I'm excited and honored to be doing a special project as part of Philadelphia Mural Arts' 30 year anniversary exhibition, "Beyond the Paint," at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art Museum. The show opens this Friday, Nov. 15th. I'm producing a series of Dada-esque community broadsides for my part, which will be printed in the gallery throughout the length of the exhibition. More info HERE.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 6, 2013 - San Francisco, California
New Ad Campaign Explains Drones to Skeptical American Public
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new series of advertisements to defend America's drone policy amidst mounting public scrutiny from lawmakers and human rights groups.
On Election Day, November 5, 2013 the CDC successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged over a dozen bus shelter advertisements in San Francisco, including the intersection of Market and 7th Street, one block from the Federal Building.
Set against a black background, the ads feature a smartphone which has photographed a Predator drone strike in progress. On the smartphone screen a missile streaks away from the drone and crosses a cloudless blue sky. Just above the image, a new logo - PAKISTAN - imitates the original brand name, and a headline for the ad reads, THE NEXT BIG WAR IS ALREADY HERE.
My friend Eric Triantafillou just sent me this photo from his recent trip to Greece. In his words, "Athena is blind to the suffering of Athenians."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 9, 2013 - San Francisco, California
Corrected Ads Confront America's Abortion Wars
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new campaign of bus shelter ads to confront America's abortion wars. On August 8, 2013 the CDC successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged bus shelter advertisements across San Francisco, including the intersection of Valencia and Cesar Chavez Street, one block from the offices of Planned Parenthood.
The CDC's corrected advertisements feature a young woman of color holding a hand-painted sign that reads: WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT CUT REGULATION EVERYWHERE EXCEPT FOR MY BODY? A young man stands in the background cradling a child. Below the picture of the family bold text declares: DEFEND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS.
In Aida Refugee Camp there is a long mural dedicated to political prisoners, comprised of simple back and white paintings of a row of prisoners twelve prisoners. So very basic, there is something really compelling about it.
The walls of Palestine are alive with messaging and communication, including layers of posters for cultural events, political martyrs, commercial advertisements, and election campaigns. While the martyr posters are mostly left to fade away, or eventually be covered by a new generation of martyrs, the election posters are regularly scratched, torn, and intervened in. Some of this might be done by Israeli settlers (especially in contested areas like Hebron), in other places it seems more likely it is done by fellow Palestinians frustrated by the failures of the political process.
While almost all the graffiti across Palestine is either directly political (exhortations from one political party or another) or utilitarian (so and so street, Mohammad's shoe shop, etc.), in Ramallah there is a burgeoning "street art" scene. There is emerging a form of graffiti much more familiar to the West, individual artists signing their work, and depicting non-political subjects, if still with a distinctly Arab or Palestinian bent. This seems a clear sign of the internationalism (and Neoliberalism) of Ramallah. While I suspect some would prefer to keep the streets and walls open for political messaging, it might be too late for that—street art, like all of the banks and condo construction, is a clear sign post of a city no longer controlled by its citizens, but the whims and fashions of global capital.
There is a way that the occupation of Palestine seems to have frozen in time certain aspects of life in certain places, creating strange anachronisms. In the old city of Hebron, where there is an intense Israeli military presence and a large group of vicious and brutal Brooklyn-born settlers (who taunted us and took our photos as intimidation, other internationals have been stoned—never mind what happens to the locals!), there is an amazing array of old-school hand painted signs in gorgeous Arabic handwritten script. Most were painted over 25 years ago, and have a small signature on them, with a name and city or street the painter is from.
There is a lot of graffiti here in Palestine, but almost all of it is in either Arabic or English, with a very, very small smattering of French. It was exciting to see some solidarity painted in Korean on the walls at Aida Refugee Camp.
One of the most universally popular symbols I've seen here (possible second only to the Palestinian flag) is the cartoon image of Handala. He is a young Palestinian refugee, tattered and back-turned, refusing to grow-up until he can return to his homeland. He is seen as a symbol of popular defiance here, and is seen in graffiti, on t-shirts, key chains, car decals, and in shop windows. Handala was created Naji al-Ali, a Palestinian cartoonist who was exiled in 1948 (at the age of 10), and eventually murdered by Israel in the 1980s, when they went on an assassination spree of the Palestinian Left.
Ramallah is the geographical seat of the Palestinian Authority, but it is becoming increasingly clear that there is far from a consensus amongst Palestinians regarding them. The PA has gone two years over their mandate without an election, yet have been pushing ahead with state-building activities without any clear direction or input from the vast majority of Palestinians (within the West Bank, never mind Gaza, within Israel, or the wider diaspora). This graffiti was on a wall across from one of Ramallah's cultural centers. It's in English, and who knows who wrote it, but it does seem to speak to a vibe here which is lying just below the surface.
The walls have so much texture here. This image is from Ramallah, and a good example of walls that have been painted over, and over, and over again for years. Meanwhile, many places are pristine. I'm not sure what to make of it yet, but being surrounded by so many rich palimpsists makes for a dizzyingly rich visual experience.
Today we spent the day in Nablus, with half of the time in the Balata Refugee Camp. The camp was set up by the UN in 1948 after the Israeli's violently expelled the Palestinians. The original camp was set up in 1952 with about 5,000 exiles from the town of Yafa in an area of 1 square kilometer. Now there are upwards of 29,000 residents, still in that 1 sq. km. That is about 28 people living in every square meter!
To be honest, the day was completely overwhelming. I don't even know how to process it, but I wanted to share these images of flowers painted on the walls of the camp. Maybe it will help.
Great interventionist action in Spain, http://www.enmedio.info/en/campeones-del-paro/
My long-time friend Chris (from London's 56A Infoshop) travels a fair amount, and sometimes sends me pictures of political street art he finds along the way. I just got a missive from him with a collection of images of anarchist posters in Vienna. Pizza is a big squat at Mühlfeldgasse 12, and Florian was a young 14-year-old migrant shot by police in 2009 when stealing from a supermarket.
It has been some months since my good friend and collaborator AIRE and I got to go on a trip to Chiapas where we got to collaborate with several organizations fighting for Autonomy in the region. One of those organizations was the main reason that brought us there, that organization is called Las Abejas de Acteal and in late December 2012 they were celebrating 20 years since they founded the group but not only were they celebrating coming together they too were remembering that 1997 the Mexican military along with the PRI political party helped arm a paramilitary organization called Mascaras Rojas who went in the community of Acteal and opened fire against a crowd of unarmed people who were praying in the local church.
From Bay Area Queers Unleashing Power! More below...
This past Spring semester I taught a studio class called "Printmaking in Urban Spaces" at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The course was described as such: "This course will focus on printmaking as an interdisciplinary art form and printmaking as a means to place visual art and messages in public spaces. The emphasis will be on alternative printmaking (DIY printmaking, collective art, public art, and street art.) Students will gain skills in silkscreening, linocuts, stencils, and other forms of low-tech printmaking. Additionally, the course will cover print-related art history, forming print collectives, learning eco-art methods (mud stencils), and learning how to build your own DIY mobile print cart. Throughout the semester, students will work on a number of directed and self-directed projects that views the city as our canvas. The emphasis is on learning, experimenting, and considering new ways of creating prints –it is not on the finished print, signed editions, etc."
Students were asked to place all work in the public and could choose their own themes and content. They also had to navigate their own choices regarding permission/non-permission, and their own choices on how to affix the work - wheat paste, tape, gift art, eco-art, etc.
A point of emphasis was on critiques and peer review with the goal to help foster smart, thoughtful work that would enhance public space. Below is a sample of some of the work:
Awhile back Midwest political graffiti powerhouse and freight train aficionado Impeach sent me a stack of photos of recent work. I've been too busy to get them up here on the blog, but now I've finally sorted, cleaned, and am starting to post them. I think I'll post one a week for the next couple months. Keep your eyes here on Tuesday mornings!
Join Broken City Lab and me as we silkscreen print bandanas and posters at Drouillard Park, in the heart of Ford City, with Dylan Miner's silkscreen bike, which he created with urban indigenous youth at the Turtle Island Aboriginal Education Center in Windsor, and with Latino youth at the Garage Cultural Center of Art and Creativity in Detroit, at the end of the Mayday march. BCL took a bunch of photos at the print party we hosted at Civic Space last night, as did I. Take a peek HERE!
This just in (or inbox):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 23, 2013 - San Francisco, California
Corrected Billboard Supports U.S. Military at Guantanamo Bay
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new billboard campaign to support U.S. military personnel serving at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
On April 22, 2013 the CDC successfully apprehended and rehabilitated a San Francisco billboard between Potrero Avenue and U.S. Highway 101, near 19th Street. The CDC released the corrected ad to support our colleagues in the U.S. military who have recently come under scrutiny for their practices at Guantanamo Bay.
The CDC’s red and white billboard asks in larger-than-life type, CAN YOU NAME 5 TYPES OF TORTURE? Fine-print text responds, WE CAN…GREETINGS FROM GUANTANAMO BAY.
I always enjoy my visits to Booklyn. I had to deliver copies of Occuprint and the Justseeds Migration Now Portfolio and knew I'd get to stay for more. Marshall Weber, an Artist and Curator at Booklyn is always happy to show me new materials. Here's a sample of what I saw.
In mid December of 2012 I was lucky to travel to Chiapas to collaborate with a number of Autonomous organizations and projects with an amazing group of committed graphic workers and a videographer, our friend Jason Michael Aragon who works with the PanLeft productions collective in Tucson, AZ.
The trip involved many projects and collaborators though for this specific project we were able to join forces with the ongoing Zapantera Negra, which is a project linking the Black Panther Party and the Zapatista struggles through art collaborations, talks, and bringing people involved with Autonomous struggles in Mexico and Emory Douglas together.
As Israeli missiles rained down on Gaza in November, Bay Area Art Queers Unleashing Power (BAAQUP) took over advertising space at two Bay Area Rapid Transit stations to counter Israel’s claims of eternal victimhood...
StreetArtNYC give a nice mention of Justseeds exhibition "Sowing the Seeds of Love" with some images on their blog. Thanks!
I got a great surprise in my email a couple days back, a nice missive and set of photos from the elusive graffiti writer Impeach. Check out some of his new work:
This just in from the California Department of Corrections:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2012 - San Francisco, California
Liberated Ads Highlight Israeli War Aims in Gaza
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new campaign of bus shelter ads to support Israel’s right to bomb Gaza back to the Middle Ages.
On November 27, 2012 the CDC successfully apprehended and rehabilitated advertisements across San Francisco, including the intersection of Geary and Scott Street. The CDC released the corrected ads to mark two weeks since the start of Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip, which resulted in 167 Palestinian deaths. The ads were discharged in areas adjacent to hospitals, schools and government offices, symbolizing the buildings that were demolished during Israel’s air and naval bombardment.
An innovative collaboration between the CDC and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the ads feature the rubble of an anonymous city with a quote from Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai regarding recent hostilities: THE GOAL OF THE OPERATION IS TO SEND GAZA BACK TO THE MIDDLE AGES. Beneath the rubble, additional text poses the question: WHEN DOES ISRAEL’S SELF-DEFENSE BECOME A WAR CRIME?
The liberated ads can be seen on the CDC website at www.CorrectionsDepartment.org.
Last week, The Foundation for a Better Life (probably unintentionally) placed one of their new "Innovation" inspirational advertisements, featuring Henry Ford, in a bus shelter at an intersection in Pittsburgh which in the past year has seen an unsettling increase in violent hit-and-run incidents involving bicyclists struck by speeding cars. The irony is simply too dark to be funny, and someone recently responded in-kind. Perhaps The Foundation could replace the Ford ad with another of their stated values - hopefully something more applicable to car traffic, like Patience...
Sublevarte Colectivo is currently installing a retrospective exhibition at Interference Archive, that opens tomorrow, Friday, November 16th. Here's a peek of them at work.
Opening Reception: Friday, November 16, 2012, 7-10 p.m.
As student movements around the world inspire us anew, Interference Archive invites Sublevarte Colectivo, a group born of the 1999 student strikes in Mexico City, to produce a retrospective exhibition of their thirteen years of graphic production. In La Persistencia de los Sueños, they will bring their graphic street interventions into the gallery to highlight the various social movements and uprisings in which they participated and supported.
Sublevarte Colectivo believes that the graphic arts should be a vehicle of expression and communication in society, and that these days the power of the visual image is stronger than words. They have brought this vision to their work with the Zapatistas, the flower sellers of Atenco, the striking teachers of Oaxaca, and dozens of other social struggles in Mexico.
Interference Archive and Sublevarte Colectivo are pleased to announce the following events as part of our upcoming exhibition La Persistencia de los Sueños/The Persistence of Dreams (November 16-December 31, 2012), featuring thirteen years of public-art interventions by Sublevarte Colectivo:
Friday, November 9, 4:00-8:00 pm
Dia de los Muertos
Sublevarte Colectivo members will join the "Understanding Violence and Politics" panel at 6:00 pm
224 W 29th St.
Graffitimundo is an organization in Buenos Aires. They are producing a documentary about art and activism called White Walls Say Nothing.
Portland-based Justseeds colleague Nina Montenegro coordinated a great project last month in the St. Johns neighborhood of northeast Portland. Working with Depave Portland, Nina painted a giant mural on the asphalt of a decommissioned parking lot scheduled for removal. The word "WILD" was cut from the asphalt some weeks prior to the depaving process and sown with grass-seed, resulting in trenches of green springing up through the tiger's stripes. Nina says: ""The mural was inspired by William Blake’s poem “The Tyger” which marvels in the beautiful duality of ferocity and tenderness in nature and in our own hearts. Painting the tiger on asphalt before we depaved it became a way to welcome back the soil beneath that hadn’t seen the sunlight for sixty years, and to celebrate the plants that would begin to grow, and the animals that would make this place their home. The mural was painted entirely with dry milk and iron oxide pigment." More pictures after the jump.
Ecole de la Montagne Rouge:
August 9- September 20, 2012
Thursday, August 9th, 7-10pm
131 8th St #4
The École de la Montagne Rouge (EDLMR)—an initiative of young, socially-engaged artists who are mainly from the bachelor of graphic design program at École de Design - UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal)—is collaborating with the Interference Archive to experiment with ways of using the spaces of the gallery as sites for gathering, place-making, production and exchange on students protest in Québec and all around the world. Through its actions, thoughts and research in the area of graphics, EDLMR offers a unique aesthetic approach to revolutionary movements and an alternative way of helping the Quebec Spring makes it mark:
“We and thousands of other students across Quebec believe that education is a right, not a privilege reserved for the well-off. The tuition increase jeopardizes access to higher learning for our generation and future generations. Sensing that an unlimited general strike is looming, many protest movements and pressure tactics are being organized across Quebec. This is an opportunity for all students to show solidarity, defend our points of view and get involved so that we can create a balance of power in relations with the government. Our victory depends on the daily efforts made by each and every one of you.”
The Red Square is the symbol of Maple Spring and the student movement currently happening in Quebec. Justseeds comrade Cindy Milstein has an obsession with documenting the red squares of Montreal. When I visited last month, she had already taken dozens of photos of the multiplicity of ways Quebec is exhibiting solidarity with the student movement.
I helped Cindy set up SeeingRedMontreal for the endless photo examples. It's a visual reminder of how public space looks when "our" messages don its surfaces. Cindy is also publishing her thoughts and observations of the movement on her blog Outside the Circle. Another great resource for information in English is Translating the printemps érable
Our comrade Cindy Milstein has been participating and writing about the Maple Spring from Montreal for quite some time now.
The following piece is from her blog, Outside the Circle.
June 29, 2012
Yesterday, I shared some Montreal street art on my Facebook page. A Montreal anarchist friend had just introduced me to the work of this particular Montreal street artist, Harpy, who produced the piece pictured below (and who self-describes as: “Harpies have wings, they can fly and shit… Also, they turned against the Gods”).
The image provoked a lot of “likes” & shares, but also a lot of heated feelings on my Facebook page and others. Many of the comments concerned what the wheatpasted image was getting at — or not — in relation to capitalism/anticapitalism. They also touched a lot on yoga.
I recently wrote a short text about the work of Rafael Trelles in the new book Art and Social Justice Education: Culture as Commons edited by Therese Quinn, John Ploof, and Lisa Hochtritt. Below is my text, posted by permission from the editors. Over twenty other activist artists and art collectives, including Justseeds, are discussed (along with a number of essays) in this highly recommended book that is essential for artists, activists, and educators alike.
“Elections are a Con” – Censorship by the provincial government of Tyrol
On November 21, 2011, I received a funding commitment from TKI – Tiroler Kulturinitiativen / IG Kultur Tirol. This resulted from an exemplary transparent juried process that selected, from 56 proposals, seven projects for funding, including my poster project “Wahlen sind Betrug” (“Elections are a Con”). The posters with the terse slogan “Elections are a con” were to be displayed over a period of two weeks in Innsbruck (Austria) as a series of city-light posters or on large billboards.
The slogan “Elections are a Con” (Elections piège à cons) was coined in May 1968 in Paris. The German version of this slogan, shaped by a specific historical setting, would be placed over a photograph that shows the Tyrolean Alps. Comparable images appear repeatedly in the background of posters from political parties competing in Austrian elections. The poster series “Elections are a Con” would lack the usual portraits of politicians and constitute a provocative blank space. Instead of meaningless election advertising, one could read the matter-of-fact statement that “elections are a con”.
Our friends at the California Department of Corrections have been hard at work, and this week released a new series of modified bus shelter advertisements supporting Occupy Wall Street West. From their press release:
Liberated Ads Confront Foreclosure Crisis
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new campaign of bus shelter ads to confront America’s home foreclosure crisis. During the week of January 16th, the CDC successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged more than one dozen bus shelter advertisements throughout San Francisco, including the intersection of California and Davis Street, one block from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The CDC’s red, white and blue advertisements declare: MORTGAGE IN TROUBLE? OCCUPY THE BANKS along with the website, www.OccupyWallStWest.org. Produced with the assistance of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the corrected advertisements feature the rooftop of an American home set against clear blue skies with the phrase: Making Home Affordable.
Since moving to New Mexico I've been working with a project called Friends of the Orphan Signs. This collaborative project was started by Ellen Babcock, who saw potential in the many skeletal remains of signs that line the old Route 66 (now Central Ave) which runs through the heart of Albuquerque.
I just got a notice that myself and four other Justseeds' artists (Roger Peet, Shaun Slifer, Chris Stain, and Swoon) are including in this new historical stencil exhibition at the Newark Public Library. It looks to be a great historical retrospective of stencil art, from Soviet-era use, to cubism and surrealism, to it's more recent use in artists' books. I've always wanted to be in an exhibition with Mayakovsky!
For Decoration and Agitation: An Exhibition of Stencil and Pochoir Books and Art
Newark Public Library, Newark NJ
Curated by Jared Ash, Special Collections Division
On view: Nov. 16, 2011 – Jan. 21, 2012
Main Library, Third Floor Gallery
More info HERE
Over the weekend here in Pittsburgh, someone tacked up quite a few of these "bandit signs" in some of the "transitional" art-themed neighborhoods. It's hard, at first, to tell how serious the gimmick is - but the website, www.30dayMFA.biz - is live! More images after the cut below...
Pepper spraying cop on the Bowery, November 2011, NYC, NY
Look at Pepper Spraying Cop for more.
A new documentary is coming out about about popular resistance to the corporate domination of our visual landscape. I don't know much about it, but it looks interesting, and debuts in New York City in early November. Below is from the film's press release:
This Space Available
A documentary film directed by Gwenaelle Gobe
World Premiere at IFC Center/ New York
Saturday November 5th, 7:00 PM
Tuesday November 8th, 1:15 PM
Billboards and commercial messages dominate the public space like never before. But is a movement taking shape to reverse this trend? In This Space Available, filmmaker Gwenaëlle Gobé says yes. Influenced by the writing of her father, Marc Gobé (Emotional Branding), this new director brings energy and urgency to stories of people around the world fighting to reclaim their public spaces from visual pollution.
Al Jazeera just ran a great illustrated story on graffiti in Libya, check it out HERE.
I've long admired the work of designer Ray Noland, otherwise known as Creative Rescue Organization, or CRO. Although I'm not a huge fan of his turn towards largely working around electoral politics imagery since Obama was running in 2008 (isn't electoral politics represented enough in our society?), he still comes up with some real hits. Check out the below on marijuana criminalization, and check out the rest of his work HERE.
In an article published yesterday in the Guardian UK (read HERE), it's come out that Shepard Fairey didn't receive the welcome he would have hoped for on his recent trip to Denmark, where he was beat up after his exhibition opening last weekend. It appears that Copenhagen youth decided to try to teach him that elusive life lesson that what you do as an artist might actually have real life consequences.
Fairey's mural on site of the former anarchist/punk squat Ungdomshuset (we ran a write-up on the importance of the site a couple years back HERE)—and ground zero for the youth riots of 2007—pairs a dove and the word "peace" with the Ungdomshuset rallying cry "69." The combination of Fairey's development of the cult of personality for Obama, the taking of Copenhagen city money, and the use of that money to paint a mural seen as trying to obscure the conflict between the city and the anarchist community was a step too far. Fairey's transgress, and attempt to shove his particularly friendly, Southern Californian-style neo-liberalism down the throat of Danish youth activists has landed him a black eye and bruised ribs for his troubles. To his credit, Fairey did go back and repaint a portion of the mural with input from some former Ungdomshuset members, but then again, when you depend on street cred to keep your career rolling, it's unclear if he had much choice. (photo: Tommi Ronnqvist for the Guardian)
I recently authored an account of the November 2010 Justseeds-IVAW street art action in Chicago for the Spring 2011 issue of The Veteran, a publication by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Check it out here.
Also, keep an eye out for a number of new collaborations between Justseeds and IVAW that are in the works, including an "Operation Recovery" booklet and our third portfolio project War is Trauma that is scheduled to be released in the late Fall and will feature over 30 prints by Justseeds artists, IVAW artists, and five invited guest artists.
This just in from the California Department of Corrections:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 1, 2011 - San Francisco, California
Liberated Ads Salute America Following the Death of Osama bin Laden
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new campaign of bus shelter ads to celebrate America's assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Released prior to July 4th, a total of ten ads in MUNI bus shelters throughout San Francisco were apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged without incident. The ten liberated ads represent each year in the long decade spanning the declaration of the War on Terror by President Bush and the eventual demise of al-Qaeda's elusive leader.
Joining in celebration with millions of US civilians after the demise of bin Laden, the red, white and blue advertisements not only pay patriotic tribute to our country, but also celebrate the unsung history of American assassinations.
Covering contemporary art movements across Mexico, Armed with Art examines the integral nature art plays in creating cultural spaces of resistance and change.A great short film about various collectives, currently in Mexico. Focusing on collectives spawned by the APPO social movement in Oaxaca in 2006 to Zapatista support collectives of D.F. These are artists that have worked, tirelessly, for the movement. It is fantastic for this piece to be translated to English and allow their efforts to receive greater exposure.
In solidarity with many artists in Mexico, we exhibit, display, and sell much of the work that finds its way across the border.
This weekend, with crucial assistance from Shaun Slifer and Kevin Clancy, I put up some prints on the Murphy building in Sheraden. A post office, corner store and laundromat in front, the back side of the building that faces the busway is all boarded up.
The main prints in this piece are large, brightly-colored silkscreen prints of the herons I drew for Third Termite to letterpress print for Outpost journal. We also incorporated baby hawk patterns and some outtakes of the "We're All In This Together" worms that Josh MacPhee printed while he was in town in April.
My old friend Chris from the 56A Infoshop in London recently sent me these great photos of a sticker intervention in Lisbon, Portugal. Like most of the rest of the world, Portugal is rushing to privatize all of its resources and services, including the post office. These stickers were plastered on mailboxes in the city, mock stamps declaring "No Privatization of the CTT (Portuguese Postal Service)."
Image by LA-based artist Eddie Colla
Colla has provided one of the best reviews of MOCA's blockbuster show "Art in the Streets." So far critical writing and reviews on the show are few-and-far between. Most reviewers have gone ga-ga over the colors and imagery with little mention of context, the themes explored, or the artists and issues absent from the "survey" on modern graffiti history.
Max Benavidez, an important scholar on Chicano art, questions why the show left out the work of the Chicano art collective ASCO and writes in the Huffington Post, "You can't bring the raw energy and sheer free expression that is global street art into an institution and still label it street art. Maybe that's why it's called "Art in the Streets." Yes, this is the hottest thing going in the art world. Almost everything else is so boring. Well, now this can be boring, too. Sure there is some good art in the show but where in the world, for example, is the whole street art history of Asco, etc....This show is basically a show about validation by the self-appointed arbiters of high culture."
Recently the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have turned their attention towards the police reaction to the graffiti that has turned up in the neighborhood since the show opened, creating some priceless quotes.
Strangely enough, there have been savage attacks on the picturesque streets of beautiful San Cristobal de las Casas. Chiapas.
The perpetrators wheat pasted posters and images of old forgotten stories that we would rather keep that way. All posters and images incorporated a rather tasteless phrase that stated, “CELEBRATE PEOPLE’S HISTORY”. The subject matter of the posters ranged from supporting the local rebel terrorists to promoting further vandalism of the pristine streets.
We the First World International Tourist Liberation Movement (FWITLM) condemn these violent acts of contempt against helpless concrete.
We call on our fellow tourists to send letters of complaint to coordinator of these “Celebrate Peoples History” posters, Mr. Josh MacPhee and ask any eyewitnesses to come forward with leads to find these vandals and criminals.
Together let’s say no to defacing the world’s sacred colonial buildings!
No to Celebrating People’s History!
No to wheat pasting!
Yes to maintaining tourist havens clear of locals and undesirables!
First World International Tourist Liberation Movement (FWITLM)
*The following are pictures that were anonymously sent to our Headquarters in Palm Beach, FL.
Her work is devoted to the idea that everyone should be free to grow and experience their lives on their own terms, liberated from a power and material-driven society that so often values things above people. By helping to provide a visual platform where different communities can have a public voice, Katie is committed to the idea that art can play a major role in social transformation.
Visual Dialogues: Public Art and Social Transformation
Friday, March 11, 6-8pm
Asian American/Asian Research Institute
25 W. 43rd Street,
(btn 5th & 6th Ave)
Photo: Graffiti artists collaboratively paint a wall in Santiago during the multi-day Planetta Graff festival
Our buddy Andalusia just had this great article on the Planeta Rock hip hop fest in Santiago, Chile published in Toward Freedom. She talks about how the movement is DIY, anti-capitalist, and based in popular education.
Check it out HERE!
Thanks to Jason Urban for giving what's going on in Wisconsin more exposure over at Printeresting!
Most of us are watching events unfold in Wisconsin from a great distance but Nicolas Lampert and Colin Matthes of Justseeds are in the eye of the storm. The two have been screen-printing their support for unions non-stop and disseminating their images in Milwaukee and Madison...
Check out the rest on Printeresting.com
Also there is currently an exhibition called SolidARTity, "that reflects the incredible breath of creative voice that exists RIGHT NOW in Madison",
The Project Lodge
817 E. Johnson St
The massive labor demonstrations in Madison, Wisconsin have reached day six and some patterns have emerged that are as recognizable as they are unexpected. First and foremost, this is a protest movement unlike one that I have ever seen before. This is not a leftist movement, a student-dominated movement, or a fringe activist movement. Instead, it is a mainstream, middle class movement.
The people that have gathered around the State Capital Building are everyday people - school teachers, nurses, health workers, sanitation workers, high school students, college students, fire fighters, and others. Even some police officers have joined the ranks of protesters, some with signs that read "Police for Labor."
This is a movement of middle class people who are pissed off and taking to the streets because Governor Walker's proposed bill will economically hurt them. This is a labor movement that is fighting for it's very life. Win now and make a major stand against corporate power or watch Wisconsin become a "right to work" state and watch the dominoes fall, watch as other Republican governors attack collective bargaining rights for public employee unions in Ohio, New Jersey, and beyond.
Happy Valentines Day!
Brooklyn, NY 2011
Why the media (and particularly Wiki leaks) is important
Publishing improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations. A healthy, vibrant and inquisitive journalistic media plays a vital role in achieving these goals.
The folks at Occupied London have set up a site for some comrades in Cairo to post on-the-ground updates about what's going on in Egypt. There are also a bunch of great political graffiti pictures on the site. Check it out HERE. The image to the left says "The people want to bring down the regime."
I'm still following the Egyptian demonstrations with an incredible amount of excitement. Almost 2 million people demonstrating in Tahrir Square in Cairo, with hundreds of thousands of people in many other cities around Egypt. Demonstrators from across all social and class boundaries are out in the streets demanding Mubarak "step down".
You can live stream Al Jazeera news at:
Al Jazeera Watch Now.
There is finally a position forming in USA foreign policy with Senator John Kerry saying
"President Hosni Mubarak must accept that the stability of his country hinges on his willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure."in an op-ed in todays New York Times.
Brooklyn, December 2010.
I recently completed and installed a mural of Carlos Cortez.
Regular viewers of the Justseeds blog will remember Nicolas' essay on the censorship of street artist Blu's mural, a short while back. Recently a group calling itself LA RAW have executed a few actions against the LAMoCA, and director Jeffrey Deitch. They recently handed out the above condoms, and had this to say, on ArtInfo.com:
The action at the Fowler Museum consisted of passing out labeled "Deitch" condoms which said "Don't be Blu, Practice Safe Art" to people prior to them entering a panel discussion titled "How Does Street Art Humanize Cities?" The use of the condom as a product that speaks of how the artwork of an artist that challenges the current state of affairs is handled, and how the message of an artwork can be watered down in order to be deemed appropriate for the public by various institutions and/or individuals. The purpose of this action was to provoke a dialogue for those attending the panel, keeping the issue from being safely tucked away without addressing the dangers of impeding freedom of expression.
By Lush, from rebel:art. The above is a humorous piece about the commodification of street art. A handful of the work is clever, while other pieces can be easily critiqued, as replications of the dominant ideology in society. I'm using big words to avoid the obvious. You'll see, at the links above.
In February 2009, the Pentagon decided to lift the two-decade long ban on photographs of flag-draped coffins. Somewhere down the line the military brass reasoned (or was forced to admit) that it was contradictory to champion “Operation Iraqi Freedom” while denying the media the freedom to publish images of soldiers returning home in caskets. Apparently, Jeffrey Deitch missed the memo that censoring anti-war images of coffins is something that democratic societies do not take kindly to.
4th Avenue, NYC.
This is a terrible cellphone picture.
I took it cos I like the interrogation and think it is incomplete and should end with "...the way they are?"
I was visiting some of my old haunts in Nashville last week, and walked upon this old, weathered People's History poster of Emma Goldman that I must have put up in 2002-3! Most of the wording has weathered away, but I love that her face is still sternly watching traffic...
A friend just forwarded me this link to a design called Looptagger. Some folks figured out a really clever and quick way to spray stencils. Check their How-To on their site, Looptaggr
This is an image that I created for the November 2010 "Operation Exposure-War is Trauma" collaboration between Justseeds and Iraq Veterans Against the War." The project involved Justseeds artists creating images for the IVAW campaign "Operation Recovery" to stop the redeployment of traumatized soldiers.
I got inspired to make text like this when a garbage truck passed me recently.
NYC trash hauling vehicles are hand painted and the lettering styles have always interested me. I took on the style of a baseball uniform since it has multiple cultural references in the USA. The concept of rooting for a team seems to me like such a typical relationship to war. One team must lose, the cost is the devastation of societies and the loss of life. Rooting for GI Resistance to redeployment is supporting the preservation of life, of both teams.
It can also be interpreted as a riff off of the military use of sports events and programs in recruitment leads. The numerous commercials during sports games, that offer adventure and education, is astounding.
Here's part 2 of the Signs of Change sneek peek! Check out the book HERE.
Check out the back story to this piece HERE, it's very cool! A meta-wheatpaste about the budget cuts in the UK.
My new book Signs of Change is launching here on Justseeds this morning, and I wanted to give you all a peek inside!! Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now is a labor of love. Dara and I spent years collected hundreds of posters, flyers, photos, video, film, and ephemera from dozens of radical left social movements around the world, and it's all synthesized into this book! The cultural output of almost 60 movements are explored in seven sections: Struggle for the Land, Agitate! Educate! Organize!, Forward to People's Power! Freedom and Independence Now, Let It All Hang Out, Reclaim the Commons, Globalization From Below. Here's a look at a handful of page spreads. I'll put more up tomorrow...
Here's some more very cool art at the Heal Dara G art auction (Click on the artist name to go to auction page):
Swoon, Irina, block print on mylar with coffee, hand painting (image to the left)
The folks at the Rozbrat squat in Poznan, Poland have put up another great guerrilla billboard. (For some background, go HERE or HERE.) This one reads: "Olympics Instead of Bread—New Stadium: 700 million zloty—Housing: Free"
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh just unveiled a huge exhibit of Marilyn Monroe photographs and related art, and a billboard campaign to advertise it. I caught this local opinion on the museum's advertising tactics near our office last week.
