All posts tagged: Alison Young

BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2017

BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2017

Documenting the Street Art scene has always been important to BSA and we know it is important to many of our readers as well. This year BSA brought you a number of reviews of Street Art related books that we have run across during the year. It’s not an exhaustive list but now that it is Christmas / Hannukah / Kwaanza / Solstice / New Year time we thought you would like our brief roundup of some of the best books of 2017. Enjoy!


“Street Art World”, Alison Young.

From BSA:

Alison Young Examines and Presents the “Street Art World”

Contested space is a term accurately describing the Street Artists’ relationship with the world outside your door; a place where the aesthetics are up for grabs, autonomously determined, willfully exploited.

Drawing upon twenty years of empirical observation, scholarly study, and interviews with artists and experts throughout a constellation of cities where this art-making has flourished, “Street Art World” by Alison Young examines this contested space from every angle to present a balanced assessment for understanding our moment.

A professor of criminology at University of Melbourne, Young delivers her fourth volume on the topic of Street Art with a confidence and unique perspective that few can claim thanks to extensive travel and periodic, repeated and ongoing tracking of an evolving family of practice.

Alison Young Street Art World was published by Reaktion Books Ltd. London, UK. 2016. Click HERE for more about this book.

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“Shoe Is My Middle Name”, Niels Shoe Meulman

From BSA:

“Shoe” is His Middle Name: New Book by Niels Shoe Meulman

Carlo McCormick writes in his essay, “We honor Shoe as the great cross-pollinator who came to New York City as a kid to meet the graffiti master Dondi and brought Wild Style back to Europe, but his strength remains just how far he can still can carry this immoderate load.” Based on his path and his evolution, we’ll consider this beautiful monster to be in a mid-career retrospective and some of his most masterful work is yet to come.

Niels Shoe Meulman “Shoe Is My Middle Name” was published by Lebowski Publishers / Overamstel. Amsterdam, 2016. Click HERE for more about this book.

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“Time Traveller Artist Man”, Giacomo Bufarini AKA RUN

From BSA:

RUN: “Time Traveller Artist Man” Tells All With His Hands

The founder of analytical psychology would have looked at the hands of RUN and perhaps understood more about his lifelong psychological process than the average intellect, and yet seeing RUN’s carefully formed people on the street captivates your imagination as well.

These are the dreams he creates with his expressive hands, conscious or unconscious features that over time have developed into archetypes to be combined, adorned, alone, and recombined. Not surprisingly, his people often have a grasp, a hold, a flair for the five fingered gesture as well.

RUN Time Traveller Artist Man is published by Unicorn Publishing Group. London, UK. 2016. Click HERE for more about this book.

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“Street Art”, Ed Bartlett

From BSA:

“Street Art” by Ed Bartlett: A Quick Primer for the World Traveler

Since the early 70s Lonely Planet publishing has made guidebooks for travelers of the world, enabling people to gain a greater understanding and to appreciate localities, cultures, and histories. Ed Bartlett now adds to this vast compendium of understanding a concise and varied survey of Street Art from his vantage point as an avid bicyclist, traveler, and expert on Street Art.

Ed Bartlett’s “Street Art” Was published by Lonely Planet Publishers. UK, April 2017.  Click HERE for more about this book.

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“Happily Ever After”, Jeremy Fish

From BSA:

Jeremy Fish and “Happily Ever After”

It’s unusual to see his work in New York (or in this case New Jersey) since after leaving Upstate New York nearly two decades ago this fine artist/commercial illustrator has been dancing in the arms of San Francisco. You think we’re being poetic about his West Coast cred, but he literally illustrated 100 drawings in SF City Hall over 100 days, was awarded with his own “Jeremy Fish” day by the city, might have the record for the most shows at Upper Playground Gallery, and has even collaborated with a cannabis company to create a branded oil and vape pen.

Jeremy Fish “Happily Ever After: The Artwork of Jeremy Fish”. Click HERE for more about this book.

