Vandalog Movie Night as a blog post

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”

Stuck in NYC: Katsu, Baser & Phil

I wish I could be in Chicago later this month for DB Burkeman’s sticker art exhibit at the Maxwell Colette Gallery that RJ posted about yesterday.  But, at least, here in NYC, I do get to see new stickers surfacing daily. And lately there seems to be a proliferation of them in Manhattan. Here are a few:

Katsu with his signature character that has become an integral part of NYC's visual landscape
Baser with his masterful handstyle on spray-painted background
Phil with his impeccable writing

Photos by Dani Mozeson

A sign of the times: Kidult, Blu, Maismenos and Katsu

Kidult tag on an agnès b. store

A note from RJ: After writing this, I read Rub Kandy‘s interview in the most recent issue of IdN, where he speaks about street art that is created for and best experienced on the web.

What do Kidult, Blu, Maismenos and Katsu have in common? They are all examples, although not the only examples, of artists using the internet in a similar way to how graffiti writers and street artists have traditionally used the streets. These artists are each trying to spread a message at all costs. That’s standard street art/graffiti. But with these artists, a traditionally static artform is turned into a performance, what they do might be fake or impossible to see in person and, most importantly, they see the spread of their work online as at least as important as the physical pieces.

Check out these videos from Kidult (the first one is hilarious), Blu, Maismenos and Katsu…

This later came out as potentially faked:

Kidult x MR Brainwash from eric on Vimeo.

KIDULT ITW (uncensored) “ILLEGALIZE GRAFFITI” from eric on Vimeo.

± THE OILY LAND ± from PlusqueMinusque on Vimeo.

This is fake:

This happened:

With all of those videos, the resulting films are more important than the actual physical artworks. And yet, they were all done by street artists and graffiti writers and include (or pretend to include) art that is generally considered street art/graffiti. Who cares if anyone ever sees any of those artworks in person, or if they are even real? Even in the case of the real works that are depicted in those videos, most of those were seen by far fewer people, or at least art/graffiti fans, than these videos. In the case of Katsu’s tag on MOCA, that was buffed in less than 24 hours and it was a while before the existence of the tag and the story of it being buffed was even confirmed. The important thing for these artists is that the videos get seen. These videos and photos are more impressive than the actual work they capture. The intended audience for these street pieces is not the public on the street. These, and many other, pieces of street art and graffiti were created with an online audience in mind rather than a physical one.

So what does this mean for street art if the streets and a medium for viewing street art are being used in this way? Is street art just as legitimate when specifically designed, executed and documented for an online audience? What about graffiti? Does it even matter if a piece is real, so long as people see it? I would say that, at least when it comes to graffiti, it does not really matter if a piece is real or not. So long as it creates fame. Of course, fake videos won’t work at creating fame forever, but they are a temporary technique that can accomplish one of the goals of graffiti. It seems the case is more murky with street art. Certainly the street art in these is still art and probably still street art, just maybe not “street art” as the term is generally understood today. I consider the work in The Underbelly Project to be street art and graffiti, but others do not because it had to be viewed through photographs. Street art that is specifically designed to be viewed through the filter of documentation is still street art, but it’s an evolution too. As I’ve said before, I think hacking is 21st century graffiti, so maybe the internet is the new “street.” It’s quickly becoming a better avenue for artists to show their work to the public than real life.

What do you think?

Photo by totordenamur

Martha Cooper has the story on Katsu at MOCA

Photo by Martha Cooper

Over at her blog on 12ozProphet, Martha Cooper has a series of photos documenting the work of Katsu, Blade, Rime, Freedom and Os Gêmeos at MOCA. Cooper had a behind-the-scenes look at how things transpired after Katsu hit the MOCA building with a fire extinguisher tag just a few days before Art in the Streets was due to open inside. That night, the wall was buffed, and then it looked like this:

Photo by Martha Cooper

Of course, that wouldn’t do. Os Gêmeos had been scheduled to paint a mural on that wall, but they decided that they did not want to go over Katsu, which is how they ended up painting the MOCA ticket booth. A replacement had to be found.

Similar to the wall that Lee Quinones, Futura, Cern, Push, Risky and OG Abel collaborated on just on the other side of the building which had originally been the site of Blu’s buffed mural, repainting over Katsu’s spot would have to be a collaborative effort. Freedom sketched a tribute piece to Blade, using some of his most iconic images. A few people painted the outline of the Blade tribute, and Rime came in to add the color. For more detail on the story and images of the entire process, check out Martha Cooper’s blog.

Photo by LindsayT

I don’t want to say that Blade does not deserve a tribute mural (he is one of my favorite early writers, particularly for the very piece that makes up the core of this tribute mural), but I think it is telling that no one writer would go over Katsu alone. MOCA has every right to do what they want with their own walls, which is why I don’t think the covering of Blu or Katsu’s pieces should be considered censorship, but I definitely wish that Katsu piece had stayed. The man is at the top of his game and a trailblazer in 21st century graffiti, so he deserved mention in the show as part of the next generation of great writers, and it just would have given the show a gritter feel. On the other hand, I don’t want to begin to imagine the problems that keeping that piece would have caused… At least Blade got some added props in the show and Os Gêmeos still painted something.