"People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn't see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one." Marilyn Monroe as quoted in On Being Blonde, by Paula Munier
Chicago, IL – “Operation Exposure: War is Trauma” hit the streets of Chicago on Monday November 15th. This collaboration between the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and veterans and supporters from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is a direct response to the suicide epidemic and violation of GI’s right to heal within the GI and veteran community. Veterans, artists, and supporters met in Rogers Park in Chicago and split into teams. They divided up posters that Justseeds had designed for IVAW and then wheatpasted the city. Teams hit advertising spaces and boarded up buildings with messages of GI resistance and "Operation Recovery" – a new IVAW campaign aimed to stop the redeployment of traumatized troops and focus public attention towards Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
'american kills' by chilean-born new york based artist sebastian errazuriz is a public installation showcasing the suicide rates of US soldiers. after searching on official war sites on the internet, he accidentally found out that 2 times more american soldiers had died in 2009 by committing suicide than those killed during that same year in the war in iraq; an alarming comparison that errazuriz had personally never read or heard about before.
Just got this from a friend in Poland. Folks connected to Rozbrat, the longest running squat in the country (in Poznan), took some billboard real estate for their own use. The message roughly translates to: "Rozbrat is Here to Stay! Sołacz for them is just another business." Sołacz is the area Rozbrat is located in, and the squat is under threat of eviction because of development plans for the neighborhood.
Friends from the US are down in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico right now documenting as much art on the streets as they can get their cameras on. In their words: We are working on a photodocumentary project as part of an collective radical artzine called "Squart". We are documenting street art- stencils, graffiti, murals- that captures an aspect of the uprising. Around every corner is a piece of art with a message whether it is of hope, sadness, resistance or solidarity. Money has media, but people have the streets. Street art gives voice to a people that have been silenced for a long time. Its our objective to capture the meaning and emotion of the movement through the art of this amazing town. We have been using digital photography and film (color and black and white) to capture the art. While street art is our main focus, we have also been taking portraits in an attempt to capture the essence of this multi-faceted place.
I just got a note about a cool site focusing on Latin American street art. It's called SMNR, and you can check it out HERE. The image to the right is by Gualicho from Uruguay.
I'm not sure what one might call this, its created before it could be considered a reappropriation. The Yes Men, Rainforest Action Network, and Amazon Watch install bunk Chevron advertisements.
From the Chevron Thinks We're Stupid site:
When Chevron rolled out its fancy new "We Agree" ad campaign, we were ready for them. We had only the tiniest fraction of Chevron’s budget — the company typically spends as much as $90 million on an ad campaign like this — but we had the element of surprise, and we were determined to press our advantage.
Before Chevron’s press release announcing the campaign could hit reporters’ inboxes, we sent out a press release of our own... on the company's behalf. The company’s own press release was guaranteed to be full of greenwash. We wanted ours to be a bit more truthful. It featured quotes from real employees, but in this case they were describing a campaign we might actually be inclined to agree with:
"Chevron is making a clean break from the past by taking direct responsibility for our own actions," said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs.
This just in: California billboard correctors have been hard at work again, this time with a round of billboard alterations aimed at defeating Proposition L, an anti-homeless initiative which would ban sitting on the sidewalk. Here's some images of the billboards, and their press release:
ARTISTS SEIZE BILLBOARDS CITYWIDE TO DEFEAT PROP L SAN FRANCISCO, October 26, 2010 – With one week until November elections, a group of artists has liberated six San Francisco billboards and sixty bus shelter ads to defeat Proposition L, a ballot measure that would ban sitting on the sidewalk. The group, calling itself the Sit/Lie Posse, replaced ads throughout the city with handmade prints rendered in the style of corporate advertising. Confronting the backers of the proposition, the posse lavished attention on sites around City Hall, the Chronicle, the Haight-Ashbury district and many other neighborhoods.
Here is a video of the mural Chris and I rocked out, in four hours, just before the DUMBO Arts Festival.
No Longer Empty is a not for profit organization that orchestrates public art exhibitions in vacated storefronts and properties. Conceived as an artistic response to our present economic condition, No Longer Empty core mission is to revitalize empty spaces and areas around the venues by bringing thoughtful, high-caliber art installations with accompanying programming to the public.
Chris Stain recently caught this from the windows of Amtrak in upstate NY. Evidence of one of our adventures years earlier. Silver paint don't fade...
Looks like Wichita, Kansas just passed a broad and sweeping bill outlawing all kinds of "graffiti tools." Below is the text of an article from the Wichita Eagle found HERE, and an earlier piece is HERE. The comments are crazy as usual...
Wichita outlaws tools for graffiti BY BRENT D. WISTROM The Wichita Eagle
Leave the spray paint and fat markers at home.
Wichita City Council members passed a new law Tuesday that bans people from carrying spray paint, broad-tipped markers and a variety of other potential graffiti tools on public property or within 100 feet of it. It also bans stores from selling the materials to anyone under the age of 18.
If caught and convicted, violators face a fine of $250 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
After we finished the First Stage of a Climate Change Graphic Campaign titled “Ante la Destruccion Ambiental, Organizacion!” where we screenprinted 11 different posters at the ECPM68 in Mexico City. We invited different collectives, friends, and anyone interested, to take a roll of prints and wheat paste them around Mexico trying to bring attention to the Subject of Climate Change and the Climate Change Summit that will be hosted in November and December 2010, in Cancun, Mexico.
It was lots of fun getting to work together to silk screen these posters, put together shows and more than anything to put them up.
Awhile back I got an email from Joe Lurato (aka :01), who started stenciling a couple years back, and has really been honing his craft and trying to figure out how to use artwork for social good. He just finished a couple prints with the Abztract Collective that are quite nice. Often his work is a little too photo-realist for my personal taste, but I like his stencil style here, very Euro with lots of bridges, but distinct as well. More info HERE.
My friend Mathew Curran just got back from a productive visit to Madrid, he's got a short video of the process of cutting a huge stencil, painting it, and pasting it up. Pretty cool:
While in London for the Anarchist Bookfair last year I got to meet a smart new street artist named Xylo. In a city where street art had gone just as commercial as NYC, it was refreshing to run into his work, whether it was critiques of the cctv system or "Lost Animal" flyers for endangered frogs. His latest work is a commentary on the recent rash of suicides in the tech manufacturing sector of China (more info HERE), a series of old iphone/ipods with small scale stencils on them. Check out more of his work HERE.
I had a long phone conversation with writer Daniel Fuller this winter - he had driven to town from Philadelphia specifically to find the Howling Mob Society historical markers after hearing about the project at the Creative Time Conference in NY last fall. Daniel recently published a nice article on Afterall Online, even if I take some issue with the Shepard Fairey comparison at the end (his posters were more recently pasted nearby, but I would argue that the motivation behind Fairey's "Obey" brand is of a very different nature than the HMS work). Daniel also wrote captions for all his photos which offer some good further insight as to the placement and orientation of the markers. Feels like this project launched in my home city ages ago, and it's nice to read fresh opinions on it!
A while back we posted about a public art project in St Petersburg Russia. Freya Powell conducted this interview in March 2010 via email with artists in St Petersburg Russia who knew about this project. This is its first publication.
My friends in BS.AS.Stencil and Run Don't Walk have teamed up with fellow stencil artist Malatesta to install "Sindicato" at the BSAS gallery Hollywood in Cambodia. This is one of the densest, most insane looking stencil installs I've ever seen! More photos HERE.
Street artist Pivo has posted about an interesting new piece she has done in southern France about refugees from Spain in the 1940s. A nice, subtle wheatpaste addressing the troubles and difficulties of people forced from their homes by fascists during the Spanish Civil War. She's got an good write up on some of the background HERE.
We got a nice email from street artist Back East a couple days back, he sent some flicks of recent work he put up in Arizona criticizing the recent immigration law. Here's one piece, more of his work can be seen HERE.
Dan S. Wang and I recently collaborated on a print to voice our opposition to the Arizona Immigration Bill SB-1070. Copies of the print are available here and most of the edition was mailed to Arizona where friends put them up in the streets.
New Mural on top of the RDAC BX rooftop, painted by DASIC.
You can catch a good glimpse of it by taking the Bruckner Expressway through the South Bronx, look West!
MQ-1 Predator drones kill civilians.
This great wall of screen printed street posters is up around the corner from my house.
Photo: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
John Fekner just passed this video along to us, a remix of a piece from 1981. To read more info, go HERE.
One of my favorite old school stencil artists, Anton van Dalen, has a (relatively) new website up, which collects a lot of his work, including an incredible selection of his crisp, direct stencil icons. Van Dalen begin stenciling in the Lower East Side of NYC in 1980, where he lived, and built a library of images around what was happening in the neighborhood, including a massive wave of gentrification. He has made some of the most iconic images that have come out of housing struggles in New York in the past 25 years. Check out van Dalen and his website HERE.
Must be Milwaukee to have an art show at the site of an old beer factory. Last Friday night (4/16/10), numerous Milwaukee-based artists did projects and exhibited work at the Pabst Factory, which closed down a decade ago and is now a series of abandoned factory buildings that are slowly being renovated for better and worse.
The Parachute Project "Sweeping The Pool of Light" event was organized by Makeal Flammini, Ella Dwyer, and Jes Myszka, and fans of Justseeds might recognize mud stencils by Jesse Graves, a shopping cart lounge chair by Colin Matthes, and Laura Klein projecting 16 mm films inside a beer hall. The show made for a great evening and reconfirmed the notion that rust belt cities are loaded with creative potential and locations to do art shows outside the confines of the traditional gallery setting.
Below are some photos I took of the factory and some of the projects created for the the one-day show.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
A Banksy Film
I never pegged Banksy as a fan of gothic novels, but he and his crew do a pretty good Shelley. Exit Through the Gift Shop is a witty remake of Frankenstein, with Los Angeles vintage clothing shop owner come videographer come street artist Thierry Guetta playing the monster. We see mild-mannered Thierry move from an obsession with filming everything in his life, to an obsession with filming street artists, to Banksy reinventing him into a street artist out of control, "Mr. Brain Wash." But more on that later.
From the beginning of the most recent street art explosion, Banksy has been the thinking man's street artist. He (and his crew, he clearly doesn't do much without a large support team, so for sake of argument, when I use the name Banksy here, I mean the collection of people that conceptualize, build, and install the artworks and events signed with the name "Banksy") is the latest in a long line of counter-culture British satirists, from Jonathan Swift to Malcolm McClaren to Crass to the KLF, but like these greats before him, his cultural attacks on the status quo have hit the limits of their effectiveness. And he seems smart enough to know it. In some ways this film seems like part of the process of any cultural producer working through the challenging questions facing anyone with a deeply ambivalent relationship to capitalism. On the one hand war, torture, government surveillance, greed, poverty, apartheid, and genocide are all products of contemporary capitalism, and Banksy takes them all on in his own way. On the other, the ability to pull art stunts off across the globe is just as much a product of this very same system. Nothing illustrates this better than Banksy's glib listing of the Disney Land rides he enjoyed while Thierry was in the Disney security dungeon being questioned for four hours after filming Banksy's placement of a life-size orange-jumpsuited Guantanamo Bay prisoner doll into one of the rides.
"Opposition supporters burn a billboard displaying Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev during a rally in the northwestern town of Talas on April 6, 2010. (REUTERS/azattyk.org)"
Eric "DEAL CIA" Felisbret
Graffiti New York
Contrary to the title, this book isn't just one of the seeming endless herd of books called "Graffiti ______" (insert just about any city name here). Even though it appears that the ability to walk around, take digital photos, and be culturally connected are the only pre-requisites for a street art book deal these days, the likely interesting city/street art books, such as "Graffiti Tulsa" or "Nairobi Graffiti," never get made). But back to the book at hand, Eric "DEAL CIA" Felisbret has set his sights higher, and done the labor and put in the time to produce the rare satisfying graffiti publication. An attempt to update the classic Subway Art, I'm glad he went for the challenge, and appreciate the parts that succeed.
Mexico in Chicago 2010
Oaxaca Now: Young Radical Printmakers
April 9-May 17, 2010
Marwen's Alumni Gallery will feature brand new woodcut prints and videos from the Asamblea de Artistas Revolucionarios de Oaxaca (ASARO). In keeping with the collective's visually polemic tone, the new prints and video add breadth and depth to this traveling conversation on art, activism, and politics in Oaxaca today.
Oaxaca Now: Young Radical Printmakers is co-curated by Arielle Bielak and Professor Kevin McCloskey.
Please join us for the opening night celebration:
Friday, April 9, 2010
Marwen, 833 North Orleans Street, Chicago, IL
I was fortunate enough to have Favianna Rodriguez and Jesus Barraza drop by my house late last Thursday. With very little arm twisting, at 1AM, they convinced me to go to Philly for the Philagrafika and SGC conference.
I am super grateful they did. We woke up the next morning for a whirlwind of events. From vendor tables at the Southern Graphics Council to The Graphic Unconscious at various galleries, and Medium Resistance at the Crane Art Center.
Dan S. Wang has shared some incredible video footage of an IVAW mud stenciling action in Madison, Wisconsin that took place on March 17th, 2010 - the anniversary date of the bombing of Baghdad. Aaron Hughes, along with Madison IVAW chapter members Todd Dennis and Nathan Toth, placed anti-war mud stencils at the front doors of military recruitment stations in Madison.
and the street art is made with red clay.
A number of Justseed's members are in Philadelphia this week installing three different shows at three separate venues across the city as part of independent projects associated with Philagrafika 2010.
Here are install shots from the Medium Resistance show at the Ice Box (Crane Arts) of our red-clay mud stencil! The image is by Alec Icky Dunn (included in the Cut and Paint zine), the technique was inspired by Jesse Graves, and the mud stencil crew was Nicolas Lampert, Colin Matthes, Josh MacPhee, Erik Ruin, Emily Abendroth, and the fine folks at Crane Arts who provided incredible assistance every step of the way.
All three Justseed's / Cut and Paint shows open this Friday. Information posted below.
link to an article on how a mural wall on Beatty Street in Vancouver was wiped out by the Olympic/gentrification machine. The comments posted with article express the frustrations the community is having with the corporate spectacle.
Last November Dara and I were in Berlin, and I took a lot of photos on the street. Berlin is one of the few cities of been to that still have a somewhat thriving street art/poster scene, with lots of work up and the streets visually changing on the regular. Here's a collection of 20 political posters and stickers I snapped, click on them for larger images:
Chris Stain paints Flowers for January's Take 5ive event. Music by Cory Hillis.
Here's Chris' newest print in the Justseeds store.
You can see a bunch of other new prints Chris has available on his BigCartel store.
Our friend Klutch has recently expressed his dissatisfaction with the first year of Obama with this "Hopeless" print. To be hopeless assumes you once had hope, which might be a stretch for me and electoral politics, but I can still vibe on the frustration...If you want one of these lovelies to hang over your bed, go HERE.
Last week, on Jan. 19th, two groups from St. Petersburg, Russsia, Autonomous Action and Anarchist Artists, carried out a large scale street art action on the outside of the State Museum of Political History. They wheatpasted what looks like about 30 ft. of collaged posters in memory of murdered civil rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and anarchist journalist Anastasia Baburova. The action can be seen in the film below, more images if you click to the following page, and more info can be found HERE and HERE.
New drag queen stencils from San Francisco street artist Jeremy Novy.
"This project is intended to bring gay imagery into a homophobic subculture, covering hateful and distasteful graffiti in our communities. It is nothing less then empowering our gay culture. Street art has become an accepted art form, reaching a larger demographic than just the patrons of museums and gallery shows. However, with that wider audience there is a problem. Street art itself is a dominantly male heterosexual community; being out of the closet is not accepted. Gay street artists have been assaulted, their art supplies stolen or damaged, and their works covered up." -Jeremy Novy
These guys jusst put up a cool mural in Williamsburg, check out more info at BrooklynStreetArt.
Justseeds, Street Art, and Social Movements
A talk by Josh MacPhee
Office of Student Life Leadership Speaker Series
Tap Room of RISD's Memorial Hall
226 Benefit Street, Providence
Thursday, January 14th
This popped up in the inbox today, you may recognize some Justseedsers.
Creative Violation documents the exploding underground art form of the street stencil and explores its roots in political street art, industrial signage and graffiti. These illicit spray paint markings, not to be confused with traditional graffiti tagging, steal the language and techniques of advertising and turn them against the imperatives of the mass market, punctuating the urban landscape in cities across the world.
Check it out on IMDb.
Its also available for purchase at: http://ffh.films.com/id/15958/Creative_Violation_The_Rebel_Art_of_the_Street_Stencil.htm
For all the street art and stencil fans in Brooklyn, this show seems like one not to miss:
All Shook Up: Jef Aerosol
January 29 - February 21, 2010
Opening Reception - Friday, January 29, 2010, 6-10pm
Ad Hoc Art
43 Bogart Street
Brooklyn, New York 11206
(via subway take the L Train to Morgan Avenue Station)
Ad Hoc Art presents international stencil master Jef Aerosol in New York City for All Shook Up, a stunning show of cultural icons by one of the old school European street stencil artists. The show features brand new stenciled works as well as classic pieces on paper, wood, and found objects. A true originator who helped spark what is now known as “Street Art” when he sprayed his first stencil series across the city of Tours, France one night in 1982. The self-taught Aerosol has continuously rocked the streets with his oversized portraits and helped define a new public art nomenclature with other French artists like Blek Le Rat, Miss Tic, and Speedy Graphito.
Pablo Pasarán Saturday, August 8, 2009 Age: 26
35th Avenue and 21st Street
Queens , NY
Pablo Pasarán, was delivering food on a bicycle for a restaurant when he was killed by Martin Ocasio, driving an SUV. Pablo was an immigrant from Mexico who lived in the Bronx. He left behind three children.
Ocasio was being chased at high-speed by the NYPD, who had observed him making a drug purchase nearby. He ran into a parked car, and then into Pablo, who was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
In addition to drug possession, Ocasio was charged with multiple offenses in connection with hitting and killing Pablo, including involuntary manslaughter.
Al Jazeera online just posted an interesting short piece on graffiti in the Gaza Strip. It's well worth taking a minute to click over and read it HERE. All the images in the article are from a new book, Gaza Graffiti, by Mia Grondahl and published by the University of Cairo Press.
The (NYC) Street Memorial Project has decided, despite a forecast of very cold and windy tomorrow(Sunday, Jan 3), we are going to go ahead with the memorial ride tomorrow.
But we are encouraging people to do what they think they can do given the weather and there will be someone riding each leg of the ride, but we are essentially canceling the Harlem portion of the ride (though the ride leader will be there to ride down with anyone who shows up).
We are especially encouraging people to come to the 3pm Grand Army Plaza meet up, which will be the shortest portion during the warmest part of the day and which will end at a warm spot with warm food and drink.
...spread the word that people should meet us at any of the later meet-ups and remove or cross out the first meet-up and memorial from your blogs, schedules...
Other meetups are:
11am Central Park West and 7th Ave
11:30 Queensboro Bridge, Queens
3:00 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn
4:45 Milton and Manhattan Aves, Brooklyn
full schedule is at streetmemorials.org
(redirected from ghostbikes.org, which is down)
While generally bored by recent street art output (or the lack thereof), I've always been a fan of Poland's M-City, and his interlocking and evolving urban stencil grids of buildings, factories, and public spaces. M-City has finally landed in NYC, and with the help of Ad Hoc Art, put up a mural in Queens. You can check it out in person at 1108 30th Avenue, Long Island City, NY. More info HERE.
A strong message sent to a middle class neighborhood in the north of Mexico City.
This painting is pasted on to temporary walls surrounding a building site for a new
28 degrees and snowing is ideal conditions for......... mud stenciling!
Here are photos of a Chris Stain stencil image from Reproduce and Revolt put up in Milwaukee by his co-conspirators in collective art action.
I've always been a fan of the street artist El Tono, and his ability to adjusts and morph his simple geometric line patterns to the different social contexts he works in. He's the master of making street art that operates as folk art, and folk art that operates as street art. He was recently in Peru and Brazil, making posters and painting buildings. In Peru her worked with Equipo Plastico, making posters based on the "Chicha" style of street postering. Here's a cool image, and more can be found HERE and HERE.
Creative NYC bike advocates repainted a bike lane removed from Bedford Ave. a couple days back, and the video of the action's been posted:
I guess a couple of them were arrested later, but I'm unclear whether the arrest was related to posting the video on youtube or not. I also just got this in the inbox:
Time’s Up! Bicycle “Funeral Procession” & Vigil for Bedford Ave Bike Lane Sunday, December 13, 2009 2pm - Meet on the Brooklyn side entrance of the Williamsburg Bridge 3pm - Ride will end at a Vigil for the bike lane at Bedford Ave & Wallabout St
Our friend Daniel is still locked up in Federal prison, and he needs your help! If you are in NYC, please come out this weekend and buy some art! More info about Daniel can be found HERE.
Art Auction to Benefit Imprisoned New York City Social Justice & Environmental Activist Daniel McGowan
On December 7, 2005, New York City activist Daniel McGowan was among the first people arrested as part of an FBI offensive against environmental activists called "Operation Backfire", which activists have dubbed part of the Green Scare (after the Red Scare of the 40s and 50s). Daniel began serving his seven-year sentence in July 2007. In August 2008, Daniel was moved to the Communication Management Unit (CMU) in Marion, IL, a federal prison unit that bypassed the usual review process and severely restricts inmates' communication with the outside world.
To mark the four-year anniversary of Daniel's arrest, and to highlight the continued repression of activists that the federal government has labeled "terrorists," Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan will be hosting an art show, auction and raffle this December. Proceeds will go to Daniel's commissary account and a number of his favorite environmental and social justice organizations.
WHO: Presented by Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan along with popular street artists; political printmakers; and renowned graphic designers.
WHAT: Art Show and Auction featuring artists such as SWOON; Nikki McClure; Justseeds Artist Cooperative members such as Josh MacPhee and Kevin Caplicki; BORF and many more.
WHEN: Saturday, December 12, 2009, 1-9pm. Reception: 7-9pm
WHERE: ADC Gallery, 106 West 29th Street, Ground Floor, NYC
A cool short video of Iraq Veterans Against the War putting up mud stencils in Ft. Hood in October:
Williamsburg Bridge, NYC. 2009
Today on NPR they reported that 10% unemployment is raising hopes. While so many people are living in precarity, no real solutions to the economic crisis are being proposed. No one is willing to admit that our economic system creates the very problem that is reported.
It is clear that current generations, and those to come, identify less with their companies and occupations. This leads to newer and difficult ways of organizing and manifesting solutions. I've been on the periphery of many groups of people reading numerous philosophical texts. They argue for more common affinities, fewer subdivisions, such as identity politics, and labor classifications. These politics are manifesting as occupations of Universities and social unrest in the streets. I am unsure where they will lead, and I wish to hear more articulated. In the new Obama world of lost hope we need mobilizations with teeth.
The good folks at BrooklynStreetArt.com sent along this cool video of stencil artist Logan Hicks putting up a large scale mural in Brooklyn. Check out the video below, and an interview with Logan HERE.
Justseeds members Chris Stain and Swoon recently traveled to Stavanger, Norway to participate in the Nuart Street Art Festival. The folks that organized the festival are creating a documentary and have posted this request, below, for some advice on distribution.
We're currently looking for distribution and screenings of our fabulous up close and personal street art documentary, Eloquent Vandals. Get in touch if you have any smart ideas about how we can get it out there.
Nuart is an annual international street art festival based in Stavanger on the West Coast of Norway. From the first week of September an international team of street artists start to leave their mark on the city's walls as well as contribute to a one month long indoor exhibition.
Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today has just been released by PM Press! A brand new book which collects 200 political prints from 200 different international artists. Loosely based on the exhibition I've been touring around of the same name, this book is jam-packed full of image and text about the intersection of printmaking, politics, and social engagement.
I'm really proud of this one, it's chock full of great writing and art. There are essays by Deborah Caplow (art historian and biographer of Leopoldo Mendez!) and Eric Triantafillou (co-founder of the San Francisco Print Collective), as well as additional writing by a dozen artists in the book about why and how they print, and what it means to them. And the prints are awesome, ranging from street artists like Swoon, Chris Stain, and Sixten, to veteran political artists like Sue Coe and Carlos Cortez. There are gig poster makers like Emek and Seri Pop, and graphic/comic artists like Nicole Schulman and Seth Tobocman. It's all in here! Pick up a copy HERE, and check out some sample page spreads below.
Here's some wood blocks Chris is working on for the install of the project (above), and my latest hand painted sign is below:
Here's Chris and a couple students up on ladders sketching out the cityscape backdrop we've built in the gym. Man, these ladders are scary! And here is the cityscape getting painted in:
For the past week Chris Stain and I have been living, working, and teaching on a small island in Norway called Halsnøy! We're at the Sunnhordland Folkehøgskule (a small arts oriented "peoples" school, which is a Scandanavian program where people can get a year of specialized schooling between high school and going to university or entering the job market). We're here working with 80 students and 5 teachers on a project around consumerism and capitalism, which will culminated in a student show on Sunday integrating visual art, performance, dance, and theater. It's been interesting and a challenge, and I'm not even sure how to process it all, so I think I'll just post some photos for the next couple days...
It is pretty common knowledge at Justseeds that I'm a complete ice cream addict. I'd eat it 3 meals a day if I could. So my eyes lit up when I came across this new print by Ad Deville of Skewville. You can get your own HERE.
Chris is following his usual themes of the importance of the individual's experience and the struggle of daily life. Here's some new work that will be on view at Art Basel in Miami during the first week of December.
Paris, France. 2007
"Anarchy" is from the Greek, prefix an (or a), meaning "not," "the want of," "the absence of," or "the lack of", plus archos, meaning "a ruler," "director", "chief," "person in charge," or "authority." Or, as Peter Kropotkin put it, Anarchy comes from the Greek words meaning "contrary to authority."
Anarchism is a political theory which aims to create a society within which individuals freely co-operate together as equals. As such anarchism opposes all forms of hierarchical control - be that control by the state or a capitalist - as harmful to the individual and their individuality as well as unnecessary.
So much to read, and do, I pulled the above from Infoshop.org.
I find that many of my Anarchist friends have been inspired by so many books, Emma Goldman's Living My Life having been an early foundation. A teenage friend of mine was recently asking me for a reading list on Anarchism. I figured I'd put it out to you readers if you had any suggestions on what made an impression on you. Feel free to throw it in the comment field
Park Slope, Brooklyn. 2008
But sometimes someone else decides to censor it.
This just in! New York City has changed it's long-standing policy regarding graffiti removal. It used to be that building owners had to call the city to have graffiti removed, but now that has been flipped, and the city is going to start removing all graffiti unless the owner of the property calls within 35 days and asks for it NOT to be removed!!!
Check out more info at the Gotham Gazette HERE.
Iraq Veterans Against the War have adopted mud stencils in their tactics! It has been inspiring to see how the technique that Jesse Graves popularized through his website has been employed in social justice campaigns, ranging from prison issues to environmental issues to anti-war struggles.
Guest blogger Ali Gitlow sent us this great new interview with NYC street artist Dan Witz, check it out!:
Brooklyn-based artist Dan Witz has been contributing his unique brand of witty realism to NYC’s street art scene since before an easily identifiable ‘scene’ existed. Through his in-depth serial projects, Witz has made poignant commentary on the crumbling Lower East Side of the early ‘90s, September 11th, the gentrification of Manhattan and, subsequently, Brooklyn. Constantly engaged with the architectural fiber of the city, he has embedded poetry into the asphalt, hand-painted hummingbirds onto walls and installed real gloves clinging to drainage grates, making it seem a person is trapped inside, desperately clawing to reach the light of day. Witz’s work is not always so serious — some of his most engaging pieces are his pranks, for which he has affixed papier-mâché noses to building facades and installed renegade street signs reading ‘Don’t even think about thinking about parking here.’
On November 5th, Witz’s solo show entitled Dark Doings will open at the Carmichael Gallery in Los Angeles. We asked him a few questions in anticipation:
Ali Gitlow: Why do you usually work in series' on the street?
Dan Witz: I guess that’s my way of keeping things under control. Even though I’ve been at this for years, I never get used to how chaotic and unpredictable it all is. Every project I do starts one way, with what I think it’s going to look like, then one thing leads to another, all sorts of accidents happen and invariably I end up with something totally unexpected. To be honest, the lack of control can be kind of nerve wracking. I mean it’s exciting, but it’s like my life is lived in a state of constant emergency.
Sunday, October 25th was the Public Ad Campaign's second whitewashing and takeover of unsanctioned billboards in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Public Ad Campaign acts on the assumption that public space and the public's interaction with that space is a vital component of our city's health. By visually altering and physically interacting with the public environment, residents become psychologically invested in their community.
Outdoor advertising is the primary obstacle to open public communications. By commodifying public space, outdoor advertising has monopolized the surfaces that shape our shared space. Private property laws protect the communications made by outdoor advertising while systematically preventing public usage of that space.
The above billboard was done by the BoomCrash collective, on N7th & Bedford Ave in, knowingly amidst many of the unfinished luxury residential projects in Williamsburg. Yet unknowingly on the 80th anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash.
This stencil has been up for years in Milwaukee and makes me smile every time I see it.
No More Corporate Bullshit-Fuk Wall St
Gowanus, Brooklyn. 2008
This was an artists response to last years economic crisis and collapse. Below is a more recent photo of the response of someone with money to burn on brown paint.
Its interesting, that, whomever buffed this building only had a problem with the overt statement and not the self aggrandizing throw-ups. Is offending Wall St. bad for property values? Couldn't the financial institutions be blamed for valueless land and homes?
Funny, bankers and graffiti artists supposedly have the similar effects on a neighborhood. I'd rather read the walls any day than have the mystery and of the market impact my neighbors.
Somewhere, in the world.
If it only were pleasurable and easy to fuck something like gentrification, maybe we'd be able to move beyond the boom and bust capitalist cycle. I appreciate the sentiment of "Fuck...something." Though I must tell myself, this was a visceral moment of a highly articulate human that happened to be intoxicated with a marker.
For those that want to get their paint ready, there is a essay called Gentrification is Dead, written by Max Rameau of Take Back the Land. It was released over a year ago, but still useful to checkout.
Jesse Graves did a mud stencil workshop last Friday and one of the stencils put up in Milwaukee was my "Pitbulls Are Nice" image from the Cut and Paint zine. In retrospect the image should read "Pitbulls Are Super Nice!" or better yet "Pitbulls Are Very Cute!"
Stencil photo by James Hagner.
This just went up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, recrafting one of my old pieces into commentary on the development crash, and the condo skeletons littering the landscape.
See more econo-collapse street art at BoomCrash.org.
Showered with Lies
Walking down the street after my acupuncture appointment, I looked up and was reminded of the barrage of messages on TV, in magazines, and on every advertised surface in this city, by a silly golden whale(?)
Just a quick shot of a poster in Mexico City using the art of Rini Templeton. Her work is still getting around! If you don't know about Rini, check out the RiniArt site, built by Favianna R. and Jesus B.
Photos of some recent stencil work from San Francisco street artist Jeremy Novy. Jeremy was a long-time Milwaukee artist and consistently put up great work in the Cream City. Now he's hitting SF with stencils that make people think. Check out more of his work at:
The Esplanade is a narrow strip of land that lies between the Willamette River and Interstate 5 in Portland (OR). In 2001 the City of Portland remodeled this into a riverfront parkway, with some public art, a partially-floating bike/jog path, and some new boat docks. This area (near rail lines, social services, and with plenty of bridges and overpasses) has also been a long time spot for homeless camps, car campers, train hoppers, and also (of course) skate boarders & graffiti.
I put up a blog posting a couple weeks ago about a public art install, Live Debris, which occurred in this area. It was organized by the group Red Semilla Roja, and one in "a series of international events sharing reuse traditions as a means of reducing stigmas around garbage, poverty and street culture."
I went down late on a Saturday, added some art to the wheat paste wall, sat on a woven-from-garbage hammock, and looked out over the river. I then wandered back down the Esplanade and checked out all the different projects that were part of Live Debris. I was impressed and inspired by the project and interviewed Taylor Stevenson from Red Semilla Roja for the Justseeds blog via email on September 25th, 2009.
(photos taken from Live Debris website)
I have been taking a bunch of flicks of the Read fire extinguisher tags, here's one of em. You may see Boans, Reader, Read More, or other stuff. If you find em, let me know. I'd like to compile a bunch more!
Shawn Gilheeney just sent along these great photos of his exhibition Decaydence at Unsmoke Systems in Braddock, PA:
Both artists have produced similar videos, David, having collaborated with a group called the Barnstormers as well as many of his own projects. This was the first time these two artists have worked together. The video is interesting and enjoyable, visually. There is so much context and information that I wish was available along with the it. I have obvious questions about the logistics of such a piece and place, as well as the purpose and intention behind the collaboration. Maybe there's an interesting interview out there somewhere that will explain everything I have to inquire about...