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“The Art Of Writing Your Name”, Patrick Hartl & Christian Hundertmark

From BSA:

“The Art Of Writing Your Name” Expands Potential for Both Art & Writing

Born of many late night talks and collaborative painting sessions together, merging Christian’s abstract graphics and collage with Patrick’s calligraphy and tagging, the two slowly discovered a mutual collection of writers and artists whose work they both admired, a book slowly taking form in their minds. “Our late night sessions also implied long conversations about the evolution of Graffiti to Street Art to urban calligraphy,” the authors say in their preface.

The Art Of Writing Your Name: Contemporary Urban Calligraphy and Beyond by Patrick Hartl & Christian Hundertmark. Publikat Verlags – und Handels GmbH & Co. KG. Mainaschaff, Germany, 2017. Click HERE for more about this book.

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“Saturday Mornings”, Jerkface

From BSA:

Jerkface: “Saturday Mornings” Deconstructed, Reconstructed, Repeated

A direct link to his childhood and the televised cartoons of Saturday morning, where the majority of cartoons were relegated to appear in the 1970s and 1980s, Street Artist Jerkface recreates and multiplies his associations of happy times full of adventure, mysteries easily solved, crimes categorically punished.

His new book “Saturday Morning” collects the recognizable works of other artists and removes the emotional expressions found in facial features, recombining their other characteristics and playing with their associated resonance.

Jerface “Saturday Morning”. Published by Over The Influence. December 2016. Click HERE for more about this book.

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“Street Art In Sicilia”, Mauro Filippi, Marco Mondino & Luisa Tuttolomondo

From BSA:

“Street Art In Sicilia” Tours You Through 31 Cities and 200 Artists

A serious undertaking that documents 31 urban centers that vary widely in distinctive personality, more than two hundred artists are captured and carefully, succinctly described for a wide audience of tourists, Street Art fans, students, even academics. With three authors who collectively have studied architecture, semiotics, sociology and photography, you get a mapping that reveals not only physical location but a describes a cultural one as well.

Street Art in Sicilia – Guida ai luoghi e alle opere
Mauro Filippi, Marco Mondino, Luisa Tuttolomondo
Dario Flaccovio Editore, 2017. Click HERE for more about this book.

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“Metamorphosis”, Tavar Zawacki

From BSA:

Tavar Zawacki: Being Fearless and “Metamorphosis” with Urban Spree

“The whole thing is a metaphor,” he says at one point when describing a particular piece, but you realize that the statement applies to the show as well. A metaphor for the evolutions that an artist must go through to keep alive; a recreation, a metamorphosis, however bold or subtle, that can push him or her into a new direction.

He sits on a window sill and pulls back the sleeve of his t-shirt to reveal a tattooed sleeve that moves from densely inked pattern to bare skin. The finespun graduated marking is repeated on the books’ cover, designed by Kelly Jewell.
“I’m really interested in gradients as well because it’s a slow transition – when you can see the tattoo and the cover of the book; it’s like with each circle, if you look at it compared to the neighboring one, you won’t see a big difference. But over time and with effort you can keep going forward, day by day.”

Tavar Zawacki. “Metamorphosis” Published by Urban Spree Gallery. Berlin. September 2017. Click HERE for more about this book.

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Alison Young Examines and Presents the “Street Art World”

Alison Young Examines and Presents the “Street Art World”

Contested space is a term accurately describing the Street Artists’ relationship with the world outside your door; a place where the aesthetics are up for grabs, autonomously determined, willfully exploited.

Alison Young. Street Art World Reaktion Books Ltd. London, 2016

Drawing upon twenty years of empirical observation, scholarly study, and interviews with artists and experts throughout a constellation of cities where this art-making has flourished, “Street Art World” by Alison Young examines this contested space from every angle to present a balanced assessment for understanding our moment.

A professor of criminology at University of Melbourne, Young delivers her fourth volume on the topic of Street Art with a confidence and unique perspective that few can claim thanks to extensive travel and periodic, repeated and ongoing tracking of an evolving family of practices.

