You know what’s weird? Hanging out with all your friends from high school and then actually seeing current high school students from your school. Those kids are so young! While I was freaking out about no longer being a teenager and enjoying the beautiful London weather (I’m serious about this one), here’s what I almost missed this week:
The full Da Mental Vaporz crew (Dran, Bom.K, Sowat, Brusk, Lime, Kan, Iso, Blo and Jaw) put together a show in Toulouse. The crowds look massive and the art looks great. S.Butterfly has all the photos you need here and here.
Sometimes Every time I think about it, I get annoyed by the close relationship of Juxtapoz and Upper Playground (Matt Revelli is editor-in-chief at Juxtapoz and founder/creative director at Upper Playground). Not so much because of any “journalistic integrity issues,” but because Juxtapoz gets lots of great exclusive Upper Playground related content. This time, they have photographs from a trip on freight trains with Swampy, and they’ve interviewed Swampy for the July issue of Juxtapoz. Definitely check those out. Swampy of course has a show opening next week in San Fransisco at Upper Playground’s Fifty24SF.
If you’ve spent time in Williamsburg, you’ve seen that pink cloud and lightening bolt logo around and probably wondered about it. Well, it’s by Abel Macias, and he’s got some really nice Pink Cloud shirts available.
On March 30th, Jordan Seiler and some Madrid-based helpers disrupted bus-shelter advertisements throughout Madrid for PublicAdCampaign‘s latest takeover, MaSAT (Madrid Street Advertising Takeover). Over 100 artists and everyday people from around the world contributed to MaSAT by supplying text which was then printed on the posters that Jordan and his crew installed. Here are a few of my favorites:
Next Saturday (April 9th), I’ll be hosting an event at my school, Haverford College, which I hope you will be able to attend. I’ll be moderating Street Discussions, a panel with Gaia, Jordan Seiler, Marc Schiller and Sara Schiller. We’ll be looking at what roles and responsibilities there are on the street for both artists and advertisers. Gaia is a street artist and blogger for Vandalog. Jordan is the artist/activist behind PublicAdCampaign. Marc and Sara started Wooster Collective and their book Trespass was published last year. The event is open to the public, and, contingent on me getting organized, there might be a video uploaded afterward for anyone who can’t make it.
For those in Philadelphia, Haverford College is really easy to get to via SEPTA.
Random side-note: This is one reason why I love Haverford College. Two groups on campus (The Collection Fund and the Humanities Center’s Student Arts Fund) have come together to sponsor this event. They are fantastic.
The Living Walls Conference took place last August in Atlanta and included some Vandalog favorites like Chris Stain, Gaia, Jordan Seiler and Swampy. In fact, Monica Campana, a recent addition to the Vandalog bloggers, organized Living Walls (and that plays into the series of coincidences of how we met, but that’s a story for another day). Christine Sylvain just posted this short video from the conference:
I’m also pleased to say that Living Walls will be taking place again this summer, and in two locations. There will be a conference in Atalanta again in August, plus another one in Albany, NY from the 16th-18th of September. For more info or if you think you would like to help make this year’s Living Walls conferences a success, email firstname.lastname@example.org for Altanta or email@example.com for Albany.
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!
Last week, Jordan Seiler from PublicAdCampaign was here in Philadelphia for Taking From The Tip Jar, his solo show at Vincent Michael Gallery. While in town, Jordan didn’t just hang his show. He also put up a few pieces outdoors. The piece below is, I think, Jordan first street piece that isn’t over advertising.
Outdoors, Jordan brought his usual energy and made the streets of Philadelphia a brighter place. I think his art going over advertisements is one of the most important things that street art can do. Often, people (including myself) have said that good street art is something that brings a smile to your face or makes you think because something has been added to your environment, but Jordan’s art can have just as powerful an effect (but not an impact) by removing branding from the environment. An example: Advertising can make people feel like crap about themselves and convince them to buy crap they don’t need to feel better about themselves. By removing that advertisement, somebody might not feel better about themselves, but don’t feel worse. They have a better day without even realizing it.
Indoors at Taking From The Tip Jar, the artwork was extremely conceptual, which was not immediately apparent. At first, the glance, it’s a drawing of a girl in high heel or underwear, so of course I’m drawn in to look at that. Clearly, Jordan has thought about advertising long enough to know that sex sells. Or he’s been listening to Bill Hicks. Realistically though, the drawings are average. Would they make good street art? Yes. Are they an improvement over the advertisements in phone booths? Hell yes. But the drawings just don’t have that much to offer if you intend to look at them for more than a moment or two. But the drawings aren’t what Jordan’s show is about. It’s about the frames. My favorite work in the show may have actually been an empty frame on the wall.
Everything in Taking From The Tip Jar is framed the same way: in stolen phone booth advertisement frames. Even with his indoor art, Jordan has been able to continue his mission of disrupting public advertising. Once you’re aware of the frames, the entire show is changed. Now it’s about how the frames should be used both indoors and outdoors, if at all. For this reason, Taking From The Tip Jar is one of the stronger shows I’ve seen this year. It actually got me thinking.
