There has been some talk recently (meaning, oh, the last 30 years) about the role of street art and graffiti as a form of protest or political speech and its relevance, irrelevance, plenty or paucity. It’s always amusing to see those who otherwise steer clear of self-examination critiquing the political speech of others, and with such veracity. Just as those meat-eaters who put a vegetarian under extra scrutiny and question their purity of allegiances and practices, street art watchers who have an opinion feel entitled to pass judgement on any artist who critiques the establishment.
Did you buy those art materials from a chain store and thus feed the corporate machine? Then your anti-corporate criticisms are meritless. You should have painted with your own blood.
Are those leather uppers on your shoes? Then you are hypocritical for critiquing a factory farming method as animal torture.
It’s a clever, if lazy, way of diverting attention from a matter or opinion that calls into question our own behaviors and viewpoints by way of demanding complete purity or none – as if the world were so black and white.
These new OWS pieces on the street will probably meet the same fate because they were undoubtedly made with corporate software on corporate computers and printed on a corporate photocopier/printer with non-organic inks. You should have hand pressed your own paper from recycled garbage and rendered the image with a twig and the juice an old pomegranate.
Some Street Art “critics” will belabor the replication, the multiples, the generic-ness of the presentation as being so unimaginative and smacking of the same methods that evil advertisers use, but without irony, therefore the underlying messages are effectively voided. Again, these should be hand made one of a kind, more D.I.Y, more human.
Bottom line is, street artists aren’t asking anyone for permission. In the end, we don’t know exactly what OWS is going for with some of these images or their configuration or materials, but it is refreshing that we’re being asked to think and consider.
Political speech, however imperfect it is (and it always is), is what we have as a voice against a storm of high-powered well funded machines informing and misinforming us today. In fact it sometimes may feel like they are drowning out the singular voices of dissent. We ignore these voices at our own peril.
Occupy did more than grab some headlines and inconvenience workers on Wall Street last year. It blew a hole open in the consciousness of a confused and battered public untethered and afloat in debt, denial, and 700 channels of mind-numbing distraction. As a result of the Occupy Movement and all it’s permutations, in many unexpected ways we woke up – we became enlivened, enraged, enthused, and possibly enlightened.
Colorful and chaotic and unsettling in all its imperfections, this social awakening on the streets continues to talk to us and we continue to listen, even as powerful forces do everything to convince us that it’s over. If you monitor the messages of Street Art and graffiti, you know that the desire for social and economic justice can be strident and ongoing, and people are pretty pissed off.
Marking the one year anniversary of this citizens movement that has successfully shifted the public discourse and has introduced new terms to the collective vocabulary, here is a collection of images taken by photographer Jaime Rojo during the last year that captures some of the spirit and sentiment of the street.
This fall Printed Matter, a non-profit organization in Chelsea dedicated to publications made by artists, produced a window display of art relating to and directly from the protests of Occupy Wall Street. Now in it’s fourth month, OWS continues in the streets of many cities with handmade signs, placards, diagrams, illustrations, costumes, even sculpture. Sometimes it is a tirade, some times it is a comedic play on words, but it is usually made by hand. Perhaps it’s the Gen Y affinity for D.I.Y., or perhaps it’s a way to deter the mass produced signs of would be usurpers, but this modern movement prefers one-off handmade work – in much the same way as many of today’s Street Artists.
Seen from the street, the windows at Printed Matter are part education center, part community theater, part political advocacy. At a time when tourists are flocking to New York Town to see the Christmas windows at Macy’s and Lord & Taylor and Sachs Fifth Avenue, Printed Matter tells a heartwarming tale of people of many faiths and backgrounds gathering in the public sphere to express a kind of unity that this country hasn’t seen in a while.
LIVE SCREENPRINTING DAILY Until Dec 24th Single Artists: Mon-Fri 5-7pm, Sun 4-6pm Groups of 5-6 Artists: Sat 2-6pm
Curated/organized by J. Morrison
Printed Matter is pleased to present 24 DAYS OF MATTER PRINTED, a live screenprinting project by J. Morrison. From December 1st until the 24th, daily screenprinting sessions will feature a rotating cast of 20 artists creating collaborative works in the Printed Matter storefront. During these sessions, the artistic collaboration will be accumulative, with a new artist each day adding his or her own print to the previously produced prints. Prints will be available for purchase at any stage during this process.