Alison Young. Street Art World Reaktion Books Ltd. London, 2016

With many points of departure, Young makes sure to ground the current movement in enough history and storytelling and informed analysis to allow even the casual reader many entry points for understanding what can at times be an enigmatic populist art subculture.

Alison Young. Street Art World Reaktion Books Ltd. London, 2016

That the movement is awkwardly gaining mainstream acceptance (sometimes against its will) is undisputed, and Young makes sure to examine its role in the gentrification of cities, its difficult relationship with its siblings graffiti and murals, its immigration into fine art and contemporary art, the dance with commercial galleries/interests, and the minx-like tacit embrace of large institutions. She even examines the difficulties that artist have in categorizing their own work and their ambivalence with labels – just one indicator of Young’s adept sensitivity to the finer shadings of a complex “scene”.

In our blurb for the book we wrote, “Alison Young understands the street art world as few people do.” Here’s the evidence.

Alison Young. Street Art World Reaktion Books Ltd. London, 2016

Alison Young. Street Art World Reaktion Books Ltd. London, 2016

Alison Young. Street Art World Reaktion Books Ltd. London, 2016

Alison Young. Street Art World Reaktion Books Ltd. London, 2016

 

Alison Young Street Art World was published by Reaktion Books Ltd. London, UK. 2016

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Alison Young and Vermibus : 15 For 2015

Alison Young and Vermibus : 15 For 2015

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What are you celebrating this season? We’re celebrating BSA readers and fans with a holiday assorted chocolate box of 15 of the smartest and tastiest people we know. Each day until the new year we ask a guest to take a moment to reflect on 2015 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for him or her. It’s our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and saying ‘thank you’ for inspiring us throughout the year.

Alison Young is a Professor at the University of Melbourne, an expert in Cultural Criminology, winner of many academic awards, and author of a number of Street Art related books, including her most recent Street Art, Public City: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination. In it she considers the ways in which street art has become an integral part of the identity of cities such as London, New York, Berlin, and Melbourne, at the same time as street art has become increasingly criminalized. Alison is also a simply indispensible source for many who are studying the intersections of art, culture, law, and urban space.


London, United Kingdom
20 September 2015.
Photograph by Mark Rigney

2015 was a year in which arguments about whether street art can still be considered in any way radical became ever more intense. At times, it seemed like the answer was obvious: when the sides of New York subway cars were used to advertise a ‘street art reality tv show’, many assumed that street art had lost any radical edge it might have had. Other examples were less clear cut. Some argued that muralism is making our streetscapes bland, as local neighbourhood character gets replaced by a uniform aesthetic in cities around the world; for others, the presence of a striking and skillful mural is a vast improvement and a source of community pride.

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For me, one of the most exciting examples of street art’s radical potential is found in the work of ‘subvertisers’ like Jordan Seiler, or the various artists working with Brandalism, who used techniques of street art and subvertising to take over 600 advertising panels in Paris before the UN COP21 Climate Conference at the end of November.

Another such artist is the Berlin-based Vermibus, who travelled to various cities hosting a Fashion Week in September and October 2015. He replaced advertisements with his own hand-painted images of women designed to make people think critically about the fashion and cosmetics ads conventionally displayed in public space.

I was fortunate enough to meet Vermibus in London, and watched him install these two pieces in the bus shelter outside Harrods department store – in broad daylight, with hundreds of people walking back and forth along the street, in a clear demonstration of the ways in which ‘street art’ can still be deeply politicized.

~Alison Young

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NYC Subway Cars: From Rolling Canvasses to Rolling Billboards

NYC Subway Cars: From Rolling Canvasses to Rolling Billboards

“If I had my way, I wouldn’t put in dogs, but wolves,” New York mayor Ed Koch suggested famously as a facetious proposal for loosing ferocious animals on graffiti writers in the train yards in the early 1980s.  For Koch and his two predecessors the graffiti on trains was a searingly hot focal point, a visual affront to citizens, an aesthetic plague upon the populous. It created a discomforting atmosphere described by the New York Times editorial board as evidence of “criminality and contempt for the public”.[note]Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City, Jonathan M. Soffer.[/note] The fight against this particular blight began in earnest and by decade’s end all 5,000 or so subway cars had become clean and the famed era of graffiti on trains was terminated.