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?
Jordan Seiler is one of the artists that I’ve been most interested in recently. Through a great coincidence, his upcoming solo show at the Vincent Michael Gallery is the first gallery opening that I’ll be going to in Philadelphia. Taking From The Tip Jar opens on November 5th (also Guy Fawkes Night, which is sort of fitting I guess since Jordan is trying to change the world, but not by blowing things up) and you can be sure that I’ll be there.
For this show, Jordan has made art and framed it in phone booth advertising cases that have been removed from the street. This way, even in his gallery work Jordan is working to eliminate public advertising on some level.
Everything that I know about Jordan tells me that he is one street artist who is really at it for the “street art” and activism, not just to get his name in the press and get his art in galleries. And he’s not the type to take the transition indoors lightly. Although he’s produced work for group shows, this is Jordan’s first solo show in over 5 years. I can’t wait to see it in person.
I think it’s fair to say that D*face is “against” advertising, or at the very least that his critique of it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. I would also say that D*face has been, throughout his career, very good at subverting advertising, media and pop culture. Yet, there’s something about D*faces work that doesn’t subvert advertising at all. In fact, in some ways, D*face’s art embraces advertising. Like Shepard Fairey (one of D*face’s major influences), D*face has an “icon” or a “logo” of his own. The d*dog or elements of the d*dog appear throughout his work, as does D*face’s own name. So is D*face advertising himself by subverting advertising? Certainly. Is that his intent? I’m not sure. And if it is, it’s worth mentioning the standard argument defending that: (except for Shepard Fairey who has teams of wheatpasters) an individual artist doesn’t have the resources to advertise themselves on anywhere near the scale that a brand like Coke can advertise and the artist is putting up art while advertisers are solely trying to sell a product. Additionally, D*face’s use of a logo has probably helped him to become the success he is today, which in turn allows him to do crazy projects like this and increase awareness for his agenda of getting people to question advertising and mass media.
For those familiar with Adbusters, this paradox might be familiar. The Adbusters organization sells shoes which are essentially made in opposition to Converse and branded shoes made in sweatshops, but by creating an anti-brand, they have created their own shoe brand.
Jordan Seiler, like D*face, is known for billboard takeovers but also for his efforts to change/eliminate advertising in the public space. In addition to his own art, Jordan organized NYSAT and TOSAT. Throughout his outdoor art career, Jordan’s style has changed more drastically than the average street artist. While there are a few reoccurring motifs (like a use of simple geometric patterns and shapes), each project is very distinct and it would be hard for me to define a specific style for Jordan (unless doing ad takeovers is itself a style). Additionally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jordan sign his outdoor work. Recently, Jordan has been preparing to retire one of the designs that he has used for a while now and is starting to become identified by, his Weave It design.
On his blog, Jordan recently explained that he was finishing up the Weave It project (as he had ended projects previously before they became “iconic”) “in order to remained un-branded as an artist and therefor escape criticism that I use the streets and advertising venues as advertising for myself.” Two days later, Jordan restated his feelings in another post. Once again, Jordan said that he is moving on from the design in an effort to “prevent branding of PublicAdCampaign imagery.”
To most street artists, changing their style regularly and actively trying to avoid any identifiable trademarks might seem like a novel and counter-intuitive idea, but Jordan seems to be sacrificing potential short-term artist notoriety for his long-term political aims. The flip-side of this strategy is that a lot of Jordan’s art isn’t immediately obvious as an advertising takeover. Most of the takeovers don’t scream out “I am here instead of an advertisement,” so the art can easily be ignored or even possibly confused as some sort of guerrilla marketing campaign. While D*face’s artwork makes itself obvious and forces people to re-examine the world we live in, perhaps Jordan’s more subtle techniques cause the art and the action he has taken to be overlooked (although, and I’m not sure about this, he might argue that that’s sort of the point in some cases).
I emailed briefly with Jordan and he clarified his position on using logos in art. Surprisingly, he said “My thoughts on logo reproduction in street art and ad takeovers are not as idealistic as that which I practice” and he actually doesn’t believe that street artists shouldn’t use logos, just that “I choose to go as far as I can from logo production and stylistic similarities (which I can often fail at) mostly because I choose only to hit ads and therefore am under even higher scrutiny when being asked if my work is self promotional.”
So whose work to you think is more effective? Let me know in the comments.
Jordan Seiler from PublicAdCampaign is a finalist in an interesting competition which may have been partially inspired by Jordan’s own NYSAT project. The NYC government’s Urban Canvas Design Competition is offering the chance for a few winning artists to have their artwork used as protective covering on construction sites in the city. Additionally, the 4 winning artists will also each receive an award of $7,500. Right now, the contest is down to 8 finalists, and now it’s up to the public to vote for the winners.
I voted for Jordan, not just because I think he had the best design, but because if he wins, he plans to use the money on projects for PublicAdCampaign (NYSAT and TOSAT).