1. Occupy Wall Street This Weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Repeat)
2. The London Police at Opera Gallery
3. “Fresh Kills” Anonymous Gallery Opens in Mexico City
4. “Groundbreak” behind CBGB’s in the Alley Tomorrow
5. “Paperboys” at Pandemic Saturday (BK)
6. POSE and KC Ortiz show “White Wash” at Known Gallery
7. Sixeart at N2 Galeria in Barcelona, Spain
8. “Dissidents” A group show at West Berlin Gallery
9. “SelfEst” at Kind of – Gallery.
10. Bask solo show “Box of Fun” at William Rupnik Gallery
11. VIDEO PREMIERE! TEEBS by Brock Brake in Chicago
12. JM Rizzi “Day Dreaming Under Streetlights” (VIDEO)
13. Nuria Mora”2 Estrellas” (VIDEO)
14. New from Snyder : “Carlsbad Toreador” (VIDEO)
Occupy Wall Street This Weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Repeat)
Yesterday was the two month mark for this nascent people’s movement and the signs on the Street are bigger and clearer than ever. One of our new favorites is the addition of projection art, which has a powerful effect on the facade of iconic architectural structures, or non-descript ones. Dedicated projection art on the street simply takes a graphic, a hand truck, a projector, and a car battery. It is also non-damaging to property. In these new days of unbridled creativity set free on the street, you can’t beat a good D.I.Y. idea. Look ma, no cans!
“Who Cares Wins” opens to the public today, minus the Dandy Warhols singing songs about dogs like they did last night at the opening. The large show solidifies TLP’s place in Manhattan and the technical tightness belies a deep belief in the power of the fun, friendship, graffiti, architecture, and the imagination. Arrive in a playful mood and you’ll dig it.
“Fresh Kills” Anonymous Gallery Opens in Mexico City
A downtown staple of inquisitive exploration, Anonymous Gallery is opening “Fresh Kills”, a group exhibition today in D.F., featuring their customary mixing of artists to create an ever more potent cocktail. The organizing principal for this show is the huge dump we have on Staten Island that will one day be a beautiful park for dogs to catch frisbees and teenagers to smoke pot in. NO LITTERING!
Artists include Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Aaron Young, Agathe Snow, Hanna Liden,Swoon, Barry McGee, David Ellis, and Greg Lamarche.
For further information regarding this show click here.
“Groundbreak” behind CBGB’s in the Alley Tomorrow
Curated by Joyce Manalo of ArtForward & Keith Schweitzer of MaNY Project, this outdoor small group show will be waiting for you to come by tomorrow. Featured are Abe Lincoln Jr., Ellis Gallagher, and Jon Burgerman, who doodled the hell out of the sidewalk this week, bless him.
For further information regarding this show click here.
“Paperboys” at Pandemic Saturday (BK)
Okay, time to haul out to the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Saturday night. With this show, you are at an epicenter for a solid new direction Street Art is going to. Wouldn’t want to be so bold to say “don’t miss it”, but…
Featured will be brand new work by ND’A, Labrona and Overunder.
“Most of my contributions are gouache pieces referencing some of my favorite paintings and places. I feel so fortunate for being able to travel and paint so much the last 2 years. It has really been a blessing! But now I’ve begun sourcing all those past images and street pieces for this new body of work where I can combine the architecture features, the figurative wheat pastes, and the paper bird phrases. It’s been a real reflective period, which I think is beneficial for people like me that are constantly churning out work (whether good or bad) so that I can now begin to see it with fresh eyes.” ~ Overunder
Also happening this weekend:
POSE and KC Ortiz show “White Wash” at Known Gallery in Los Angeles. Click here for more information.
Sixeart at N2 Galeria in Barcelona, Spain. Click here for more information.
“Dissidents” A group show at West Berlin Gallery in Berlin, Germany. Click here for more information.
“SelfEst” at Kind of – Gallery. A group art event. Sydney, Australia. Click here for more information.
Bask solo show “Box of Fun” at William Rupnik Gallery in Cleveland, OH. Click here for more information.
VIDEO PREMIERE! TEEBS by Brock Brake in Chicago
BSA Video debut of Photographer and BSA collaborator Brock Brake of artist Teebs who was recently in Chicago for his solo show at Pawn Works Gallery.
Brock Brake “Black Book”
JM Rizzi “Day Dreaming Under Streetlights” (VIDEO)