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GAIA and #iftheygunnedmedown in Atlanta on MLK Jr. Day

GAIA and #iftheygunnedmedown in Atlanta on MLK Jr. Day

As the U.S. reflects on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today we also acknowledge that his work, and our work, is not done.

This past year has brought more people into the streets to demonstrate across America than in many years, and the signs and slogans can in many cases be interchanged for those used by civil rights marchers half a century earlier.

In multiple cities across the country thousands of citizens have demonstrated on streets, roads, avenues, highways, intersections. They have made signs and chanted and marched multiple days and nights against injustice and many more have tweeted, facebooked, tumbled and texted – originally it was related to police brutality specifically but more largely we have seen an overall critique of a system still corroded and undermined by our history and legacy of racism.

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Gaia at work on his new mural for the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Brandon English)

From our jails to our boardrooms to our schools and universities to our media outlets to our halls of government, a system of inequality continues, supported by our own ignorance and our failure to learn and heal that legacy of racism. Every day we see a black president thwarted and insulted and disrespected – not for political motivations simply, but so obviously just because of his race. The level of disrespect for the highest office in government has been unprecendented, debasing us all, even though a majority elected and re-elected President Obama.

But just last week the Miami police department was revealed to be using actual photographs of black men for sniper training practice. A blind spot in our own consciousness that is obvious when revealed, but it’s more often a case of a thousand tiny little cuts that keeps a people down, or at least permanently on the defensive. Of course we can do better.

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Gaia at work on his new mural for the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Brandon English)

When it comes to media depictions of people and races, it’s these subtleties that might not be quickly evident until someone culls together many examples so you can see a pattern. In a recent and effective hashtag project that spurred a website by the same name #iftheygunnedmedown questions and examines the bias of new outlets that convict  or exonerate a person by the selective use of images alone.  If it’s a white guy, then it’s his high school graduation day pic. If it’s a black guy, the photo is from the drunken crazy party afterward.

Street Artist and contemporary muralist Gaia picked up the thread of that discussion and created this new mural from photos posted by people on social media for #iftheygunnedmedown. Each of the dual natures presented give cues that are picked up on by a viewer and used to interpret physical and character traits and a variety of assumptions about the person. Gaia points to the project’s founder, CJ Lawrence, as the original inspiration for the project and quotes him saying, “… I set out to indict the media for its role in how we, as Black people, are portrayed after we are killed”.

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Gaia at work on his new mural for the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Brandon English)

The newly completed mural is at the Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and it uses images of Instagrammers whose handles are @bbuckson93 , @cruelyear , @qdotjones and @fullblowndork. As you scan across the handpainted reproductions of personal and family images, obseerve your own perceptions about the person in the frame.

The portraits rise above and are demarcated by symbols and metaphors of the ruins of Persepolis. Of the relevance of the ruins to the project Gaia explains, “The centerpiece is the Cylinder of Cyrus, which is considered by some as the first universal charter on human rights.” The cuneiform inscribed clay cylinder from 6th century BC may not have the impact that an Instragram re-painting does to the average visitor, but it does ground the message in the realization that the march toward rights for all has been very long and there has been much progress – and that there is a long way to go yet.

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Gaia at work on his new mural for the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Marcus Lamar)

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Gaia at work on his new mural for the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Marcus Lamar)

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Young visitors show up to give Gaia props on his new mural for the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Marcus Lamar)

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Gaia. Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Gaia)

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Gaia. Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Gaia)

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Gaia. Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta, Georgia. (photo © Gaia)

 

For more information please follow CJ Lawrence @cj_musick_lawya and Gaia @gaiastreetart

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
 
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Winners Announced: BSA Black Friday Giveaway of “Banksy In New York”

Winners Announced: BSA Black Friday Giveaway of “Banksy In New York”

Five Instagram Accounts Picked to Win

brooklyn-street-art-740-banksy-in-new-york-ray-mock-hard-cover-1-InstagramThere are SO many avid and creative fans of Banksy on Instagram it’s pretty astounding. If you look through all of the feeds from the folks who tagged #BSABlackFriday on Instagram you will find some serious fans of Street Art, and a few artists as well. It was great to learn more about you and the stuff you take shots of, where you like to go – and it is generally gratifying to see the BSA community in all your splendor. Makes us love you more!

Thank you to every person who tagged their own Banksy photos for the BSA Black Friday Giveaway – it was seriously difficult to pick the best and we wish we could have picked more. We basically looked for the personal story and a good shot.

