20.6.05

Clip art blows, kids.


I've seen way too much of this in my neighborhood.

I know I'm not the only person who's tired of every other struggling art student assuming the general public wants to see his or her doodles plastered all over bus stops, train stations and otherwise private property. I'm all for poetic terrorism - but not shoddy imitations. "Street art" in this vein strikes me as arrogant and inane - this particular example mounts toxic paint and adhesives to other people's property. The poetry of the "nature scene" is lost, betrayed in the piece's execution.

The take-away here (though it may not have occurred to the artist) is that Chicago street art is as boring and unoriginal as clip art. Maybe try to break the law for a good reason next time, kids? Follow-through and please try not to further poison our environment with half-baked "back to nature" efforts.

5 comments:

E said...

Well aren't you Mr. Grumpypants!

pylbug said...

Eh, maybe. My intention is to call out the street artists, though they'll not likely read my post anyway.

If you violate / enhance public space like that, I think you're a little more accountable for the integrity of your message / concept than you would be in your art class, studio or mom's basement.

Otherwise, there's a tyranny of arrogance that dominates street art... We're all selfish by nature, but we generally agree to a certain altruism in public spaces. That's one main reason why people whine about advertisers "invading" public space (not to imply they're necessarily wrong) -- there's an implied trust inherent in public spaces.

I did come off grumpy; I'm tired of more empty messages competing for my attention.

E said...

I'm all for people reclaiming "public" space. Now perhaps this artist doesn't have as compelling a message as they might, but they're making the attempt.

I'd rather see an empty message than an ad for Axe Body Spray or a naked ugly brown wall anyday.

pylbug said...

But would you feel the same way if you owned that naked brown wall?

These aren't actually public spaces, though we percieve them as such because they are "out in public". I'm not siding with the owners of abandoned or otherwise inactive real estate, but they're rights aren't diminished just because they own property.

I think the Body Spray graf was essentially an empty message. If anything, it communicated the fact that the owner of that building is willing to sell its surface to corporate interests - which is his right to do. That wall is not public space; it's private property.

What if someone wheat-pasted a flyer to your car while it was parked at a meter, or painted on your bike while it was locked up on a public sidewalk?

The Lumpen folks had just as much a right to paint over the Axe ad as I have the right to wander into Heaven Gallery and paint over anything I don't like, or pick up all the copies of Lumpen Magazine from around town and dump them in a recycling bin. The precedent they want to set is a dangerous one, and can work against them more than it works for them.

It's not that I like Axe ads; I value our rights as citizens and think they should be respected all the time, not just when it's convenient.

E said...

I must admit when it comes to the corner of Milwaukee and Honore, I'm a bit torn.

When I read the original story in the Reader, I thought it was a great "happening". People "taking the neighborhood back", starting a dialog and raising several issues such as the difference in enforcement of graffitti laws and exploring the idea of where the line between art and commerce falls.

The ensuing dialog made me a bit more sympathtic to the buiding owner, though. My knee jerk reaction is that this is someone who has let a building in an "up and coming" area lie abaondoned. I figured that by having the windows boarded up for the better part of (at least) five years, the owner wasn't being a very good neighbor.

As it turns out, the owner of this building has only owned it for a relatively short time, and has had to replace the underlying windows a few times because of people putting screws through the boards and into the window.

I tend to look at the city as a living organism. I would think that most taggers expect that someone will add to, deface, or buff their work eventually, and while I don't necessarily expect that someone will paint my bike, I do expect and acknowledge the fact that if I regularly park my bike on the street, one day it *will* be stolen. One day my car will be damaged, whether it's a poster pasted to it, someone hitting it, or just knocking the mirror off.
I can take precautions for all of theses things, and I do get upset when something happens, but it's not the end of the world.

If you want to stop your property from becomeing a flyer wall, invest in gates for the windows instead of boarding them up. I agree that the Lumpens might be starting a fight they don't really want to see the outcome of, but I still feel like no matter what a property owners intentions are, the city and it's people will make use of "open" space almost naturally. Open a Banana Republic there, and another flyer wall will be found elsewhere, and the world keeps turning.