This just in from Not My Government:
Paul Barron’s community memorial mural of Gary King Jr. was buffed by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) September 24th, 2009. The mural was painted at the end of 2007, after police officer Patrick Gonzales beat, tazered, and shot 20 year old, unarmed and innocent, Gary King Jr. in the back. Gary passed away in hand cuffs next to this pillar, while his young cousin had to watch, unable to put pressure on the wounds because officer Gonzales put a gun to his head and said that he would kill him if he touched Gary. Gary ran a construction company with his father and was a productive member of the community. His life was stolen before he got to see the birth of his baby girl.
My friends Pony Pedro in Berlin have a new show up pulled from a public postr project they recently completed in Johannesburg:
Is freedom part of order, or is obedience the most important virtue of every citizen? Does the mob spontaneously bond together, to demand change for its own purpose? Does change drive society? An intervention and poster project, 'Good Mob' by Pony Pedro (Berlin/Germany) and Artist Proof Studio has explored communication processes in public spaces in Johannesburg (South Africa).
3 President Street
September 16th-30th, 2009
A bold new stencil can be seen all over Detroit, one which may remind us that urban agriculture is not such a new thing. Hazen "potato patch" Pingree was Mayor of Detroit from 1890 to 1897, and followed with a stint as State Governor. Originally a shoemaker from Maine, it's said that Pingree won the election because of his physical resemblance to Prince Edward. What won the admiration of Detroiters, however, was his persistent attempts to create affordable, publicly-owned public transit ~ trolleys, which were later bought and decommissioned by GM and Ford. He's even more famous for his advocacy of gardens in the city. When over 10 % of workers were unemployed, Pingree's solution to alleviating hunger was to make unused lots available for gardens. He assisted in raising money for seeds and tools, and hundreds of working-poor families grew their own food.
Now, after more than a century of growth and decline, Detroit is in a strikingly similar position. The unemployment rate is even higher, and there are more vacant lots than ever before. It seems unlikely that current Mayor "I'm going to run the city like a business" Bing will hold fundraisers for lettuce seed. I don't know for sure, but I'm willing to bet that this new stencil is not an effort to make any particular elected official take charge of the dichotomy between empty lots and empty stomachs. Because Detroit's urban agriculture scene is already so vibrant, so connected, and so grass-roots, the poster seems to me to be saying, to take a quote from Grace Lee Boggs, "We are the leaders we've been looking for."
Like Colin's weekly drawings, I decided, to post a weekly photo up here on the Justseeds Blog. I got glasses when I was in first grade, but I've always been able to read the writing on the wall. I'll be posting new and old photos I've got of the things I come across in my day, in my home, of NYC, and in my travels.
This first installment, is clearly on an awning,
Houston St, NY.
YZ just sent these images of faces they put up in Paris. Interestingly, one is of William Casby, who was one of the last living African-Americans that had been born into slavery. He was photographed in 1963 by Richard Avedon (see photo HERE), and has also been a popular subject for Chris Stain.
Chris Stain, Shaun Slifer and I are all featured in Creative Violation, a cool short film about street stenciling made by Andrew Stevenson that's quietly been making the rounds at small and progressive film festivals. It's now showing at Urbanity, a film series in Calgary put on by the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers and Truck Contemporary Art Society.
Here's a trailer for the film:
I gotta say, at the first crack of the spine of this book I was immediately nostalgic for San Francisco, strangely enough a city I've never even lived in! There was something extremely powerful about the streets of SF between 1997-2004, even for a visitor and outsider like me. Coming to the city, and the Mission District in particular, was like walking into a giant, explosive, exciting car crash of ideas, experiences, ideologies and people. The walls literally dripped with the shrapnel, covered with the remnants of 1970s & 80s murals, anti-gentrification screenprinted posters, art student graffiti, Latino gang markings, weirdo street artists, anarchist slogans, and billboards triumphantly announcing the dot-com and real estate booms. And for the most part this book does a great job of capturing that energy and feeling, carrying us through the blur.
Although Street Art SF is broken into sections, they are fairly hard to distinguish, which in many ways is a good thing, allowing the reader to flow from one style to another, fade between histories, jump between artists, just like a pedestrian on Valencia, Bryant or Mission streets would. Don't let the title fool you, this isn't just another edition pulled of the seemingly endless conveyor belt of dull "Street Art" book cash-ins. Likely a smart marketing move to put street art first in the title, this is really a mural book that understands and values the contributions that street art and graffiti have added to the brew of public expression.
Microcosm Publishing, 2008
Hummm, book? zine? scrapbook? film companion? Mostly True straddles all these things, introducing us to the cluttered archives (and head?) of Bill Daniel, itinerant film maker and boxcar graffiti aficionado. A rambling collection of letters, graffiti photos, fiction, news clippings, interviews and a collage of bits and pieces from turn of the 20th century railroad magazines, Daniel fully immerses us right into his hobo world. And what a treat!
The striking cover consisting almost entirely of a modernist masthead and a lonely Barry McGee graffiti writing character set the tone for the rest of the book, which draws visual inspiration from teens and twenties magazines but never falls into empty nostalgia. Instead we get a steady stream of both the old and the new, and a glimpse into how the hobo culture and art of the old days has helped inspire new forms and actions, and has been reinvented by contemporary artists, train hoppers and social rebels. Daniel's film, Who is Bozo Texino, only hinted at this, giving us a glimpse of the merging of these cultures, but Mostly True throws open the doors. Train cars covered by modern day graffiti artists like Other, Labrona and Matokie Slaughter (Margaret Kilgallen) share space with interviews with old-timers like Herby and Bozo Texino. A long, in-depth interview with Colossus of Roads (buz blurr) bridges the gap between the two, sort of like a 1968er squeezed between today's anarchists and yesterday's Communist Party.
A stencil grafitti direct action aimed at counteracting concerted effort by US Military to recruit in minority and poor neighborhoods.
“We are a group of anonymous culture jammers. This action marks the start of our campaign of counteracting manipulative and exploitative propaganda aimed at the most vulnerable members of our community, through non-violent direct action. We encourage everyone who watches this to think of a creative ways of engaging injustices in their communities. Do not be complacent, do not be indifferent…”
I've noticed this posted around a bit, but didn't watch it until recently. I applaud the efforts of the folks involved and they did a good job on putting together the video. That said, I think the choice of words, stenciled, are quite obvious and I'm not sure if they engage people on the street in any effective way. Do people connect them with the activities that happen in those offices? Moreover, the text painted on the roll-down cages of recruiter offices seem less intended for people wishing to enlist than passers-by of these storefronts after hours. Do the words "KILL" or "DIE" really speak to the issue being raised in the video? That recruiters focus on poor neighborhoods of color in urban areas? Is the idea to raise awareness that the ruling class is using poor folks of color to fight "their" war? Or state the more obvious fates within this apparatus.
I bring up these points not in judgment, yet to push a critique of the efficacy of this action. I am asking myself, what does this action encourage anyone else to do? (In other words, how does it help realize the agency and potential of individuals and movements?) It's exciting to hear about activity in NYC around the themes of recruitment and the continuing war, and I look forward to ever more creative confrontations!!
John Fekner just sent me a link to a great photo collection he recently put up of his stenciled car husks. John started painting slogans such as "Decay" on the side of abandoned cars in Queens and the South Bronx in the early 80s. This simple act de-naturalized the collapse of these neighborhoods, reminding everyone that this was not some foregone conclusion, but the results of specific policies and actions of city officials. Check out all the images HERE.
Here's some photos from Paper Politics Richmond at the Ghostprint Gallery. It opens TONIGHT!
Paper Politics, a show I curated of political prints from around the world, is opening on Friday in Richmond, VA. Please come by and check it out if you're in town!:
Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today
200 prints from 200 artists
220 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23220
Friday, August 7th, 7-10 pm
show runs August 7th-August 29th, 2009
Wed-Sat, 1-7pm or by appointment
Chris Stain and Armsrock are pluggin away, with a a handful of breaks, over at the Ad-Hoc Art Gallery. They are making a collaborative installation in the gallery and hanging some original artworks. The show opens this Friday, August 7th
Ad Hoc Art
49 Bogart St
Friend, Paper Politics contributor and Reproduce & Revolt artist David Loewenstein has just installed a cool series of window installations at the Power and Light Building in Kansas City. David has filled the 10 ground floor windows of the building with large scale black and white paintings of strong, stylized graphics, at least one of which is in Reproduce & Revolt.
BNIM Architecture (ground floor windows)
106 W. 14th Street (Power and Light Building)
Kansas City, MO
If you're in KC, check out the install, and here are some pics:
Its summer in NYC, and despite June having the 2nd most rainfall on record dumping on NYC 23 out of 30 days, Chris Stain was able to paint with some folks on a large outdoor wall in Brooklyn. From Chris' website:
There’s a swell group of fellows that go by the name Skewville. About a month or so ago I was contacted by their commander in chief to participate in the India St mural project that they were apart of. 9 cops and a whole lot of bullshit later, Skewville, Logan Hicks, and myself teamed up for the work in progress you see above. If you are in Brooklyn make sure to stop by and say hello. To see what else Skewville has goin on check out Skewville.org to see what Logan is up to check out Workhorse Visuals
So Chris and I recently took part in the Willoughby Windows project here in Brooklyn. Organized by Ad Hoc Art, the project is one of those strange hybrids between business interests, real estate and art entrepreneurship that rightfully make a lot of people uncomfortable. I'm still up in the air as to how to feel about it, but I'm definitely glad to have been invited to participate and struggle with the issues embedded in this.
Ad Hoc negotiated a deal with the Metrotech Business Improvement District (BID) in Downtown Brooklyn to temporarily turn a block of abandoned storefront windows into artist installation spaces. The trick is that the storefronts don't just happen to be abandoned. Awhile back the same developers behind the BID kicked everyone out of these buildings and basically leveled the existing community. These business luminaries then ran out of cash, and now are hoping artists will salvage the situation by bringing people back onto the block and keeping the buildings "safe" from vandalism and crime. So us artists aren't actually kicking anyone out, that dirty deed is long since done, we're sort of like mid-fielders, keeping the ball in play until the developers can siphon off enough bailout money to tear out the storefronts and start building another hideous glass tower for rich people.
Today's Daily News article about the windows makes it seem like I'm not the only skeptic. Former tenants and even passerby's argue that the art is no replacement for the former businesses and community. This is the type of tough situation all kinds of people in all kinds of fields find themselves in: inheriting situations and problems we had little role in creating. What to do? Because thousands of people are going to be looking at these installations for the rest of the year I decided to fill my windows with Celebrate People's History posters. Might as well use the space to advertise little known political histories....
But rather than just listen to my issues, definitely check it out yourself. The opening is this Friday, July 10th at 2pm. Here's the info:
86 - 106 Willoughby Street, between Duffield and Bridge Streets
July 10, 2-7pm
Willoughby Windows transforms 12 vacant storefronts into a street level gallery that brings art to the community. Over 12 well known artists, all with deep roots in the street art movement, have contributed to this project, many creating site specific works. This network of visual experiences can help redefine how people visiting, working and living in Downtown Brooklyn think about and interact with their environment during a time of transition. Artists include: Ad Hoc Art, John Ahearn, Tom Beale, John Breiner, Cannonball Press, Cycle, Michael De Feo, Ellis G, Gaia, Logan Hicks, Lady Pink, Greg Lamarche, Josh MacPhee, Dennis McNett, Morning Breath, Chris Stain and Werdink.
On display July 10 - Nov 5, 2009.
Rising Tide activists dropped a 25 ft high banner off the Environmental Protection Agency in Boston. Image below, and the rest of the story here.
The Aberdeen Poster Collective is another UK poster group I've stumbled across online. This crew is from Aberdeen, Scotland, and appears to have had their heyday in the early 2000s. They have about 50 posters up online which you can download and reproduce. Some of them are quite simple and effective. Check them all out, and their manifesto, on their website.
My friend and old Chicago studio-mate Brooks Golden just had some studio shots posted by the Chicago Urban Art Society. It's great to see my old studio getting so much use, and Brooks producing so much cool shit in it! Check out these images:
Check out the latest video about the Tamms Year Ten mud stencil action in Chicago that took place on June 6th.
The folks at PEEL Mag are back to work. This time Holly is launching a Street Styles program in Indianapolis, bringing street art into public schools and community centers to teach youth about art, politics and public space. The Street Styles program was started in San Francisco by the street artist DAVE (Warnke) to much success, and hopefully will work just as well in the midwest...more info on the Street Styles website.
Mud stencil video by Gretchen Hasse.
Stencil Nation is a new book on the stencil scene that has full color spreads of stencils of our own Chris Stain and Swoon, and also includes a page on the Street Art Workers (SAW) with work by Josh MacPhee and Erik Ruin. There's a lot of other impressive work in this full-color book by artists like Adam 5100 of San Francisco and Janet Attard of Toronto. Check out author Russell Howze's presentation, which includes stencil history and vocabulary, if you are in one of the towns he is touring to this week or next, which include Toronto, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Bloomington, & St. Louis. More info on his tour schedule, and about the book in general, can be found at stencilnation.org.
Lori Waxman wrote an insightful article about the recent June 6th mud stencil event in Chicago for the online and print publication New City Chicago. Below is her text and a link to her website and the New City website.
by Lori Waxman
Dirt, water, whisk, sponge, bucket, box cutter, tar paper—these are not your typical artist’s materials. Mix the water and dirt in the bucket, lay the cut-out paper against a cement surface, and sponge on the mud, however, and the result is a handsome work of environmentally friendly graffiti.
Street artists often work with stencils, using them to shape spray-painted statements. But a chemical medium dispensed through an aerosol container reeks of toxicity, so Milwaukee-based Jesse Graves, intent on finding a more compatible way to apply his environmentally and politically conscious messages, evolved an alternate means of tagging: mud. The technique is nothing short of ingenious. Simple, cheap, graphically effective and not necessarily illegal, mud stencils, if protected from the elements, can last up to ten years; or, like all dirt, they can be washed off with water. Consistency is key, however, to achieving a bold visual with sharp edges: the mud mixture must be carefully controlled so that it achieves a viscosity akin to peanut butter or feces.
Yes, feces—like the feces sometimes smeared by inmates at Tamms prison on the walls of their cells. Cells where they are held in permanent solitary confinement, bereft of all human contact, for up to twenty-three hours a day, with breaks only for showers and individual exercise. It’s a supermax jail in Southern Illinois originally designed for the short-term punishment of violent inmates from other facilities, but one-third of whose occupants have now been locked up in extreme isolation for over a decade, with no clearly defined standards for transfer in or out. Widely believed to cause permanent physiological and psychological damage, these conditions contravene the Geneva Convention, two United Nations treaties and various other international human-rights accords. Conditions which have led inmates not only to paint their walls with shit in desperate attempts for attention, but also to mutilate themselves, to attempt suicide, and to require—for one in every ten men at Tamms—regular doses of psychotropic medication. All this for up to $90,000 a year per inmate, three to four times the cost of incarceration at other prisons in Illinois.
On Saturday, June 6th in Chicago, local artists partnered with the Tamms Year Ten coalition to protest state-sanctioned torture at the supermax prison in Southern Illinois. And they did it with mud.
Artists from Chicago and Milwaukee engaged in a non-destructive type of public messaging called “mud-stenciling.” More than 30 volunteers stenciled their message “End Torture in Illinois” in the afternoon on walls and sidewalks around the city offering fact-sheets about TAMMS supermax prison to curious pedestrians. The teams hit spots such as Navy Pier, The Chicago Art Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Jane Adams Hull House, Hyde Park Art Center, the Logan Square skate park, the Chicago Zoo, DePaul University, as well as sidewalks, underpass walls, and numerous other locations.
Mud as a medium is especially sensible for artists and activists who want to work outdoors with a non-toxic substance to reach a large public audience. Moreover, city governments and law enforcement agencies have little precedence in dealing with mud stencils so there is a gray area on whether it is legal or not. For if it is illegal, is it also illegal for kids to write with chalk on the sidewalk? Is it illegal to build a snowman in a park or for dirt from ones garden to touch the sidewalk? And, is it illegal to stencil with mud when the rain will wash it off?
That said, none of the 30 volunteers who mud stenciled on June 6th in Chicago were arrested or even questioned by the police.
Jesse Graves, a Milwaukee based artist who is gaining international attention for his street art, developed the mud stenciling technique and took part in the Chicago action. “I started stenciling with mud because I wanted to put environmental messages in public spaces, so it would not make sense to use a toxic material like spray paint,” said Graves. “I am using the earth, the most basic substance, to express my concerns regarding the state of the environment I am living in. I am using what sustains us to offer ideas on how we can sustain ourselves.”
Nicolas Lampert, a member of the Justseeds Radical Artists cooperative (www.justseeds.org), who helped coordinate the effort, views it as a tactical media campaign. “People first will be drawn to the stencils themselves, the medium, but it is our hope that a larger conversation evolves about Tamms and how people can get involved,” said Lampert, who helped cut the 6 foot by 9 foot stencils out of rolls of roofing paper. He feels the partnership with the Tamms Year Ten campaign is a needed collaboration: “In my view, activist movements need art, and artists need to be part of activist movements. A lot of artists do political art, but this is actually a case where artists can be part of a social justice movement itself.”
The action was designed to draw attention to the supermax prison in Illinois. Which has become the target of scrutiny by press, legislators, and even Governor Quinn, who appointed a new IDOC director last month with the top priority of reviewing the conditions at Tamms.
Prisoners at the supermax are held in permanent solitary confinement, and never leave their cell except to shower or exercise alone in a concrete pen. Their is no communal activity, no contact visits, no phone calls, an no educational or rehabilitative programming. Suicide attempts, self-mutilation, and other psychotic symptoms are common at Tamms, and are an expected consequence of long-term isolation, which can induce or worsen mental illness. Prisoners often hear nothing but constant screaming or banging and complain about the smell of feces, smeared on cells by mentally ill prisoners. The supermax was designed to be a short-term shock-treatment, but one-third of prisoners have been held indefinitely since the prison opened over ten years ago.
Tamms Year Ten, a coalition of over 70 groups throughout Illinois, initiated the campaign to end torture at the supermax last year and worked with Illinois lawmakers to introduce HB2633 that would establish accountability at the prison and prohibit mentally ill people from being held there. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the Illinois Department of Corrections and Governor Quinn to alleviate conditions at the prison immediately.
Laurie Jo Reynolds a Tamms Year Ten organizer, who participated in the mud stencil action said, “The mud-stencils help facilitate dialogues about Tamms with people all over the city.” She reported that people were surprised to see the word torture being used in connection with the state of Illinois. “Many people don’t realize that our supermax is more isolating than Guantanamo Bay, where identical treatment has been judged by Attorney General Eric Holder to be too isolating for prisoner safety,” Reynolds explained. All prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are now provided social interaction and phone calls, in compliance with the humane-treatment requirements of the Geneva Convention. She added, “Most people agree that psychological torture can’t be justified for American prisoners of war, or for detainees at Guantanamo, and it can’t be justified for people in custody in Illinois.”
Nationally, supermaxes are on the decline with some closing or converting to regular maximum security prisons due to the unwanted consequences of long-term isolation, as well as the high cost of supermax prisons. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, the average annual cost of housing a prisoner at Tamms is about $60,000, two to three times as much as any other adult prison on Illinois.
Tamms Year Ten: http://www.yearten.org/
Jesse Graves: http://mudstencils.com/
More photos, video, and articles will be posted over the coming weeks.
Chris Stain just sent me this photo of a mural he painted with his long-time pal Billy Mode. They took advantage of the nice weather in Brooklyn to put up this piece on the side of our favorite Mexican Restaurant in Bushwick.
Chris has a nice set of flicks on the blog of his website chrisstain.com
Marc Fischer from Temporary Services just sent along this amazing flyer he found in Chicago!:
These are pictures Katie B. took while on tour with my band last summer in Europe, some highlights of street art, graf. and alternative spaces.
Stencil on left from Hamburg, the right from Germany somewhere.
I came a cross some really beautiful images while looking for some visual references for a comment I wanted to post on Josh's review of Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca. Photographer, Aaron Tukey, shoots some really incredible images and writes about graffiti and the government attempts to erase political messages of the APPO. You can check out the slide show War of the Walls: Rebellion and Graphic Art in Oaxaca on his website.
Aaron compares the erasure of "street art" and the more political graffiti
in his images and essay (attached below). You may recognize a paper cut-out by Swoon in one of the images. This was installed in Oaxaca during the teacher's strike, yet before the APPO uprising. Its existence after the repression of the movement seems to support Aarons observation of selective buffing by Oaxacan authorities.
Stop the Armed Forces
An Exhibition of Conscious Art and Music Against Police Brutality
Friday May 15th
8pm - 2am
2323 East Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, 90021
Open Gallery May 16th, Noon - 6pm
Jon-Paul Bail, Brianna Lengel-Bail, Alison Smith, Tim Holgerson, Louis Hennings, Jesus Barraza, Melanie Cervantes, Ryan J. Saari, Taarna R. Grimsley, Paul Barron, Favianna Rodriguez, Frank Zio, Chuck Sperry, Ron Donovan, Emory Douglas, Contra, Yem, Ritzy Periwinkle, John Carr, Karen Fiorito, Hit+Run, 2Cents, 2Rabbits, ABCNT, David Kietzman, Josh MacPhee, Mear One, Vyal, and more...
Bernard Herman receently sent these photos over of a nice set of stencils that showed up one morning on the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill campus. Not sure who EC (or ECCE, but not to be confused with the Australian ECCE) is, but nice work! Here's a page with other stencils from North Carolina tagged EC, but it is unclear if they are the same artist....
Louis E.V. Nevaer & Elaine Sendyk
Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca
Mark Batty Publishers, 2009
As far as I know, this is the first book out that exclusively focuses on the political street art produced during the uprising in Oaxaca in 2006. Normally one might ask why we should embrace a book on the graffiti of a political rebellion when we barely have any books that deal with the actions of the period or the politics behind them. But as our world becomes more and more media saturated, how people that reject the status quo represent themselves publicly becomes increasingly important. If most people in the US saw anything about the Oaxaca rebellion, it was likely photos of the graffiti it produced on yahoo news. The popular and mass occupation of Oaxaca City lasted longer than the Paris Commune, and all we got were a couple lousy internet slideshows?!?
Thankfully Nevaer and Sendyk give us a much more in-depth look at the streets of Oaxaca than any web news outlet. Sendyk took the bulk of the photos included (over 150), and Nevaer narrates our trip through the images. Unlike most graffiti books coming out these days, this one actually attempts to provide context for the images included. The book begins with a reprinting of an Open Letter in Support of the People of Oaxaca, signed by an international collection of Left public intellectuals, and leads right into a chronology of events in Oaxaca. Nevaer tries to give us the information we need to understand the images, including a history of the PRI Party in Mexico, context for teachers strikes in Oaxaca, background on the Mexican Revolution, as well as the development of the strike in 2006, the formation of the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO), and the role of women in the struggle. The information provided is generally solid, if a little to liberal and repetitive for my taste.
Last Saturday I was lucky to be able to take part (at least marginally) in a great project organized by the Public Ad Campaign. Dozens and dozens of artists and volunteers descended on Manhattan (at least from Midtown down) and first whitewashed a significant number of corporate posters and advertisement spaces (all of which were technically illegal), and then went back hours later and covered them with art. Part of the idea was to show the city that these spaces could be used for something way more interesting, engaging, and ultimately more democratic, than advertisements. Turns out 4 people ended up getting arrested, 2 whitewashers, a videographer, and one of the artists. It's interesting to me that the whitewashers took the biggest hit for destroying the ads, not the artists, who were doing graffiti, something which the city claims is much more criminal.
Personally I was feeling the whitewash more than the art part, but that might be because I've been in a serious "Less Is More" mood of late, and I really like the visual breathing room the whitewashing created. For me in was enough to allow the city to project its own ideas onto these newly blank canvasses, there was no need to immediately fill them back up. I guess in this way I'm thinking more in line with the European anti-advertising movements that have developed in the past 10 years, like Stop Pub in France, which regularly covers ad space with blank white posters.
There has been a bunch of media coverage about the project, but the best 2 places to read about it are on the Public Ad Campaign's own website, and on Animal NY's blog. I'd love to hear what other people think. Both about ad creep and ways to combat it, but also the differences and similarities between corporate advertising and street art, so much of which has basically become advertisements for the artist's current of future art world career.
The recent Justseeds install in Milwaukee included a public art component. Here are examples...
1310 Mission St. (near 9th)
San Francisco, CA 94103
With dynamically illustrated perspectives across the art form, hundreds of photographs and numerous essays have been curated by StencilArchive.org’s founder, Russell Howze. Stencil Nation builds upon published works to give the most extensive and up-to-date history of stencil art, as well as how-to tips from the artists. [Photo: City Transit Chaos: Cars, Get Out of Here! (Belem, Brazil, Jan. 2009) by Chris Carlsson]
My friend Rutger from Amsterdam just sent me these great flics of some street art from Barcelona. I'm not sure who the artist is, but these are really, seemingly nice quite portraits of everyday people on the streets, but with their (potential) inner thoughts written out beside them. The work feels like it has double resonance in Spain, capturing the present, but also referencing the dual consciousness that was needed to exist under Fascist dictatorship for 30 years. The translations are thanks to Emily, who also sent along the final photo, which appears to be the remnants of a large scale work by the same artist. Anyone who knows who's doing these, let us know!
translation: "They say that immigrants are dangerous. But I've seen how the army shoots at them, how they detain them, how they leave them to die. It is the government that is killing them, and that lies to us every day."
Jesus and Melanie took Russell Howze's Stencilada event a couple weekends back in San Francisco. Here are a couple photos of the stenciled mural panels painted at the event, and you can see more here. And here.
I just got back to NYC from installing Signs of Change upstate in Troy. Here's the info for the show (please stop by if you're in the area!), and below are some photos from the install.
Reception: April 24, 2009 5:00-9:00 PM
Exhibition runs from April 5, 2009 - June 5, 2009
The Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River Street, Troy NY, 518.273.0552,
Sponsored by iEAR Presents! and Humanities at Rensselaer
In Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, hundreds of posters, photographs, moving images, audio clips, and ephemera bring to life over forty years of activism, political protest, and campaigns for social justice. Curated by Dara Greenwald and Josh MacPhee as part of Exit Art's Curatorial Incubator, this important and timely exhibition surveys the creative work of dozens of international social movements. Organized thematically, the exhibition presents the creative outpourings of social movements, such as those for Civil Rights and Black Power in the United States; democracy in China; anti-apartheid in Africa; squatting in Europe; environmental activism and women's rights internationally; and the global AIDS crisis, as well as uprisings and protests, such as those for indigenous control of lands; against airport construction in Japan; and student and worker revolution in France. The exhibition also explores the development of powerful counter-cultures that evolve beyond traditional politics and create distinct aesthetics, life-styles, and social organization. Although histories of political groups and counter-cultures have been written, and political and activist shows have been held, this exhibition is a groundbreaking attempt to chronicle the artistic and cultural production of these movements. Signs of Change offers a chance to see relatively unknown or rarely seen works, and is intended to not only provide a historical framework for contemporary activism, but also to serve as an inspiration for the present and the future.
Our friends at the House of Love & Dissent in Rome are putting on an exciting new show, an evolving installation by street artist Sten (along with comrades Lex and Lucamonte). My Italian is not so good, but it sounds like they'll be covering the space with a growing number of giant wall posters, building an environment focused on images of a woman that has the power to heal the world. The show is called PO-STErN, and initial images look pretty cool.
If you're in NYC tomorrow night, roll on down to Bluestockings and check out Brett Bloom discussing the new Temporary Services book Public Phenomena:
Friday, March 27th @ 7PM - Free at Bluestockings Bookstore (172 Allen Street btw Stanton and Rivington)
Reading: Brett Bloom “Public Phenomena”
Temporary Services produces exhibitions, events, projects, and publications. Join Brett Bloom for a reading and discussion of Public Phenomena, a multi-city examination of informal modifications of every day public space and their implications for changing city use.
In addition to Public Phenomena, Brett Bloom will present four booklets in their Temporary Conversations interview series: Kawabata Makoto, Tim Kerr, The Dicks, and the latest: Jean Toche / Guerilla Art Action Group.
Temporary Services is Brett Bloom, Salem Collo-Julin and Marc Fischer. We are based in Illinois and have existed since 1998. We produce exhibitions, events, projects, and publications, making no distinction between art practice and other creative human endeavors.
Temporary Services seeks to create and participate in ethical relationships that are not competitive and are mutually beneficial. We strive towards aesthetic experiences built upon trust and unlimited experimentation.
Opening Grill Out
Saturday, March 28
1 to 5 pm
2050 Bryant St.
b/t 18th and 19th Sts.
SF, CA 94110
FREE (one day only, inside if raining)
Food on the grill, bevs in the cooler, music on the boombox, and art on the walls
(some food and beverages will be provided while supplies last)
Featuring eight panels of art by:
Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza
Russell Howze with Hugh D’Andrade
John Koleszar (AZ)
Peat Wollaeger (MO)
with special stencils on paper by Tiago DeJerk (OR)
Bring your own cut out stencils to add to the ongoing collection of stencil art at CELLspace (some paint provided)
Chris Stain and Billy Mode spent a mild Sunday evening painting a wall in Bed-Stuy. Folks in the neighborhood were intrigued and expressed support to the artists as they worked into the night. A good amount of guys stopping to make mention of how they used to paint trains and played the "do you know so-and-so" with Chris and Bill, finding they had friends in common. Police took no interest in the two entitled artists. Chris mentioned the only person perturbed by their painting was an older woman who harassed them for a moment and took their pictures. Other Folks like Bed-Stuy Banana and Bed-Stuy Blog were less aggressive in their phototaking.
It turns out writer Goal was painting a legal wall, with some friends, down the street on a restaurant. Apparently a perfect day to be out painting.
More Midwest political freight graffiti! One of my favorite things about doing thi blog is when cool art like this flys into the mailbox, makes me feel like people are fighting out there:
I recently was asked a series of questions by about why there is so little right-wing street art by Paul Schmelzer (editor for the Minnesota Independent) for his Eyeteeth Blog. He crafted a post around my answers, and here it is:
At the 2009 Conservative Political Action (CPAC) conference this weekend, The Daily Beast's Max Blumenthal found a rare kind of artist: a conservative hip hop musician. Self-defined "Republican rapper" Hi-Caliber says he takes inspiration from the likes of Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh to lay down lyrics like: "A socialist in the White House / what have we done? / You think Bush was bad? / Now the real fun has begun / The Democrats want to take my gun..."
But what Blumenthal found at CPAC, I haven't had much luck in finding in the visual arts: interesting street art coming from a right-of-center perspective. In my search, raised in my Thursday post, "Where's all the rightwing street art?," I got in touch with artist Josh MacPhee, who founded Justseeds, an artists' cooperative, online store, and blog. He couldn't offer examples of artists, but he shared his thoughts on the topic of why they're so hard to find.
He says the American political Left draws from a long history of visual agit-prop, whereas conservatives have used other vehicles. "When [the Right] is marginalized, it has built itself through local radio broadcasts, direct mailings, election to local office, etc.—channels that appear to be legal, mainstream, and legitimate," he says. "The Left has no problem appearing to be speaking from the margins (even if they are speaking from a position generally held by the vast majority, i.e. the anti-war position right now), but the Right always wants to speak from the center, to claim they are being marginalized, but simultaneously appear to be legitimate and supported by the majority."
He posits that illegal or guerrilla art has long been a way for people whose voices aren't represented by corporate media channels to be heard. "For most of the history of this country, and more specifically for the past eight years, the ideas and opinions of the right wing, and even the extreme right wing, have been common currency. They are seen in daily newspapers, heard on the radio, even spread across billboards," he says. "There is much less of a need for right-wing graffiti, when the right wing speaks to the hundreds of millions from TV screens and evangelical church pulpits."
After the Justseeds install, I took off for Mérida, Yucatan. I just got in yesterday, but I haven't seen any exciting (street) art, yet. Send me a shout out if anyone knows some artists or areas to check out here in the Yucatan.
In the mean time, here are a couple of flics from the show I curated, 'In the Name of the Blood Shed.' Photographers Antonio Turok and Edith Sánchez Morales were in the house. Street Art collectives Lapiztola and Zzierra Rrezzia will hopefully be in Michigan conducting workshops for the closing. Stop by if in Michigan before the end of the month.
We are not in the least afraid of making a mess.....
Here's some photos of day three of the Justseeds install "Which Side Are You On" that opens at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday, March 5th. Slowly but surely it is all coming together. Much thanks to everyone who is assisting us with this project-our friends, the students who are helping out, and all at the Union Art Gallery who have been so amazing to work with. We're excited to see what the next two days bring forth.
...stay tuned..three more days of work until the show opens on Thursday, March 5th...
The Justseeds install in Milwaukee is off to a roaring start. 15 plus members from the collective and a host of Milwaukee friends are busy working on the six day installation from Friday, Feb. 28th-March 5th. If your in Milwaukee or nearby, stop by the exhibition preview (Tuesday, March 3rd 5:00-8:00) the opening (Thursday, March 5th 5:00-8:00), and a presentation by Josh MacPhee (Monday, March 2nd, 7:00-9:00) on political printmaking. Details are posted below and more photos of the install will be posted soon!
