Sunday, March 13, 2011

Revolution from the Streets


He is the enigmatic British street artist that satirizes and commentates pop culture, politics, war, capitalism and more. His name is eponymous to controversy, rebellion, anarchy and unconventional art in the forms of graffiti, installations and stickers splattered onto public space. It's supposed to make you think twice. Once looked down upon for it's crude, temporary nature, street art is a contemporary revolution that's sort of forced itself into the spotlight. It attracted pedestrian attention, then to the media and increasingly gaining momentum into galleries and professional buying world. And obviously aspiring anarchists/hipsters and teenagers with a lot of time on their hands and looking for something interesting [ahem].
I just watched Banksy's documentary on Netflix called Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was nominated most recently for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category. His film did not win, but 2010 had a strong presentation for documentaries, and his was certainly enjoyable. There's controversy over whether Banksy actually staged the entire documentary himself, including the protagonist Thierry Guetta and his role as a street artist, thus alluding to power of images and the media has over any of us because of our commercialized-induced naivete.

If you have time, check it out on Netflix Instant Watch! I think everything I just tried saying would make more sense if you watched the movie. Nonetheless, I did some more internet researching on street art and those who are making their mark.

Shepard (Stephen) Fairey has been in the graphic design, illustration and street art business for over two decades. He began making replications of the wrestler Andre the Giant with the assertion OBEY. He and Bansky are the more prominent faces in this genre. You may recognize some of his other works...
Smokey Robinson, then and now.
Cover art for the 2009 Grammy compilation CD.
Movie poster for Walk The Line.
Yup, he was the artist behind the Hope campaign while Obama was still a Senator running for President. Ironically enough, Shepard may be facing copyright infringement on the photo from the Associated Press...

Here are some of my favorite Banksy works. I love the politics of street art, and particularly the risks these artists put themselves into. There are no rules, outlandish works. Banksy has graffitied the U.K., L.A., NYC, Toronto and even the West Bank. I also love how he takes existing structures or graffiti and works with them.

Graffiti of a man cleaning graffiti that references cave art in Lascaux.
Causing controversy at the Israeli West Bank barrier in 2005.
Bansky's major exhibition debut in 2006 was called Barley Legal. He and his team took over an abandoned warehouse in Los Angeles and attracted thousands of visitors, the average citizens and celebrities alike. This camouflaged elephant was one work called "Elephant In the Room".
Banksy's 'Privy Henge' installation from the 2007 Glastonbury Music Festival.
Bansky's animal-oriented exhibition from 2008 in New York called "The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill" featured chicken nuggets, floating fish sticks and narcissistic rabbits.

So some of it is a amusing-- others, a bit more disturbing. You can't deny, the guy makes you think. And why would want to erase that from the public eye?

Note: I do not claim ownership or copyright of a single one of these photos; I just Google searched the beejeezus out of the artists. A more current display on Banksy's work can be found at his website here, and Shepard Fairey's website for the OBEY campaign can be found here.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

I had been hearing murmurs across the internet about the enigma of this so called Banksy guy, but wasn't sure what he was all about... and now I'm very intrigued. :D My friend is amazing and lets me use her Netflix account so I will definitely have to watch that sometime cause it sounds awesome.