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Posted inArt

Hype to Death, Death to Hype: Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop”

Street art enthusiasts seem to have a thing for destructive fanaticism, but I’m not sure they realize how destructive it can be. They exuberantly consume the latest street artworks like hungry piranhas, hyping the artist and his products until there’s nothing left but an embarrassing skeleton. They get inexplicably ramped up about artists who have produced one provocative wheatpaste or had a single clever idea.

Posted inArt

Evolving Rules: When Bloggers Battle (Paddy Johnson vs. Marc Schiller)

At times, the blogosphere can feel like a miniaturized version of academia. With so many voices competing over authority and pulling readers this way and that, fights are bound to break out. Just like any serious punditry, bloggers have healthy disagreements over what they cover as well as how they cover it — the etiquette of the developing world of online media. The recent spat between online art world figures Marc Schiller and Paddy Johnson is a perfect case study.

Posted inOpinion

Is America Ready to Confront Its Artistic Taboos?

Now that the dust has somewhat settled on the Wojnarowicz and Blu censorship cases, a number of people have been chiming in about what this tells us about the state of art and our culture, specifically American culture. The numerous opinions from where I stand look dire. Here are some fascinating posts we haven’t mentioned before.

Posted inArt

FREE VOINA! Two Russian Art-ivists Languish in Jail

The radical performance art collective, Voina, has been challenging the Russian authorities for years but on November 15 two of their artists, co-founder Oleg Vortonikov and Leonid Nikolayev, were arrested for a performance this past summer that involved the overturning of a cop car as part of an anti-corruption protest.

Even with this major set back, Voina continues to fight and they resist the efforts of the authorities to squash their artistic protests. The group has fans all around the world and even stealthy street artist Banksy is a fan and has thrown his support behind the group and pledged £80,000 in an effort to help. To find out more about the situation I conducted the following email interview with Natalie Sokol, a third member who was also detained but later released, about the arrests.

Posted inArt

Interpreting Blu’s Whitewashed Mural, Part 1

There has been so much talk about Blu’s commissioned mural but few people are talking about the work itself and what it could mean. As a critic who has been looking at a great deal of street art for years, I want to weigh in on the topic. Some art critics have been dismissive of the work and thought it callous, while some writers and online commenters are of the opinion that it’s not much to look at.

Most of these people have a limited knowledge of street art and the criteria that is often used to judge it and its meaning, interest, etc. That’s not to discount their judgments, since I think it’s important that people weigh in on the debate regardless of their perspective, and art is culturally valuable when it generates discussion. Blu’s work often probes responses of all kinds. The artist doesn’t seem to differentiate between the positive and the negative responses in a way you might think, and in his 2009 Barcelona video he included the voices of people who disparage his work as an important part of the record. So, who is Blu?

Posted inArt

Art Burn Report

If looking at art is fun, watching it burn is great. There’s something cathartic about attending an event dedicated to the destruction of art in the middle of the world’s largest art fair bacchanalia.

Posted inUncategorized

Street Art Politics & Commercialization…How Far Is Too Far?

For a while now, people I come across here and there have cited Dan Bergeron, aka Fauxreel, as an example of a street art sell-out. Why? Because back in 2008 he partnered up with Vespa to post 324 seven-foot-tall Vespa Squareheads wheatpaste ads on the streets of Toronto and other Canadian cities as part of an ad campaign that combined his characteristic “photograffiti” style with a very commercial addition ― Vespa scooter handles. The works caused a backlash from people who thought he went too far. It is an approach to ad marketing that isn’t as original as it may seem and it even has its own name, murketing.

Posted inArt

The High Line Park: Before & After

I’m not sure exactly when I became aware of the High Line, but once you noticed it, it was hard to forget. There were giant graffiti pieces visible from street level and in the spring and summer you could see a ragged blaze of green sprouting from the otherwise lifeless tracks. I remember walking along Tenth and Eleventh Avenues — peering up at the hulking structure and wondering how I could get up there.

Posted inNews

Dia Returns to Chelsea, Venice Architecture Biennale Gets 1st Female Head, NYU Launches Taste Project

… Kiev awaits its own art destination-worthy art center … Banksy gets marked up before people have a chance to vote about keeping it or not … the Getty Trust & the Egyptian gov’t is working together to preserve King Tut … a San Francisco muralist gets stabbed on the job … the Obama’s send mixed messages on art … a report from BETA Spaces in Bushwick.

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