LOOKING AROUND: STREET ART VS. GRAFFITI
*This post does not support unlawful acts
This week has been all about the London Summer Olympics. Watching the opening ceremonies truly brings to life the vision of artists from across the world. London is home to a long standing visual art tradition-- and to many contemporary artists, including Banksy. Banksy may be best known for his political street art stencils and the film Exit Through the Gift Shop. But, recently I came across a video called Graffiti Wars: Banksy vs. Robbo which examines the hierarchy of street artists over graffiti writers in the United Kingdom. The issues brought up in this documentary are not necessarily specific to one country, but are interesting to think about as artists-- we have a rich history, we are inspired by and work with techniques, themes and messages of those that have come before us, but do we adequately pay respect to these artists? The video discusses the differences between street artists and graffiti writers and how they are treated when it comes to the law and in regards to punishment for vandalism specifically. If the two are working similarly, why is one treated differently? Robbo being one of the most well respected graffiti writers of his time, has some interesting comments for Banksy and his team regarding respect, style, and appropriation. All issues that come up when working with students in the classroom under various contexts.
Exit Through the Gift Shop is a film created by Banksy who aims to question “what is art” and “can you make money being a street artist?” It is entertaining, documentary-style, and great to spark discussion about what being an artist means today. And, the question still remains, is the main character a real true artist, or is he a character created by Banksy as a hoax?
And, some artists really do not like labels! Are you a street artist who writes graffiti or a graffiti writer who sometimes makes street art?? Are you a criminal or an artist?
The streets of Boston were alive this week as Brazilian artist team Os Gemeos, identical twins who consider themselves “painters” headed to Dewey Square to paint a mural.
Personally, I would say its street art- with distinct connections to bright hip-hop style graffiti and colors reminiscent of carnival. But, Os Gemeos state that all they want to do is paint! If you were around the city this week you were in luck-- the Greenway (former home to the Occupy movement) was brightened by the presence of these two artists. Working quickly and with little help, the brothers created a mural reflective of their own surreal/ illustrative style-- truly alive with patterns and colors that would brighten anyones day!
We hope these two will stay around for a while, as they prepare for their upcoming show at the ICA which opens August 1st. And, there are rumors that they will create another mural will be placed on the Revere Hotel in Boston Common coming in August. I just can’t wait to see what they will do next!
Os Gemeos have also been known to collaborate on various projects-- and recently worked with another of my favorite street/ public artists, JR. JR is a French Photographer who has been using his work to expose injustices and cultural issues to the masses. He is very respectful of the people he photographs and only aims to correct wrongdoings and bring awareness to social issues. If using photographs as murals sparks your interest, JR has created a way for you to get involved through the Inside Out Project! You can send images, and he will print them out large scale, and send them back to you for pasting. Sounds exciting!?? Check out his recent work up on the Highline in New York City and you will surely be inspired!
- Kristi Oliver