Which Side Are You On?
Exhibition featuring work from the Justseeds Radical Artists’ Cooperative
MILWAUKEE, WI — From March 5 through April 3 the UWM Union Art Gallery will present Which Side Are You On?, featuring the work of 20 plus artists who are part of the Justseeds Radical Artists’ Cooperative. The exhibition reception is on Thursday, March 5 from 5-8pm. An exhibition preview will take place on March 3 at 5pm. All events are free and open to the public.
Justseeds (www.justseeds.org) is a decentralized radical art cooperative consisting of 20 plus artists who live in Brooklyn, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Portland, Milwaukee, and other cities across North America. Together they work on a myriad of projects where art is used as a tool to serve social justice movements. Justseeds is best known for their political prints, a blog that serves as a home for socially engaged street art and news, their group installations, and a recent portfolio project in honor of the 10-year Anniversary of Critical Resistance (a grass roots organization committed to opposing the prison-industrial complex.)
In early March, the Justseeds Radical Artists’ Cooperative will create a massive floor-to-ceiling, all encompassing installation that combines elements of street art, sculpture, video, and other mediums. Which Side Are You On? examines the use of walls as physical and mental barriers that create de-facto segregation, whether it is the walls that divide nation states, the streets that separate one side of town from the other, or the barriers that separate humans from the environment. Which Side Are You On? challenges these barriers while envisioning a more just and sustainable future.
At 5pm on Tuesday, March 3, an exhibition preview will take place at the Union Art Gallery. Stop by for a chance to see the Justseeds installation in progress. During the walk through, meet and talk with the artists involved in the installation.
In conjunction with this exhibition, Union Programming is hosting an evening with Justseeds founder, Josh MacPhee, on Monday, March 2 at 7pm in the Union Fireside Lounge. In his talk, The Walls Are Talking: Street Art and Social Movements, MacPhee will present an in-depth discussion about street art and graffiti and their role at four historical times, between 1968 and 2003. The lecture is free and open to the public. Josh will also lead a printmaking workshop in the Union Studio Arts and Craft Centre on Saturday, March 7 from 12:30-3:30pm. Call 229-5535 for information on the fee and to register.
Which Side Are You On? is cosponsored by UWM Students for a Democratic Society.
Gallery hours are Monday thru Wednesday 12-5pm, Thursday 12-7pm and Friday thru Saturday 12-5pm. The Gallery is located in room W199 on the Campus Level of the Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Boulevard.
My friends WERC and Geraldine (who I went to Mexico with back in October), have been working with a great team of artists on an exciting new project in San Diego: La Entrada. The basic core of the project is an attempt to infuse art into a low income housing project as it is being built. WERC has been painting some amazing murals on the outside. They are also organizing a barrage of workshops for community residents. You can check it out in this short video:
So, here is the English version of the article I had published in Zapruder magazine. This is a much longer version, very much still in process. I'd love to hear what people think, so please comment if you read it!
Street Art and Social Movements
In most societies, very few people have access to the mechanisms of mainstream media creation and distribution. Most of us have little to no input into the barrage of headlines, advertisements, news briefs and billboards we consume everyday. As such, this visual landscape often feels more like a system of control than a source of useful information. When these "legitimate" systems of communication fail individuals or groups in a society, people often turn to illegal ways of communicating with both each other and the system attempting to control them. Graffiti and street art have long existed as a safety valve for individuals to vent their anger and frustration, whether in the form of scrawling angry messages on bathroom stalls or pasting posters on the windows of government buildings. But it is when the vast majority of people begin to feel that they have no other outlet to communicate, that the media channels open to them are uni-directional and they are on the receiving end of a string of lies and half truths, that street art can act as an antidote to our visual space being used as a social control mechanism. There have been many of these moments, when street art becomes truly democratic and hundreds, or thousands, of people flood the streets with their messages in the form of posters and graffiti. It is at these times that people begin to look to the streets, and to their peers, to find explanations for their condition, not corporate television, state radio, or ruling class newspapers. I'm going to discuss four historical examples here; Paris in May 1968, Nicaragua in the late 1970s, South Africa in the early 1980s, and finally Argentina from 2001-04.
Part I: France
In Paris, in May and June of 1968, there was a student and worker revolt that brought France to the brink of revolution. Accompanying this revolt was a groundswell of creative street expression, especially in the form of graffiti'd poems and slogans and rapidly mass-produced silkscreened political posters. The posters often responded to the direct material reality of what was happening on the streets and in the factories, while the graffiti was largely more poetic and metaphysical, speaking to its readers on a much more emotional level. This counter-narrative written on the street not only attracted people because of it's graphic power or sense of humor, but also because there were days at a time when the workers in French TV, radio and press were on strike. The walls were literally the only place to get the news.
Stickers, easy to make, easy to use, a quick and cheap way to get a message, name or image out into the world. The kid brother to wheat-paste posters, stickers are so cheap to make and so unassuming that they might be the most democratic form of street art. You can put them up here and there and almost forget what you're doing is illegal. This is great in many ways, an unprecedented number of people are using stickers to express themselves, and stepping over the mostly invisible barrier of "private property" that controls so much of our behavior in life. At the same time, because there are so few obstacles to entry, the world of street art sticker makers is filled with the most mundane and banal imagery and ideas. It seems like stickers often capture the worst in street art, the most unoriginal graffiti-style faces and characters as well as endless pop culture recyclings. PEEL: The Art of the Sticker captures both the good and bad of street sticker culture.
First off, it's a great looking book! Hardcover, embossed metallic logo on the cover, endpapers, and a nice, large 9"x10"' format. It is cleanly designed, richly printed, and even comes with 8 sheets of diecut stickers bound into the back. This is definitely a book by sticker lovers for sticker lovers, and by far the most comprehensive collection about the art form out now (Izastikup by Bo130 and Stick 'em Up by Mike Dorian are both decent books, but really glorified scrapbook collections of stickers). PEEL was always a labor of love for Dave and Holly, and this book is the same, not just simply compiling material from old issues, but pulling from the magazine and adding material to create a comprehensive book.
Ever since Chris & I finished the installation and hung his show I've been taking in LA. I wanted to post a bunch of photos and links right after the opening but, go figure, real life is more interesting than staring at my extra brain.(photo by Kevin Caplicki-while borrowing Sesper's fisheye lens, thanks for showing me that trick!)
I mentioned to Chris awhile back that I wanted to make a rooftop installation in a gallery. When he was offered this solo show at the Carmichael Gallery, he asked me if I wanted to actualize that idea. Working with Chris is really enjoyable, so I jumped at the chance. We get along well and provide some balance for each other when things go awry. I really appreciate Chris for his confidence and encouragement in others, and feel the freedom to influence and create whatever is on my mind in these installations. So with that, I'm proud of what we made and encourage you to check out the show, in real life, and in the links I'll post below. First the info
"Up On The Roof Countin' Pigeons"
a solo exhibition of Chris Stain
February 5 - 26, 2009
Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art
1257 N. La Brea Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90038
or this flickr set from Carmichael Gallery
These just anonymously flew into the inbox:
I saw posts for this action on a few blogs and thought I should re-post it here.
This blog has the whole series:
Chris Stain & I are out in Los Angeles this week to build an installation for his solo show at the Carmichael Gallery. If you're around here or know anyone that is interested in hanging out with us on a NYC rooftop tell em to swing by the gallery. Maybe we can shoot the shit and drink 40's on the roof.
Here's the skinny:
A solo exhibition of new work by Chris Stain
Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art is proud to present "Up on the roof countin' pigeons", the first West Coast solo exhibition of work by Baltimore artist Chris Stain. Artwork featured in the exhibition will include stencil, spraypaint and mixed media on metal and found objects.
For "Up on the roof countin' pigeons", Chris Stain will transform the gallery into a NYC rooftop scene, complete with pigeon coop and live jazz music. The enigmatic stencil portraits integrated into the large-scale installation pierce the gaze of viewers and offer a unique perspective of contemporary inner city life.
"My work explores the emotional and physical struggle of growing up in an urban environment. Through hand-cut stencils and installations made from found materials I hope to inspire compassion for the often overlooked individuals of society." - Chris Stain
Thursday, February 5th
7.00pm – 10.00pm
Open to the public February 6th – February 26th, 2009
1.00pm – 7.00pm
I hope to tickle your fancy wih some tastes as the install progresses so check back here
or on our Flickr
My friends over at Not My Government have been consistently churning out political posters and anti-police brutality propaganda for years. Head over to their site and check out what they've been up to, and support the cause!
In late February/early March 2009, upwards of fifteen Justseeds artists will converge in Milwaukee for a week to create a massive floor-to-ceiling installation at the Union Art Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that will combines elements of street art, stencils, sculpture and other mediums.
The installation is titled "Which Side Are You On?" and it will examine the use of walls as physical and mental barriers that create de-facto segregation, whether it is the walls that divide nation states, the streets that separate one side of town from the other, or the barriers that separate humans from the environment. "Which Side Are You On?" challenges these barriers while envisioning a more just and sustainable future.
During the install, we'll post photos on the Justseeds blog of the work in progress.
Monday, March 2nd, 7:00pm, Union Fireside Lounge: talk by Josh MacPhee on the present and past political, social, and aesthetic development of activist printmaking from around the world.
Tuesday, March 3rd, 5pm, Union Art Gallery: stop in the Union Art Gallery for a chance to see the Justseeds installation in progress. During the walk through, meet and talk with the artists involved in the installation.
Thursday, March 5th, 5-8pm, Union Art Gallery: opening reception
Saturday, March 7th, 12:30-3:30, Union Studio Arts and Craft Centre: printmaking workshop with Josh MacPhee. Call the Craft Centre at 414-229-5535 to register.
The exhibition will run from March 5th - April 3rd
UWM Union Art Gallery is located at:
Campus Level, Room W199
2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri & Sat 12-5pm; Thu 12-7pm
The exhibition "Which Side Are You On" is co-sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society at UWM
This story was published in The Olympian on January 14, 2009:
Mixed-martial-arts champion charged in olympia wa. graffiti case
By Jeremy Pawloski
OLYMPIA — Prosecutors have charged Olympia mixed-martial-arts champion and avowed anarchist Jeff Monson with first-degree malicious mischief based on photographs published in a December edition of ESPN The Magazine that
showed him spray-painting an anarchist symbol on the state Capitol, court papers state. A warrant for Monson’s arrest was filed today in Thurston County Superior Court. Monson, 37, is charged with first-degree malicious mischief, a Class B felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
The graffiti cost $19,000 to clean up, court papers state.
Police have sought the people responsible for spray-painting graffiti on columns on the north side of the Capitol on Nov. 26. The graffiti included anarchy symbols, a peace symbol and phrases such as “no war” and “no poverty.”
I have recently been asked about why it is that I dislike Shepard Fairey. Its actually not that I dislike Shepard as a person, its more that I have a big problem with his practices. I find them to be unethical and I believe that the political spectrum of people trying to make social change in the world will ultimately not benefit from his art. I believe that as artists and activists, we should be open about critiquing each other and open to changing how it is that we do things. That is what movements did before us .The Black Panthers consistently criticized each other in order to make assessments, and grow, as people, as an organization, and as a movement. We should never be closed to critique because in doing so we are doing ourselves a disservice. I would love to have the opportunity to talk to Shepard about my critiques, but the word on the street is that he does not like to debate about this stuff. Again, I have to say that this is not a personal attack, Shepard is actually in a book I co-edited with Josh MacPhee (also part of Justseeds), Reproduce and Revolt, and it's not my intention to smear him nor censor him. Rather, my intention is to provide a look at his practices from the perspective a woman of color, an artist activist, and a person who thinks our capitalist system is very flawed.
Today a friend shared an article which you can read by clicking here. The title of the article is "Consumers of the World Unite," based on the phrase, "Workers of the World, Unite!" The title itself says alot of Fairey's practices, which is, that he commodifies political movements with the intention of making HUGE profits from them. Read the article and judge for yourself. It's sad to me that me that in our ultra consumer world, EVERYTHING is up for grabs when it's about profit. Very similar to how Hip Hop started in our communities, was even illegal in some forms, then repurposed, and is now sold back to us, by the very forces that also put our people in jail, deport our families, and push for bail outs in which the people ultimately pay the price. The article starts like this:
"SHOPPING, these days, is a political act. If you are brave enough to buy a $2,000 Prada handbag, you might rationalize that you are helping to stimulate the economy. Solidarity, people!"
Read more about Shepard Fairey's practices:
This article here was researched by a few of us in Justseeds (Jesus Barraza, Josh MacPhee, and myself) as well as other notable voices in the world of political posters:
This article here was written by my fellow co-editor and JustSeeder, Josh MacPhee:
This article was written originally for release in Mother Jones, but Mother Jones then refused to run it, and then instead ran a very pro-Fairey piece:
Here is an open letter to Shepard from a powerful sister who works at KPFK, Aura Bogado.
Our friend Marco delli Santi from Rome's House of Love and Dissent just sent over this design he created, he's planning on printing them out of mirror sticker paper and putting them up around Italy. If you're interested in doing that as well, you can download the file here.
The Insecurities of Time
January 16th through February 15th 2009
Opening Reception: Friday, January 16th 7pm-10pm
Ad Hoc Art
49 Bogart Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206
For the past 4 years, Know Hope has been showing his work in galleries and exhibitions worldwide, but most of his work has been on the streets, in their natural urban settings. Know Hope deals with the ephemeral aspect of street art not only as a genre in itself, but also as a subject, exploring the need of momentary connections in everyday reality, and the common denominator that is the human struggle.
Know Hope’s recent work has been revolving around the story of an unnamed figure, following it and creating some sort of lifeline through its observations, mishaps and eventually its commentary. The figure is the visual manifestation of the human vulnerability addressed in all the pieces. The use of cardboard makes the content of the pieces physical, underlining the urgency of creating temporary art for the street, and the liability and rough fragility of the struggle.
I've been a fan from afar of Above for awhile now. I liked the arrows hanging from power lines, loved the aesthetic of the arrow covered roll-downs and trucks, but have to admit I wanted to see a little more diversity in visual language. Seems like Above has really started to branch out, doing a lot of stenciled scenes of life-sized people (a la Banksy -- I hate to have to compare, but it seems pretty hard to step out of that guys shadow these days). One of Above's recent pieces is a stenciled stage set, where an unwitting ATM goer steps in front of a stencil of a masked mugger, who appears to be stealing the cash and handing it to a homeless woman. The piece is interesting because it needs an audience to complete it, something so amazingly rare in street art these days. In addition, Above has made an edition of digital prints of a photo of the piece which he is selling and donating 100% of the profits to homeless advocacy organizations.
I wanted to post this here because I think it is interesting, and I'm wondering what people think. When clearly the dominant wave of street art activism seems to be making posters for presidential candidates, Above has taken a different path, and seems to have tried to create a coherent and intelligent piece that operates on multiple levels: as a piece of street art which acknowledges and invites participation from an audience, as a piece of political art making commentary of massive inequality in our society, and as a self-conscious commodity that tries to use the money it generates to address said inequality.
Attached are some pics a friend sent me, taken at the former site of Martin Sostre's radical "Afro-Asian" bookstore in the heart of Buffalo.
This piece appeared yesterday in the South Bronx. The wall faces the Bruckner Expressway, a highly used elevated highway passing through the Bronx.
Hannukah descends on Gaza like 6 million locusts by AnomalousNYC. "I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing." --Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in Sderot speaking on Al Jazeera as images of Israel's latest massacres were broadcast around the world.
From 19 June until yesterday, there was not a single Israeli fatality from a Hamas attack. In all of 2008, there was a single suicide bombing, which killed one person. Over the course of the entire 4 years that Gazans have been blindly lobbing their pathetic bottle-rockets over their prison walls into the desert, fewer than 20 Israelis have been killed. Israelis stand a greater statistical chance of drowning in their jacuzzis than of being killed by a rocket from Gaza.
Israel's omni-directional military belligerence has never been about security, but about racial malice and real estate, and in this case, election-season machinations. And so, over the course of a few hours Israelis have murdered nearly 300 and hospitalized more than 800 Palestinians. In response, overnight polls indicate that support for Israel's ultra-rightwing parties, such as the fascist party Yisrael Beitenyu, which openly advocates ethnic cleansing, has grown exponentially. As Israeli MK Zahalka pointedly observed: "Barak is trying to win votes in exchange for Palestinian blood."
Lots of new prints makin it onto the electical boxes these days, here are a few recent examples...
I'm excited to share that I recently had an article I wrote translated into Italian, and published in a great journal called Zapruder: Storie In Movimento. Zapruder is a non-academic history publication, as far as I understand developing loosely out of the Italian Autonomia tradition, which attempts to mine history for ideas that are useful to contemporary social struggles. This issue is dedicated to political propaganda, and is themed "Wall Against the Wall: Design and Communication in Political Posters." My article is called "Street Art and Social Movements," and is an edited version of a talk I've been developing for the past couple years under the title "Street Art and Counter Power." I'll be cleaning up the English version of this text and posting it here soon....
My friend Sam Sebren sent along a cool new stencil he's been working on that he wants to share with the world. Just click on the image below, drag the larger pop=up image onto your desktop, and you should be able to print it out, cut it, and start putting it up on anything and everything this world no longer needs (I can think of plenty of invasive species....)
A passage from Return to the Same City by my favorite detective novelist and radical historian Paco Ignacio Taibo II:
"I'm involved in ideological warfare."
"Against a gang of juveniles. A bunch of guys from my neighborhood who spraypaint."
"What do they paint?"
"Bullshit," Carlos said, lighting a new cigarette. "Sex Punks, Wild Border-" meaningless phrases like that, numbers, incomprehensible clues to mark their territory. It's like dog piss. Wherever I piss is my space and nobody can come in."
"And what do you do?"
"I paint on top of their paintings. I go out at night with my spray can and paint over theirs. It's a war."
"But what do you paint?"
"Punks are Strawberries, Long Live Enver Hoxha, or Che Guevara Lives, He's a Living Ghost, Be Careful Assholes, He Lives in the Neighborhood, or Sex Punks Were Born With a Silver Spoon in Their Mouths, or If a Dog Falls in the Water, Kick Him Until He Dies. Some come out too long, they're not effective, but I hadn't painted in a long time; my da Vinci profusion is in arrears. I've got them screwed. It's not just ideological warfare; it's generational warfare, too. Obviously it's a professional war and, in that, my painting technique dominates. Those sucklings are going to teach me how to paint walls...? My most successful one was Government-Punks Without Sneakers, and the second most successful, celebrated to the hilt by the dry cleaner guy downstairs, had to do with a discount chain of stores. It was: Paint Me a Blue Egg and Woolworth Will Buy It, but the Woolworth logo didn't come out that well."
Héctor raised an eyebrow.
"Don't worry, it's not insanity, it's just to keep me in shape until I find a new little place in the class war. Besides, sometimes I agree with the punks and we restore universal harmony. The other day I was painting one that said If the PRI wants to govern, why don't they start by winning the elections, and the gang came along and instead of destroying it, they wrote Yes, that's true below it, six feet tall."
"And where is that painting?"
"Two blocks away. Want to go look at it?"
Héctor agreed. The morning was improving.
Friday, November 21st, 6-9 PM
~ STOLEN LAND ~
an exhibition of paintings, linoleum block prints, photography, and installation by
OTHER a.k.a. Troy Lovegates
Needles & Pens, 3253 16th Street, San Francisco, CA
Wander-lust ridden graffiti artist, Other, has scrawled, spray-painted, and pasted his beautiful, highly detailed, and often solemn-faced characters on the walls and doorways of buildings around the world. His work has mysteriously appeared in galleries and the streets of such distant places (far from his native Canada), as, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Bucharest, Fez, and Lima, Peru. However, it is on the elusive freight trains of the extensive North American railroad system that the majority of his imagery is on display. It is a rare treat to have a large collection of the artist's work assembled in one location.
A friend in Argentina sent me these photos:
This is an interview Chris Stain and Josh MacPhee did with artist John Fekner:
Chris Stain: About a year ago I got lucky for a few months and had a studio separate from my house. it was in LIC. I had heard from my friend Josh Macphee that it was an old stomping ground of the legendary stencil artist John Fekner. so I decided to look him up. just a year before that Josh and I were showing in Brooklyn at Ad Hoc and John stopped in posing as a vandal squad detective. i had never met John before so I didn't know the difference. After he revealed his true identity we all had a good laugh. Until then i thought the shit was gonna hit the fan. Below are parts of the conversation that josh and i had with john. you will be able to read the whole sha-bang later when johns book drops from powerhouse. i’d like to personally thank Mr. Fekner for the interview and his continuing inspiration. His work is a prime example of how much difference one person can make.
Chris Stain: What originally inspired you to cut stencils, get out there in the street and put it up?
John Fekner: It goes back to when I was a teenager. I grew up in Queens and like most street kids spent a lot of time in parks, hangin’ out, doing a lot of different things…it was the 60s. That’s ten years before I started doing stencils at the age of 26. The first outdoors stencils began during the winter of 76-77. In 1968, for some bizarre reason, I came up with the idea of calling our park ‘Itchycoo Park’ referring to the title of the song by the Small Faces that was a hit in 67 about a park in England. My hang out park was Gorman Park at 85th St. and 30th Ave. in Jackson Heights referred to by the local kids as just ‘85th’.
I said to my friends, “Let’s paint the words Itchycoo Park on the front of the park house. So undercover of the night with white paint and a few brushes in very large crude letters we did just that. The phrase just stayed with the park and it became known as Itchycoo and the local football team was called the Itchycoo Chiefs. It was really a strange thing. Little did I realize that this was going to be my format for quite a few years.
The name of this Buenos Aires gallery may be an indication to the sense of humor of the set of street artists which run it. Smart, sarcastic, and with gleeful colors, they've created a barrage of non sequitur images that storm across the rooftop part of the gallery, which is above the Post Bar in the Palermo neighborhood in BsAs. I took the Subte to the gallery one beautiful spring Sunday in September for their "Great Sales Event," which was an art show in a few rooms next to the roof with stencils and paintings, prices scribbled on the wall under them. There were also tshirts, books and posters for sale in another room. I was surprised to see the work of Nate Williams, a U.S. artist who lives in BsAs, included in the show. The gallery is organized by the street art collectives Run Don't Walk and BsAs Stencil, and is part of a continued experiment in bringing indoors the style that began in the street. Check out Erick Lyle's excellent article about the stencil scene in Realizing the Impossible for some background. Here's some photos I shot while I was there, including this one of a young porteño, who posed for me!
Here's some flicks of an evolving roller piece on a building on 3rd Ave. in Brooklyn, down the street from my office/studio.
A couple weeks ago in Buenos Aires, street artists Semsei and Cabaio of the street art collective Vomito Attack and two guest artists painted large murals as part of "la semana de arte," an annual city-sponspored week of free art events. The paintings were done at the Centro Cutural San Martin, a large cultural center in the Congreso neighborhood. On one side of the wall, during the painting Cabaio's bright collage of intricately cut stencils attracted passerby to have a closer look: a tiger mixes in with some people walking, some people (of completely different proportions) dancing, a face, some dots, a fish- well, you must look at the pictures on Cabaio's blog, because words just don't cut it.
On the other side of the wall, Semsei and Dani's painted letters spelling "Argentina" become more disturbing on closer inspection, with nearly pornographic leaflets wheat-pasted inside each letter, turning Argentina's mid-section into a series of butts. A 4-minute youtube video of this will surely make you scared of Buenos Aires traffic, as Semsei risks his life for his art by crossing the street while filming. A slick campaign poster is pasted at the end of the wall which reads: "VOTE PODER - CORRUPCION - MENTIRAS" (Vote Power, Corruption, Lies) and goes on to list all of the promises of the new political party: more hunger, more poverty, more death, more ignorance, more illiteracy, more fraud, more violence.... so many promises! The poster ends smugly with "VOTE P.C.M., MAS REAL". Semsei gave me a copy of this offset-print poster, which, while it's not actually growing mushrooms, smells a little fishy. One wall panel makes reference to New York's Splasher, while another displays a frightening large pile of meat, cut out from grocery store ads. Semsei's use of varied materials, text without images, and his intentionally shocking, sarcastic style remind me of U.S. artist Glenn Ligon. However, Ligon's work revolves specifically around the theme of race, gender, and sexuality in the U.S. More examples of Semsei's work can be seen at http://streetfiles.org/search/emesis and http://vomitoattack.wordpress.com/.
This show also includes the work of BsAs street art collective Run Don't Walk, who are some of the folks that run the fairly new Hollywood in Cambodia gallery. More on that later.
Public Ad Campaign is now in a blog format. It highlights contemporary public advertising issues and ramblings about public space.
After three-year hiatus, a new Cut and Paint stencil template zine is now available!
This time around we (Josh MacPhee, Colin Matthes, Nicolas Lampert) traded in the headaches of attempting to scam double-sided 11x17 photocopies for the impeccable offset printing provided by Eberhardt Press. As always, Cut and Paint has a plethora of copy-right free stencil template designs that we envision as a toolkit for your creative application.
Expanding on the scope of the first issue, this edition has a number of writings including an essay by Emily Abendroth on a stencil project in Oakland and a short how-to-guide on moss stencils and a description of micro-stencils! Cut and Paint # 2 also features a number of photo spreads about stencil activity.
The most gratifying aspect of the project is imagining where the images might turn up in the far corners of the world. Below is an image from the zine by Eliot and an image by Claude (that is not in the zine) but demonstrates the potential of the medium.
Cut and Paint website:
Fans of the Celebrate People’s History posters and REPOhistory will likely enjoy this project based out of Toronto. Artist Tim Groves spearheads the Missing Plaque Project, which involves wheatpasting text-based posters of lesser known local histories around Toronto. Currently, Tim has created 15 posters with more on the way.
The missing Plaque Project also takes people on guided tours of Toronto! Tours include the Toronto Island tour, the Humber River tour, the textile industry tour, and the anti-poverty tour.
Our friend Marc Moscato sent along this link to an interesting story/conversation unfolding around a attempt to combat perceived racism through street art in Portland, OR. The story centers around a street art action where artists/activists temporarily replaced images of Confederate flags on a mattress store with images of Martin Luther King, Jr. The action was blogged about on the Portland Mercury website, and although the art is interesting, the responses to it are whats really worth checking out. A fascinating, rambling road through varying opinions on street art, vandalism, gentrification, class, yuppies, and property values.
These posters were wheatpasted over 3 years ago in Providence Rhode Island and they are still weathering well. The key is a combo of 3 parts wheatpaste with 1 part PVA glue (bookbinders glue).
I caught this humorous alteration to a sidewalk advertisement while walking in downtown Pittsburgh this past weekend. I don't know what it used to say under the word "war", but I do recognize the ad as part of a series of commissioned sidewalk murals aimed at the upper crust that developers hope will continue moving into many of the new loft developments in the downtown area. This piece strikes me as especially relevant given some of the recent news regarding the local Food Not Bombs chapter and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership butting heads over sharing food in Market Square.
Liam O'Donoghue an article online that continues the discussion/critique of Shepard Fairey thats been ongoing online over the past 6-9 months. He's posted his piece "Shepard Fairey's Image Problem" on multiple Indymedias (here's the link to the story on NYC Indymedia.) and I'm going to paste the whole thing below:
As if Wal-Mart didn’t have enough controversies to deal with, imagine the consternation in the PR war room when news hit that the retail giant was selling t-shirts bearing a Nazi SS skull. As the story unraveled, it turned out that Wal-Mart’s designer had ripped off the image from pop art superstar Shepard Fairey, whose reference for the Gestapo logo was 1960’s “biker culture.” Oops.
Using the international notoriety of his global “Andre the Giant has a posse” street art campaign as a platform, Shepard Fairey has leveraged his prolific output and iconic, anti-authoritarian style into a mini-empire. Through his ObeyGiant company (Motto: Manufacturing Quality Dissent Since 1989), he churns out screen-printed posters, clothing, and limited-run merchandise including skateboards and laser-engraved watches. His other design company, Studio Number One, specializes in branding, promotional campaigns and “identity systems” for corporate clients including Mountain Dew, Virgin, and Honda. He is also founder and creative director of Subliminal Projects art studio in Los Angeles and uber-hip Swindle magazine. His audience and the value of his work has surged in recent months on the popularity of his now-ubiquitous Obama posters.
Although Fairey “didn’t get bent out of shape” about Wal-Mart ripping him off, he originally launched his ObeyGiant clothing line because he saw that the Urban Outfitters chain was selling “bootlegged” shirts with his Giant logo. “To see it in there, just ripped off, knowing that somebody just made a bunch of money selling the t-shirts to Urban Outfitters, and here I am, just barely being able to pay my rent was definitely upsetting to me,” Fairey told me during an interview for Mother Jones. “The reason I get pissed off about stuff like that is because I didn’t build up the resonance for that image just to hand it off to someone to exploit.”
Here's a time lapse of the ups and downs of our inflatable church!
So the Spectres of Liberty project went great! We inflated our 35 foot tall church and had over 200 people come hang out, watch the animation on the outside and check out the inside. Here's some images, and more info and images can be found on our website.
Another daylight view for scale (photo by Josh MacPhee)
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pa is working with 14 to 20 year old artist-activists to form a Radical Print Collective.
This Collective will work with Pittsburgh’s social justice and environmental community to create print materials that illustrate social, cultural and civic achievement milestones in Pittsburgh. The Collective will learn printmaking and design techniques and will use these skills to document Pittsburgh’s activist past and present in an effort to effect progressive social change.
Local and national activist artists from the Justseeds/Visual Resistance Artists' Cooperative will be in residence throughout the summer to work with the youth involved in this project and to create an installation.
For more information, contact Mary Tremonte at tremontem(at)warhol.org, 412-237-8356
Russell Howze, long time maintainer of the site StencilArchive.org has just released a new book on street stenciling called Stencil Nation. He's having a couple release parties this weekend in the Bay Area, if you're there, check them out:
Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community, and Art
Book Release Party and Stencil Art Exhibit
Friday, June 6
7 PM to Midnight
3248 22nd St. (at Bartlett)
SF, CA 94110
Artwork on the walls until June 30
Confirmed participating artists:
Adam5100 (San Francisco, CA)
Amy Rice (Minneapolis, MN)
Chris Stain (NY, NY)
Janet "Bikegirl" Attard (Toronto, ONT)
John Fekner (Bayside, NY)
Josh MacPhee (Troy, NY)
Klutch (Portland, OR)
PaperMonster (Madison, NJ)
Scott Williams (San Francisco, CA)
Peat Wollaeger (St. Louis, MO)
Tiago Denczuk (Portland, OR)
and Street Art Workers (SAW)
Come celebrate the Manic D Press release of Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community, and Art by Russell Howze. Autographed copies of the book will be for sale by the author at the night of the exhibit opening. The author will also feature slide shows of the Stencil Archives, with over 10,000 photographs of international stencil art. Stencil-making materials will also be available upon request. Proceeds of the art sales will benefit the artists as well as help fund the upcoming Stencil Nation book tour.
Stencil Nation Budget Gallery
Cheap art that anyone can afford!
Saturday, June 7
Noon to 4 PM
The sidewalk in front of Al's Comics
1803 Market St. (at Octavia)
SF, CA 94103
Celebrate the Manic D Press release Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community, and Art by stopping by author Russell Howze's TAG (Temporary Autonomous Gallery) on the sidewalk in front of Al's Comics. Munch on crackers and cheese while choosing a cheap piece of hand-made stencil art to take home and hang on your wall. Autographed copies of Stencil Nation will be available for sale too.
Proceeds of the art sales supports the Stencil Nation Book Tour and the Budget Gallery Project.
Saturday, May 31
9:30 pm L.A.S.E.R. TAG
midnight screening of GRL: The Complete 1st Season
BAM: Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Av., Brooklyn, NY
If you love the mad geniuses of the Graffiti Research Lab, you don't want to miss this. L.A.S.E.R. TAG is a Weapon of Mass Defacement (WMD) that gives individuals the power to communicate their thoughts on buildings, using a 60-milliwatt laser and a big-ass projector. They will be using it to scribble on BAM's Peter Jay Sharp Building in Brooklyn.
Then stick around for a free midnight screening of GRL: The Complete 1st Season- the only movie to officially be put on the Dept. of Homeland Security no-fly-list.
From their origins in the trash room of a non-profit in Manhattan to their emergence as the instigators of an international art movement, Graffiti Research Lab: The Complete First Season documents the adventures of an architect and an engineer who quit their day jobs to develop high-tech tools for the art underground. The film follows the GRL and their network of graffiti artist collaborators (and commercial imitators) across four continents as they write on skyscrapers with lasers, mock advertisers with homemade tools, get in trouble with The Department of Homeland Security and make activism fun again. Primarily using video footage from point-and-shoot digital cameras (“The Pocket School”) and found-content on the web, the movie’s visual style draws as much from the art of the power point presentation and viral media as conventional documentary cinema. Narrated by GRL co-founders, Roth and Powderly, The Complete First Season makes a humorous and insightful argument for free speech in public, open source in pop culture, the hacker spirit in graffiti and not asking for permission in general. The film was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. Available 24/7 on The Pirate Bay.