Here are the winners – go check them out on Instagram.

@lindsaytimmington
@lynaoh
@raffzillanj
@caw338
@mythny

If you won, send us an email so we know where to send your book. Thank you sincerely to EVERYONE who participated – BSA peeps are the best.

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Brooklyn-Street-Art-740-Banksy-In-New-York-copyright-raffzillanj Brooklyn-Street-Art-740-Banksy-In-New-York-copyright-Lindsaytimmington

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Brooklyn-Street-Art-Banksy-In-New-York-Ray-Mock-740-BiNY-hardcoverThe new extended hardcover edition of Banksy In New York, by Ray Mock with introduction by BSA’s Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo is also available now at CarnageNYC.com.

Follow Ray Mock on Instagram @carnagenyc

Follow BSA on Instagram @BKStreetArt
Follow BSA on Twitter @BKStreetArt

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Graffiti and Street Art Show Some True Colors in NYC

Graffiti and Street Art Show Some True Colors in NYC

“This really made my day honestly,” says Cope2, the Bronx bomber as he finishes his new rainbow striped iconic bubble letters in the Boogie Down.  It’s a sunny, warm perfect Saturday in New York, and he writes on his phone as he puts it up excitedly on his Instagram, “It’s international day against homophobia this ones for my GLBT brothers and sisters!!”

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Cope2 in the Bronx in front of his brand new rainbow striped tag. “Love is all we need”. May 17, 2014

He instinctively knows he’s bracing for some negative comment on his feed – this is New York after all and this is a guy some people in the graffiti scene call a “King” with a 30+ year history on the street as well as an established gallery career.  And yes, there is a scattered disapproval and disbelief among the majority positive responses. “Why, Cope, why?!”, asks one, and “Fuck tolerance shit,” responds another. Earlier in the day someone had written “that SHIT  gay as fuck boy,” and another “Fuck fagz bun a batty man” – but these voices were more or less drowned out by shows of support and thanks throughout the day.

“So clean and freshh”, “Beautiful,” “Memeo contigo”, “Great stuff bro,” “LOOOOOVEE!!!” and “maybe the haters will shut the fcuk up now. Way to take the high road.”

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That last comment was probably a reference to the firestorm that erupted as he took on the big Houston Street Wall this past week and his own past use of homophobic slurs and insults on social media called into question his attitudes toward folks, and the meaning of his choice for this iconic Manhattan location that has hosted many big names including the openly gay Keith Haring . The discussions were hot and a genuine volley eventually took it in the wrong direction for all parties before finally public apologies were made and some people have granted forgiveness. But bruises still exist, and Cope wants to do his part to at least build some bridges.

On a day like today Cope is on top of it and for all his GLBT friends and fans he says he wants to make clear his position on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks once and for all. “Love is all we need!!”…and we’re probably just going to go ahead and agree on that one.

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A screenshot of Cope2’s Instagram page shows a number of the things that have been on his agenda lately.

But why bring it up to begin with, some would ask. Isn’t this sort of beyond the point of aerosol and bubble tags and graffiti and art? One of Cope2s Instagram commenters says, “cuz we don’t ignore shit that is wrong.” Truth is, there are a lot of folks victimized every day everywhere, and like a guy with a conscience Cope2 knows he has a voice on the street where it can matter.

“Given his stature in the graffiti community I think it sends an important message,” says Luna Park, the well respected photographer and documentarian of the graffiti and street art scene, particularly over the last decade. Park says that when a revered graff writer and artist takes a position on any issue like this, it has an impact on the peers and kids who idolize them.

“It is a signal. And from my perspective it is welcomed. I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of sending signals like that. And if you look at the feedback he has already received in social media – there is an immediate positive impact. He has an enormous platform and a lot of people look up to him and regardless whether you personally like his work or not, the fact is that it is important how he uses his platform.”

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Street Artist Olek created this public performance installation directly in front of the Houston Street Wall today to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (#IDAHOT).

“So many kids are looking up to him,” says Street Artist Olek, known for her crochet street installations that have taken her around Europe and the US, covering the Wall Street Bull sculpture and even landed her in the Smithsonian. The Polish born Brooklynite wanted to do her own installation today by the Houston Street wall to show support of a community she feels close to, so she staged her crochet camouflaged  models in front of it with rainbow crocheted cans in hand.