Twenty-five years later, whole-car graffiti trains are back in New York. Visually bombed with color and stylized typography top to bottom, inside and outside, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is pocketing some handsome fees for it. It is not aerosol anymore, rather the eye popping subway skin is made from enormous adhesive printed sheets that are laser cut to perfectly fit every single surface of a train car. Naturally, you won’t have to pay the newly hiked subway fare to see these whole-car creations – you can see them on elevated tracks all over the city.

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 Photo © Jaime Rojo

The irony doesn’t stop there; Right now the MTA is running a full-car advertisement for a “Street Art” series that appears on cable, featuring images of fleet-footed youth with art supplies in hand running down a Brooklyn sidewalk as if escaping from the police. “Run. Paint.”

“Of course I chuckle every time I see those ad-covered cars,” says Martha Cooper, the ethnographer and photographer perhaps best known for shooting images of artists like Lee Quinones and Dondi as they painted huge pieces in the train yards in the 1970s and 80s.  Together with Henry Chalfant, Cooper published what became a photographic holy book for generations of graff writers and Street Artists worldwide, a compendium of full-car aerosol painted pieces from New York’s graffiti train era entitled Subway Art.  When it comes to using trains for advertising, Cooper doesn’t appear offended, but rather gives credit for the idea to the youth who pioneered the technique of using trains as a self-promotional method, and she’s only puzzled about why this didn’t happen earlier.

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Art vs. Transit (the “vs.” already scrubbed off the window), by Duro, Shy and Kos 207. 1982. © Martha Cooper

“Graffiti writers instinctively understood how advertising could reach the most people in NYC,” she says, “It’s taken 45 years for the MTA and ad agencies to realize what a good idea top-to-bottom rolling ads are, on trucks as well as on the subway. They are finally catching on and catching up but they would probably be the last to admit it. The rest of us can just stand back and shake our heads in amusement.”

But some others are less ready to accept the irony of a Street Art program being promoted on train cars, including guys who were those same vilified/celebrated teens painting trains at a time when penalties were harsh and the dogs were real.

brooklyn-street-art-subway-graffiiti-jaime-rojo-02-15-web-3

 Photo © Jaime Rojo

“What a complete bite and contradiction on the MTA’s part,” says artist Lee Quiñones, perhaps best known for having painted as many as 125 entire cars by hand in the 1970s, as well as a more formal art career that followed. His fully painted cars as canvases included characters, scenes, and narratives addressing topical subjects like the crime rate, the cold war, poverty, and environmentalism – as well as more existential teen poetry about love and family. For Quiñones, who once called the #5 subway line the “Rolling MoMA” and who today is a fine artist with a successful studio practice, the paradox is obvious. “It exposes how certain things under the guidance of capital can be blatantly suggested and ingested within the same context.”

Jayson Edlin, author of Graffiti 365, is considered by many as a go-to source of New York graffiti and its history, and was himself a train writer under the names J.Son and Terror 161. “The advertising versus art argument regarding graffiti and street art speaks to money, power and control. Societal hypocrisy is nothing new. As a former subway painter, I am not surprised by seeing an ad for a Street Art TV show plastered across a NYC subway car,” he says. Then he pitches us a vision that would undoubtedly make many people’s brain hurt. “I’m certain that the MTA would sanction an ad for Subway Art with the Marty Cooper photo of Dondi painting a train for the right sum.” Imagine what that might look like.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-740-SubwayArt-Cover-Cooper-Chalfant

Not so fast, the MTA would not wish you to think they are endorsing illegal graffiti or street art, according to an MTA spokesperson recently interviewed by Bucky Turco for the website Animal. The MTA walked a thin line when determining whether they should accept advertising for a show celebrating Street Art, however contrived, and decided that it was okay to take the money this time. “On the one hand,” says the spokesman, “our ad standards prohibit anything that could be construed as actual graffiti, and we also prohibit promoting illegal activity. On the other hand, the typeface of the ad itself was not graffiti-style, and our research concluded that everything the show depicts is done legally with permission.” So we’ll take the MTA at it’s word, the show doesn’t explicitly violate standards for advertising, so the campaign was approved.

