Parole restrictions cause HERT to go to extremes to produce art


This Tuesday, Carnage NYC will be releasing a print with Ian de Beer, aka HERT, a writer that anyone keeping an eye out in NYC will certainly be familiar with. I try to avoid just copying and pasting press releases, but Carnage NYC has already told this story very well:

In September of 2010, Ian de Beer, aka HERT, was sentenced to 1-3 years in state penitentiary for graffiti. Regarded by many of his peers as one of the most talented young artists emerging on the East Coast, he now faced severe restrictions. After a year in prison he was moved first to a half-way house and is currently still confined to his hometown in Western New York State. His artistic interests have broadened considerably in recent years, but de Beer’s transition to a professional art career is facing serious hurdles: Under the condition of his parole, de Beer is not allowed to use a wide variety of art materials, including paint and any type of marker or pen, even to create works on paper or canvas.

In order to create this print without these essential tools, de Beer decided to incorporate these restrictions into the artistic process. He manipulated the imagery digitally and commissioned an external printer. Rather than signing the prints in a conventional manner, de Beer chose to tell the story of his arrest with his finger-prints and had a pint of his own blood extracted to use in place of ink. De Beer thus re-focuses the viewer’s attention from the banality of arrest procedures to the existential threat of suffocating restrictions that aim not to reform but solely to punish.

Some of the best art comes out of restrictions, sometimes self-imposed and other times imposed by society or the state or simply lack of resources. While I’m no fan of the criminal justice system that led to HERT’s incarceration for a non-violent crime or the restrictions on his parole, it’s great to see how he’s taken that situation and managed to create something unexpected as a result. Never underestimate the lengths a writer will go to get their name up. As HERT has shown with this print, the best writers are also great hackers.

HERT’s print will be available at Carnage NYC’s webstore starting Tuesday at noon, NYC time. It is an edition of 50, measures 18 x 24 inches and will sell for $50 each.

Photo courtesy of Carnage NYC