I have been thinking of writing a post about the gentrification of Street Art for the forthcoming Youthweek and Hoodie Day – their slogan “It’s what’s under the hood that counts” makes a lot of sense to me. I upset a few people by bemoaning the lack of street type art in a recent youth art exhibition and also in my area there seems to be very little tagging let alone an major work so I was mulling over the idea of bringing some “good examples” inside for an exhibition and/or providing a legal area for some ‘youth’ to develop their work. (Of course it won’t fly but I like thinking up these schemes). My problem with this idea was that simply the fact that old/white/middle-class/educated me wants to do/see this, mainstreams it.
Also, while doing some research in this area, I found an article that does a great job of commenting on gentrification and what is or isn’t wrong about ‘gallerising’ street art.
“It’s a cycle that has become all too familiar. Anything subversive, anything meant to disrupt the status quo and challenge traditional models of thought and behavior is eventually adopted into the mainstream it is swimming against. Once caught in the currents of convention, it becomes powerless. Just another commodity to be traded in the system…It’s not enough that it exists, it must be owned. Street art grew out of a resistance to this fact. It was a fuck you to the fastidious little gallery owner and his 50 percent cut. A rejection of the exploitative nature of the collector. It was democratic rebellion. Art for everyone. But then we started buying it. And now we, as a culture who demand ownership and insist that art be hung on gleaming white walls, are the ones being splashed.”
And yes – I have considered buying – on one hand Otis Frizzell’s Geishas (an ‘older’ established exhibiting artist) and also Component who does amazing stencil work. I’ve written on this topic before and I still am divided over what it all means. However I know that there are some definable reasons I like graffiti. First its immediacy (for example Satoboy’s flame bearing Dalai Lama) and the surprise factor but also the fleeting nature of it – which ‘gallerising’ totally defeats.
Which brings me to guerilla art, the term brought to my attention by a friend today (hat tip Showyourworkings). I absolutely love the concepts involved in this. “Guerilla art is a fun and insidious way of sharing your vision with the world. It is a method of art making which entails leaving anonymous art pieces in public places…My current fascination with it stems from a belief in the importance of making art without attachment to the outcome.” which I think stands up very well to public art ‘by committee”. Also it brings us wonderful things like this….
by Dan Witz – worth checking out!