Posted on January 1, 2009
Paradigm Shifting and Cave Writings
Looking back at the powerful changes in ’08,
it’s not hard to see their reflection on the Brooklyn streets, which may serve as tea leaves revealing the messages swirling around us and in us. Each individual act of creating is of significance, yet it is the cumulative effect of the groundswell of new participants that seems so powerful, so hopeful in it’s desire.
Naturally, at the beginning of this selection of images from 2008, we are featuring the most visible street art piece of the year by Shepard Fairey, which appeared here on the streets of Brooklyn and transcended mediums to reach millions of people. Shepard’s graphic design style and his images of the man who would be president helped many to quickly glimpse the character and message of Barack Obama.
The image was replicated, adopted, adapted, transformed, re-formed, lampooned even. It became an icon that belonged to everyone who cared to own it, and a symbol of the change the man on the street was looking for. Like street art, Obama’s message was taken directly to the people, and they responded powerfully in a way that brought a historic shift; one that continues to unfold.
Elsewhere on the street we saw themes from topical to fantastical; crazy disjointed cultural mash-ups, celebrity worship or destruction, Big Brother, icons, symbols, death, war, economic stress, protest, dancing, robots and monsters and clowns and angels, and an incredible pathos for humanity and it’s sorry state… with many reminders of those marginalized and disaffected. We never forget the incredible power of the artist to speak to our deepest needs and fears.
The movement of young and middle-aged artists off the isle of pricey mall-ish Manhattan and into Brooklyn is not quite an exodus, but boy, sometimes it feels that way. The air sometimes is thick with it; the creative spirit. The visual dialogue on the street tells you that there is vibrant life behind doors – studios, galleries, practice rooms, loft parties, rooftops.
Even as a debate about street art’s appropriate placement on public/private walls continues, it continues. From pop art to fine art, painterly to projected, one-offs to mass repetition, Brooklyn street art continues to grow beyond our expectations, and our daily lives are largely enriched by it.
This collection is not an exhaustive survey – the archival approach isn’t particularly stimulating and we’re not academics, Madge. The street museum is always by chance, and is always about your two eyes. Here’s a smattering, a highly personal trip through favorites that were caught during the year.
[svgallery name=”Images of Year 2008″]