This art is Not Safe for Work or School, even though it’s on public streets.
It sounds strange to say it but these images of Street Art are erotic, sometimes violent, and might even be considered prurient or pornographic by some viewers – yet they are part of today’s free-wheeling ever expanding visual feast on the streets that any random passerby may see. In New York, many of these pieces ride for a long time fully on display for hundreds or thousands before someone crosses them out or otherwise damages them.
With flesh increasingly paraded across all manner of screen and print publications, it is no wonder that large public billboards in cities throughout the western world have grown increasingly blunt in their depiction of sexual themes and innuendo; with near-coital poses, barely covered breasts, and bulbous packages thrust into the public eye while we drive, walk, and sip a pumpkin frappuccino. As long as the image is in pursuit of the sale of a product, it’s hardly mentioned today.
Street Art today falls into that nether region of art too, where certain liberties for free expression and the depiction of the human body are protected from criticism because they can be classified as artful and part of our right to freedom of speech. As we continue to scan the streets for clues about ourselves and the direction that Street Art is taking, here are more than a handful of scintillating beauties that are beckoning for the attention of, well, everyone.
“F*ck Art”, an undulating and adventurous group show by New York Street Artists opens its arms and legs to you at the Museum of Sex (MoSex) tomorrow and whether it’s the human powered penetrating bicycle or the glass bead encrusted dildo, it endeavors to satisfy.
Co-curated by Emilie Baltz (Creative Director) and Mark Snyder (Director of Exhibitions), the show selects 20 current Street Artists who have pushed notions of propriety into provocation on the street and it invites them to let it loose behind closed doors. Not that Miss Van needs anyone’s permission; her sensual role-playing painted ladies have been playfully preening on graff-piled walls and blue-boarded construction sites for much of the 2000s. Similarly the powerfully stenciled sirens by Street Artist AIKO have been bending over in high heels on walls all over the world with just a hint of the geishas from her native Japan for over a decade.
The “Fuck Bike #001”, a pedal operated plunging machine by William Thomas Porter and Andrew H. Shirley, has at its conceptual base an ode to the lengths a guy will go to reach his natural objective. The two artist met at a Black Label Bike Club event called “Ridin’ Dirty” in 2010 and later schemed together to make an entry for a bike-themed group show in Bushwick, Brooklyn that featured many Street Artists like DarkClouds, Ellis G., UFO, Noah Sparkes and Mikey 907. “I approached Tom with the idea of creating a kinetic bike sculpture which you could f*ck someone with,” remembers Mr. Shirley, “Tom is a very gifted artist and bike engineer, it took a few days for him to build our design.”
Visitors to the show are invited to mount the bike and take it for a spin. “This bike is more sculpture oriented, but still functions sexually. It’s also totally interactive,” explains Mr. Shirley, who has displayed the bike in cities in Europe and America, most recently at Art Basel in Miami in December. So the bike has gotten around and Shirley happily recounts stories of intimate encounters it has had with both genders. (See the very Not-Safe-For-Work film of the bike in action below.)
The street has certainly seen an increase of fairly graphic sex related Street Art in the last decade or so as people have become more comfortable with such themes and much of this show can often be seen throughout the city without the price of admission. Gay couple Bryan Raughton and Nathan Vincent have been putting large and small scaled paste-ups of sexually themed imagery as a Street Art duo called RTTP for about two years on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Short for “Reply To This Post”, the line-drawn torsos and spread eagles are all part of their collaborative Street Art project that explores the desires of men seeking men on Craigslist.
Describing the work, Vincent says it’s a process of lifting the mystery off of a just-below-the-radar Internet dating game – and pasting it on a lightpole. “Users post an ad with an image, title, and a short description of what they are looking for tonight. The photograph they post of themselves is drawn and titled with the ad’s title.” By putting these erotically based desires on the streets, Vincent thinks “they magnify those desires that often seem to live at the edges.” Says Raughton of the project, “We see it as an interesting way to take people private desires to the public street.”
In discussing the origins and underpinnings of a show like this, the co-curators reveal a more academic and sociological grounding than the prurient and salacious sauciness one might infer by a display of so much “F*ck Art”. We asked Baltz to give us a sense of the context for a Street Art driven sex show.
Brooklyn Street Art:What is your favorite part of curating a show like this? Emilie Baltz: Seeing the different interpretations and energy that each artist brings to their work is always the most interesting part of curating – with this topic, especially, it’s the fact that they are all pushing the limits of their medium by creating such provocative statements.
Brooklyn Street Art:While these pieces are behind closed doors available to a certain audience, Street Artists typically put their work out in the public. Do you think the work should change depending on the audience? Emilie Baltz: We don’t think it’s about changing the work, it’s about how the work changes the environment it lives in. Street art has a long history of revealing different perspectives on its surrounding environment and by placing this work in a museum it creates a certain energy and visual provocation that changes the relationship we traditionally have to the museum-going experience.
