It’s officially spring break, which meant the last week for me has primarily consisted of sitting at my desk where I read and type furiously until my eyes are tearing up and my fingers are sore. It also means I could only blog when procrastinating and that the next few days should be a chance to write some longer posts that I’ve been sitting on. In the mean time, here’s what I’ve been finding around the web this week:
The Living Walls Conference has two great announcements this week: 1. They are now a 501(c)(3), aka an official non-profit organization. 2. In addition to the annual conference, there will be 6 “Living Walls Concepts” mini-events throughout the year, starting in March.
Craig Ward wrote a letter critiquing Banksy’s critique of advertisers. Given: Banksy is one of the world’s best marketers himself. Beyond that, the letter is a bit of a mess and Ward points out that he has worked in advertising himself. Clearly, it’s written from the perspective of someone who has lost his perspective and seems to boil down to “There’s worse stuff in the world, so umm, please leave advertisers alone.” No doubt that there are greater evils in the world than the public advertising that seems to be the primary target of Banksy’s critique of advertising, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Additionally, one of Ward’s points as to why traditional advertising isn’t as bad as Banksy’s advertising is that traditional advertisers pays for the locations they use. With that argument, Ward completely disregards both the negative externalities of massive ad campaigns that occur regardless of how much the advertiser pays (compared to the documented positive externalities of Banksy’s street art) and the illegal nature of many advertising campaigns which do not pay the government for the space that they use. By his standard, hiring an assassin to kill someone might be better than doing it yourself, because at least there’s money involved and somebody is getting paid for their time.
Little over a week ago I was watching Word to Mother painting his outdoor piece for Moniker Art Fair. Allocated one of the 3 by 4 metre recesses he took to the piece with gusto. Layer after layer of tag and dub was laid down and a day later, a final coat of white was rollered onto the wall.
Appropriately dubbed, “The Wall”, the expanse of brick along Great Eastern Street has played host to a variety of artists, both local and international. Dabs & Myla, Best Ever and Malarky followed Word to Mother, but I could also name drop Steve Powers, Herakut, Nychos, SheOne, Shep Fairey and Know Hope among others. However soon after an artist completes a piece it is buffed or covered by another artist, pretty much like any wall I suppose.
But Village Underground hope this will all change following a Kickstarter fundraising project. Their aim is to raise enough funds to design, build and install bullet proof metal and glass frames over the recesses to protect the art work from theft and vandalism. In essence this will allow for artists to produce work in a variety of methods and on a mix of mediums. And with the addition of a digital wall and 10 million passing cars a year, “The Wall” will become London’s most public art gallery.
In a way I feel its a bit of a shame that the wall will be covered, but I’m sure you will agree that the project will certainly be interesting. Plus Village Underground, despite indicating that the artists will now obviously be able to sell their work, maintain they are working on a not-for-profit basis. It’s good to see that this project isn’t just about making money for them then!
For more info, including a nice little video, and to donate head here.
Back again this year at Village Underground in London, the Moniker Art Fair is opening today and will be open through Sunday. In contrast to the Frieze art fair (also on this weekend in London), Moniker is free and focuses on work by street artists and low-brow artists. This year, galleries exhibiting at Moniker include Stolenspace, Scream, LeBasse Projects, Shea & Ziegler (Frankie Shea of Moniker/CampBarbossa teaming up with Tina Ziegler) and Andenken Gallery.
The program at this year’s fair is packed, so make sure to check it out before heading over, as there are a number of special events like print releases and artist talks going on. Hooked Blog is running tours of the fair and the surrounding street art on the weekend, something I had a lot of fun doing on a more informal basis last year.
In addition to gallery booths, the fair includes project spaces for individual artists. This year, Matt Small, Beejoir, Best Ever, Peeta, Dabs and Myla will be showing work in the project spaces.
Last year, the Wide Open Walls project brought a number of street artists to The Gambia to paint in local villages. Subsequently, the project was criticized as a sort of “slum tourism” for artists as well as anyone who viewed photos of the project, with the artists taking advantage of the communities they were painting in. This year, Wide Open Walls brought more artists to The Gambia and made a point of examining the issue of responsible tourism. After all, part of the goal of Wide Open Walls is to encourage tourism to these villages.
For this round of Wide Open Walls, the artist line-up was curated by Write on Africa and include Bushdwellers, Roa, Know Hope, Remed, TIKA, Freddy Sam, Selah, and Best Ever. The artists spent two weeks painting in The Gambia.
