV in your newsfeed.

dish

Photos and video courtesy of Disobedient Films


Category: Photos, Videos, Viral Art | Tags: , , ,

A hidden piece across 100 shutters

June 5th, 2016 | By | 2 Comments »

mvin

In an internet-age twist on Steve Powers’ famous ESPO shutters, Spain’s MVIN has painted a massive piece across 99 shutters in Barcelona. Like Powers, it appears that MVIN painted his shutters in broad daylight with a high-vis vest, acting like the buff man. And individually, each shutter does look more or less like a half-finished buff job. Collectively though (and with the help of the 100th shutter, a camera)…

For those in Barcelona who want to visit some of these shutters in person, here’s a map.

Finally, here’s a video of the piece coming together:

Photos by MVIN


Category: Photos, Videos | Tags: ,

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

April 18th, 2016 | By | 2 Comments »
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 »
3

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