Saber Buffs Graffiti

Buff Your Own Stuff

Now you have heard it all! – A graffiti artist taking the big beige buff to his own large 20 foot long piece. Yet another performance by Saber, who can safely add conceptual to the adjectives that describe his work as artist.

SABER at Nuart 2012 (© video still copyright Nuart)

“I’m coming from the future. And the future that I experience is grey and beige and the artwork is destroyed and our history is gone and eradicated,” says Saber during his  performance at the Nuart 2012 festival that invites Street Artists from around the world to paint walls in this European Capital of Culture, the oil-rich city of Stavanger, Norway.

SABER at Nuart 2012 (© video still copyright Nuart)

Far from the city of Los Angeles, where he has been outspoken against various shades of intolerance over many years as artist and activist, and far from New York City, where he last month organized the skywriting campaign in blue skies over the region in support of public arts funding in the US, the sharp tongued Saber went for pure drama at the group show opening in September. His target in this case was the use of the term “no tolerance” that has been heard more often in recent years along with it’s cousin “zero tolerance”, proclaimed by certain elected and unelected standard bearers wildly across the spectrum when addressing issues as diverse as law enforcement, drug use, education, sexuality, truancy, religious expression, reality TV, fashion choices, and various forms of art on the streets. Seizing the zeitgeist, some liberal folk will even talk about having a sort of “zero-tolerance” for intolerance. The fear addressed by Saber of course is the misuse of these terms that can verge on hyberbole and lead to a sort of blanket fanaticism when miss-applied. “If they want to continue to elect political figures that use the words ‘no tolerance’ then the world they are going to see is going to have a very ugly future,” the high intensity Saber says in this video during his simple performance.

SABER at Nuart 2012 (© video still copyright Nuart)

As PR and ad agencies and political campaigns will tell you, the way any topic is framed will lead to a public perception and eventually even public policy – “war on cancer” is much more galvanizing than “medical research into methodologies for curing various conditions classified as cancer” for example. As with any single-phrase campaign, each of us knows that it is shorthand for something greater and the issue is often far more complex and weighty than a slogan like “War on (your word here)” can thoroughly address.  But the lacerating style of Saber’s in-show demonstration here is probably meant to be a blunt counterweight to the over-simplified arguments against all manner of public art that stylistically smacks of an illegal kind.

SABER at Nuart 2012 (© video still copyright Nuart)

Essentially this is one more argument for free speech and free expression. Clearly this case of wild handed and stylized graffiti artwork inside a gallery at the invitation of it’s organizers is approved and encouraged. Saber’s concern here is a future where the demonizing of this style of work (or any artwork) in or outside the gallery could begin a slide down a slippery slope where certain art is regulated, banned, even criminalized. It sounds extreme, but stranger things have happened in human history, and this artist makes a very public show of it.

SABER at Nuart 2012 (© video still copyright Nuart)

 

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