Myself, Dara and our friend Olivia have been busting our humps getting ready to realize a giant project we've been working on for over a year, Spectres of Liberty. On this Friday, May 30th, in Troy, NY, we'll be inflating a life size ghost replica of the Liberty Street Church, an important movement center for the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, and one of the first African American churches in Troy. If you are anywhere near the Troy/Albany/Schenectady area on Friday, you should come by, it'll be a once in a lifetime experience!!
Spectres of Liberty
a collaborative project by Olivia Robinson, Josh MacPhee, and Dara Greenwald
May 30th, 2008, 8:30 PM
Liberty Street between 3rd and 4th Streets, Troy, NY
I've been a fan of Skewville's wooden shoes (thrown over power lines) for years now, and also continually enjoy their inventiveness in turning everyday urban objects like air-conditioner grates and milk crates into messaging systems. Their work is just fun and enjoyable.
FACTORY FRESH direct from SKEWVILLE
Grand Opening Party
Friday, June 6th 6-9pm
Limited show only till
Saturday, June 7th 1-9pm
1053 Flushing Avenue (between Morgan and Knickerbocker)
off the L train Morgan Stop
Skewville will transform this former Brooklyn bodega into a Pop-Art Market for the gallery's grand opening. Skewville has been making great advancements in the experimentation of street stamping technology along with revamping city materials to communicate phrases like “FRESH” and “FAME GAME”.
Factory Fresh is the newest space brought to you by Ali Ha and Ad Devillle formerly of Orchard Street Art Gallery in Manhatten's Lower East Side. SInce 2002 Ali and Ad have shown the art of themselves and the art of fellow artist they met in the global street art scene and in the NYC Community.
Here's another great batch of images from my trainspotter friend in the middle of the country. There's no confusing what these trains are saying.
Madrid based street artist El Tono just sent out an announcement about his recent travels in Latin America, including posters he made in Brasil using this traditional Brasilian printing system called Lambe Lambe. His posters are cool, but possibly more exciting is a short movie he linked to that shows the printing process, check it out!!:
Printed Matter Inc.
195 Tenth Avenue, NYC
April 5–May 24, 2008
fierce pussy was a New York–based collective of queer women that emerged in 1991 from the ferment spawned by ACT UP. Promoting lesbian visibility and self-defined identity, fierce pussy helped politicize the urban landscape by wheat-pasting posters, distributing stickers and T-shirts, and "renaming" a number of New York streets after lesbian heroines.
Their low-tech aesthetic is exemplified by photocopied posters, which have been reissued in a book published by Printed Matter and are exhibited there above vitrines of related ephemera. Members' childhood snapshots are emblazoned with words like MUFFDIVER and DYKE; the phrase LESBIAN CHIC MY ASS is illustrated with a bathroom-stall-worthy rendering of an ass followed by the words FUCK 15 MINUTES OF FAME. WE DEMAND OUR CIVIL RIGHTS. NOW. Contemporaneous groups such as Queer Nation, Dyke Action Machine, and the aforementioned ACT UP pioneered an activist appropriation of the slick language of advertising, taking a cue from Situationist détournement and the work of Barbara Kruger. fierce pussy's posters share aesthetic kinship with the more punkish 1979 publication Durhing Durhing by Joseph Wolman (founder, with Guy Debord, of the Letterist International), in which random faces are overprinted with Marxist-inflected words.
This kind of contextualization, however, distances the work from the queer bodies that made it, and queer bodies are still not visible enough. Riding that wave of lesbian chic, The L Word now epitomizes self-defined lesbian (with little mention of gender-queer or trans) identity. fierce pussy's book, the most vital part of the exhibition, opens with reprints of three nearly twenty-year-old posters comprising a more diverse spectrum of identities, among them dyke, butch, pervert, femme, feminist, and queer. The pages are detachable and reconfigurable. Just add wheat paste. —Amoreen Armetta
We recently got a note from the Albus Cavus Crew, who are about to embark on their Concrete Alchemy Tour, from May 16-23. 15 graffiti and street artists are heading out on a 5 city tour to show off their skills, but also talk about graffiti and its roles and potentials in communities. What seems to set this tour apart from other graffiti-type events is it's not simply a permission wall, or a gallery show, but a mix of mural painting on the sides of community centers, exhibitions, panel discussions and wall painting. The tour hits NYC, Princeton NJ, Philly, DC and National Harbor MD. Check 'em out.
Long time friend Russell Howze, who has been running StencilArchive.org for years, is about to release a new stencil book that looks really promising! It's called Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community and Art, and it's the only book I've seen since I released Stencil Pirates that attempts to deal with the ideas behind stenciling, where it actually comes from, and how it effects the world we're in. And unlike my book, Russell found a publisher who could print in full color, so you get the best of both worlds, a coffee table picture book and some thoughtful writing to chew on. It's slated for a June 1st release date on Manic d Press out of San Francisco. Russell will be touring around the country, so keep an eye on the book's website for dates, and keep an eye on your local bookstore to scoop up a copy.
We got an email awhile back from SpY in Madrid, who sent a link to their new website, which is a really nice and clean look at some of their inventive street art/actions in Spain. I really appreciate the professional look of the word installations, and would love it even more if they were saying something interesting to an audience on the street. This is a great place to get your head spinning about the possibilities of intervening into public space Check it out and give it a look through.
For the Seeing Green show, Susan Simensky Bietila (who co-organized Drawing Resistance and frequently contributes to World War III Illustrated) created the mural "28 Years of People Power" dedicated to the 28-year grassroots campaign and Native and non-Native alliance that defeated the proposed Crandon mine on Wisconsin’s Wolf River. This alliance won an historic victory against one the most powerful mining corporations in the world. This victory is celebrated world wide and the mural is meant to continue to draw attention to this vital history and the need to stay active in ensuring that the river stays protected. The mural will be displayed at Woodland Pattern and then will travel.
For more information on the show, See: http://seeinggreenartshow.wordpress.com/
My friend Heather Rogers went on a trip to Brasil a little while back doing research for her new book, and just sent over these great photos of graffiti down there. Check it out!
image by Max Estes, "Your Bicycle Misses You"
Guest curator Nicolas Lampert invited over 40 local artists to work on a project for the duration of eight months. During the month of April, 2008 the show will be exhibited at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the gallery will serve as a hub space, informing the viewer and the public of the many environmental projects taking place throughout Milwaukee, exhibiting visual work and books, screening films and holding discussions and events based around the exhibition.
Familiar names in the show to Justseeds readers include Colin Matthes who diverged from his 2-D work and created surveillance camera birdhouses! Also, Susan Simensky Bietila (the co-organizer of Drawing Resistance) created a mural “28 Years of People Power” that celebrated the grassroots campaign that defeated the proposed Crandon mine on Wisconsin’s Wolf River. This alliance won an historic victory against one the most powerful mining corporations in the world.
During the next few weeks, I will post more details on the Justseeds blog about specific work in the show including posters, stencil projects and more.
Seeing Green opens at Woodland Pattern Book Center (720 E. Locust St., Milwaukee, WI.) on Saturday, April 12, 2008, 5:00-9:00pm
Back in 2002 when I was working on Stencil Pirates I went to visit John Fekner, one of the originators of street stenciling and street art in the US (he started in the mid-70s, way before all the egomaniacs in Europe who claim to be the "first" street stencilers). After our interview he gave me a copy of one of the albums he put out under the moniker John Fekner City Squad. That's when the 80s really started to make sense to me. John, like a lot of his peers, was never just a stenciler, or a fine artist, or a muralist, or a NYC historian, he was also a musician, a writer, an activist, you name it. Being active 25 years ago in the NYC scene didn't just mean you tried your hand at one thing and got good at it, it meant you tried everything! Now John has mp3s of his City Squad songs up online for sale, and if you want to take a peek into the 80s scene, into early breakdancing, graffiti, street art, video games, computer chips, bombed out neighborhoods and all that, definitely check it out! It's here: City Squad Lpepmp3
These little guys have been showing up in the streets of NYC over the past couple years, and we just got an email from their maker. Here's what he has to say about the project:
The purpose of the drone is to discuss, and provoke thought within, the audience's own constitution and break the lackadaisical and monotonous thought process which we as Americans seem to have been thriving on since I've been around. We are no longer slaves to the institution but merely strangled by wealth because we are poor, black, native, or uneducated. We seem to be constantly chasing to be a part of that shackle that binds our instinct as we revel in our loss of individualism. The drone is meant to address the sculpting of minds by every type of institution: communism, greenpeace, fox news, the Catholic church. The medium of marijuana "cannies" was chosen because it breaks down the barriers of the law, encompasses multiple cultures, and the entity in its purest form can be seen as an expression of pure defiance. I couple that concept with an explanation of how we come to this state of personal lethargy by including tools institutions use to conform one's individuality and discount free
thought - the military, non-creative games played as a child and so on.
Keep an out for these on the streets!
We just got an email in from folks who have posted a site where you can find all the legal graffiti walls to paint all over the world. Pretty cool little google map application. Check it out at www.legal-walls.net.
Points of Interest is a public art project instigated by Justseeds member Swoon & her cohorts in Braddock Active Arts in Braddock, Pa (a steel town just outside of Pittsburgh). Justseeds artists Swoon & Mary Tremonte, as well as 10 others, are making site-specific out-stallations at sites selected by Braddock youth.
Public events over the next week include a Swoon lecture at Carnegie Mellon University and Shake Your Money Maker, an all-ages danceparty. Read on for event details.
Justseeds readers likely need no reminder of the importance of politically engaged street art, yet it is always good to hear when work put up in the streets not only stays up for a long duration, but is also greatly valued by the community in which it is placed.
Recently, a sign by Jenny Polak and David Thorne from a past REPOhistory project Civil Disturbances that was put up in 1998 in Brooklyn has drawn some renewed attention, especially from collective members who had assumed that the majority of the signs had been taken down.
For those unaware of the project, the Civil Disturbances was a sign project that REPOhistory collaborated with the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI.) Over a two-year duration from 1998-1999, 20 signs were placed at various locations in the city that addressed legal cases that had important social and political ramifications for New York City and beyond.
The sign by Jenny Polak and David Thorne commemorated three victims of police shootings and the families that attempted to prosecute the police. Specifically, it addressed the senseless death of Nicholas Heyward, a young boy who was shot and killed by a Housing Authority Officer in 1994 who mistook his plastic toy rifle for a weapon, Kevin Cedeno who was shot in the back in Washington Heights, and Anthony Baez who died from a police choke-hold in the Bronx. The signs were placed at each location where the deaths had taken place. For example the sign honoring Nicholas Heyward was placed on Baltic Street, between Hoyt & Bond in Brooklyn and helped focus public attention to this tragedy and the issues of police brutality and accountability.
Yet the sign did not remain up for long. Shortly after it was installed, the sign (along with a number of other Civil Disturbances signs) were either vandalized or quickly taken down against the artist's approval.
However, the artists and the community made sure that it was re-installed in 1999. Polak recently explained, “There is a story you may not know about why it's lasted. I came to know Nicholas Heyward, the father of the child the sign memorializes… A while after the project was done, he told me the sign had been knocked down - hit, he thought, by cops perhaps. He rescued it and we decided to rededicate it. At the time he was still living right there. I tried to make a bit of an occasion of it. Tom came to bring the spare sign, and a poet [Samantha Coerbell], did an intense poem she'd written about the killing which she came and performed on the street to a couple of people including Nicholas senior, and a local reporter I got hold of. I think the continued activism of Nicholas, his taking ownership of the sign, and the way people around here feel about the police all may have helped keep it there.”
Since this rededication effort in 1999, the sign has remained installed on Baltic Street for close to a decade and speaks of the importance of making sure that past and present struggles are honored and made clearly visible for all to see.
Photo by Daniel Tucker. For an article on the re-dedication of the sign in 1999, See, Michael Hirsh “Police Brutality Memorial Returns to Baltic Street”, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill Courier, Vol. XVIII, No. 16, April 26, 1999. For more information on REPOhistory, See http://www.repohistory.org
If your in Madison, Wisconsin in late March, check out a show at the Common Wealth Gallery on the Oaxaca teachers strike uprising. The show features woodcut prints, stencil art posters, photos, and comics.
MARCH 27-APRIL 6, 2008
Sunday March 30 • 7-9 PM: Opening Reception
Music by Son Madunza
Tuesday April 1 • 7 PM : Mexican Revolutionary Graphic Art from Posada to the present Gallery Talk by Melanie Herzog, Professor of Art History, Edgewood College
Thursday April 3 • 7PM: New Jill Friedberg documentary Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad (A little bit of so much truth) on people’s takeover of Oaxacan media
Common Wealth Gallery • 100 S. Baldwin St. • Madison, Wisconsin
I think this little video clip from Brasil has been making the rounds, but it's well worth taking a peek at, so I'm reposting here. It's amazing what a little cleaning can do.
For anyone in or around Richmond, VA, I'm in a show opening this weekend at the Ghostprint Gallery. Here's the info:
This is a series of photos we received related to Street Theatre events in San Francisco and Berkeley. They are connected to an ongoing "Make Art, Not War" action Tuesdays, Noon to 2pm at the Berkeley Marine Recruiting Station, 64 Shattuck Square.
My friend Sam just sent me this link from Queerty.com to an interesting interview with Avram Finkelstein, one of the members of Gran Fury. Gran Fury was a creative/graphic collective that produced a large amount of the more graphic art and design around the AIDS crisis in the late 80s and 90s, including the Silence=Death graphic, which I would argue is one of the most powerful political graphics of the last 50 years. Here's a quote:
AB: Do you think posters are effective today? There are posters and advertising on every space.
AF: I do - I mean, there was advertising then and that was part of the strategy: to intervene on the commercial space with a message that was not commercial. That’s why we chose postering. We decided against doing these flat-footed, didactic Marxist tomes with lots of text and instead chose to do high gloss posters. And, in fact, the design of the poster - we discussed it endlessly and decided to go with what we called “yuppie graphics” - fonts that were popular at the time, so it was deceptive and would draw an unsuspecting bystander into a very serious conversation. It had to work on two levels: you had to be able to see it and think about it as you were whisking by in a cab, but then it had to work on a street level.
Having said that, I don’t think it could ever work in this social landscape, no. I don’t think it would be possible. It’s not so much about having to compete on the media landscape as what public space is now, as opposed to public space then. Public spaces - although there are a lot of people who would argue against it - are largely new media. I don’t really think it’s about the streets. It’s about the internet."
I wish I could share his optimism about the internet. I think it is a powerful communications tool (which is why we are using it for things like this blog!), but it seems like folly to consider it the "new public space." The infrastructure (fiber-optic lines, traffic hubs, etc.) are in the hands of a very small number of corporations. It may be in their interest to allow for a fair amount of open communication and dialog now, but lets not forget their is nothing public about their ownership, it is completely private, with no real checks to even further consolidation.
That said, I enjoyed this interview immensely, only wishing it was longer and more in depth. I'd love to see a serious roundtable conversation between graphic artists involved in the AIDS struggle, and really hear about how they created the images, built the messaging, and assessed the efficacy of their designs.
I've long thought that the Billboard Liberation Front, beyond being one of the longest running billboard alteration groups, is also one of the smartest. Rather than simply playing off corporate logos, they often are able to use billboards to create a critique that cuts a little deeper, and yesterday they put up a good one in San Francisco. Here is an extended excerpt from their press release:
The Billboard Liberation Front today announced a major new advertising improvement campaign executed on behalf of clients AT&T and the National Security Agency. Focusing on billboards in the San Francisco area, this improvement action is designed to promote and celebrate the innovative collaboration of these two global communications giants.
“This campaign is an extraordinary rendition of a public-private partnership,” observed BLF spokesperson Blank DeCoverly. “These two titans of telecom have a long and intimate relationship, dating back to the age of the telegraph. In these dark days of Terrorism, that should be a comfort to every law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide.”
AT&T initially downplayed its heroic efforts in the War on Terror, preferring to serve in silence behind the scenes. “But then we realized we had a PR win on our hands,” noted AT&T V.P. of Homeland Security James Croppy. “Not only were we helping NSA cut through the cumbersome red tape of the FISA system, we were also helping our customers by handing over their e-mails and phone records to the government. Modern life is so hectic – who has time to cc the feds on every message? It’s a great example of how we anticipate our customers’ needs and act on them. And, it should be pointed out, we offered this service free of charge.”
Commenting on the action, and responding to questions about pending privacy litigation and the stalled Congressional effort to shield the telecoms from these lawsuits, NSA spokesperson [REDACTED] remarked: “[REDACTED] we [REDACTED] condone [REDACTED] warrantless [REDACTED], [REDACTED] SIGINT intercepts, [REDACTED] torture [REDACTED] information retrieval by [REDACTED] means necessary.”
“It’s a win-win-win situation,” noted the BLF’s DeCoverly. “NSA gets the data it needs to keep America safe, telecom customers get free services, and AT&T makes a fortune. That kind of cooperation between the public and private sectors should serve as a model to all of us, and a harbinger of things to come.”
Justseeds member Chris Stain, as well as old time friends and acquaintances Amy Rice and Logan Hicks, are in a show opening up in LA on Saturday. Here's the data:
Stencil art from around the world featuring Adam5100, Adam Koukoudakis, Amy Rice, Brian Jones, C215, Chris Stain, Dotmasters, HaHa, Hush, Jef Aerosol, Kaleb, Logan Hicks, M-City, Mantis, Martin Whatson, Pam Glew, Rene Gagnon, Skran and a few special guests!
March 1 - March 16, 2008
Opening: Saturday, March 1, 2008, 8 pm - 12 am
Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art
1257 N. La Brea Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90038
(SW corner of La Brea and Fountain)
Critical thinking and dissent in street art is becoming as rare as politicians who reject corporate America, free trade, prisons, and the two-party system.
Recently, a Chicago art show, Go Tell Mama! has put up stencil work and posters endorsing Obama and Shepard Fairey has created yet another poster to waste more paper, enhance his name and enlighten us with his critique of propaganda images by creating propaganda images.
I am not sure what is more discouraging: the public acceptance of politicians, the massive costs that goes into election campaigns (for a detailed account, see: The Center for Responsive Politics), the culture of politicians as celebrities, street art marketed as hip, Shepard Fairey, or the sneaking suspicion that for the next 9 months, much of the nation will consume their energy on the election, get behind a candidate, and forget that change comes from the bottom up and building opposition movements that confront power.
I had some serious questions about Banksy's Santa's Ghetto project in Bethlehem (like the point of Faile's boxer piece, which flattens out the Palestine/Israel conflict to a simple equation of two brute's punching each other, rather than one massive military bully with billions of $$ in arms squeezing the life out of an out-gunned, out-financed and generally brutalized people), but this new project on the wall really makes my head spin. A Dutch group called Send a Message has set up a website where you can pay a Palestinian 30 Euros to graffiti a message of your choice on the Apartheid Wall?!?!?!? The group is a non-profit, and the Palestinian painters are artists and getting paid for the work. Supposedly the money is funneled into Palestinian NGOs working on local infrastructure projects.
Certainly capitalism isn't going to provide a solution to the conflict, but I'm afraid that's what these people think they are doing. They claim to want the wall to come down, yet their first example of why the wall is bad is that it "kills business"!! It's certainly a great to create some cash flow to beleaguered Palestinians, but does the cost have to be the crass commercialization of one of the largest symbols of oppression in the world?
What does it mean to turn the wall into a giant billboard, so that Jenny and Mike from San Francisco can express their undying love for each other on the historic (as the company calls it) wall?? The tag line is "It was meant to keep people apart, now it brings people together."
I don't want to attack people for trying to help solve serious problems, but something about this project feels wrong. It comes out of a workshop design pros held in Ramallah with young Palestinians, and smacks similar to a number of well-intentioned design projects where designers over-value the importance of their skill sets. Convinced by the integral relationship design and advertising has to the turning of the gears of global neo-liberal capitalism, designers believe they can advertise and photoshop a new world into existence. Rather than look at and address the historical relationships that the state of Israel has had to individual and organizations of Palestinians, or the real power differentials at play, there is the creation of a marketing device to raise awareness.
I'm really interested in what others think about this, because my guess is we'll be seeing more and more projects like this in the future. Soon we'll be able to pay Rwandan refugees draw caricature's of our loved ones in order to get enough food to eat. My fear is that we're on a very slippery slope, where soon (if we're not already there) solidarity with the Global South will look a lot like a minstrel show.
A beautiful new poster from my favorite Portland wheatpaster, this one is up near Portland State University.
I found these engraved brass cobblestones on sidewalks throughout Cologne, Germany, when I lived there a few years ago. The stones are memorials to residents of buildings that were displaced during World War II to concentration camps. I saw the artist responsible for this intervention, Gunter Demnig, speak at our infoshop back in 2001. The name of the project, Stolpersteine, translates to "stumbling stones." Demnig has by now installed more than 12,000 stones in roughly 270 German towns and cities since 1996. This piece, in its subtlety and intimacy with everyday behavior, brings the sometimes abstract death and horror of the Holocaust to the concrete reality of the individuals who were destroyed.
For more information, there is a great article in Smithsonian magazine that you can check out here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/stolpersteine.html
We discovered a free and easy way to make temporary graffitt. (It's like henna tattoos). We had pieces of snowy ice that we drew on the street with. Fun!
Just got a note from Mad One in Pheonix, AZ. He's curating a street art sticker art show in Phoenix and is looking for stickers to be sent in from far and wide. You can contact him here.
Send your art in!!! Support the sticker art movement!
MAD INK DESIGNZ
305 S. Mckemy st.
Tempe, AZ 85281 usa
This just came through the inbox from the Wouter Osterholt en Elke Uitentuis in the Netherlands, seems like a cool project:
Speaking Through Walls
We're looking for people that can help us finding political/revolutionary murals for a project called 'Speaking Through Walls' that will be presented during the art exhibition 'Ground', September 2008 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
The murals can be made by professionals, amateurs, protest groups, schools, government, children, etc. For us it's more important to find murals that tell a story about situations of social injustice within your county than the esthetic beauty of the painting. Do you know any murals in your surrounding that would fit within our project and would you like to help us out? Please contact us and give us as much information about it as possible.
Seeing Nicholas' post of that Chicago project reminded me of this- one of my favorite street art projects in Detroit- or ever, really.... This is, I believe, the old United Artists theater building downtown. Some artist(s) painted almost every window with these amazing figures in a unique style. Also a smattering of more traditional graffiti and politico scrawl. All, sadly, long gone by now.
Anyone with more information about this or the artist(s) involved, please please leave a comment!
Photo by my sister, Rebecca Reuland.
A very cool little video about these kids recent show in Paris, check it out here.
Milwaukee-based artist Jesse Graves created a number of mud stencils that he recently put up on sidewalks and the sides of buildings. Below is his “how-to-guide” and a link to his website with more images.
To avoid using toxic spray paint, I found a way to make mud stencils. Here is how you do it.
Materials: Mylar, X-Acto knife, tape, mud, sponge.
1. Design your stencil. Draw your stencil the size you want it, or design it on a computer and print it. Make sure you do not have islands (parts of an image that will fall out if you cut around them, like the middle of an O.) If you are using text, use a stencil font. If are using a computer print your design the size you want the stencil to be. If it is larger then 8X10 cut it apart in photo shop and print it in pieces, or enlarge it at a local copy store.
2. Cut it. Tape your design behind or in front of the transparent Mylar. Mylar is the same stuff used as transparencies for projectors, you can find a roll of it at art stores. Use the X-Acto knife to cut your deign out of the Mylar.
3. Get Mud. Find or make some mud. I mixed soil and water then beat it with a whisk. Make sure your mud is not watery. It should be about the same consistency as peanut butter.
4. Post it. Tape the stencil to whatever you want it on, it works on sidewalks or walls. If parts of the Mylar roll up put some tape under it. Then use the sponge to dab the mud on your stencil. Do not press too hard because if you squeeze muddy water out of the sponge it may sneak under the stencil.
5. Enjoy. Remove the tape on the outside of the stencil. Carefully remove the Mylar, and enjoy you non-toxic mud stencil.
This is still an experimental process. Post your comments, ideas, and pictures at http://mudstencils.wordpress.com/
This just landed in our inbox:
The Southern California Library, in South L.A. will be hosting Making Our Own Art Histories, a series of art exhibitions as an effort to make contemporary art accessible in a community where there are very few galleries or contemporary art museums. The first art exhibition in this series begins with Word on the Street, opening in January of 2008. In the same way that SCL uses history to advance social justice while preserving the histories of communities in struggle for justice and making our own histories, artists and activists have created works to educate, organize and inspire people towards action for justice. Often these creative works are not always seen in galleries or museums, they are in the street. This small exhibition will focus on showing works that have been created and used for political, spiritual, social and environmental justice campaigns, actions and interventions. Works that we are especially looking for are those that have been put out on the street, guerilla style, in the effort to educate the public as well as to incite action and critical thought. Such works may include silkscreen posters, printed media, stencils, stickers, flyers, and photos of graffiti and guerilla street art.
If you are interested in participating in this exhibition, please contact Joy at 323.687.6743 or majikalnature [at] gmail.com before Jan. 1st!
It's taken me a long time to get this together, but I wanted to throw my ideas into the discussion around the artwork/plagiarism of Shepard Fairey that has been spinning around the web. For those that might not know, Shepard Fairey is the creator of the "Andre the Giant has a Posse" sticker campaign, which became a long running series of "Obey Giant" posters. Mark Vallen, a Los Angeles-based artist (who created some of my favorite street posters from the early LA punk scene), recently published a long critique of Fairey on his blog, Art For A Change. What I'm writing here directly relates to Mark's piece, so if you haven't read it, give it a look here.
Mark's write-up came out of a long discussion that has been going on between a number of politically-motivated artists and archivists about Fairey's work. Throughout the whole process of discussion it has seemed clear that we have been coming from parallel but divergent positions, with different parts of the larger issues at hand being more or less important to each of us. Mark is clearly concerned with social and political potentials of ART, and believes Fairey's wholesale "theft" of historical images cheapens the potential for art to make change in the world. Lincoln Cushing, an artist, archivist and author who has been involved in the discussions, is very concerned with how plagiarism hurts efforts to empower our communities with their own revolutionary art history. However, he also supports strategic use of existing copyright law, and recently got Fairey to pay retroactive royalties on a t-shirt with Cuban artwork appropriated without credit. Favianna Rodriguez, also involved, has been particularly frustrated with Fairey's use of and profiting off of the art of people of color, and the images of the struggles of people of color, while he has had to pay none of the costs for having to live as a person of color in this society or world.
Our friend Rachel Budde (formerly one of the most unique street artists in NYC who shall remain unnamed) has a show of new work opening up in Brooklyn on December 16th! If you are in the area, definitely check it out!
Sunday, Dec 16th 7pm
Tillies of Brooklyn
248 DeKalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205-4101
Washington, DC troublemaker BORF is back, with a great 5 color silkscreen print to help support Daniel McGowan, one of the activists imprisoned in the recent US government round-up of environmental activists. BORF and friends at the Brian McKenzie Infoshop in DC have produced the print and are working with us here at Justseeds to get it out into the world. The print is available here, but we only have 40 copies (of an edition of 50) and these are going to move fast.
Justseeds is having its first annual meeting and retreat in Pittsburgh this weekend! And while we're here we ran into some amazing political street art. The Howling Mob Society has installed a series of historical markers correcting the public perception of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which was one of the most lively and violent labor uprising in the history of the US. Here's who they are (from their website):
"The Howling Mob Society (HMS) is a collaboration of artists, activists and historians committed to unearthing stories neglected by mainstream history. HMS brings increased visibility to the radical history of Pittsburgh, PA through grassroots artistic practice. Our current focus is The Great Railroad Strike of 1877, a national uprising that saw some of its most dramatic moments in Pittsburgh."
Michael De Feo and Ad Hoc Art (both of whom have been extremely supportive of Justseeds over the past couple years) have put together what looks to be a kick ass street art related show opening Dec. 13th in Bushwick, Brooklyn. If you're in NY, check it out!
Behind the Seen
a group exhibition curated by Michael De Feo
December 13th, 2007 through January 20th, 2008
Opening Reception: December 13th, 7pm-9pm
Assembling a group of well known street artists from around the world, De Feo invited the participants to showcase work they're not typically recognized for. Behind the Seen includes personal projects, works in different mediums or styles and pieces not necessarily intended for view on the streets. The mediums include paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and audio art from 39 artists.
Street artists develop a level of notoriety for their originality, talent and frequency of a style or visual vocabulary. Like most successful artists, they don't limit their creative endeavors to what they're known for.
Behind the Seen goes beyond the familiar to build upon what we already know... providing connections, challenges, and insights to other facets of the artist's oeuvre.
Participating artists include:
Aiko, Blek le Rat, Martha Cooper, Michael De Feo, Elbow Toe, ELC, Shepard Fairey, Ellis G., Eltono, Ron English, Jean Faucheur, John Fekner, Flying Fortress, G, Richard Hambleton, Keith Haring, Maya Hayuk, Jace, Mark Jenkins, Lady Pink, L'Atlas, Don Leicht, Lister, Momo, Caleb Neelon, Nuria, PMP, Lee Quinones, Leon Reid, RIPO, JM Rizzi, She Kills He, Skewville, Ian Stevenson, Judith Supine, Swoon, Thundercut, Tofer and Dan Witz.
In collaboration with Not My Government, Art for a Democratic Society announces an open call to all visual artists in the Bay Area interested in creating a social/political poster zine. Our goal is to get ten different artists to make one poster each, with the final product being ten 18"x24" posters, probably printed one color on newsprint.
Once we have the crew of artists together, we will all collectively decide the theme of the poster zine. Possible themes include: health care, war, police brutality, opposing the "new Jim Crow," etc. The process of poster design and printing can be done collectively or individually. A skill-share will be organized to help any or all of the artists involved in the project.
If interested please contact us at:
art4democraticsociety [at] earthlink.net
Please tell us your name, email, phone number, what days and times you would be available to meet, and a little about yourself - your background, interests, skills, etc. Artists at any level of experience are welcome.
I recently traveled to Argentina and Chile. My intention was to travel more in Chile and not Argentina, so I only spent 4 days in Buenos Aires before taking a bus over the Andes Mountains. In that time I got a glimpse of the stencil art that graces the walls of B.A.
Similiar to other latin American cities, I am familiar with, political slogans and sayings were painted everywhere. But traditional aerosol graffiti was kinda sparse.
I got to check out the FLA, Federacion Libertaria Argentina, an anarchist organization that has been around since the 30's! They have, what they say is, the largest anarchist archive in the world. Publications from so many countries, Israel to Japan, spanning over a hundred years. They also house an incredible library, an infoshop, a large "auditorium," a silkscreen workshop, and publish their own paper, El Libertario. In the time we spent there, I interacted with the most diverse age group i ever have, in an anarchist space. It was an incredible and inspiring environment to be in.
I was also able to attend an "orgazmica" before I moved on to Chile. Its much like the Really Free Markets that we throw in NYC, some films showing, free stuff, hanging out, and some folks slinging products they make.
I got just a tiny taste of Buenos Aires, hopefully I will be able to go back in the future to explore more.
We live in a very, very strange world. The Street Art Workers have had a little blurb about them published in the Oct/Nov issue of the Indian edition of Elle Decor Magazine?!?!?
Check it out:
Australian activist artists and designers extraordinaire Breakdown Press (Tom Civil & Lou Smith) have just released their 3rd political poster series, this one around nuclear power and waste. I was lucky enough to have one of my designs chosen, along with 16 other artists and designers. Breakdown prints thousands of newsprint booklets of their posters (similar to the Street Art Workers project) and then distroes them world-wide, as well as pastes them up on the streets. Check out Breakdown Press, and the new poster set here.
For those in Melbourne, check out the launch party on Tuesday November 13th at The Artery, 87-89 Moor St Fitzroy, from 6pm-8pm.
My friend Bettina recently sent me this list of links to stories and images of graffiti in Baghdad. Most of them are old, back from the beginning of the war when the graffiti was being heralded as a sign of "new found freedom." It's interesting to go back and re-read these, and also look at the youtube videos of more more recent graffiti:
National Public Radio
Christian Science Monitor
Two Justseeds members, Swoon and Stain, have an opening this weekend in Paris, France. They are building an installation of their work with photographer Mike Brodie at the Galerie LJ Beaubourg. Chris explains the installation as "based on the decay of industry, its effect on the individual and the environment."
Construction is under way in the gallery, while the streets have seen some activity in recent days, thanks to Paris' new bicycle program.
If we have any French viewers or folks in the area the opening will be November 10th at 7pm. The exhibit will run until December 8th.
Halloween is descended from Samhain, an ancient Gaelic harvest festival. It was brought to the United States by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine and English imperialism. Poor children would beg at the houses of the rich and vandalize those whose handouts were unsatisfactory. Tonight celebrate Halloween the ancient way: eat well and cause trouble.
