The new poster on Zip Fusion Sushi (click to enlarge)

This morning, LA Anonymous unveiled their latest work, a circus-inspired poster installed on the north-facing wall of Zip Fusion Sushi in downtown LA, near Little Tokyo. Titled “Art in the Streets” (2011), the poster by LA Anonymous appears a week before MOCA LA director Jeffrey Deitch’s Art in the Streets show opens.

Judging by the list of artists on display in the MOCA LA show, I’m not really surprised that LA Anonymous would accuse Deitch (under Broad’s direction and funding) of playing it safe. The graffiti-heavy exhibition — a bias which may mean less political and social critique content — is geared very much to a California history of graffiti and (to a lesser extent) street art.

There are some notable omissions that a New York version of this show would never have made. Why are Dan Witz, Faile, John Fekner and others excluded? Another lack in the show is that there is far less international talent than I would have expected, but as they say, we’ll have to reserve final judgment until we see the show.

BTW, LA Anonymous, nice touch with including the big white wall that was the former spot of Blu’s censored mural in the new poster. I’m glad someone has a memory.

All photos courtesy LA RAW

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

12 replies on “Jeffrey Deitch & Eli Broad Present the Safest Show on Earth?”

  1. The Show is titled Art in the Streets, not Art in the Galleries, or better Yet Street artists who have nothing to do with the streets in galleries. I actually feel that they did as good as a job as you can when trying to document graffiti over the last 40 years. Taking on such a diverse subject with a widespread history is no small task. I would have preferred less street artists, as I feel that there aren’t many street artists that have put in enough work on the streets to be relevant to the movement as a whole. Take away the Art world love fest, blogs like yours have for them. When you take their careers and put it into the context of the last 40 years of graffiti its less significant then many of the artists you deem safe. The safest show on earth is a weak statement, over one misstep by Deitch. The ability for the internet and blogs to blow up a poster being displayed in public is amazing. I have seen this posted in almost 5 blogs already and counting, yet if a real graffiti street artists where to do a piece tomorrow stating the same thing it wouldn’t make one blog. If street artists want to cry about not being included they need to realize the blood sweat and tears personal injury felony convictions and numerous other things that have come from being a graffiti artist. So when Artists like Saber are put in the show and its seen to be California history of graffiti because Faile wasn’t included, thats just hate . You guys are a great blog, but very naive when it comes to graffiti and its history. For an Artist like Saber and others to get showcased over Faile is not just a validation that this is truly a show about Art in the streets, but also a step in the right direction on the documentation of the movement. If street artists were to be showcased above the graffiti, i think that would be a safe show. For Deitch to choose the stepchild of the art world graffiti, over the fad of street art is far from safe. Street artists need to put another decade of work in the streets and do so on the same level as graffiti artists have been doing. Earn your status, not ride blogs and social media to your fame.

    1. If you think street art and graffiti are not related than I don’t know what to tell you. I understand if you have a preference for graffiti, but the list is very LA heavy and doesn’t sound like the survey we initially thought it would be. Also, it’s not the first mainstream street art/graffiti show — though the first in America — so all its doing is adding to the growing body of work and knowledge.

      I think graffiti writers are looking for as much acceptance as street artists are from society. And why not.

      Also, you seem to think street art is a recent phenomenon, maybe in LA (though the Chico mural tradition does date back to the 1960s at least), but not in New York. Street art has a solid history that dates back to at least the late 1970s, and it doesn’t necessarily come out of graffiti — though it is informed by it — and vice versa.

      I’m happy to disagree with you about this point and appreciate you chiming in.

    1. Yes, that’s another problem. I’m getting bits and pieces from other people and there isn’t a final list that I can see though I have a number of names from others (and lists of omissions) … though I’m sure some people must have them by now. Also, why haven’t they published the final list. There is so much secrecy around this show, and it’s really odd.

      As I say, we’ll have to wait to see when the show finally opens.

  2. The censoring of BLU’s mural is all you need to know about this show. Any show that is afraid of controversy cannot hope to represent the history of street art or graffiti. Gutless f–ks.

  3. *Saatchi.

    I fear this show is based on who is in who’s personal collection, or who has been sold before. This is how the art world works. no matter what the genre is that is being exhibited.

  4. This show is going to the Brooklyn Museum next so I am sure you will see more NY artists then.

  5. So… any sort of boycott going on yet? No… of course not. Wouldn’t want to bite the hand that may at some point feed.

  6. I live in Chile, and am chilean. We have had graffitti as most of you seem to understand it ( a controversial form of art) for about twenty years up to now (that’s a half the history you have , right?) We have had what is commonly called street-art for about no more than seven years. Poesia Trascend says that both belong to the same movement, that we could call Art in the Streets. Soon enough s/he talks of “real graffiti street artists”, and careers. The Legitimation problem is all over the post. This guy, Deitch (is he the same from the TV show “Artstar”?) and the institutions involved make clear that this is MAINSTREAM ARTWORLD. All the history, the beginnings, the underground aspects of it are made irrelevant by this move.Graffitti and street art were made products a good while ago, with the shows, the books, the websites, the looks, all the commercial-subcultural aspects of the “movement”. That all this is “Legit” is taked for granted. When one starts to talk about status, would be useful to “frame” the whole issue with instruments as the Theory of Fields of Pierre Bordieu. It seems that people interested in this field are the ones being naive about how legitimation works, and for whom. It is not just about the really classic “sell outs” vs “keep it real” problem, but social, cultural capitals have a lot to do, as well as money. As I see it, artworld is a simulation, as Baudrillard puts it in The Conspiracy of Art, and it swallows all it need to keep itself going. By now, most of graffitti and street art are part of Contemporary Art, and I don’t care if you come from the hood and had trouble with the police, if you are in MOCA, you are an artist, and an artist is a pivotal part of the capitalist system. This whole thing is recuperated, so, acknowledging that, you can hate it, or love it, or being indifferent, as most people maybe is. Street art and graffitti are atractive, no doubt, but they are not in essence “real” nor “underground”. When this things became lifestyles, and possibly that occurred three months after Taki 183 started, they were incorporated to a system of signs that is useful to power (yours, mine and theirs). Street art made it strange again for a while, but it willingly gave itself over (bent over) more rapidly than graffitti.
    Now, art in the streets is not exhausted by/in “the movement”. What you call, in USA, Public Art, is not part of it. New Genre Public Art, even less so. But they also like to call themselves as “the movement”! What are really interesting to me, are things that are anti-aesthetic, and yet not useful, in the streets. Objects, images or events that have the uncanny quality that graffitti or street art had once, before it made to galleries, had a proper name, or fans.

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