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Street Artist Olek created this public performance installation next the Houston Street Wall today. The words read “Respect The Rainbow.com” – referring to a webpage she created for it also. (#IMAHOT).

“This is subject that I want to stand by,” she says by way of reclaiming some of the negativity that has been associated with the Houston Street wall that was once actually covered by one of the first openly gay artists painting in the street back in the 80s and 90s. “I want to be part of it and to make a statement and encourage positive vibes.”

Throughout the day there has been a lively banter about these new developments on the street and on social media and in private offline conversations. Most think that a page has been turned, at least a little one, and that some bridges recently burned may yet be built.

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Street Artist Gilf! reposted her 2010 piece online called “Empower Equality”, saying “Today is International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. It’s time to celebrate love, instead of honoring hate. We live in a world that exponentiates your energy.”

Cope2 tells us he has his eye on generating some positive energy in the graffiti and Street Art scene and with his new piece he’s telling us “Love is all we need!!”.  We’re down with that.

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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“The Wack Donald’s Project” and Mr OneTeas

“The Wack Donald’s Project” and Mr OneTeas

The actual street and the digital version of it are now intrinsically linked and often if you see new occurrences of street art it takes just a bit of searching online to find out more about the artist and what they are up to. This week we were surprised to find these posters that incorporate Ronald McDonald into their messaging, and to find out how they appear to be marketed just as thoroughly through social media online.

It’s all about the subtleties of course, and many street artists leave a breadcrumb of clues digitally to lead you to their work on the street or in the gallery or on a t-shirt.  And everyone is familiar with large “urban” brands that traverse the transgressive vibe through adroit social messaging that invariably leads to a product you may purchase. Nonetheless, sometimes it gets very confusing.

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Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A French illustrator/painter/graphic designer from Nice who also has had shows in galleries in Monaco, Mr OneTeas is known to some as a graffiti artist who samples pop culture on his canvasses and appropriates commonly recognizable images of Hollywood names like Liz Taylor, Princess Grace, and Alfred Hitchcock. He also presents 80s television culture ironically (spotlighting Gary Coleman, Alf, Mr. T), inverts meanings with global brand logos, critiques consumerist culture, and interprets his subjects using the visual language of street art and the commercial finesse of artists such as Mr. Brainwash, for example.

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Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

That said, some people on the street here have been intrigued by these posters with the Mr OneTeas name on them which have popped up on street walls around Brooklyn appearing to skewer the fast food giant and consumerism – both because it has been a little while since we’ve seen a satirical bashing of a world brand on the street and because mroneteas appears to be so publicly documenting it on his Instagram and Facebook page.

If you consider the artist name as a brand (for the sake of argument), this is culture-jamming that is being re-jammed; a guerilla-advertising campaign-style series of postering that attacks a huge brand and is critical of consumerism which then employs common social media advertising techniques of promotion to get its message out. Is this still détournement?

In a brief email interview with the artist we learned that “The Wack Donald’s Project” began in 2011 when he first merged the Mona Lisa with Ronald McDonald. Influenced by the documentary “Supersize Me,” Mr OneTeas says that his illustrations began to equate the ubiquity of the friendly clown in the minds of children as something far more sinister than he originally thought.

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Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“McDonald’s use Ronald the clown and they made him so friendly and attractive for the children customers,” he says. Describing the piece entitled, “Ronald’s Daughter / My Father Is A Terrorist,” the artist says, “Today we all are scared about terrorism, suspecting everybody around us, but no one is suspecting McDonalds to hurt us. We’ve been conditioned by it because we have grown up with it, and now if you’re looking at the Mc D restaurant world map, you will be surprised that they are everywhere.”

He says he started his campaign last month in Prague and this month he was in New York with five more posters. But the New York campaign was just a small one. “100 different Wack Donald’s characters are waiting to pop up, each one chosen for special reasons for different countries.” You can expect the social campaign will also follow the postering campaign closely because Mr OneTeas considers the fast food to be on par with tobacco. “On the cigarette packs in France you can read ‘Smoking Kills’. My thoughts are that I would like to make people realize that eating junk food can kill as well,” he says.

Guess we’ll just have to follow his Instagram to see how the campaign progresses.

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Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Check out more on the artists Instagram page, which says “Mr OneTeas (ARTIST) Graffiti, Street Art, Recycler The Wack Donald’s Project… Oneteas@gmail.com http://www.facebook.com/Mr.OneTeas”

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post.

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