While the people involved directly in Wide Open Walls seem happy that they were responsible, made a connection to the communities they were in and made a difference or are in the process of doing so, it’s more difficult for me to post these photos without feeling that I’m participating in the sort of voyeurism that Wide Open Walls is trying to avoid. I wasn’t there, so I don’t have a personal connection to these villages or the people there (although some of the artists and other people on the trip have posted their reactions on the WOW website, which is something). Instead, I’m looking at the photographs and part of me is smugly thinking, “See, street art can make a difference. Yep. Smiling kids. People having fun in front of art. A building that looks cool now. Here’s proof that street art is a good thing.” And that makes me pretty damn uncomfortable.
What Wide Open Walls is doing can probably be compared in some ways to what JR has done working in the slums of Brazil and Kenya. Except that with JR, he makes a point of telling the stories of the people he is photographing, and he helps to improve their situations (like how in Kenya he fixed up people’s homes by printing his photos on water-resistant material and putting those prints on roofs). Wide Open Walls hasn’t really done anything like that yet beyond painting murals. I don’t know the stories of these villages and there isn’t much of a way to support the project or the people in these villages. Eventually though, that will change. There are plans for a book and an exhibition of photographs to help raise money for the villages. In the mean time, many more photos from this year’s Wide Open Walls can be found on Facebook.
Wow. It’s actually Friday night already? This week went by really fast. I think I’ve been sleeping too much. Well, while I was sleeping, these things nearly slipped me by:
A film is being made about The Underbelly Project, and they are looking for reactions from the public. This Sunday, New Yorkers get have their reactions (positive or negative) on film. More info on the film’s website. I’ve been interviewed for this a couple of times, and I can’t wait to see the finished film.
Shepard Fairey is guest-editing the latest issue of PAPER Magazine. Great price for an art/culture magazine by the way: I just realized that a two-year subscription to PAPER Magazine is $15! Juxtapoz costs more than that per year just for a digital subscription (more issues per year though)!
Graffoto are raving about Mantis‘ solo show in Hackney Wick. Honestly, I saw a few photos in the preview and thought something along the lines of “What? These are paintings and they aren’t funny or clever and they aren’t amazing. This isn’t what I love about Mantis at all!” Well I stand corrected. While I still think a lot of the paintings are pretty unappealing, there are some great drawings and even a nice painting or two. The man can draw!
Just got back from Jordan Seiler’s show at Vincent Michael Gallery. I’ll have more on that in the next few days, but I found an awesome store in the same area as the gallery: Jinxed. It sells cool toys and the like. Here’s what I didn’t write about this week while I was busy procrastinating and thinking about The Underbelly Project.
Elisa and maybe other Vandalog writers are going to disagree with me on this, but I’m not really digging Aakash Nihalani’s new work at his solo show in New York. I guess I just prefer Aakash outdoors.
Okay, this is just annoying. When you give people freedom to say anything, of course some asshole is going to be racist once in a while, but that doesn’t mean free speech should stop. These are college students, they should be able to think this through beyond the immediate things going on around them. Or just paint the damn tunnel in murals of people of all races and creeds holding hands?
Here are two pieces that Best Ever painted for the Stroke.03 fair in Berlin earlier this month. The above piece was outside, and I believe this second piece was inside the fair (click on the image to see a larger sized photo):
It’s been a crazy week in London. Moniker and all that. But here’s what has been going on with street art elsewhere:
Okay, so I will mention one thing about Moniker: Graffoto seems to be the first to post a review, and what a review it is. Doubtless, Vandalog will be posting something in the coming days, but in the mean time, check out Graffoto to see all that Moniker goodness.
Mudwig is part of the Meta Snout show opening today at High Roller Society in London.
Opening today and running until August 28 is a new group show at 941Geary (White Walls, Shooting Gallery, Gallery Three) entitled from the Street Art to the Cube. There are some pieces that I am really loving for this show, especially the following pieces by Greg Gossel, Dan Witz and Best Ever.
Yet, and this is my real issue with many group shows, there is not one cohesive theme to the exhibit at all. Street art is not really a theme anymore, when there are so many facets. This particular show just jumps around so much with the works, that I do not think it works at all. Plus, within the past few months other galleries exhibited many similar pieces (or other editions) from this particular show by Miss Van, Blek la Rat and Best Ever. When you are constantly seeing the same artists name mentioned every month, the work starts to blend and is not fresh anymore. Even worse, as RJ kindly pointed out to me, that most of the artists in this show are not even street artists, not even “once upon a time.”
I guess my point is exactly that- there is not really an interesting angle that catches my interest, which is a shame because group exhibitions either showcase high profile talent really well or brings to light a batch of new artists. This show does neither.
Last week, Best Ever had a 1-night mini-show at London’s 55DSL store. Unfortunately, it was closed by the time I arrived, but the photos look amazing. Best Ever brought new canvases to hang and painted the store’s walls. The show was a teaser for a larger solo show that Best Ever are putting together for later this year.