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 Photo © Jaime Rojo

It’s true, not all Street Art is illegal per se, but by definition most people would say that real graffiti must be. However it may take a lawyer to explain how this rationalization of advertising a show like this works, or at least to help sort the legalities from the ethics and perceptions. So, to recap, decades ago it was a crime to write graffiti on the subways. Today if you have enough money and the right hand-style with your lettering you can use your creativity to mark up as many cars as you like.  If not, your art-making efforts will be swiftly eradicated. This past year photographer Jaime Rojo just happened to catch some non-commercial art on trains that pulled into stations and he said it was just as surprising to see the real stuff as it is the commercial facsimile of it. Of course the D.I.Y. never made it out of the train yards again.

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Actual graffiti on a New York train from DVONE, circa 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Alison Young, Professor of Criminology at the University of Melbourne in Australia and author of Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination has studied the interaction of art, advertising, and the law specifically as it pertains to Street Art around the world. She points to a radical difference in how these two forms of visual communication are regarded and approached. “The full-car advertisement for the television program is certainly the most obvious demonstration of how companies (such as the MTA) respond differently to advertising than to street art/graffiti.

“In some ways,” Young continues, “the MTA may not even have noticed the irony of covering a train car with an advert for an activity related to graffiti, given the time and money spent on eradicating images from train cars. Or, if I was being really cynical, it’s also possible to speculate that the MTA sees that irony all too clearly and is using this as an opportunity to tell graffiti writers that unsanctioned art is never acceptable, but sanctioned art (in the form of an advert or in the form of the art featured on the show) is all that we are permitted to see. Is that too unlikely? I don’t know.”

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DVONE. Graffiti circa 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A number of folks whom we talked to mentioned that this is not the first time a graffiti artist has completely covered subway cars with advertisements, as the artist KAWS was treated to a full campaign when he partnered with Macy’s a couple of years ago. While he has had a successful commercial career with fine art, toys and a variety of products, his roots are as a graffiti writer, has done some freight painting of his own, and his style still reflects it. Not every impressionable disaffected youth would necessarily make that association nor interpret it as an encouragement to hit up a train with your own aerosol bubble tag. Still, those KAWS cars looked a lot like graffiti trains, with logos as tags, as in seen in this video from Fresh Paint NYC.

We leave the last observations to the witty and insightful Dr. Rafael Schacter, anthropologist, curator, and author of The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti, who says the obvious story is, well, obvious, but don’t miss the elephant in the subway car.

“The irony and incongruity of it though? Of course. It is ridiculous. It is absurd. A graffiti-banning MTA promoting a graffiti TV show and allowing a second-rate aping of the original whole-trains of the ‘70s,” he says derisively. But then he turns frank and even wistful in his final summary.

“But, in actual fact, I LOVE these moments. I love them as they so perfectly illustrate the public secret of our public sphere: That consumption wins. That the highest bidder is the true King. It’s nothing new. It’s nothing surprising but it is the revelation of the public secret that can actually come to raise awareness of that secret itself – That the public sphere has come to be a space not for conversation but for commerce. That the public sphere has become a place not for interpersonal communication but for capital and consumption,” says Schacter.

“These moments can, I hope, make us sit up and realize this revelation because it is thrown so directly in our faces. Then, hopefully, this can make us make a change. Perhaps a tiny bit of a rose-tinted position to take, but I really do hope so.”

Rose-tinted views will probably overruled by the green-tinted ones in this case, but we understand the sentiment. But many New York subway riders will not likely soon get over the irony.

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Marvel graffiti circa 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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