Josh and I spent a short 4 days in Berlin. We went to this beautiful city primarily to look at the poster collection at the Papier Tiger Archiv. Papier Tiger is a political archive started in the early 80s, combining collections and papers from several squats and autonomous social movements. It settled in a building in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. As we walked down the block to find Papier Tiger, there was one building completely covered in ivy and vines, this was obviously our spot. It was nice to visit an archive that originated out of the social/political movement and still kept strong symbiotic ties to it. It's in a few tall cozy rooms with floor to ceiling bookshelves with organizational folders categorized by large topics and sub-categorized down to the very specific (ie- feminism, 80s, Rote Zora group, documents). The staff was helpful and friendly (a nice change) and the place is open to browsing or research.
As I said Josh and I went to look at the posters and they are housed in a stack of flat files, also organized by movements (ie-squatting West Berlin, squatting east Berlin, feminism, int'l. solidarity S. America). A lot of posters and it was nice to be able to pull out a whole stack and dig through them. (Many of the posters have been cataloged in a recent book called: "vorwärts bis zum nieder mit: 30 Jahre Plakate unkontrollierter Bewegungen"). Papier Tiger is open to the public two days a week (Monday & Thursday from 2:30-6 PM, and they have a women's day on Friday. They are located at 25 Cuvrystrasse in Kreuzberg. for more info: http://archivtiger.de/).
On our way to the archive Josh and I wandered by a bookshop, Josh wanted to go in, I was a little hesitant as we both had our giant bags with us and that place looked crowded, thin rows between bookshelves but also giant piles of books all over the place. We did go in to Prometheus Antiquariat (Wrangelstraße 48, also in Kreuzberg), and it was a fortuitous piece of dumb luck, as it specializes in lefty books and also in art books, posters and prints. Generally the books in stacks off the floor weren't for sale and the books on the shelves were, and after an initial bit of skepticism the owner warmed up to us and gave us an amazing tour of collections in his shop. The prices were reasonable and we both walked out with a pile of books that was a fraction of the amount we would have gotten if we didn't have to lug around a bunch of shit in already over-burdened bags (and backs!).
Berlin (I think) is a beautiful city that we had a nice time walking around and exploring. As opposed to other cities we went to it seemed to spend very little on graffiti abatement so there was a ton of stencils and tags with a wide range in quality and interest (as expected). Also some pretty grand permission pieces, building sized murals that were pretty fucked up and psychedelic looking. I was particularly entranced by the sets of courtyards in buildings that had bike shops and children's theaters and playgrounds and gardens. Also the crows in Berlin were different then any other crows I've seen, larger and they had a little gray vest around their wings and heads. Quite handsome!
We went to the offices of image-shift and met founder Sandy Kaltenborn. Image-shift is a graphic design firm that has done work for social movements in Germany, work that is really striking and engaging. Applying in some ways the ideas of revolutionary creativity to graphic work, so the images are engaged are rigorous in ways that a lot of didactic work never is. We spent an afternoon discussing political graphics with Sandy and looking over a lot of the work he's done, and it was enlightening, critical and fun. Josh and I hope to translate some of his writing about political graphics into English and also to interview for a future book project.
We also hung out with two of the folks from Pony Pedro in their beautiful workshop space. Pony Pedro works mostly in silk-screen posters, but figures out ways to make them engage in the city, community and in public space in interventions that are both clever and gentle (sorry for the run-on sentence). We looked through a pile of their work including a recent book/poster project where kids from the primarily immigrant neighborhood that they work in went out and took pictures and then Pony Pedro blew up the images and made giant beautiful half-tone posters and a very handsome bound book. This is just the tip of the iceberg with their projects, well worth checking out, so check it: www.pony-pedro.de
The Pony Pedro-ers sent us up to the 'world famous Fleirscherei' which was a store front shop and silk-screen workshop up by where we were staying. Home of the 'No style crew fuckers' this was total art fuck mess of space (in the best way), they had cool prints, t shirts and homemade books for sale (including an awesome black book of berlin street artists, all silk-screened, and the variety and style in it was really cool and diverse). They were nice and let us peek around their extensive and cavernous back rooms and printing areas. Fleischerei: Torstrasse 116 (in the Mitte, right by the Rosenthaler Platz U-bahn stop)
OK, I think that's all from Berlin, more communiques coming soon!
While in Århus we were lucky enough to meet Abdul and Mia, both photographers from Capetown, South Africa. They were excited about the Justseeds project, and told us about what they are working on Capetown, a project called MOPP-Month of Peoples Photography, which sounds really great. Apparently the photography scene in South Africa is still fairly segregated, particularly along class and race lines, where both photographers and their subjects need to be very privileged in order to be exhibited within most of the gallery system. MOPP rebels against that and has been doing what they call street photography, which is working with lots of people to just document their lives around Capetown and then hold guerilla art shows in the street or creative places like parking garages. It sounds like their photo actions are some of the few non-commercial oriented street art activities in the city. We had a great conversation and it definitely made me want to visit Capetown at some point.
We took a day trip to Århus (the 2nd largest city in Denmark, but still fairly small) thanks to Barbara and the great folks of Rum46, an artist group and space there. Rum46 is a group of 9 artists that originally came out of a university context but are now independent. First we went on a wild goose chase looking for the Danish Poster Museum, which has a large web presence, but seems to not have a stable physical space. We eventually found the location of their current exhibit, which was buried in the far reaches of the Danish Old City, a bizarre tourist attraction and reconstruction of a 15th or 16th century Danish town! The exhibition was on the posters of Danish industry, so basically a history of advertising. Some of the older posters were extremely well designed and printed, like a beautiful one for an old wall paper factory which had giant sheets of wallpaper emitting from the factory smokestacks. Turns out that like most Western countries, the Danish have their own long tradition of racist and colonial advertising, with a pile of orientalist products and coffee and foodstuffs hiding behind smiling African faces. On the flip side there were some great posters for bicycle and windmill production that you would never see in the States.
After that excursion we went to the Rum46 space, which was reminiscent of YNKB in Copenhagen. A smallish, but clean and open, front room for discussions, presentations and exhibitions, then a second room with desks and workspace for the artists involved, and then a back room with a small kitchen, a table to eat or driink coffee at, etc. About 20 people showed up and I gave a short talk on the history and ideas behind the Celebrate People's History Poster Series, we had a short discussion and break, then people wanted to hear more, so I gave another short presentation, this one on the history of propaganda, state control of public space, and grassroots resistance to that control via different forms of street art actions. Rum46 have been working both collaboratively and individually in public space, so it led to a good conversation, and they shared with us some of the materials they've been producing, including a postcard set of a great series of billboards they recently produced and installed.
Århus was also not immune to the struggle around Ungdomshuset, and the streets were painted with a fair number of 69s. We also found the strangest Communist bookstore we've ever seen (even though it was closed and we could only peek through the window); it appeared to be largely a music shop, with a ton of folk and classical music, and then the walls were covered with framed abstract expressionist art. After the talk Barbara, Sixten, Icky and I all went out for a delicious meal and we got to learn more about the political and art scenes in Denmark.
Icky and I are traveling around Europe and have been meeting with some great people and learning about some amazing art and activist projects. Here's our first missive about a struggle going on in Copenhagen:
While in Copenhagen we learned about a huge struggle going on now around the Ungdomshuset, which was the "youth house," a squatted community center for mostly punk and anarchist kids. As far as we understand, the city sold the building to a religious group who evicted them, which led to days of rioting back in the spring. Since they have torn the whole building down and are now trying to sell the land.
The location of the former squat is a sad blank spot in the landscape now, with both the building and the garden that were in the back completely destroyed and removed. The address of the building was 69 Jagtvej in the Nørrebro neighborhood, and now the entire city (and I mean the ENTIRE city) is covered with graffiti that says "69." The memory of Ungdomshuset is everywhere you look.
The kids came up with a plan to squat another building, and publicly advertised the date, time and place they would do it for months, having huge build up events almost every week, demonstrations of 5000 kids taking over different streets. One of the big things we noticed was that each event was advertised with tons of large scale posters, most full color and amazingly designed.
Finally last week came the announced day and something like 15,000 kids came from all over the country and occupied the building, and just sat down and refused to leave. It took the police hours to drag them out and after they finally did, the chief of police said the police would no longer fight the kids or deal with the kids, and it was a problem for the politicians, and they needed to solve it...so the movement forced a split between the cops and government, which seems pretty interesting...
Here is the Ungdomshushet website in English.
This landed in the inbox today:
The 1st New Britain International MURAL SLAM
Calling all vagabonds, graffiti artists, muralists, scenic painters, air brush artists, and activists! The 1st International Mural Slam is being held in New Britain, Connecticut in conjunction with the unique, community-based mural painting program at Central CT State University.
Artists will paint 12’ x 4’ foot wall sections on the roof of the Welte Parking Garage, with prizes awarded to the best pieces.
This exhibit is made up of woodblock prints and stencils made by
ASAR-O (Oaxacan Assembly of Revolutionary Artists), a collective
involved in the popular movement APPO in Oaxaca, Mexico. ASAR-O
formed in October of 2006, respinding to the call of the APPO
(Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca) a diverse movement of
civil society in Southern Mexico. With the goal that "all sectors
will organize themselves to resist and unite in the struggle
against the tyranny of a government that represents the interests
of the wealthy..."
Come out to see an exciting glimpse of the work that has been
produced for "mega-marches" and painting on the walls of Oaxaca
City. Its an inspiring body of work that makes the demands of the
For some background info read k. see's previous post about ASARO and Oaxaca.
The exhibit will run April 26th-May 24th
Wednesday & Thursdays 5-7pm
Thursday May 3rd 7pm
Proyecto Autogestion will screen “el machete: la lucha por el poder popular”
a documnentary filmed and edited by indigenous people of
CODEP(Committee Organized in Defense of the People’s Rights) in
Thursday May 10th 7pm
Discussion with James Wechsler on Mexican Art and Politics of
1920's & 30's. Possibility of other speakers. James is an
independant scholar based in NYC who worked with the Philadelphia
Museum of Art on the exhibit Mexico & Modern Printmaking.
The exhibit can be seen in the near future at The Phoenix Art
Museum, Phoenix, Arizona. From June 29–September 16, 2007
For more info about ASAR-O and their work check out
This exhibit has been brought to you by:
Exhibition Funded in part by the NYS Council on the Arts
and Dedalus Foundation
On June 14th of 2006, the governor of Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico, ordered the removal of striking teachers from the city plaza. The authorities, which ranged from Federal police, Municipal forces to firefighters, were unsuccessful in removing the teachers despite battling them with tear gas and live ammunition. The teachers, with the support of the surrounding community, erected barricades to prevent the police from regaining control of downtown Oaxaca City. Three days later the APPO (Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca) was convened which called upon people in Oaxaca to organize themselves into popular assemblies. People organized by street blocks, neighborhoods and municipalities to work cooperatively and govern themselves while demanding the resignation of the Ruiz administration.
Growing from this momentum a group of artists began to utilize their skills to communicate the demands of the APPO. The collective, now known as ASARO, created stencils, woodblock prints, and posters that began to appear on walls all over Oaxaca. Following the traditions of Mexican popular art and printmaking, ASARO offers the movement new images that communicate some of the values and demands being made in Oaxaca.
Images from the people's struggle in Oaxaca
Prints and stencils from ASARO (Oaxacan Assembly of Revolutionary Artists)
Live musical performances by DooWop Moderno, and videos from the Mal de Ojo TV media collective
Wednesday, April 11
@ Carlito's Café y Galería
1701 Lexington Ave (bet 106 & 107 st)
New York, NY
$5 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds
All proceeds will be used to further the work of the collective.
ASARO is a collective of artists from Oaxaca who are dedicated to creating accessible art to communicate the vision and demands of the popular movement. For more information visit ASARO
Imagenes de la lucha popular en Oaxaca
grabados y stenciles de ASARO (Asamblea de Artistas Revolucionarios de Oaxaca)
Música en vivo (DooWop Moderno) y videos del colectivo Mal de Ojo TV
Miércoles, 11 de Abril
Carlito's Café y Galería
1701 Lexington Ave (entre 106 y 107 st)
New York, NY
donación: $5, nadie será negado la entrada por falta de fondos
ASARO es un colectivo de artistas oaxaqueños que se dedican a producir arte popular para expresar la visión y las demandas del movimiento popular en Oaxaca. para mayor información sobre
There will also be a three week exhibit of ASARO's work at ABC No Rio running April 26th-May 17th, with concurrent events. Check here for updates!
I saw an interesting story posted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the other day. It concerns a building in Downtown Milwaukee known as the Sydney Hih Building. The Sydney Hih has housed untold numbers of artists and musicians since the 1970’s within its dilapidated labyrinth of studios and practice spaces. Everyone left their mark in the form of graffiti, stickers, stencils, murals, etc… It was a legendary space, and everyone who passed through had stories to tell. The building has since been sold to developers and the colorful exterior has been painted beige. The following story concerns the marks that were left on the interior of the Sydney Hih. The story was written by Steven Potter and posted on JSOnline.
The following text and photos were taken from JSOnline. The first photo is a picture of the west side of the Sydney Hih in 2002 before they ripped down the freeway overpass and painted the building beige. The last photo is the Sydney Hih as it stands now. For more information on the development plans visit JSOnline here.
Developer Salvages Art That Was Created On The Spot:
Since being built in 1876 to house offices, a laboratory and a pharmacy, the enormous Cream City brick building known as Sydney Hih has been home to an eclectic mix of people and passions.
Previous tenants have operated a Mexican restaurant, record label, craft shops and even an underground nightclub. Most recently, the space at Old World 3rd St. and W. Juneau Ave. has been a haven for musicians and artists. And those artists left their mark on the building - literally.
"We found art on doors, windows, walls and everywhere else," said Rob Ruvin, who bought the building last year and plans to develop it and adjacent land into retail and office space as well as a hotel and condos next year.
"Some of it's graffiti art, some of it's portraits, other paintings or poetry," he continued. "It seems just about everyone who came through the doors left something behind, whether it's just a note or a piece of art."
Ruvin salvaged about 100 pieces and recently showcased a few at Elsa's on the Park. "We saved it so people can have a glimpse behind the doors of Sydney Hih," he said.
The exhibit came down last week.
"Initially, (the art) seemed kind of random," Ruvin recalled. "But we've found there's a lot of thought and heart that went into the work."
One of the building's more prolific artists/tenants, a tattoo artist who identifies himself as Pooh Bear, says the art holds special meaning.
"A lot of it was political or very personal; it was like my diary," said the 28-year-old Milwaukeean. He was surprised to learn that his and others' works were being shown in the downtown restaurant.
"We were wondering and worried about what happened to it," he said, adding that he would either like the art returned or to be compensated for it. "Some of it isn't finished."
Ruvin originally planned to show the artwork in a Manhattan restaurant but has decided to contact as many artists as possible before making any decisions.
"We'll continue to gather more artifacts, compile more history, conduct interviews and then determine the next step," he said, adding that he doesn't want to "do anything against the artists' wishes."
"We've thought about a number of options, possibly even incorporating some of it back into the building," he said. "A coffee table book might be the best answer."
Here are a few other interesting before and after pictures of the Sydney Hih I found.
No Need For Sleep is an exhibition of original art and zines by artists from around the country. This exhibition celebrates the artists, their independent productions, and the do-it-yourself culture of zine making. The exhibition will be up during the Madison Zine Fest in Madison, Wisconsin before moving on to Milwaukee in November. This exhibition is curated by Colin Matthes, for more information visit Ideas In Pictures.
The Exhibition includes work by:
Icky A.- Nosedive (Portland, OR)
Mike Ball- Clap Yr Hands (Philadelphia, PA)
Peter Burr- Bountiful Little Dudes, Hooliganship, Cartune Exprez (Portland, OR)
Mary Mack- The F-Word, Chick Pea, Not Quite Venice (Pittsburgh, PA)
Josh MacPhee- Stencil Pirates, Cut and Paint, Pound the Pavement (Troy, NY)
Polina Malikin- The Archaeology of the Recent Future Association (Milwaukee, WI)
Cristy C. Road- Indestructible (Brooklyn, NY)
Ally Reeves & Shaun Slifer- Ross Winn-Digging up a Tennessee Anarchist (Pittsburgh,PA)
Meredith Stern- Dragomen, Crude Noise, and Mine zines (Providence, RI)
Tea Krulos- Riverwurst Comics (Milwaukee, WI)
Other work will be included by:
Hot and Cold zine (Oakland, CA) & Street Art Workers.
Madison,WI Exhibit Information:
The 6th Floor Art Space is located at 455 Park St. in the Humanities Building of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The reception will run from 6-9pm the night of the Madison Zine Fest Saturday, October 21, 2006.
Milwauke, WI Exhibit Information:
Exhibition will be held at the Cream City Collectives Gallery located at the corner of Clarke and Fratney Sreet in Milwaukee 's Riverwest neighborhood. 732 E. Clarke St., Milwaukee, WI 53212
Opening reception: 6-11pm, Friday, November 17, 2006.
Gallery Hours are Mon-Sat 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. Sun 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Im currently in Daytona Beach, FL and there isn't a whole lot to do late night, so I was sitting with my computer in front of the TV. Now I don't find much interesting on television, so it didn't matter that I was watching Cardon Daly's late show. What caught my attention was when he made a bad joke about a mom that drove her son and a few friends around to throw up some tags on Sunset Blvd, in LA. I did what most curious people with a laptop in front of them might do, I hit google news and searched! What I found was the latest in graffiti crimes and convictions.
Prosecutors have dismissed vandalism charges against a 42-year-old mother accused of shuttling her two sons and their three friends around in a sport utility vehicle so they could spray graffiti.
The charges against Victoria Villicano were dropped "in the interest of justice," but her 20-year-old son was prosecuted for spraying dozens of tags along Sunset Boulevard in late August, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
David Ramirez pleaded guilty to two counts of felony vandalism of more than $400. He was sentenced Thursday to 46 days in county jail and three years probation. Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro also ordered Ramirez to serve 200 hours of graffiti removal.
The judge ordered Villicano to serve another 90 days in jail for violating her probation stemming from a drug arrest earlier this year.
Villicano was charged in January with one felony count of possession or purchase of a cocaine base for sale. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail with credit for nearly three months behind bars and was placed on probation.
The status of any charges against the other four suspects, ranging in age from 14 to16, were not immediately available.
Incarceration for over six weeks and 3 years probation will do a lot to a person. Deter other people from writing their name on walls, I'm not so sure.
You can check out a short clip abou the HIVC-High into Vandalism Crew over at CBS.
Recently in the Lower East Side some signs were affixed to street posts as part of the 10 Days of Solidarity with Palestine and Lebanon. 10 Days of Solidarity with Palestine and Lebanon is a campaign urging Jews of Conscience, and all allies of peace, to speak out and contribute to the rebuilding effort made necessary by an Israeli and American policy of war.
A mission statement found at Jewish Conscience states:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And when I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, then when?
— Rabbi Hillel
We call on Jews of conscience to honor the High Holidays by taking action in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Lebanon. At this time, our tradition asks us to reflect and atone for the individual and collective injustices we have committed or allowed to happen. We are mobilizing Jews across the U.S. to honor Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur through educational, spiritual and creative actions, that challenge the violence done in our name in Palestine and Lebanon.
We raise our collective voice to condemn the destructive policies and practices of the State of Israel. Specifically, as Jews living in the United States, we call on our communities to question the effect of our government’s unconditional political and financial support of Israeli policy. This uncritical support has enabled the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people and Israel’s historic and current military aggression in the region, including the recent war in Lebanon.
Since June, the actions of the Israeli military have resulted in the deaths of over 1600 people in Lebanon, and over 200 Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. In Gaza, Israel has continued to violate the well-being and self-determination of Palestinians by sealing Gaza’s borders and destroying civilian infrastructure, leaving over 1.4 million people with little access to water, electricity, food and medicine. This crisis in Gaza is only the latest chapter in the consistent displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland that has been an inherent part of Israeli state-building. This history is an affront to the historic Jewish commitment to justice and it must be examined and questioned.
Our silence about these injustices is a dishonoring of Yom Kippur – an ancient commitment to reflecting on and taking account of our individual and collective actions. Hope for a new year of reconciliation can only be found by taking responsibility for our actions, and working for justice in Palestine and an end to Israeli aggression Lebanon.
We invite Jews of conscience to join us in honoring our tradition of self-reflection in the New Year by taking creative action in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Lebanon. We celebrate the possibility of transformation made possible through our collective accountability.
The signs are a great example of using recent street art techniques for a particular campaign and theme. We hope to see more like it!
Constintina, where the above images were borrowed from! and,
check out more photos of creative resistance to the occupation.
Following up on his trip to Beirut two weeks ago, Arofish traveled through Aita al-Shaab, South Lebanon this week and set up an interactive mural for residents of the city. Barely two kilometers from the Israel-Lebanon border, Aita al-Shaab was hit hard by Israeli bombing, and Arofish traveled there to work with the Samidoun network, a grassroots organization that is organizing much of the relief work in and around Beirut. He writes:
Work was sporadic, so, between unloading water bottles off trucks and making up food parcels, I thought up something for the local kids. A lot of people in NGO/activist circles are talking about “art therapy” these days. To me the best therapy can sometimes be to fucking hit out at something.
After getting the OK I made some big stencils of Bush, Blair, Condi Rice and Ehud Olmert, drawing them onto cartoon animal bodies, as a common form of insult here is to call someone an animal. I sprayed them at night on the smashed wall I’d been given in the town square, as I hoped that the kids would be in bed and that what I had planned for the next day would be a surprise. Half way through the first piece I became aware that about 40 people, all ages, were standing right behind me in a tight group, glaring intently at the wall. Others looked on from the shadows further away. “Not much pressure, then,” I thought, peeling the stencil off the wall to a dumb silence. Then, after a few seconds and to my inexpressible relief, they very clearly started to “get it”.
Voices swelled in number and volume as they excitedly pointed out to one another what it was all about. Laughter burst out up and down the line. Someone found a chair for me to stand on to spray the high bits, supported my back with his hand. Little kids clustered around me and were barked back out of my way by the men. It was pitch dark now so one guy shone his car headlights on the wall so I could see better. Afterwards I gave out some big marker pens. People wrote the characters’ names in Arabic and a variety of other messages and slogans. We threw a tarpaulin over and left it till the morning.
Next day we fetched buckets full of paint-filled water balloons and told the 30-or-so local kids that behind the tarp were some of the people who’d caused all the damage. They knew all the names; they didn’t need telling. The pictures tell the rest, but I wish they could capture the noise. Condi got the worst of it, by far, and you can make of that what you will.
For decades, teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, have conducted strikes to demand educational reform from the federal and state government. Some of the teacher's demands include living wages, sanitary schools, text books, and more public school facilities. Historically, these strikes have lasted short periods of time and caused minimal or no disruption to the state's economy. The government, except for minor concessions, has been able to ignore the teacher's strikes and their demands
May 15, 2006: It's National Teachers Day in Oaxaca. And the leadership of Oaxaca's 70,000 teachers representing Section 22 of the National Teachers Union declared that if there was no further movement in their negotiations with the government, then the following week "would see a state-wide strike by Oaxaca's school teachers" and that "This one will be different than all the previous strikes"...
May 22-24, 2006: 70,000 Oaxaqueño school teachers go on strike. And the first indications that this was to be a "different" kind of strike were immediately apparent in and around the city's historic centre. There, for the first time, the teachers, in the thousands, erected a tent and awning city, occupied day and night in the Zocalo and in the streets surrounding the Zocalo. It's a peaceful occupation of the city's center, but it is also immediately apparent that more teachers are coming into the occupied area on a daily basis. And these teachers are not just from the City of Oaxaca. They're swarming in from the outlying villages and towns in the Valley... (Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News and Analysis, August 21-27, 2006)
The teacher's strike, their encampments, their independent media infrastructure, and their continuous mass mobilizations (marches reaching up to 300,000 people) have been perceived as a serious threat to Mexico's dominant political and economic order. In the early morning of June 14, 2006, the state attempted to crush the teacher's movement by launching an army of several thousand uniformed and plain clothed state and municipal police in an all out attack against the teachers. Police violently destroyed the encampments and scattered the teachers throughout the city.
Within two days, the teachers released the names and photos of 12 teachers and 3 students who were killed and/or disappeared during the attack. The government denies the charges. To date, it is confirmed that five union members have been shot and killed by police.
Since the June 14th attack, teachers and their sympathizers have taken the city center back. They have rebuilt their encampments, their radio stations, their newsletter circulation, and their barricades. The mass mobilizations continue and, following a police attack on independent radio stations, they have been complimented by another effective tactic, the occupation of main stream media centers. From here, the teachers have promoted their most recent and immediate demand, the resignation of Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.
Government repression also persists. Police continue to attack and kill members of the APPO, a recently formed network of organizations sympathetic to the teachers strike and dedicated to removing Governor Ortiz from power. On August 22, 2006, police attacked APPO members who were guarding commercial station La Ley 710, killing Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, head of the education sector of the state Department of Public Works and an APPO sympathizer.
For more information check out these websites:
Indymedia, Mexico (Español)
Indymedia Mexico, Desalojo Oaxaca (Español)
Centro de Medios Libres, DF (Español)
Indymedia, Chiapas (Español)
Granito de Arena: Award-winning Seattle filmmaker, Jill Freidberg (This is What Democracy Looks Like, 2000), spent two years in southern Mexico documenting the efforts of over 100,000 teachers, parents, and students fighting to defend the country's public education system from the devastating impacts of economic globalization. Freidberg combines footage of strikes and direct actions with 25 years worth of never-before-seen archival images to deliver a compelling and unsettling story of resistance, repression, commitment, and solidarity.
The pictures in this post were taken by Sasha Hammad. Thank you to her.
On Saturday, July 29, members of the Borf Brigade threw a roving street party in Washington, DC. Agents Q and fi5e from the Graffiti Research Lab built a bike-mounted sound system and (of course) documented the whole extravaganza. Check out their video of the party here.
The Borf Brigade also released a video communique, explaining the philosophy of Borfismo and officially expanding the Borf conspiracy by announcing the commencement of Operation: Twist & Shout.
Through the story of the original Borf, a teenager and friend of future brigade members who committed suicide in October 2003, the communique makes a compelling case that depression is a social problem with roots in the alienation of consumer capitalism and repression of suburban isolation. It's a beautiful statement that in the end keeps its sense of humor and hope intact.
Video and a full transcript below the fold. Trust me: you don't want to miss this one.
--- Quicktime plugin needed to view video.
--- To download the Communique, right-click here: http://visualresistance.org/B_BRIGADE_COMM_WEB.mov (33MB Quicktime file)
Full text: Borf Brigade Video Communique
Hello, my name is not important. The following is a statement written by the delinquents of the Borf Brigade.
Recently, the press has made much hullaballoo on the capture of minor Borfist John Tsombikos. This member is henceforth purged.
On October 22nd, 2003 our friend Borf hung himself from a basement pipe in a suburb of the nation's capital. This was not a solitary act. Over 30,000 people in the US alone fall victim to this conspiratorial violence. It is the 3rd leading killer of young people, ages 15-24, and outnumbers homicides 3 to 2. This epidemic cannot be medicated into remission. It is not a problem confined to our family bloodline. "Trouble at home" is not the only trigger for depression.
People like [D.C.] Mayor Anthony Williams and developer Jim Abdo who maintain the gentri-fucking of our neighborhoods, establish 10 o'clock curfew laws targeting youth, ultimately deciding D.C.'s fate without the consent of its residents; as well as politicians and CEO's around the world--these are the conspirators who would rather see us fight their wars and work in their sweatshops than see us develop and build supportive communities and relationships. They would rather see homeless shelters be turned into condos and would rather profit off of our misery through the funding of programs that stifle our creativity and imagination than spend a dime on programs that empower youth and give us the tools to think independently. Given these offenses, would anyone be surprised that so many young people feel so worthless? The message is clear: Leurs actions systematiquement se rendent a la perpetuatien de notre isolement et notre condition de precarite'.
These feelings of powerlessness and alienation, which are characteristics of living in an abusive culture, can be paralyzing and debilitating, leaving youth with few options. Either we can give up and self-destruct or realize our anger and frustration through property destruction and other anti-social acts. Graffiti for us was merely the expression of our frustration, an act in retaliation for Borf's destruction. We needed to make our discontent visible. We have destroyed countless thousands of dollars worth of property as have our Parisian counterparts and the frustrated youth of the world who are forced to make a decision to either fall or destroy that which is pushing.
Rather than fall into quiet despair, we shall purple the proverbial nurple of the grey matter at hand. As our nurples have endured incessant purplings in untold schools, malls, courtrooms, office buildings and even while we walk home, we will no longer idly abide by bouts of unbearable purple nurpling.
Today begins Operation: Twist & Shout.
--WE TWIST, YOU SHOUT--
Twist & Shout will make you uncomfortable. For every rush hour Metro delay, dropped cell phone call, jammed coin return, mysterious odor, Borf will be involved. We will reface every wall, rhyme on every stall and have the gall to have a blast.
Borf is alive and well. How are you?
I've always felt that this site is a little to NYC-centric, so it's great to have photos of brilliant work from Milwaukee! What's going on where you are? Send photos and stories to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!
Milwaukee like many cities around the country has been seeing a condo boom in the past few years. Gentrification is redefining the character of long established neighborhoods, driving up housing prices, pushing up property taxes, and driving some people from neighborhoods where they have lived in their whole lives. This (very large) stencil was recently spotted on Milwaukee's east side.
The messages, including “No Deportations”, “Legalization for All Immigrants”, “Rights for All Workers” among others, were painted on banners unfurled over prominent public sites throughout four boroughs.
The banners – penned in languages from English, Spanish, Korean, Urdu, Chinese and others - were dropped throughout the city in the early morning hours. Manhattan locations include 155th & Riverside Drive, 120th Street & FDR Drive, and Chinatown. Queens locations include the Queensboro Bridge and Jackson Heights and Brooklyn locations include the Prospect Expressway and the BQE.
With Bush's national televised speech on immigration reform on Monday, this action is designed as the people’s response and follows recent national protests, including one in NYC on May 1 that drew out hundreds of thousands of people.
This also comes within New York City's “National Week of Action” called to coincide with the Senate resuming Immigration Debates the same day of Bush’s immigration speech. Here is the press release for the national day of action.
Immigrants Demand Real Legalization & Reject Inhumane Compromises
As the Senate reconvenes on Monday, May 15th for the last stretch of its immigration reform debate, immigrants in New York City will join thousands across the country in a National Week of Actions from May 14- May 20 to say "No Deal!" to a three tier legalization bill, guest worker programs, increased enforcement, and border walls. Immigrants warn the Senate against compromising our futures with the bill on the table which has drawn mass opposition for its attempt to split up immigrant families and increase criminalization through expedited deportation and indefinite detention. Instead grassroots coalitions of diverse immigrant organizations stand firm in saying that immigrants deserve no less than:
(1) Legalization for all immigrants; No guest-worker programs of work & leave
(2) Improved and faster family reunification opportunities for all;
(3) Enforce the protection of human and civil rights by reducing detention & deportation, ending collaboration between the DHS and public agencies, and ending deaths & abuses of migrants at the borders;
(4) Non-compliance with the REAL ID Act and the guarantee of equal access to driver's licenses for immigrants;
(5) Equal protection of labor rights of undocumented workers.
Also, check out our small, but hopefully growing, archive of immigrant's rights artwork. All pieces are available for download and free dissemination.
The Gothamist recently posted a story about a festive day of street chalking, which was ruined by a pair of self-righteous snitches and some bored police officers. An eyewitness and participant in the day of chalking describes his experience.
We took a grand old stroll near the cube in Astor Place. On the sidewalk around the cube, we saw a ginormous yin yang drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, and two girls drawing stuff around it. We grabbed some chalk and joined in... Others joined in and left whatever messages they pleased. Eventually, one of the girls started to draw on the cube itself. Verily, this was the trickle that started the flood, as everyone else followed afterwards. Including us. People climbed ontop of the cube to defa-- draw on it. It was a grand old time.
Judging from these pictures, the chalking engaged the interest and participation of many a passer-by. Fun for the whole family. Sadly, a pair of cranky graffiti haters were so disturbed by the chalking that they decided to call the police. The authorities arrived and arrested several chalkers, as well as a group of girls who had protested the arrests by chanting "let them go!" These two girls eventually spent 26 hours in police custody, were tried and eventually their charges were dismissed.
