The intersection with culture and politics and the street is not always evident in Street Art in an explicit way, but photographer Jim Kiernan will be glad to show you more than just a pretty mural or happy face if it means there is a dialogue to be had. 2013 was the year that some of the veil regarding domestic spying by our leaders fell from American eyes, and of course that theme was visited by art on the street. In his choice for image of the year Jim shares one he shot in ’13 that he values because it raises awareness, takes a position, and transcends aesthetics in the service of a larger message.
BAMN. Queens, NYC 2013 (Photo © Jim Kiernan)
Snowden – Eyes Are Watching
~ Jim Kiernan“Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American… If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.” – Edward Snowden
There are a number of reasons why I like this image. The composition is straight forward and self-explanatory which is something I typically like. I enjoy simple things that appear clear on the surface.
Beyond that there are several levels to this image for me. The first and most obvious is the political message. I am personally appalled by the surveillance state which has been exposed that are we are living under and even more so by the nearly complete apathy from the American public and the lack of outrage.
Another level for me is that this piece was part of the inspiring Welling Court project that Garrison & Alison Buxton put on every year. They’re friends of mine and I love what they’ve been doing, dating back to the Ad Hoc days.
Finally, the coolest thing was seeing the beginning of this mural. The artist showed up towards the end of one of the final days to begin working on it. When I first saw this work, the pulldown was just being whitewashed/prepped for the piece. I had no idea what was going up here but when I returned the next day to see the finished piece I loved it.
A huge motivation for me & my photography is to highlight social justice issues and to shine a light on places, people, ideas and events that otherwise might go unnoticed. This pieces hits all of these marks for me.
Location: New York City, 2013.
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