08 April, 2008

Street Art

I took a couple of pictures of Street Art, the other day. Whenever I see an interesting piece of stencilling, graffiti or poster, I always want to take a photo of it.

I more or less based a whole trip to Stockholm around recording good pieces of Street Art. Why?

Two reasons, I think.

Firstly, Street Art makes the city visible. It draws attention to the urban environment, to its material and architecture and to its structure and logic. There's nothing didactic about it, it's just that an image on a wall draws attention to itself, because it's not meant to be there.

And secondly, Street Art is good.
I don't mean that it is of good quality - much is not, like much of everything we do - but rather that it is a public good, it's presence is a statement of optimism. It says that beauty can flourish in the most unpromising setting. And it's out there in the world, free for all to view. Which is nice.

Since school, I have been fascinated by graffiti - especially the original graffiti - (and hip hop) and tried my hand at both.

And I love stencil graffiti, such as this rather sweet image of famous Irish newsreader Anne Doyle.

When people talk about stencilling, they tend to think of Banksy.

I must say that while I dislike the work of Banksy for many reasons - chiefly, I find it glib, smug, superficial and pretentious - lack of talent is not one of them.

Banksy produces politically themed advertising masquerading as Art. I see no difference between his use of political imagery and Che Guevara t-shirts. Shepard Fairey Obey branding is much more honest, in that respect.

I prefer Keith Haring and Blek Le Rat.