Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street from Schacter & Co

Utopia, as you know, is unattainable.

Neither should one think that we are devolving into a Dystopian nightmare. Not just yet.

A new show at London’s Somerset House is examining the acts and results of so-called urban artists and their relationship to discussions about this imagined polarity.

We ask ourselves if graffiti and it’s variant unsanctioned public art cousins simply are a medium of messaging that runs outside of accepted pathways of delivery? Yes, and so much more.

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Lucas Dillon. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

One one hand some public servants, civic minders, and private real estate owners have their “hair on fire” moments when these actions/interventions/disruptions of the cityscape are portrayed as signs of the utter ruin of civilization. Concurrently, libertarians, anarchists and sundry romantics may present them as a form of self expression, even self empowerment; an act of claiming a voice in the public dialogue heretofore closed to certain members of society.

In the descriptive text for Somerset’s current series providing a full year of space for Utopian thinking, we learn that co-producers Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute of Art are marking the 500th anniversary of Utopia’s formal birth as a concept in writings by Thomas More. The reasoning presented says that because of his texts we are all equipped to imagine that a better world is possible and, thus knowing, “we are empowered to create it.”

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Lucas Dillon. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

Raphael Schacter and the arts organization A(by)P are presenting a portion of this discussion with their exhibit Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street, just opened. Commissioning seventeen street artists for one’s show is in itself so rare and splendid as to be only in the realm of one’s imagination today. But here they are; new pieces and performances from a healthy spectrum of practitioners on the graffiti/Street Art scene like Shepard Fairey, Swoon, REVOK, Brad Downey, Horfée, and Eltono.

Schacter and company are “arguing against the traditionally-held belief of graffiti as a dystopian movement or ‘glorified vandalism’.” With installation works, in-house residencies, and a wide-ranging program of events that include workshops, talks, films, music and performances, no stone will be un-thrown in this wo/man-made island of inquiry and imagination.

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Petro. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

Say A(by)P, “Above all, graffiti and street art act as an alternative voice, whether it is loud and brazen or more subtle and difficult to decipher, which strive to challenge the well-worn systems of society – something which Thomas More’s seminal text also set out. All of the artists will uniquely interpret their ideas on these utopian foundations of graffiti.”

 Here are a small series of images from the organizers from Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street.

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Petro. Detail. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Russell Maurice. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Filippo Minnelli. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Les Freres Ripoulain. Detail. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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El Tono. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Antwan Horféé. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Misha Hollenbach. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Sixe Paredes. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Saleo & Rizote. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Shepard Fairey. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Nano. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

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Revok, Russell Maurice, Nano and Filippo Minelli. Approved By Pablo. Somerset House. London. March 2016. (photo © courtesy of AbyP)

3 March – 2 May 2016
Daily 10.00-18.00 (last entry 17.15)
Terrace Rooms, South Wing
Free admission

 

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