Re:Public is a column written by Hrag Vartanian. It casts a critical eye on New York street art. The column debuted on ArtCat Zine in August 2008 and beginning today, will be published on Hyperallergic. A complete list of previous posts are listed here.

It’s endemic among street art publications, picture books with no little or no text and often no photo credits or explanatory text. The democratization of publishing, accompanied by the popularity of street art, has created a mass delusion that just because anyone could that everyone should publish a street art book. It’s far from the case.

A look at MOMO's "3am-6am"

MOMO’s “3am-6am”

MOMO is one of my favorite New York street artists though I tend to dislike his work outside (or is it inside) of that context. Nowadays, his large abstract paper pieces are plastered on construction sites and sidewalk overhangs throughout downtown Manhattan and northern Brooklyn. They are brash, bright, often lovely and randomly configured by the computer program he calls The MOMO Maker. The placement of his work is incredible, his prints can be hit or miss, but either way they provide a much needed shot of color to an often gray landscape.

In 3am-6am, which is a small book of 160 pages, padded covers and no text, we are given a photographic tour of MOMO’s output in New York, New Orleans and elsewhere. I can only imagine it is a mood book, or something along those lines, since it has no rhyme or reason and doesn’t really offer any insight into MOMO’s art. Why do artists or publishers create these? I assume ‘cuz they can and they sell. Why should you buy it? I have no idea and I feel like a schmuck for having forked out that much money for my copy. Though I will admit that my disappointment is partly based on the missed opportunity here. I think MOMO’s work deserves more than this overpriced flip book.

3am-6am is a limited edition publication of 500 copies (30 Euros) and it is available for sale at Rojo Magazine‘s online bookstore.

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