Photos by Martha Cooper and LindsayT

Art in the Streets link-o-rama

The entrance at Art in the Streets

Why haven’t hotels figured out that they should have strong free wifi in all rooms? And, if they make you pay for wifi, the signal and speed had better be amazing? Starbucks has it figured out, and I don’t have to pay a boatload of money to hang out in a Starbucks for a couple of hours (unless I’m drinking their coffee while I’m there). And yet, hotels haven’t seemed to get the message. So that problem, and the general busyness of the last few days in LA, is why I am woefully late covering the opening of Art in the Streets at MOCA in LA, probably the biggest indoor event this year relating to street art or graffiti. And I’m still going to be woefully late with coverage today. Expect a full review in a couple of days, but in the mean time, here’s some of the best reviews and coverage from around the web:

Katsu puts a massive tag on MOCA (for real this time)

Update: Here’s a photo of the piece being buffed in the middle of the night.

Katsu might be New York City’ smartest writer. He used a fire extinguisher to tag a massive wall on the outside of MOCA in LA, right by the entrance to their Art in the Streets show. Of course we can never be 100% sure what goes on behind closed doors, but from all I’ve heard, this was a legitimately illegal hit. He’s faked this sort of thing before with some clever video editing, but apparently this one is real. While I haven’t seen any photos of the piece taken by random passersby or reputable graffiti photographers, I’ve heard from folks in LA that this is real.

Here’s the video of him painting the piece in broad daylight:

So now the question is: What happens next? This may sound crazy, but I’d be more upset about this piece being buffed than Blu’s mural on MOCA, precisely because illegal pieces like this are what cannot be brought into a museum context except through bold actions like Katsu actually going up and hitting the building like graffiti writers are supposed to do. In fact, I’m surprised it took this long. I’ve been saying since December how the MOCA building is a perfect target for a writer with a fire extinguisher.

And, as I’m writing this, someone has posted a comment on the YouTube video saying that the wall has already been buffed… If that’s true, damn. Well, it’s MOCA’s right as property owner to do what they want and that can’t be denied (just as it would be fair for Katsu to hit the spot again), but still definitely sucks. I would’ve loved for that to be the first thing people saw as they entered the museum for Art in the Streets. I just hope they find a good artist willing to paint that spot instead (and one that Katsu won’t immediately tag over).

Even in the off chance that the video is a fake, well, he’s still got his name out there in the digital world, hence, successfully achieving fame almost as if it were real.

Faust, Fairey, Katsu and Skullphone at Mallick Williams

New York is (slowly) recovering from what one could call its monochromatic season. So as much as I’m ready for all the black and white and grey to be over with, I still ended up catching Mallick Williams‘ grayscale show Hueless a couple days ago before it closes on April 13th. Turns out, in some cases, lack of color isn’t so bad.

Opening just over a month ago, Hueless is a “monochromatic exhibition” with some paradoxical diversity. It’s got black and white and grey, but also silver, cream, brown-black and pretty much every non-pigmented hue in between. With work from Shephard Fairey, Faust, Katsu, Skullphone, and others, the work under color-constraints was (thankfully) more unified than most group shows, and showed off medium/form (there was sculpture, a neon sign, screenprint, paper cut and painting) and content in color’s absence.

There was a requisite Andre the Giant (not for sale, just for show), but the other two pieces from Fairey were among my favorites.

Fairey's "Glass Houses" and "Rise Above Control."
Katsu's "Self Portrait."

Also enjoyed Skullphone’s “Here’s Your Nightmare.” It’s enamel on aluminum, but in person looked sort of like a micro, non-electronic version of his billboards.

Skullphone's piece, photo via Arrested Motion.
"I Want to Go Home" by Distort.
"Tree" paper cut by Nathan Pickett.

Hueless runs through  April 13th, and the gallery opens the color-themed group show Spectrum on April 21st, with pieces from Word to Mother, Erik Otto, and others.

Skullphone photo by Arrested Motion, other photos by Frances Corry.

Katsu’s next-level ad disruptions

Photo by Luna Park

Katsu seems to be continuing and innovating on the project that he started last year with AVONE to promote a show: He is taking over phone booth advertisements with graffiti which is very obviously an advertisement. It’s not a new insight that graffiti is advertising, and this certainly isn’t the first advertising takeover by graffiti writer (Kaws, Barry McGee/Twist, Retna, Augor, and so others…), but I think there is something cool about these advertisements that I haven’t seen very often before: most of these advertising takeovers make it look like Katsu and the brand are working together. Now, of course, Kaws was famous for doing just this same thing. The difference with Katsu is that Kaws took actually advertisements and modified them while Katsu is concocting the entire ads in his studio. He’s associating his identity with cultural icons like Kurt Cobain and brands like Nike, but those brands and icons weren’t even advertising in these places to start with (at least not with these particular ads). It’s a great technique for getting noticed. I’ve similar things before, but I don’t think they were by as high-profile writers at Katsu, and, for better or worse, his name adds some legitimacy to the idea, which is kind of ironic given the idea. Plus these are better executed than any similar things I can remember, and that definitely counts too. Also, a bit of a surprise to me, Jordan Seiler likes these things. Anyway, enough of my rambling, here are more examples of these ads:

Photo by Luna Park
Photo by Luna Park
Photo by Sabeth718

Check out more at The Street Spot.

Photos by Luna Park and Sabeth718

Hueless: A group show in grayscale

A taste of Hueless

The latest show at the relatively new gallery Mallick Williams & Co is Hueless, a group show of 21 artists, but all the artwork is in black, white and shades of gray. The show opens this Friday, March 4th. I chanced across the last show at Mallick Williams & Co when I was last in NYC and really enjoyed it. With Hueless, the line up looks strong once again, with highlights including Shepard Fairey, Skullphone, Faust and Katsu (yes, the writers Faust and Katsu!). Here’s the flyer:

Photocollage courtesy of Mallick Williams & Co