Art in the Streets: An Art Based Research Project
Research Mentor: Anne Jeffrey
Currently street art and graffiti are positioned against each other in an evolving debate over what role both forms have in the art world. This heated debate was the inspiration to look at all types of art that can be found on the street, from tags to murals. The process began with the development of an idea. Initially, the interest was in the idea that street art would be able to reveal an aspect of culture that became apparent only through a close inspection of street art. Time in Paris revealed this task to be enormous and overreaching for the time of this particular project, this even led to question if deriving this sort of information was even possible. Then deciding to find a new track the attention was shifted to something more obtainable. This new idea came out of experience abroad, becoming fascinated with the development of the field.
Although a complete understanding of street art cannot be found from an analysis of street works they still retain a level of reflectivity of the culture in which they are created. This applies more to the street art side where politics and social issues are reflected in works. Graffiti tags and more traditional works are typically based on the art itself, the placement, the design and the risk involved in creating the work is more important. This division of goals leads to a rift in the middle of the world of street art, pushing for the evolution for subcultures. Mainstream artists such a Banksy and traditionalist artists who remain anonymous to the outside world that tag cannot be categorized with one another. They are different types of artists who happen to both exhibit work in the streets. These divisions are evident in works on walls around the world. A street artist will create a mural then a graffitist will come and tag on top of the other artists work. There is a war going on, the weapons are paint and both sides are opposed but fighting for different outcomes.
The task that was presented was how to visually articulate the dichotomy within street art. The goal of the curator is to preserve and interpret, with this in mind the process after returning home became how to personally develop a strategy to accomplish this. Creating a dialogue through images was more difficult than expected. The initial inspiration was made lackluster when condensed into a handful of images. The omissions were blinding and the understanding that had come through discovering the images was lost. The research produced more than an understanding of street art and graffiti culture. The issue of effective and accurate communication through a curated exhibit took precedence. That is what produced the final exhibit. The desk, the images and the materials are all a part of the images. The understanding of a culture is in its artifacts, possibly this is an influence from anthropology. What the project produced was an evolution that needed to be shown to explain the images, in context.
Links for Further Reading:
Mainstream media is typically outspoken about street art, graffiti, and the laws that pertain to it. This is a CNN article about this artist subculture. There are some direct quotes from artists providing their commentary on current politics. Overall, this article is reflective of much of the articles in the news today.
This is a link to a documentary on street art available through YouTube. It provides opinions of artists and a summary of their methods for a more insider perspective.
For more information, images and links pertaining to this project.