Seth, one of the individuals arrested, posted these comments on the Gothamist, reflecting on his experience in detention.
i spent 26 hours in jail for this shit, was rather ridiculous. it wasnt free speech or defacement, it was us having a little bit of fun that didnt hurt anyone. everything was temporary, but the cops treated us like shit. noone was caught with drugs, though they mistook a bag of maple sugar candy my friend had for crack before they tested it. it was outrageous to waste my weekend like this, and thats not mentioning how many different ways the cops broke the law in processing us. they held us for 12 hours in the precint, denied food, water, or bathroom usage. one of the guys in the cell with me was a diabetic (arrested on a different charge) but his request for medical attention or a sugar level check after he realized he couldnt feel his fingers was delayed for 2 hours while the cops told him to wait. meanwhile, it was 6 hours after we had been taken in before the precint bothered to notify our parents. i resent how some people have made us out to be the villan of this piece, but our having fun was not a justification for how the cops had theirs at our expense.
after spending 26 hours in police custody (2 of them were released after 20 hours) we were released by the judge who basically said: "this is a bullshit charge. chalk is not considered grafitti and therefore the charges pressed against you are unjustified and you should not have been arrested to begin with. stay out of trouble for 6 months and it wont be on your records. get out of my face.
The marshmallow kid's statement is true. Chalking on the sidewalk is technically not a crime because there is no mention of it in any of New York City's graffiti laws. However, many police, who either don't know this or pretend to not know this fact, will arrest and detain you anyway.
For more info on local chalk artists, check out this post about the Ellis G's chalk shadows.
Last weekend, a few of us ventured up to the Chelsea headquarters of the infamous Graffiti Research Lab and helped build 600 or so LED throwies. GRL agents Q and 005 had devised a way to write with the LEDs and wanted to try out a field test on the cube scuplture in Astor Place.
After they wrote a message of solidarity with Borf, we let loose with a few hundred of the little gizmos. A crowd gathered and was really into it. A group of 7-or-8 year old kids started picking the throwies off the cube and throwing them back again. At one point a belligerent touristy guy demanded to know what the point of this spectacle was and his wife yelled, "Oh Harold! Shut up and throw the thing already!"
Many thanks to GRL for the invite and for letting us explore all their high-tech graffiti inventions. Expect nothing but great things from them in the future!
Our buds the Endless Love Crew invite y'all to come on down to a paint session this weekend! It's open up to anyone who wants to come by and there will be enough supplies so no one has to bring any. Fun fun fun!
March 4th and 25th
Chashama Center Gallery
112 W. 44th Street
btw. Broadway & 6th Ave.
Times Square, NYC
Eliot adds: For those who don't know, the Endless Love Crew is a great street art group made up of some of New York's most prolific artists, including GoreB, Infinity, Abe Lincoln Jr., Celso, and a whole bunch more. Very cool group -- should be a lot of fun!
From Q-Branch comes word of another geek graffiti project from the Graffiti Research Labs --- Electro-Graf:
An electro-graf is a graffiti piece or throw-up that uses conductive and magnetic paint to embed LED display electronics. An indoor and an outdoor electro-graf are currently being shown at Eyebeam.
As with the LED Throwies (see below), the potential applications of this technique are dizzying. The step-by-step guide to making your own is available at Instructables. You can also watch the video documentation on the Graffiti Research Labs site, and see a few examples in action at the GRL flickr pool.
Michael De Feo aka the flower guy is teaching a class called "the tools of street art" for kids age 7-10 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Kids will learn learn stencil making and wheatpasting techniques.
Class is on Tuesday, February 21 until Friday, February 24 from 9 to 11 am each day. You can call the museum's education department for sign up details: 203-438-4519 --- $60 members; $75 non-members
LED Throwies are an inexpensive way to add color to any ferromagnetic surface in your neighborhood. A Throwie consists of a lithium battery, a 10mm diffused LED and a rare-earth magnet taped together. Throw it up high and in quantity to impress your friends and city officials.
Check the video for footage of a few dozen people plastering a Chelsea building with hundreds of electric lights, then head over to Instructables for a complete step-by-step guide to making your own, for under $1.00 apiece. Looks like a hell of a lot of fun, and the potential further uses is pretty remarkable. Check it out at Graffiti Research Lab.
In Argentina, ghost bike installations have a purpose other than honoring the memories of fallen bikers. The 380 stencils of bicycles painted throughout the city of Rosario represent the 380 people disappeared by the dictatorship following the coup in 1976. The image of the bicycle is a haunting and powerful reminder that the military often nabbed youths in the street, leaving their rider-less bicycles behind.
The military government detained, tortured, disappeared and killed anyone who was suspected of being subversive, including student leaders, critical journalists, and union leaders. Squads made of members of the armed forces and local police departments kidnapped suspected "subversives" from their homes, workplaces and even the streets. There were 14,000 political prisoners. Another 30,000 people were kidnapped by government agents. Because their bodies were never located and the military and police would deny that these people were in their custody, these 30,000 are considered "disappeared." Over 500 children were taken from detained parents and raised by families of members of the military. Many activists chose to flee the country. Thus, among other things, the government effectively eliminated a generation of leftist leaders.--from upsidedownworld.org
Argentina is building a collective memory of atrocities committed by the dictatorship through public demonstrations on the anniversary of the military coup and works of public art. The spraypainted message, "Pocho Vive" in the photo above honors Pocho LePratti, a community activist who grew up in a middle class family in Uruguay but chose to work with children in a shantytown in Rosario called Ludueña. During the Argentinean economic crisis and mass protests of December 2001, he was fatally shot and killed by police officers as he climbed the stairs to the roof of the school where he was preparing food for the children. The resistance of Pocho and other activists are spraypainted around the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires as well represented by crawling ants.
Josh MacPhee's excellent stencil template zine Cut & Paint has finally gone digital, thanks to John Emerson of Social Design Notes. Click over to CutAndPaint.org and you'll find over 40 different free stencil templates with great imagery and radical politics.
Contributors include many of the unsung heroes of street art. Often working anonymously and undocumented, eople like Roger Peet, Shaun Slifer, Erok A., Colin Matthes, Erik Ruin, Andalusia, Ally Reeves, Claude Moller, Etta Cetera, Brandon Bauer, and the rest are creating some of the best work out there and reinventing the tropes and techniques of radical art.
They look like the real thing, but these aren't subway service advisories, they're fakes. They’re a sort of prank, in this case, at the expense of City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., whose reputation as an anti-graffiti crusader has made him unpopular among graffiti aficionados, some of whom are apparently now trying to get under his skin by mocking him in phony subway notices that look surprisingly real.
Ed Hay may spend most of his time cleaning up graffiti from the railway cars for the CN. But, for the past six years during his "break time" he has taken pictures of what he considers to be some of the best pieces--before he paints over them! By his own count he now his over 300 pictures, and some of his favorites will be on display at the Graffiti Gallery in Manitoba. Though Mr. Hay admits that the CN would probably "frown" on his contributions, he contends, along with the artistic director of the gallery Pat Lazo, that the work "shows the importance of having legal places for graffiti artists to work."
The Graffiti Gallery is no stranger to the controversies that inevitabley follow any efforts to frame graffiti outside of the mainstream context of illegality and property damage. In its own words, the Gallery has been "using art as a tool for community, social, economic and individual growth." Started by Steve Wilson seven years ago, it has been navigating the awkward problems of legitimizing graffiti without alienating the graffiti writing community. And, its come a long way, now operating as a non-profit organization, it offers a diverse set of educational programs and holds various shows and exhibitions. Not to mention, it has helped to invigorate the creation of numerous murals in the surrounding area, which have helped to blur the lines between graffiti "vandalism" and "art".
photos are from the Graffiti Gallery
A while back, I asked my friend Salvador to take some pictures of political graffiti during his trip to Chile. Salvador is back and he has brought 26 pictures of excellent stencils and slogans he spotted on the street. A wide spectrum of radical politics color Chile’s urban landscape. Some pieces are explicitly anarchist, others socialist; others are less ideological but deliver a clear and powerful message of dissent and hope for a better world. Click here to view all of the pictures on Salvador's Flickr account. The image above reads, "Rebel Action Muralists"
This might also be a good time to mention the recent presidential election in Chile. Michelle Bachelet, a 54-year-old pediatrician, is Chile’s first female president and the first democratically elected women president in Latin America. Bachelet is part of a new generation of political leadership for the center-left Concertación coalition – an oftentimes testy alliance of the Christian Democratic Party, the Socialist Party, and the Party for Democracy and the Radical Party.
Bachelet is the daughter of a high-profile Air Force general who strongly supported the government of President Salvador Allende in the 1970s and who later died as a result of torture received in Pinochet’s prisons. She and her mother were later briefly arrested and tortured, before exiling themselves – first to Australia and then East Germany. She returned to Chile from exile in 1987 to practice medicine and continue her involvement with Socialist Party politics.
Bachelet is also a single mother of three and a self-declared agnostic. For many, her political victory represents an important challenge to the sexist machismo and Christian intolerance of Chilean political institutions. Her socialist ideology also represents another obstacle for the United State’s quickly sinking neo-liberal agenda in Latin America. Of course, many remain skeptical that any political party can ever bring freedom or sustainable solutions to the people of Latin America. The first image bellow (from left to right) reads, "The political parties are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. Annul and Organize!"
The second image reads, "Political prisoners. On hunger strike since 12/4/2004. To the streets!!!" The third image reads, "Because they take everything from us. We reclaim everything. We will take everything. Capitalism is misery."
Submitted without comment:
If Tony Blair wants to know what drives young vandals to cover walls with graffiti, he won’t have far to look. His own grandmother would have been a target of the respect agenda that he launched last week.
Friends of Mary Blair say she helped to daub Communist party slogans on walls in Govan, Glasgow. She did no actual daubing, it was her job to mix the whitewash.
The revelation is particularly embarrassing because young Tony went out of his way to praise the respectful attitudes of 1930s Govan. “They didn’t have as much money as we did,” he recalled, “but people behaved more respectfully to one another.”
But Alex Morrison, 86, once a neighbour of Mary Blair and fellow Communist party activist, poured scorn on that idea. “I’m sure Mary would have been laughing her head off at her grandson’s description of Govan as some kind of idyllic community,” he says. “The reality was that Govan was a terrible place to live.”
Mike Ferner, a former Toledo councilman and one-time mayoral candidate, was arrested yesterday with his brother for spray-painting anti-war slogans on overpasses along I-475/U.S. 23 in Maumee and Sylvania Township. . . .
The Ferners face at least two counts each of vandalism and one count each of possession of criminal tools --- the can of fluorescent orange spray paint recovered in their pickup when it was pulled over by Sylvania Township police, troopers said. Both were being held last night in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $3,000 bond apiece pending arraignment in Maumee Municipal Court.
Mike Ferner has been an active critic of U.S. military action in Iraq and, in 2003, took part in a "peace tour" of that Mideast country. He has several previous convictions for civil disobedience related to war protests or other causes he has taken on.
Story here. Ferner is a member of Veterans for Peace and has written extensively for CounterPunch, antiwar.com, and other publications. He traveled to Iraq in Febryuary 2003 with the pacifist group Voices in the Wilderness.
The New York City Council has passed three new anti-graffiti bills which Bloomberg is no doubt itching to sign into law. Intro. No. 663-A amends existing law to mandate community service in a graffiti cleanup program as the minimum penalty for getting caught. Another bill announces a new "possesion ban," making it illegal for anyone under 21 to carry spray paint, inks, or other graffiti supplies on public property.
Those first two mostly extend current laws, but the third moves the city's law in a new and disturbing direction. Intro No. 299-A requires owners of commercial and residential buildings to remove graffiti from their property within 60 days of its appearance, or face fines. We've seen this kind of thing elsewhere in the country, but to my knowledge this is the first mandated-buff law in NYC. Just reading the text of the bill, you can tell that at least some councilmembers had serious objections on free speech and property rights grounds:
[I]t is important that graffiti in public view be cleaned as quickly as possible, while respecting property rights and First Amendment free speech rights.The goal of this legislation is to. . . addresses the need to rid our communities of graffiti as well as protect our important freedoms.
Right. It'll be interesting to see how this new law is enforced. These kinds of regulations are regularly included in zoning rules in small cities or suburban towns --- New York's size and the prevalence of absentee landlords who barely provide heat for their tenants should probably make implementation much more difficult.
In what was an extensive and coordinated effort yesterday morning, at least 30 Dallas police officers attempted to round up 10 persons with arrest warrants. In the operation, six graffiti artists were arrested for alleged property damage totaling about $100,000. Two face felonies punishable by up to 2 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. The other 4, including a 16 year old, face Class B misdemeanor charges that carry a possible 6 month jail term with $2,000 in fines.
Police Chief David Kunkle has apparently been motivated by a website that he claims features two of the apprehended suspects. Kunkle argues that anyone who would post their work on such a site, (presumably because the site pokes a bit of fun at the police) must have "a lack of respect for the community," and they are in fact making "an arrogant in-your-face kind of statement." Kunkle has taken it personally. He has asked the district attorney not to accept plea bargains in any of the pending cases. Sites that feature graffiti, and you know who you are, beware of the message that you may be promoting--according to Kunkle it cannot be celebatory or positive.
These arrests come on the heels of Borf's, or as he has now become known, John Tsombikos, arrest and consequent trial. He, in fact, did put in a plea of guilty to one count of felony destruction of property, a charge that carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of as much as $5,000. Though he answered routine questions at his trail he never had to directly mention any of the actions that put him in court. He is expected to do so however at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 9, 2005.
As part of his plea Tsombikos has agreed to clean graffiti for 80 of the 200 community service hours that he has, on top of $12,000 in fines. Jail time, if any, will not be known until the Feb. 9th hearing. According to another part of his plea, Tsombikos is not allowed to carry any art supplies on his person while attending art classes at Corcoran College of Art and Design.
In both of these cases, I cannot help but notice a serious sort of personal satisfaction in bringing these kids to "justice." Dennis Butler, the D.C. public official in charge of cleaning up graffiti stated that he would give Tsombikos the remaining "Borf"graffiti to clean up, claiming that it was "unwanted art," going on to say that, "let him see the headaches we went through to keep the city clean with his miscellaneous antics." Though Butler admitted that Borf "was very good at what he did," he would never consider that it might have been warmly received by the community. I suspect that many more individuals hold the same feelings as these responders who wrote back to an ARTery post about Borf, but such views are not easily heard through the one-sided reporting about graffiti.
"Reforming" graffiti writers has become part of the fight against graffiti. The logic says, get someone who has been through the system to tell kids that its not worth it, and because they have credentials kids will listen and not fall into a "life of crime." I feel very strongly about community-based arts programs, especially ones that go out and transform neigborhood walls into vibrant and colorful expressions that reflect the feelings and hopes of that community. But, it just seems to me that too many people fail to admit that there is something positive about graffiti, without immediately bracketing it with a "but."
Case in point, this article writes about it "as a therapeutic form of expression," but then they can't help but add that it is "often a springboard for youngsters into a life of crime." This particular piece had several compelling comments that at least broadened the discussion on graffiti. Alex Avila, a Cultural Director for the Arts Council for San Benardino, stated that "it can also be a child's plea for help or a way of processing the struggles of life." She went on to suggest that community based programs "build confidence in the kids," and "allow them to take ownership of something and bring awareness to the community." Though some of her comments entangle themselves in the dangerous logic of "redeeming wayward youth," she at least points out that a lot of what is at stake is explicitly about ownership.
The "Myth of 3rd World Debt" mural images come to us via the Woostercollective site and I think they illustrate perfectly the problems that a community-based art collective, or any public muralist, has to contend with when their work is presented on a wall that is privately owned. The mural, no matter how open or unrestricting it may seem, must always pass through a filter, and if the message is not on point then it will be censored. In this case a poem by Nyarai Humba was painted over the day after it was put up. You can read it in full here.
On a final note, the WoosterCollective site has begun to map out where graffiti arrests have occured in NYC area. This is an excellent project and it may make more transparent which communities have been targeted by the Vandal Squads.
(also thanks to Wooster for the first image)
Mr. Gallagher heads out on foot or on his bike with a backpack full of chalk, looking for shadows to trace. When he tells you that "everything is fair game," he means it. He has traced everything from hydrants to whole city blocks....
On a recent evening, a man named Steve stopped to watch Mr. Gallagher work, despite the cold. "A million times I walked by a street sign, how come I never thought to do something like that with a piece of chalk?" Steve asks. Mr. Gallagher smiles when he hears this, watching a new fan walk off down the street.
"It's very touching," he says sincerely. "People tell me 'you make me smile' or 'you make me stop and think,' and that's cool. I make a difference in people's lives. It inspires me to create more."
I stumbled across Ellis' shadow outlines in Park Slope while walking with a friend a few months ago. The very bright colors of the chalk highlights the contours of shadows you probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise. The effect is pretty mesmerizing: the shadows glow, and the sidewalk gains this weird illusion of depth. Just about everybody on the block was stopping to look, take photos, and talk about the tracings..
Jake points out on Gothamist that sidewalk chalking is not necessarily illegal, and Ellis states in the article that he goes chalking any time he feels like it, without fear of harassment or arrest. It's a reminder that art doesn't have to be confrontational or complicated to have an effect.
Political collage artist Judith Supine sent word of an impressive postering job at the Times Square recruitment office. You can check out a short video here. We asked about the inspiration for the action, and got this succinct response:
to quote e.e. cummings "there is some shit I will not eat"
If you're not familiar with Judith's work, check out her/his flickr page. The collages are always well-placed and seeing them in person is a real treat: their construction is delicate and subtle while the content still packs a real solid punch. Wonderful stuff.
There's a ton of great activist groups doing counter-recruitment work right now. The American Friends Service Committee has an informative collection of essays, and Citizen Soldier highlights the realities of military service, and Leave My Child Alone is a new campaign to protect high school students from intrusive and deceptive recruitment tactics. The Indypendent's CounterRecruiter is also a good resource for news on anti-recruitment activism.
If you are a teenage student, frustrated with authority and looking for a creative outlet, or a teacher looking to challenge the institutions of art education, or a graffiti head looking to be a mentor to young folks, here's something that might interest you:
My mom, a high school art teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ recently showed me some of the work her students have produced. She encourages them to add personal elements to each art exercise they do. Clearly graffiti is an important element in these students' identities. One student drew a self-portrait incorporating graffiti style letters. Another drew a still life of wrenches with his name thrown up in the background. Another student drew a still life of his id tags (which each student is required to wear in the hallways) juxtoposed with his name written in bubble letters on a brick wall.
The recogniton of graffiti as an art form can lend itself to be a powerful lesson in the classroom.
Right now in New York City, graf legends Tracy 168, CoCo 144, Rate, Case 2, and JA are working with high school students at the Urban Academy to cover the walls of the school with tags, throw ups, and whatever else they can dream up. The school has been covered in chalkboard paint so that students and graf writers can piece up everywhere.
This is indeed a radical approach to art education, and one that teachers should take notice of. Teaching non-traditional methods of art to students encourages them to think critically about existing institutions of authority in a positive way.
In a recent New York Times article, teachers and administrators commented on the importance of creating a supportive venue for students to express themselves through graffiti:
"You can't act like it doesn't happen," said Roy Reid, an Urban Academy teacher who has created a class that centers on street art. "You have to try to direct it and channel it instead of just saying, 'Don't do it.' "
Even the principal Herb Mack expressed support for the project noting that it stands in opposition to Mayor Bloomberg's criminalization of graffiti:
"I'm not sure how it's going to be seen by Klein or Bloomberg," he added, referring to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the mayor. (A spokeswoman for Chancellor Klein and the Department of Education said the department supported the project, but added, "We would expect the school to make clear both the importance of appreciating art and respecting property.")
Mr. Mack, one of the founders of Urban Academy, said he had watched it develop into an unlikely collaboration. "It's enriching for the kids to be able to see legitimate artists at work and to critique it," he said. "They see some of these guys as the da Vincis and van Goghs of their world. They know who they are, and they're excited that they're here. In fact, they can't believe they're here."
Seems every other month another ad agency hires another street artist to push another useless product on behalf another billionaire corporation. And each time, this causes an online controversy about the intersection of art and commerce. The latest centers around a campaign for some video game doodad, where writers in cities across the country were hired to paint a series zombie-eyed children holding said doodad. The ads appeared with accompanying text in a faux-graffiti style, and this has convinced some people that the ads are somehow interesting or worthy of attention.
Maybe it's just the headache talking, but I find the discussion about these ads as tiring as the ads themselves, and as uninteresting as the product they're pushing. The ads are generating some press about local anger over corporations sponsoring vandalism, and WoosterCollective had a series of posts a few weeks back debating the pros and cons of the campaign. Marc from Wooster --- himself an ad agency executive --- rode the fence:
The ads are open for interpretation. And we like this a lot. They don't hit you over the head with a two-by-four.... And most importantly, the characters are cute and infectuous. The ads are what you want them to be.
But here's the big problem with them:
At the end of the day - being deceptive never fucking works. Ever. Doesn't [the company] know that there's something called the Internet? The real lack of restraint is that the ads have been popping up all over the country. Because of sites like the Internet, the campaign gets exposed as a fraud by the same people they are trying to appeal to.
I think this is misguided for two reasons. First, no advertisement is "what you want it to be." Ads are, and can only be, what their sponsors want them to be. Ads have no purpose besides selling you something --- usually something you don't need --- and they have absolutely no meaning or message besides promoting a product. None.
Second, does anyone seriously think that the company cares about being "exposed as a fraud"? As long as you mention the name of the product, I doubt they care what you say about it. And the company isn't trying to appeal to graffiti artists or street art afficionados, they're trying to harness the energy and mystique of street art in order to appeal to people --- kids and their parents --- who know very little about the movement and sell them something that has nothing to do with the values or practices of that movement.
One of the most tiring arguments within this whole controversy is this one:
Whats so wrong with someone making a little dough to pay the rent or to buy a drink or some paint with their profit
Nothing. Fine. Go ahead. I work a shitty job too, but that's not the point. The point is, for every single artist that is paid big money to lend edginess to a boring product, there are hundreds of kids who do graffiti for free and put themselves at major risk every time they go out. The NYPD has made 2,230 graffiti arrests this year alone, almost double last year's number. Any discussion of the "mainstreaming" of street art or the ability of a few artists to get paid has to take that reality into account.
Josh MacPhee --- badass stencilist, founder of Justseeds, workhorse behind the Celebrate People's History posters, curator of the Paper Politics show and Street Art Workers campaign, and all-around nice guy --- is giving a slideshow and talk this Sunday that you don't want to miss:
Taking Control of Your Visual Landscape
A Talk and Slideshow by Josh MacPhee
Novemeber 20th, 7PM
Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St., 212.777.6028
Taking Control of Your Visual Landscape is a presentation about just that, how our visual environment controls our social space from the top down, and ways to contest this. We will begin with a discussion of how corporations and the state use our environment, the "visual landscape," to create a monologue of control, and how this monologue frames our thoughts and behaviors. A slide show will be presented displaying an extremely broad array of styles and techniques of intervening in this system, spanning across both decades and continents. These images provoke peoples’ imaginations as to what a real public dialogue on the street might look like and show how possible it is. We will then discuss what seems to work or not work in terms of communicating on the street.
Josh gives a hell of a slideshow and is one of the smartest thinkers in the street art universe. Don't miss it.
Just found an article from the LA Times that gives an example of how cities are criminalizing graffiti --- not as vandalism, but as a style. Even commissioned murals will be removed if they "look like" graff:
Los Angeles is often called the mural capital of the world — and no place is this truer than on the streets of Boyle Heights, where hundreds of walls at pharmacies, general stores, guitar shops and even churches have been transformed into urban artwork. The murals depict Mexican American history, advertise businesses and take the form of abstract art at the hands of graffiti taggers....
Using a little-known ordinance that allows the city to regulate murals that abut public property — including sidewalks — officials have notified some property owners that they must either modify or remove their murals....
Under the city program, the Cultural Affairs Department will find artists to create new murals and set up a system to maintain the artwork. Joseph Montalvo, a graffiti muralist participating in the program, says he supports the idea of engaging young taggers. But he worries that the city will put limits on what artists can and cannot do.
"For the last 15 years, the relationship between the store owner and the writer [muralist] has been there and there hasn't been a need for government participation," said Montalvo, 35, also known as Nuke. "What I'm afraid is they may want to suppress or oppress any content that in their eyes they think is inappropriate."
Yeah, that seems like the whole point of the city's program, doesn't it? We've seen similar things happen elsewhere, notably Vancouver. Lots of small cities have ordinances requiring property owners to remove graffiti from their buildings or face fines. Smaller cities and towns require permits for any kind of decoration at all. Combine these property-value-minded campaigns to whitewash the city with the fearmongering panic-tantrums of Vallone Jr. and his dumb ilk and you've got a country where public space is severely policed.
Legacy Queens councilman and Giuliani-wannabe Peter Vallone Jr. is once again dragging his favorite scapegoat around the city's newsrooms:
The scourge who has been defacing buildings, vehicles and trees across the borough was busted this week after becoming the No. 1 target in Councilman Peter Vallone and the 114th Precinct's anti-graffiti crusade.
"I want this punk, and I want him bad," Vallone (D-Astoria) proclaimed, following the Tuesday morning arrest of Oliver Siandre, 27, better known by his tag, "Kiko."
"Catching this guy has been a personal vendetta of mine for a few months now," Vallone added.
Vallone Jr. --- who inherited his council seat from his father --- was one of the main hot-air opponents of Marc Ecko's street party and made a big stink about Cope2's Time Magazine billboard. He constantly bleats to whatever reporters will listen about the menace of graffiti-writing hoodlums run amok. Now he's playing the white-collar Dirty Harry at press conferences, claiming Kiko caused $100,000 in damage. The showboating demagogy of Vallone Jr.'s personal role in the pursuit of KIKO and the studied stupidity of the Daily News' tabloid style are both symptoms of a public culture that's beyond rotten. Doesn't anyone get sick of this cheap, cynical grandstanding?
Photo from vidiot's flickr photostream.
A few weeks back we wrote about a new sticker campaign called Corporate Vandals Not Welcome. The stickers target advertisers who use techniques cribbed from street art in order to brand themselves as hip, underground, and edgy. We got an email from the person who's been putting the stickers up and he's got a smart, critical take on advertising as well as the current street art scene in NYC:
that's my sticker. glad you appreciated it. I am also responsible for several other political stickers that are conspicuously absent from the various "street art" sites. seems to me that much of what is being touted as street art plays into the existing codes of gallery elitism: visually "pleasing" design, cheap "cleverness," and usually a desperate attempt NOT to have a clear message that anyone can understand. most of this work is simply too comfortable and "nice" to be meaningful (in my opinion). in addition, a lot of it seems to exist more on the internet or on guided tours than it does in reality, on the street, in your face, for the public.
ultimately, it appears that many of these "street artists" are using the streets as a self-promotion platform towards networking, gallery shows and mainstream success and acceptance. nearly all of the thousands of graffiti writers who have come and gone never asked for more than to say "I exist. I was here. this is my name. this is my style." street artists should neither bastardize nor belittle this tradition.
I fully recognize and support that there are no rules on the street: everybody should be doing whatever they want to do, that's the whole point. but that does not mean I cannot critique what is being done and how it is being promoted. I love graffiti and any sort of public expression on the streets. cumulatively, it is a beautiful and important thing. I just hope that all of the creators, promoters and fans start to ask a little more of themselves and each other.
by the way, I am in no way affiliated with streetartblows.com
The only reason I compared this project to streetartblows.com is because they're both interventions into what's going on in the streets. In their own way, they're both calling bullshit and asking for some dialogue. The big difference, of course, is that the Corporate Vandals Not Welcome stickers are targetted at advertising companies who are hired by giant corporations with no redeeming social value at all, whereas the s.a.b. stickers are aimed at individual artists and their work, for which he's been criticized.
I think there's a lot to criticize about the state of the scene and the shallowness of a lot of work going up, but having "Keep Your Art To Yourself" as a tagline is basically the opposite of what VR believes. The whole point of our zine is that anyone can make art --- art should be accesible, free, and everywhere. But in taking over public space, street artists should be aware of their surroundings and should be willing to put some thought and effort into respecting their city, their neighbors, and their own artwork. More dialogue towards this end is sorely needed.
September 23rd marked the 137th anniversary of the insurgency of Lares in Puerto Rico, the attempt to gain independence from Spain in 1868. While the pro-independence movement celebrated, FBI assassins surrounded the home of nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda, and proceeded to brutally attack him and his wife. Ojeda went into hiding 15 years ago after being charged for the 7.2 million dollar robbery of a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut in 1985. This money was used to finance the independence movement of Puerto Rico, and for charity in poor Latin communities in the U.S. The murder and circumstances surrounding his death were initially concealed by the FBI. At the time of the ambush, Puerto Rican government agencies were forbidden from entering the area and news media and press were denied access. While the events that transpired were not recorded, protesters and mourners are taking to the streets armed with their own visual media.
Following up on previous entries about corporate incursions into the street art world, there's a new sticker campaign we've been noticing around downtown NYC. The stickers, reading "corporate vandals not welcome" are usually stuck over advertising stickers for a small circle of companies that are use the "hip" cachet of street art to try to brand their products as edgy or underground.
These companies --- and more importantly the ad agencies that design their marketing campaigns --- are parasitic and useless. They ride the wave of energy produced by thousands of artists working anonymously for no or little gain, and they drain that energy by cannibalizing its forms to sell products and values that have nothing to do with the movement they're ripping off. And, what's worse, the unchallenged co-existence of art & commerce in the street art movement cultivates and reinforces the worst tendencies amongst artists: self-promotion, slick & heartless design, a complete lack of content, easy outs & cookie-cutter derivatives, smug hipness.
Lots of folks are talking these days and no one's saying all that much. Thumbs up to whoever's putting these stickers up, just for calling bullshit. If you know who's behind these, drop us a line at visual.resistance[at]gmail.com. Thanks.
Update: Momo writes in to alert us to something so wrong-headed and stupid it just makes my head spin. Ekosystem has a link to a new music video that uses clips of skateboarding street artists putting up stickers, all to the sounds of that pinnacle of streetwise urban rebellion: Bon Jovi. You know what? If you had told me a year ago that the words "Bon Jovi" would appear on this website, I would have burned my computer, moved to the mountains, and learned Esperanto.
Anyway: check out the Ekosystem board for link to the mind-boggling wrongness, and to join the ongoing discussion on street art & ads.
The Israeli pullout from Gaza has mostly been shown in the American media through dramatic images of Israelis being evacuated from the settlements. As usual there is much less media focus on the Palestinians and the changes the Gaza pullout is bringing about in their society. According to the Middle East Times, one of the first actions of the Palestinian Authority after the pullout has been a graffiti clean-up:
It is impossible to come to Gaza and not notice the drawings and murals that fill the walls along the streets of the Strip. Ever since the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, graffiti has served as a sort of diary open to all. But no longer.
Following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has launched a campaign to clean and beautify the walls and streets of Gaza City.
At first glance this would seem a strange priority for the Palestinian Authority, but the fact that it is a priority speaks volumes about the power of graffiti and the contradictary nature of propaganda. It also gives a stark example of how the control of public space and public discourse is in fact a fight for political hegemony.
Check out the shifting understanding of the utilitarian value of graffiti. During the spontaneous and mostly non-violent first intifada:
During the late 1980s when the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military occupation, Israel banned any Palestinian publications not following military censorship rules. Speaking about the occupation, mentioning Palestine or even drawing the national flag were serious crimes that were harshly punishable.
As a result Palestinian militant groups resorted to the only means available to them to inform Palestinians of their operations and to express their opinions freely: graffiti.
Soon, the walls of the Gaza Strip became the Palestinians' national newspaper, reporting news about the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) abroad, attacks on Israeli soldiers or the date of the next demonstration or strike. The graffiti-ridden walls also served as an obituary and a congratulations page all at once.
But, now that the PA is in charge:
Officials at Gaza Municipality, which is spearheading the cleaning campaign, say that the era of "wall newspapers" has ended with the end of the Israeli occupation.
"We are not under Israeli military administration anymore, so there is no need to ruin Gaza's special aesthetic with graffiti," Majdi Abu Shaaban of Gaza Municipality's public relations department said.
"We have our own newspapers, radios and TV stations to announce everything, so continued graffiti spraying on walls would be considered vandalism," he added.
Writing on walls was considered a subversive activity if it was critical of the PA, and for several years after the PA took root in Gaza in 1994, Palestinians believed that the messages were appropriate as long as their content attacked the Israeli occupation, but they shunned the use of graffiti as a means to criticize their own government.
This is revealing of the particular tension that happens when a movement against those in charge finally takes charge. Political expression is reined in as the nationalism fueled by hatred for the old oppressor is channeled into patriotism and faith in the new rulers. It reminds me of the ways in which early Soviet poster designs, intially bursting with revolutionary egalitarian energy, was twisted into cult-of-personality authoritarianism under Stalin (the best book on this is Building the Collective, sadly out of print).
As a sidenote, the article also makes clear that no matter where you go, politicians all basically think alike:
As a clear sign of the importance of this campaign, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei showed up on the first day wearing a white T-shirt and a white baseball cap, and then took a paint roller and started erasing a slogan scribbled by his Fatah movement.
...as do home owners:
"Of course, I understand the value of graffiti and the posters of fallen Palestinians to our people," he says. "But I don't understand why they have to ruin my wall."
Photo at top from Reuters, via Middle East Times.
