It’s a shortish link-o-rama this week, but with some really good stories and great walls…
ICHABOD is one of America’s great freight train writers. He also has Asperger’s Syndrome. This article by Caleb Neelon gives rare insight into the mind of a great graffiti writer and an artist with Asperger’s. It is a must read.
Ollystudio’s book Stencil Republic does not attempt to remind readers of how awesome Blek and Banksy are, or of the importance of John Fekner. Rather, Stencil Republic highlights some of the current favorite stencil street artists (such as A10ne, Run Don’t Walk, Sten & Lex, A*C Alto Contraste, Sr. X, Chris Stain, and more) as it attempts to embrace and delineate the scene as it stands today. As Aiko explains in her intro, stencils have become such a widely embraced tool of expression that many stencil-artists are a flash in the pan, with few maintaining a lasting presence in the scene. Rather than heralding the history-makers, Stencil Republic focuses on the top stencil-cutters of the moment, resulting in a refreshing mixture of strong work by well-known and not-so-well-known stencil artists.
One of the more outstanding and controversial aspects of this book is that, with each introduction to an artist, readers are presented with a laser cut stencil of the artist’s design. While the quality of these stencils are impressive, and in my opinion, what sets this book above others of its kind, I can imagine some contention arising in response to giving the public twenty replica stencils by artists who are potentially still putting up these same works. In a way this controversy is reminiscent of Tox’s court case, where his key defense was the fact that anyone could replicate his tag. By agreeing to participate in Ollystudio’s book, have the artists in Stencil Republic signed on to a sort of vandal-insurance should they ever get caught putting up work illegally?
As I showed some friends this book, I inquired as to whether they, as both the audience of the work and as potential participants in it’s distribution, felt that the artists’ “credit” was being challenged, or thought that “credit” even mattered at all. It seemed that the grassroots understanding of street art was that its intent is to beautify an environment or to spread an idea but not necessarily to proliferate an identity, in contrast to graffiti. In this sense, this book should help to spread street art. But again, this question of identity vs. credit came up, seeing as this was something that each artist who participated in this book needed to consider before agreeing to relinquish the right to recreate and distribute their work to the public. I’m curious if “credit” mattered to them; whether they thought that the public would still know the design was theirs, and whether the person who physically puts a piece up is actually significant to the piece itself. Take the “OBEY” campaign for example: though it started as the individual efforts of Shepard Fairey, the ubiquity of the Andre the Giant icon grew to outstanding proportions when the task of getting the image up was taken over by any willing participant.
I am not bringing up these questions as a criticism of the quality of Ollystudio’s product. Actually, these dilemmas would not exist if these stencils were not so exquisitely cut. I would recommend purchasing this book for a few reasons: 1. It’s a good conversation piece on appropriation of art; 2. You really should get to know these current artists – they’re talented; 3. It is a splendid reminder that vandalizing is fun (but don’t do that -blah blah- legal disclaimer).
Alone (aka Tanha) reports from Tehran that his city recently hosted its third public street art/graffiti event. While the first two were held in gallery spaces, SPRAY 2011 — presented by KolahStudio and hosted by Adrenaline Extreme Sports — took place outdoors on a 70-meter wall. Alone shared the following video and photos of the successful event:
A note from RJ: This is Luke’s first guest post on Vandalog. He will be helping us cover street art and graffiti in Melbourne, Australia.
This is an amazing little alleyway in Melbourne. Check out some of the local and international talent. (There’s so much goodness down there so apologies to anyone that I’ve missed.. Next time..)
Whilst it’s not as famous as some other Melbourne streets, it’s by far my favourite. No surprise why this is, this alley is the entrance to the famous ‘Blender Studios‘ http://www.theblenderstudios.com/ (Have a read on their site, Blender is an instrumental part of the history of Melbourne’s vibrant street art scene).
I’m a big fan of A1one’s artwork. Although I’ve seen and exhibited it on canvas, cardboard and vinyl, I’ve yet to see it up close in a public space. ‘hoping that A1one aka Tanha can bring his talents to the U.S. at some point! Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the photos he shares with me from time to time.
Credited with having introduced street art to the Islamic world, A1one also spends many hours in his studio. I particularly love his stencils and his Persian/Arabic — styled calligraphy. Among the images he recently shared with me are these:
Beautiful Crime brought Iranian artist A1one to my attention the other day, and I’ve been spending a good deal of time looking through his flickr. Adam at BC likes him “because it’s raw, effective comment.” As for me, I just think his work is extremely varied, and that that’s something that isn’t always true of street artists. Also, I was surprised that street artists could be so prolific in Iran.
My friend K recently wrote a paper for his art history class comparing Iranian calligraphy and Eine‘s work. I wish I’d found A1one a month ago, because A1one’s work would have been perfect for K’s paper. A1one’s lettering is beautiful on the street, and it’s an interesting twist on classic graffiti.
Now, this last one is sure to strike some people as very similar to work by José Parlá, and I love Parlá’s work, but what’s nice about A1one is that his pieces can actually be read by people other than the artist. For example, the above piece says “Nefrat” or “Hate”. A1one also notes that while Parlá works on expensive materials, A1one uses found materials as a canvas.