Brooklyn Street Art:Do you think there has been an increase in sex-related street art in recent years, and if so, why? Emilie Baltz: There definitely is an increase in sex-related conversations in recent years. It’s not that there is more content suddenly, it’s just that culture is actually ready to start talking about it now, rather than ignore it.
Brooklyn Street Art:We have noticed that themes of sex and sexuality are often quickly destroyed on the street, while other pieces remain for months. Is this a form of selective censorship by the public? Emilie Baltz: Street art is a dialogue. Its creation is about expression and commentary, and therefore can become a barometer of cultural consciousness (or unconsciousness). The intimate and emotional nature of sexual content can obviously elicit strong feelings in viewers, and, given that street art is an environmental medium, either you have to live with it or get rid of it. Sex walks a fine line between acceptance and rejection. Public response to this kind of art is potentially a mirror into how our society relates to the topic.
Brooklyn Street Art:What surprised you the most about putting this show together? Emilie Baltz: The enthusiasm from the public. People are genuinely excited to talk about sex in public space and it’s an incredible honor to be able to help facilitate that discussion.
A Street Art Occupation at the Museum of Sex in New York City, opens February 8 and will run through June 10, 2012.
Emilie Baltz, Co-Curator, Creative Director, F*CK ART
Mark Snyder, Co-Curator F*CK ART, Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Sex
Meghan Coleman and Alex Emmart of Might Tanaka Gallery in Brooklyn served as Chief Advisors.
In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. ~Alfred Lord Tennyson
The streets are coming alive with sculpture-like objects this spring – repurposed household items and brand new houses for the avian set are suddenly popping up like yellow and purple crocuses on the toxic banks of the Gowanus Canal. Also you’ll notice a bit more nudity these days, some frankly frank, as spring and a young man’s/woman’s fancy are abloom.
Here is our weekly interview with the street: this week featuring Fly Kid, Haculla, L.O.L. Von Shan, Obey, Rae, Rambo, RTTP, Sabio, Shepard Fairey, Stikman, Tristan Eaton, and XAM.
Let’s hear it for supporting your local talents, like photographer Ben Lozovsky, who’s been developing his own distinctive style and has his first show tonight. We love it when he does street art, but he’s also got an eye for architecture as sculpture.
WG Gallery is very proud to present the first solo exhibition of the photographic works by Benjamin Lozovsky.
Friday, February 11
50-52 Dobbin Street (bet. Nassau + Norman)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Shout out to Genia Gould!
“Drawing conveys the artist’s id and deepest subconscious” – That’s what the press release says. I’m thinking it’s mainly about everybody’s favorite topic. Check it out because it is cold outside peeps and you might find an instant valentine.
Mighty Tanaka present Casual Encounters, as we take a look at the humorous and otherwise ridiculous illustrations of what make us human. Featuring the artwork of Lauren Asta, Jac Atkinson, Abe Lincoln Jr., Rick Midler, Reginald Péan and RTTP, this show provides an off kilter version of life.
“Vivid Summit” Group Show at Pandemic Gallery This Saturday
Bad cell phone pic – I’m sure there will be more online. Martha Cooper said he is shooting into the stratosphere and if you saw all the canvasses, the huge R-E-T-N-A sculpture and the hundreds of people there, you might be inclined to agree. Plus he’s going to be painting a jet.
Nick Walker “The Morning After-New York”
Nick Walker, the British artist, will releasing a print in collaboration with Opera Gallery, 115 Spring Street, New York, on Saturday, February 26th, 2011 at 3pm EST.
The print will be a signed limited edition of 150 with 18 hand-finished Artists proofs.
A lottery has been set up making 50 prints available for collectors in the UK. In order to apply for a print please email firstname.lastname@example.org with New York TMA lottery in the subject box.
French graffiti Artist Traz documents his latest creation on canvas
Street Art And Reality on Hanbury Street. London By Shafiur Rahman
A Journey Through the Ridiculous, the Absurd and the Extreme.
Applying pen to paper is one of the simplest forms of art one can produce. However, to do it well is a true feat No matter how simple or complex, the drawing conveys the artist’s id and deepest subconscious. In our next show at Mighty Tanaka, we present Casual Encounters, as we take a look at the humorous and otherwise ridiculous illustrations of what make us human. Featuring the artwork of Lauren Asta, Jac Atkinson, Abe Lincoln Jr., Rick Midler, Reginald Péan and RTTP, this show provides an off kilter version of life.
This modern storybook show exemplifies the extremes and absurdities that one may encounter and the interpretations behind it. From lesbian orgies to cartoony and graphic introspections, the work of Casual Encounters is both fun and enticing, with a style of illustration for everyone.
Ranging from the highly detailed to the sublimely minimal, Casual Encounters offers the viewer an escape from reality, if only for a night.
Friday, February 11th, 2011
6:00PM – 9:00PM
(Show closes March 3, 2011)