I'm a social worker for Children's Protective Serives here in Pittsburgh PA. I'm also a fan of street art, going through the city, often to the roughest areas, I see a lot of it, some of it very good. The attached picture is one I spotted in Pittsburgh's Hill District, formerly the place to go for jazz and good food, now one of the most blighted areas in the city. I noticed this tag a month ago. There's no real technique to it, some guy with a can of spray paint and an unsteady hand slapped this on a crumbling wall and took off. The fact that they used bright orange for their color, and chose a street that cut right through the Hill, to the downtown theater and shopping districcts put a smile on my face. Soem will see this as a joke; some will see this as serious. I see this as a middle finger to the people who have turned a blind eye to the poison that is flooding our city, and being peddled by pubescent soldiers. I've been stopped more times than I can count by children trying to sell me any type of drug you can think of. It's down today, a coat of red paint washed it away, and a couple more bricks have been knocked out of the wall inthe process. They took away the grafitti, but the kids that are trying to sell me heroin are still hard at work.
There's an update on Todd's flickr page that indicates that someone is making a campaign of identifying alleged crack houses as a way of shaming the dealers or the cops, or both. Reminds me of Dan Witz's brilliant Black Hoodies marking heroin hotspots in the Lower East Side.
I've seen the kind of graffiti Todd mentions a few times in my neighborhood in (mostly poor, definitely minority white) North Minneapolis. It's pretty clear its intent is to shame someone, usually the owner of the house the tag is painted on. But about a month ago, leaving a N.Mpls coffeeshop where I'd been meeting with friends to plan the first annual Peace Games (cooperation and youth empowerment through art and sports), I spotted the attached graffiti. Just as crudely sprayed as Todd's, but every bit as powerful (and I like the site-specificity of it). Another shot here.
Will at SixSquare.com writes about the recent wholesale thefts of Space Invaders pieces in Los Angeles. He writes movingly of becoming obsessed with and attached to a particular artist's creation --- and then being shocked and hurt by the art's sudden destruction -- in a way that I strongly identified with. One of the great things about being a street art hunter is the way you can be constantly surprised by your city. Invisible strangers plant presents for no one, and you get to stumble across these gifts, witness them, and leave them behind for others to discover too.
Anyway, the story was picked up by art.blogging.la, where the Invader himself chimed in:
STOP THE SLAUGHTER!
I've just learned that in the last few weeks many of the space invaders in the streets of Los Angeles have been removed. I have good reason to think that this is the work of an individual and not done by the city. I would like to ask the person who is doing this to stop for two main reasons :
1– that is very selfish act to steal art that is supposed to be free and for everybody.
2- that is ridiculous. The tiles are not signed then they have no value. You can go and buy some in any tiles shop (like “Opiocolor” in beverly hills where I bought them ) they will be the same but not broken.
This obviously harkens back to the theft/destruction of Revs' sculptures this spring. A related story: Once I was working with an artist friend and a bypasser stopped and told us that she was an art collector, and regularly went around removing art from the street and taking it home --- in order to "preserve" it --- and had taken down a few of my friend's pieces. I knew people did this, but I was horrified anyway. I wanted to say: We put art up, and you take it down. That makes us enemies, not friends.
Today's quote comes from Swedish street artist Hop Louie's version of a standard vandalism-is-a-crime legal disclaimer:
It´s illegal to voluntarily paint something nice on a grey wall just because you want to make it nicer and maybe make people think a little bit. To change anything in your surrounding without paying piles of cash is illegal. If you protest about this without asking the people in power for permission, you´re probably comitting a crime.
In contrary, to brainwash people using advertising wich make women hate their bodies and men get a fucked up sexuality, is legal. To sell products made by modern slaves, that are killing the enviroment, people or animals using ugly and bad advertising that gets thrown in our faces withous us having any chance of avoiding it --- that´s legal too.
Quite simply, if you have economic or military power over people you are allowed to do what the fuck you want.
The rest of us are supposed to shut up, go to work, belive their propaganda and do as they say. Fuck that. I do encourage criminal behaviour.
Hop Louie emailed us a few weeks back and we were completely mesmerized by all the great stuff on his site. Start with the galleries from Sweden and West Africa, and don't miss his section on urban exploring in Guinea-Bissau, or the fascinating backstory to his Chrille P stencil (pictured above). Stop by and say hello.
Man, just when Banksy had you feeling free, the New York Times has a report on the city's new Citywide Vandals Task Force, the merger of the NYPD and transt cops' anti-graffiti units started by Bloomberg's crackdown on graffiti. The article has more details on the structure --- and, most scarily, the goals --- of the task force than any we've seen so far:
The new squad is equipped with infrared and digital cameras, a database with thousands of tags and profiles of those arrested, and a book that contains the 100 or so "worst of the worst" repeat offenders. The police, Lieutenant Mona said, are intensifying their efforts....
Graffiti arrests are up 88.9 percent citywide since January, compared with the same period last year, according to police statistics, an increase that Lieutenant Mona attributes to [the CVTF]....
The unit is among the most expansive antigraffiti efforts in the country, says Lieutenant Mona. Police lieutenants from each of the city's precincts, housing projects and transit districts are now assigned to report their monthly progress in combating graffiti.
Lieutenant Mona's goal is for the streets of the city to be scrubbed nearly as clean as its subway trains - and, he hopes, to stay that way. "Success would be just that people can say, 'I remember when,' about the streets, like they do now with the subways," he said.
The reporter interviews a few graffiti writers, who have different reactions to the new crackdown, from paranoia, to more careful planning, to disdain. The article frames the new crackdown in a one-sided manner --- a "cat and mouse game" of graffiti writers vs. the vandal squad --- and fails to open any intelligent or constructive debate about a myriad of relevant issues, especially ones concerning public vs. private space.
Bloomberg's remark about how graffiti is "an invitation to criminal behavior," is left unchallenged. No mention is made of the cost of the new vandal squad. Of course, no alternative vision to Bloomberg's whitewashed, surburbanized goal is presented. Growing arrest numbers and "broken windows" policing go unquestioned.
In Chicago, new anti-graffiti laws were challenged by the God Bless Graffiti Coalition, an imitation evangelist campaign with the slogans "Keep America Colorful" and "Give Graffiti the Thumbs Up." The stencil above is a first attempt to spread their message in New York City.
Banksy recently made a trip to the West Bank, where he painted massive images of escape and freedom on the 25-foot high "seperation wall" the Israeli government built to divide Israel from the Palestinian territories. The pieces themselves --- scissors cutting the wall, ladders, windows that look out at idyllic scenery, a girl floating by clutching ballons --- are astounding. They're huge in scope, many of them are mixed media, and their vision of simple, joyous human freedom and possibilty is almost heartbreakingly beautiful, especially as they have Banksy's characteristic humor. The fact that they're painted on the "apartheid wall" --- a much-condemned symbol of hopelessness and oppression --- is an act of bravery and generosity. Banksy says:
The Israeli government is building a wall surrounding occupied Palestinian territories. It stands three times the height of the Berlin wall and will eventually run for over 700km --- the distance from London to Zurich.
The wall is illegal under international law and essentially turns Palestine into the world's largest open prison.
It also makes it the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers.
This is Banksy's greatest work. It shows the best that street art can offer: a clear, direct, challenge to forcibly enclosed space, and a vision of a better world. Pictures and a brief report are available on Banksy's news page. Wooster has more pictures, too. See coverage in: BBC & the Guardian.
Soon. has two updates on the decentralization of Borf. Somewhat in the spirit of Subcommandante Marcos' famous self-description, Borf's first communique begins:
Borf is many. Borf is none. Borf is waiting for you in your car. Borf is in your pockets. Borf is running through your veins. Borf is naive.... Borf is everywhere. Borf is the war on boredom.
The Meet Borf event in Dupont Circle seems to have drawn a good crowd (and some police). For the next step in the conspiracy, Borf's face stencil is being made available for download. Print it, cut it, spray it.
Below is one of the more intriguing e-mails we've ever gotten --- looks like some folks in D.C. are taking on the idea raised by one of our commenters to make Borf a "horizontal conspiracy."
I noticed your article on Borf being caught, and I thought I should let you know that Borf is not caught. Borf cannot be caught. There is going to be an event in Dupont Cirlce in Washington, DC tomorrow and we need help publicizing. If you can help at all that would be great. Here is a description of the event:
Tomorrow, Saturday July 23rd
MEET BORF at Dupont Circle
Meet at 4pm in Dupont Circle for a celebration and discussion of public art, graffiti and vandalism. There will be sidewalk chalk, stencil cutting materials, free spray paint, hopscotch, handstands, millions of dollars, and the first in a series of communiques from Borf. Borf is not caught. Come tomorrow so we can talk about what all this shit means."
Thanks so much, your website means a lot to us.
Any readers in D.C. should try to make it out --- let us know how it goes at visual.resistance[at]gmail[dot]com.
...will be at the opening of Swoon's gallery show at Deitch Projects tonight. For her debut solo show, Swoon has transformed the gallery into a giant, precarious dreamscape. It's a real knockout.
Your Mind Better Be Blowing and Soon has wonderful photos of Isaiah Zagar's mosaic murals in Philadelphia. I happened across Zagar's South St. murals in Philly a few years ago and was amazed --- think several blocks that look like Brooklyn's Broken Angel --- but didn't know their story until just now.
Influenced by folk art as well as Picasso and Gaudi, Isaiah Zagar has made these public mosaics his life work, with the goal of "making the city of Philadelphia PA USA into a labyrinthine mosaic museum that incorporates all my varied knowledge and skills." One mosaic covers the South Street Magic Garden, a community garden that was built out of an abandoned lot. The owner of the lot --- who first left it empty for years, then allowed it to be transformed into a beautiful public space --- now wants to sell it, and has ordered that the mural be taken down. Zagar is trying to raise $200,000 in the next two years to save the garden.
Founders and long standing members of TATS CRU got their start painting trains in the Bronx over twenty years ago. Today, TATS CRU has established itself as a legally legitimate company of professional muralists. They paint murals for small businesses and organizations throughout New York City. However, TATS CRU also accepts business from more shady corporate clients.
In 1996, TATS CRU was contracted to paint a series of advertisements for Coca-Cola. Click here to read about Coca-Cola’s international human rights abuses. Click here and here to check out some anti-Coke street art.
A recent Hummer advertisements painted by TATS CRU has aroused some interesting controversy on the street. Two identical Hummer ads were painted in Williamsburg (North 8th and Bedford) and the West Village (Avenue A and 2nd Street). Here is a picture of the Williamsburg ad, which has been tagged over with comments such as “No Blood For Oil,” “Cars kill,” and “Ride a bike.” The Hummer logo has also been crossed out. I also coulden't help but notice the GoreB painting installed near the Hummer ad.
Check out Wooster’s picture of the West Village advertisement, which has also been defaced.
Considering the city’s unhealthy levels of smog, it’s not hard to understand why New Yorker’s would react negatively to these ads, which peddle an off road vehicle that gets an estimated 13 miles to the gallon. (it’s hard to get an accurate understanding of the Hummer’s gas mileage because its uncanny weight exempts it from mileage-reporting requirements) The Hummer is the epitome of America’s environmentally deadly SUV fetish.
The mural pictured below, painted by students at El Puente High School, reflects serious community concerns about smog and environmental justice issues.
Members of TATS CRU might want to take these concerns into consideration before accepting future commissions that impose negative images on communities that have sponsored their art and livelihoods for years.
Fans of Os Gemeos' mural at Coney Island won't want to miss the unveiling of the Dreamland Artist Club project. Organized by Steve Powers (aka ESPO) and funded by Creative Time, Dreamland got 17 contemporary artists to make hand-crafted signs for Coney Island vendors and sites and 10 more to make prizes for game booths. Details:
Art Tours of the 40 + Dreamland Artworks. June 18 tours leave at 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, and 4:30 p.m. and then every Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. or by request throughout the summer from THE CLUBHOUSE (1206 Surf Ave.). Win artist designed prizes at participating arcade games. Opening Party @ Ruby's on the Boardwalk, 5:00-8:00 p.m. FREE TIGER BEER AND DOOR PRIZES!
We're kickin' off a new project with the Street Art Workers (SAW), a national collective of printmakers, stencil artists, graffiti writers and designers who use the streets for art and activism. The previous poster project themes were entitled, Whose Media?, Utopia / Dystopia, and Art vs. Prisons.
The call for this year's project is now up at streetartworkers.org/call:
SAW wants to look at how globalization has affected our lands and how people are fighting back. How has it affected land in the cities — especially housing? How has globalization impacted land and workers in the countryside with farming, mining, drilling, logging and other resource extraction? What are the connections between land struggles in the global south, indigenous nations and the industrialized north? What are some of the connections between the landless peasants movement of Brazil and the squatter movements of Europe and North America? What links together the struggle against dams in India, hydroelectric projects Canada and water privatization in Latin America and South Africa? How are farmers and campesinos resisting industrial agriculture, like biotechnology and GMOs (genetically modified foods), in the U.S., Mexico and India? What organizing strategies have worked and hich ones have failed?
These questions are a starting point. We want to see more questions from you and some hard-hitting answers. We want powerful ideas and inspirational art that we can broadcast directly to the streets in 2005.We want posters that build connections between international struggles and actual organized projects with high profile publicity.
We especially want to see multilingual submissions and work from the perspective of women, Third World communities and indigenous/First Nations. We suggest that artists collaborate with grassroots, social change organizations of their choosing to make posters. We want posters that are both imaginative and relevant to “on the ground” organizing around issues of land, housing and globalization. Working with an organization is not required, but it is encouraged.
The deadline is September 1, 2005 --- designs will be curated and printed in Winter 2005-6 and wheatpasted in Spring 2006. Full details on the submission process and specs for designs are available here. For more information, visit streetartworkers.org or email streetartworkers[at]gmail.com.
On Arbor Day, April 29th, a group of artists in Brooklyn placed some "bling" vanity necklaces around 50 or more trees, on Bedford Ave,from N4th-N10th St. The project is called Carbon Based Forms and is and attempt to get city folk to acknowledge the surrounding natural elements. Trees are a necessary and vital component in any community, especially cities. Im not a born and raised city kid. I grew up with a great appreciation for nature, living amongst it, in the Hudson Valley. So this project struck a chord with me.
In corresponding with the artists they reminded me of an observation, found in a recent issue of Adbusters; "kids can immediately identify 50 different brand logos, but not 5 different types of trees."
I firmly believe that it is that kind of disconnection to natural living creatures that provides humyns with the mental capability to destroy various forms of life on the planet. There is hardly an outcry when mountaintops are blown off in Appalachia, old-growth forests clear-cut, and even in urban settings, waterfront and open spaces "developed." Do we expect these things to regenerate? Mother nature has an amazing potential to heal, but how can she when the most influential creatures on the planet aren't even aware of other species?
It may not save the rainforest, but it's inspiring to see folks engage pedestrians with the most apparent forms we come into contact on the street! The artists are asking folks to sponsor a tree, I imagine to support their endeavors with this project.
Janna from Style in Progress sent us a link to a fascinating article in Toronto's NOW Magazine about the Vancouver city government's plan to send out "clean teams" to buff out all graffiti in the city --- including permission walls and commissioned pieces:
The targets Any and all public spaces, including spaces already transformed by city-sponsored graffiti projects and privately owned buildings on which the owner has given artists permission to paint. Talk about a whitewash....
Who's to say what's art anyway? City politicians. They'll have the final say should business owners refuse to comply with cleanup orders - yes, the same politicians more interested in pacifying residents concerned about property values than in the cultural and social significance of graffiti.
Why it all smells like coercion The city is threatening to fine businesses that refuse to take part in the cleanup, or do the cleanup itself and then add the costs to business owners' property tax bill. In other words, you can pay now or you can pay later.
What makes the article great is that the reporter asked local workers and residents for their opinions on the graf and their responses are mostly positive. For example, a store manager says: "I wouldn’t consider it an eyesore. In fact, it brings people to the area. If the city ordered us to remove it, I’d have a problem with that." Big difference from the usual discussions about buffing graffiti in NYC.
What a waste of resources to go after kids with markers while companies like Viacom and Pattison Outdoor Advertising are erecting massive illegal billboards and murals all across Toronto. The rule seems to be that defacement is a crime unless you're wearing a suit and work for an ad firm.
Couldn't have said it better ourselves. Read the full article here. Check out Style in Progress for a great look at graffiti north of the border, and check out the Toronto Public Space Committee, a group that's new to me and is doing wonderfully admirable work.
Os Gemeos ("the Twins") have been making a mural out in Coney Island the last few days, and a Visual Resistance member has been fortunate enough to get out there to see them work! Check out our photos of the Os Gemeos mural! If anyone knows the name of the mural project,
(Swoon), that brought these two wonderful folks to NYC, mention it in our comments please.
If you click on only one link today, let it be this one.
This is a few weeks old by now, but fi5e's comments on the city's anti-graffiti campaign are probably the best I've read anywhere:
I was just reading the website for "New York's Finest", and found some interesting stuff on graffiti (I don't want to post a direct link to it, but if you go to www.nyc.gov and put 'graffiti' into the search engine you'll find it). Including this quote, "Calls can be made to 911 for acts of graffiti vandalism that are in progress". On the one hand other people are dieing, but at least that wall will remain solid cinder block with no sign of color!
They also have a .pdf on their site called "Combat Graffiti" which outlines the different kinds of graffiti as "hate graffiti, gang graffiti, satanic graffiti, street graffiti, and generic graffiti". In over a year of photographing graffiti around NYC I've seen hate related graffiti only twice (which was promptly covered in anti-hate graffiti), almost zero gang related graffiti , and unless you consider NECK FACE to be satanic graffiti than I won't even comment on the idiocy of that label, it is all "street graffiti", and none of it is "generic". I have seen "beautiful graffiti" (SWOON), "political graffiti" (just think back to the RNC), "up lifting graffiti" (De La Vega), and "tag based graffiti" (names not of gang members but of creative people that live here). With everything going on in this city it makes me sad that they are putting this much effort into the elimination of an art form that was created here.
The New York Times has a short article in the Metro section today about Darius Jones' street installations, focusing on his kissing street signs in Carroll Gardens. Good quotes from Darius (aka Leon Reid) and Marc from Wooster Collective:
Most street artists distinguish themselves from graffitists, arguing that they are "involved in a very big public statement," in the words of Marc Schiller.... Street artists, Mr. Schiller added, think that "too much of the public space has been sold to big corporations, and they're reclaiming it illegally." [...].
"It's political in the act, in the very act," he said. "Each and every one of these things is done illegally, without any permission. That's a statement in and of itself. It brings up questions of ownership and what the public is allowed to do with things in public space."
You can check out more pictures of Darius' kissing street signs on our photolog. And, for more work by Darius on Visual Resistance check out: Darius and Downey street sign and Darius installation (RIP).
4 new People's History Posters have been created by artists Aprille, Brandon Bauer, Beith Pucinella, and Swoon. Don't just hang them on your walls at home. If you're feeling motivated, make photocopies and put them up in public places. They look amazing lined up on construction walls.
Ever since I became aware of the All City Council campaign, and our "6 Questions for Fi5e", I've been a frequent visitor of Fi5e's blog. Fi5e has been busy making videos and mixed media for their Graffiti Analysis:
The Graffiti Analysis project digitally captures the motions used to make a tag. Once recorded, the data is analyzed and used to create visualizations based on the speed and direction of the original movements. Fluid strokes of ink are augmented with digital pixels. Algorithmically generated prints are placed within the urban environment as a new form of street art. Relationships are created between analogue and digital graffiti styles, forming a link between traditional graffiti, experimental street art, and new media.
Hell creating a really amazing look at tags and their creation. I'm usually left feeling dumb and unintelligent when I see productions so clean and "tech-heavy". (I'm still learning how to post on this site!) The use and incorporation of this technology is nothing short of inspiring and clever.
The second artist Fi5e worked with was Jesus
If you are interested:
fi5e is seeking active writers interested in contributing their tags into this digital system. Please pass on this URL to any writers who may be interested. Of specific interest are the writers in these images. Interested artists should contact email@example.com
Also, while at his blog check out the Explicit versions of NWA's album Straight Outta Compton, quite humorous.
Two of the deservedly famous REVS sculptures recently featured on Untitled Name and Wooster Collective are gone. Rode through DUMBO on my bike this afternoon and the two best pieces are just fucking gone. Someone sawed through the bases of both scultures and removed them.
And so Bloomberg's Buff marches on. The mayor who made such a big show out of some too-expensive Ikea curtains puts a machine into place that steals two of the best, longest-standing, joyous public artworks in the entire city. Maybe now the snobs who like to look at pretty pictures online but get the vapors at the thought of a tag on their door will finally fucking get it: the cops will destroy all the fucking art they can find. All of it. From the simplest tag to the greatest shit you've ever seen. All gone. Anything unsanctioned, anything sponsorless, --- anything that's proof of the free creativity of regular people --- well, the city's for sale, everything must go!
Back in October I wrote on my old fotolog:
I always get mixed feelings riding around Dumbo on my bike looking for street art. There's a ton of work up, mostly east of the Manhattan Bridge but also in a few spots between the two bridges. There's a fair amount of intricate, time-intensive work, and some "classic" stuff that's escaped the buff, such as some early Swoon pieces, and these REVS installations. And the way the work fits in with the gritty, industrial & cobblestones vibe of the area is just awesome.
But further southwest, over by Main St or Washington, where the big developments and condos are, it`s absolutely clean, as devoid of art as Park Slope or the Upper East Side. When they opened the Brooklyn Bridge park, a lot of "cleanup" happened, most notably the painting-over of a great brick wall that had a half-dozen Swoon pasteups. So I wonder when I'm wandering around down there how long this all will last --- when does the neighborhood get so developed that they start to destroy great pieces like this one?
Anyway. I don't suppose graffiti qualifies for historical preservation status, but maybe it should....
Maybe it's time to revisit that last idea. Or does anyone out there have a better one?
UPDATE, 4/17: Coming over the bridge today, I noticed that the huge REVS/PEEK mural has been painted over in the same gray used to buff the rooftop under the Manhattan Bridge. By creepy coincidence, the New York Times has an article about these very sculptures on their front page right now. What the hell's going on?
If you read nothing else today, don't miss Wooster's post on Banky's escapades in New York. The New York Times article is full of the condescending elitism you'd expect, but Banksy's succinct explanation on Wooster is perfect:
Were the works you installed all paintings on canvas?
Two of the works were fine oil paintings. I vandalised them so they had some actual meaning. In the Natural History museum I installed a real dead beetle but with model missiles and satellite dishes stuck to it. A bug in the true American spirit [...].
What message, if any, were you trying to convey by putting up these works?
I've wandered round a lot of art galleries thinking 'I could have done that' so it seemed only right that I should try.
These Galleries are just trophy cabinets for a handful of millionaires. The public never has any real say in what art they see. Its good to screw with the selection process sometimes. 'Comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable' as Eleanor Roosevelt once said.
The gas mask painting is about how fear of terror is disfiguring society.
The military officer painting is dedicated to all those who joined the forces to fight honorable and just wars, and ended up feeling like maybe they should have stayed home and been peace activists instead.
Josh MacPhee's radical distro site, JustSeeds.org recently got a new look, and more importantly, new stuff. Three new posters from the consistently wonderful Celebrate People's History posters are included in the update:
The Celebrate People’s History poster series is an on-going project producing posters that focus around important moments in “people’s history.” These are events, groups, and individuals that we should celebrate because of their importance in the struggle for social justice and freedom, but are instead buried or erased by dominant history. Posters celebrate important acts of resistance, those who fought tirelessly for justice and truth, and the days on which we can claim victories for the forces of freedom. In the past 7 years over two dozen posters have been produced on a variety of subjects, from the Battle of Homestead to Fred Hampton, Mujeres Libres to Jane, an underground abortion collective.
These posters have been and will continue to be posted publicly (i.e. wheatpasted on the street, put up in peoples’ home and storefront windows, and used in classrooms) in an attempt to help generate a discussion about our radical past, a discussion that is vital in preparing us to create a radical future. I have also been using this project to create a loose network of artists interested in creating radical public art and showcasing the work of lesser known artists that want to create art that is functional, carries a social message, and doesn’t get buried at the bottom of the heap of the capitalist “art world.”
N.J. trio accused of leaving graffiti on `The Gates'
Police had no trouble locating three men suspected of scrawling graffiti Saturday on four of "The Gates": the trio allegedly had written their names on the saffron-colored art installation in Central Park.
The three suspects, all from New Jersey, had their first encounter with police at about 1:30 a.m. near East 62nd Street when they were ticketed for being inside the park after the 1 a.m. closing, police said. A short time later, officers spotted graffiti written on four of the 16-foot high gates; the men had allegedly signed their names to the work created by artists Christo and Jean-Claude, police said.
New York isn't the only place where The Buff is pushing into overdrive. Five teenagers were arrested last week in Grand Rapids, Michigan for tagging on a commercial building, and city officials are promising a wider crackdown. From Grand Rapids independent media source Media Mouse:
Fresh off the arrests of five "taggers", the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) is promising an aggressive crackdown on graffiti artists that may result in prison time. Of course, the police cannot do this on their own and the corporate media are obligingly doing their perceived duty to "help the community" by acting as official conduits for police misinformation. Central to this effort has been the portrayal of the city as "under siege" by graffiti artists. The GRPD and the city of Grand Rapids are making use of this supposed "rash" of graffiti to suggest draconian measures such as electronic tethers and outlawing the sale of spray paint to minors to create a public climate of fear in which there is no discussion about the ramifications for civil liberties of using tethers and other methods to stop graffiti, methods which will undoubtedly target primarily youth.
Not surprisingly, the corporate media's coverage of the "graffiti crackdown" has been full of sensationalism, effectively portraying graffiti as a type of crime that residents need to fear. The local print and broadcast media has run a number of stories that create a sense of hysteria, with graffiti "tagging" being portrayed as out of control. The articles have been full of completely ridiculous assertions, with Guy Bazzani claiming that graffiti is "robbing the soul of this community," parents supposedly wondering "oh no, where are my kids living?," and even news readers trying their hand at spray paint while talking about how the police are "aggressively searching for the spray paint perpetrators." WOOD TV 8, who claims to have "broken the story," ran a piece last night in which they claim to have urgent information, reporting the supposed "new information" that graffiti artists engage in "competition" and that graffiti involves both art and "protest against capitalism."
M-city in a first place is a play with the form and space of the city, played on the walls, posters, billboards, stickers and in the virtual world. All of the pieces of M-city --- there is about 100 of them --- were made as stencils [...].
The architecture of the town is in a sense a promotion of groups of people who work together for society. These include independent media, charities, non-governmental organisations, off theatres etc. Most of the project realisations are on especially chosen walls and matching the historical or architectural context of the surroundings. People on the stencils are mostly author's friends or people involved in some local social activity. (source).
The whole project seems like both a loving tribute to the artists' home cities, and a utopian reimagining of the same. Check out the whole site. My favorite gallery is the buildings; there are anarchist squats, castles, bike repair shops, an Indymedia office building, factories, Food Not Bombs headquarters, and more.... The people are amazing, too.
Some tragic news from the Globe & Mail:
When Bardia Bryan Zargham got serious about graffiti, he chose Alpha as his tag and set about painting all over Toronto.
That was about five years ago, and since then, "Alpha" and "Alfa" have appeared from back alleys to boxcars, bringing underground fame to the 18-year-old artist and frustration from those who wished he would stop.
"One time I asked him, 'Why did you pick that name?' " his father, Saeed Zargham, said yesterday, "and he said, 'Because Alpha is the beginning of everything.' "
On Tuesday night, Alpha marked the end of everything for young Mr. Zargham. At about 9:45 p.m., right after he tagged a parked freight car with baby-blue spray paint, he was struck dead by a train near Dupont and Christie streets....
[Alpha's father] is taking comfort from the passion he showed for his work, fatal as it was.
That passion, the father said, sprang from a simple desire to be known and for his work to be seen, not to harm anyone.
"From the outside, when you look at it . . . it's not worth it. But for him, he put his life on the line for this.
"I lost a son, an 18-year-old son, but I'm proud of him."
It's sad that the first newspaper article I've read that isn't snide or condemning about graffiti artists has to be about an artist's death.... My sympathies and regrets go out to family, friends, fellow writers. R.I.P.
Pictures below courtesy of d r :
It's the mystery that has baffled many people in Raleigh. A grinning graffiti face has popped up all over the place and they're calling him "Borf."
We don't know who he is, but we know he has become the talk of the town.
The rest of the story is less positive, and mostly gets the story wrong. An article in today's News & Observer is far less incoherent than the TV news story, but still doesn't seem to really understand the concept of stencil graffiti:
With many of the images, the most impressive feature is sheer audacity. In Washington, the artist decorated -- or defaced, depending on your view -- the Key Bridge. He changed stop signs in bustling Logan Circle to read "CAN'T STOP BORF." In New York, he slapped a "Bush Go Home" sticker on a police car.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said police had seen the faces but had not received any complaints. The images will be examined to see whether they are linked to gangs, but "it clearly would not be typical of gang graffiti," he said. (emphasis mine)
BORF is a stencilist who, during this summer's anti-RNC protests, delighted visitors to the Time's Up bike space on Houston St. with a nearby 2-color, 4-foot stencil reading "RNC Fuck Off!" We spotted the same figure on the Anarchist Resistance site right before the Inauguration protests.
You can check out BORF's gallery on stencilrevolution.com to see more work.
From the New York Post:
Miguel Camacho, 29, of Forest Hills — who uses the graffiti tag "VAMP" — was given 60 reasons why scribbling on public property is still categorized as vandalism.
Police accused him of that many acts of criminal mischief after a six-month investigation, although Camacho was charged with six counts.
The graffiti caused approximately $10,000 to $15,000 in damage, cops said. Camacho faces a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The arrest comes on the heels of a larger crackdown announced last week by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, echoed by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who put graffiti artists "on notice."
During the questioning, investigators showed Camacho an array of more than 100 photographs they took as evidence of his tags.
Camacho seemed impressed with his body of work, Conforti said, and asked if he could get copies of the photographs as a personal keepsake.
"We respectfully declined his request," Conforti said.
During the investigation, Conforti assumed VAMP was shorthand for a vampire since the tagger struck almost exclusively at night.
"He corrected us," Conforti said. "He said he meant the word as a burst of energy, that 'vamps out' when he gets in the mood."
Police arrested the other alleged members of the WRB crew last summer: Khoi Le, 18, who went by the tag CORE; and a boy who was 15 at the time of arrest who used the tag NEPS.
Lots of press on Bloomberg's scare-mongering, scapegoating new campaign tactic:
From CBS News: "On the theory that people can and will judge a book by its cover, Mayor Bloomberg is taking a page out of the Rudy Giuliani playbook and mounting a new war on graffiti." The Staten Island Advocate reports that schoolkids will learn all about "the evils of graffiti" as a "major part" of the new anti-graf crusade. And the New York Times notes that "the Police Department is singling out the city's 100 most frequently arrested vandals for extra monitoring as part of a renewed push to reduce graffiti, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday. (emphasis mine)
By way of the Wooster Collective, I found a short post on the crackdown over at Gothamist, which is critical but up this false dichotomy --- Street Art vs. Graffiti --- that I think lets Bloomberg off the hook. Several commenters walk the same road ("there is a huge difference between graffiti and street art") on their way to supporting the mayor.
This kind of shit bugs me. Really bugs me. Know why? Because the police are not art critics. Your favorite artist is a toy to the cops. All street art is the same to the cops because it's all illegal. Unless you're installing a charming cow sculpture in City Hall Park or designing the new Diesel ads, public art is illegal. Period.
Some history, on the mid-90s persecution of COST (REVS' partner) at Zephyrgraffiti.com.
Mayor Bloomberg's annual "State of the City" address on Tuesday passed without much comment, but a disturbing highlight for us was his promise to create a new anti-graffiti task force, as if the old one wasn't bad enough. Quote:
"Because whether it’s jumping turnstiles, aggressive panhandling, or other 'broken windows' offenses – some may say they’re petty crimes, but if left unchecked, they permit more serious crimes to flourish. That’s why we’re launching a major new initiative to stop graffiti. It will include an 80-member NYPD anti-graffiti task force, with coordinators in each police precinct." (emphasis ours)
In a press release put out today, Bloomberg and NYPD chief Ray Kelly formally announced the anti-graffiti initiative.
With fame starting to hit a few artists from the new generation of street artists, Bloomberg and Kelly are planning on buffing a lot of art and arresting a lot of kids. The Broken Windows theory has governed policing in this city since the the beginning of Giuliani's tenure, but graffiti has been a scapegoat to explain away the city's problems since it was born.
There's a lot more to say about all this.... While this is in some ways an old story, it's an important one too. Some of my favorite great, unique, city-beautifying pieces have gotten the buff in the last few months and I'd like to post some RIPs on the new photolog. A few of us in the collective are talking about running a little anti-anti-graffiti campaign --- hopefully we'll have details soon. Any ideas or contributions on the subject are welcome.
*Image blatantly stolen from the God Bless Graffiti Coalition.