Between Brad Downey and Fra Biancoshock, sculptural interventions are some of the more interesting things happening on the street right now. Toni Spyra is an Austrian based German artist, whose work involves the impractical modification of public space. His indoor work is equally cheeky, and reminiscent of work by the Dufala Brothers. Hoping to see more from Toni!
I’d just like to share a statement and a few images that I got from Brad Downey a few days ago:
This year, a speech delivered by Putin declared, with lips split by a smile, the purpose of Crimea’s annexation as, “protecting the interests of the Russian-speaking population in Crimea.” This absurd oversimplification undermines the reality of the actions that took place. The annexation resulted in disorder and chaos, and deep mistrust between countries. In yet one more simplification of this complex situation, governments in both the East and the West, have executed orders motivated by greed that resulted in tragic loss.
The artists, Brad Downey, an American, and Igor Ponosov, a Russian, developed an altruistic friendship, despite odds being against them. Physical distance and language barriers stood as challenges, but over the course of four years, the artists came to know one another as brothers. They realized projects together many times and travelled to meet each other in different countries. They hoped to do a project in Ukraine one day, since Igor had especially come to love spending time there. When they heard about the conflict in Ukraine, they decided that now would be the best time to finally realize the project they wanted to do there.
It would be a chance to symbolically subvert the greed displayed by government. They prepared for the trip to Ukraine by stealing advertisement banners, a representation of consumerism, hence purchases obtained by money and influenced by greed. Brad and Igor converted the appropriated advertisement banners into a mobile artist workspace. The tent could be deconstructed easily and stored in a small backpack.
By the time Brad and Igor were ready to go to Ukraine the peninsula had been annexed. Instead, they went to the Russian territory of Crimea. They asked no one to help fund this trip, for they wanted to accomplish it without external influences, during a time and in a location where outside influence ruled. For three days, they hiked to reach the Crimea’s highest plateau. Throughout this period of living inside the creation, they cherished the beautiful countryside and mourned the actions, or lack of action, from both the East and the West.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, atHyperallergic.
If you’re in Atlanta, I hope you’ll come out and support, not just because I would love to see a packed house for the panel that I’m on (although that would be nice), but because I love Living Walls and Living Walls has made me love Atlanta. This is going to be a great conference.
All told, that’s 150 dummy CCTV cameras installed on one wall. SpY says they were installed “with the intention of not watching over anything.”
And yes, dummy CCTV cameras are a real thing that people install on their buildings. The fake cameras are just empty boxes and don’t actually record anything of course, but most people would never take the time to figure out the difference between an active camera and a dummy. If you like this piece by SpY, definitely check out Brad Downey‘s classic CCTV Takedown video where he goes around London looking for buildings where these dummy CCTV cameras have been installed and removing them.
PS, if you missed the reference in the headline of this post, see here.
Brad Downey was just in Horsens, Denmark for Public Art Horsens. While Sam3’s visit very clearly resulted in some nice public art. Brad was his usual awesome self, so his contributions were a bit more complicated and I’m not sure how they will be received (but I’m sure glad for the photos).
Earlier this week, I hosted a movie night at The Wren’s Nest in Atlanta for the Living Walls Conference. Living Walls asked me to put together a list of some short films to show, and I ended up with 27. A few people have asked me to post those films online to share with friends or just to see a film that they missed while they were getting some food, so after the jump you’ll find embedded versions of all 27 films that were screened at the movie night (many of which have appeared on Vandalog before). Enjoy! Continue reading “Vandalog Movie Night as a blog post”
Martyn Reed, the man behind Nuart, is finally opening up a gallery space. Reed Projects, like Nuart, will be based in Stavanger, Norway and draw in contemporary artists from the world of street art and beyond. The Re-Jects will be the first show at Reed Project and it features a sampling of artists from past editions of Nuart: Vhils, Dolk, Escif, Evol, Brad Downey, Dan Witz and Roa. Nuart has never come across to me as something done half-assed, so I’m sure Reed Projects will be no different and I can’t wait to see how it develops. The Re-Jects opens this Thursday (7-10pm) and runs through June 22nd.