You are no Banksy

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This. This is not revolutionary.

This. This is not revolutionary.

The implications  of street art and graffiti and the culture surrounding it

Article: Simon Fuh – Contributor

The Internet sure does love street art nowadays. There are stencils, paintings, clever and creative uses of surroundings; boy, what a beautiful urban landscape these anonymous artists are creating. It’s so great that they are able to make a political statement by doing something illegal and creating something that the public can also enjoy. Except that it’s not even close to a statement anymore.

For the last decade street art has grown from a little known pocket of miscreants to a worldwide sensation. Just take a moment to Google ‘Street Art’ and you will find pages of everything from beautiful murals to subway vent sculptures; most of which include some sort of cute message about how us humans, scourge of the Earth, are destroying our own homeland. What a load of shit. I mean, I care about the environment just as much as the next guy, but your street art blog full of cheap Bansky-esque stencils are not doing anything to change society.

Let me take a moment to say that street art is not the same thing as graffiti. I could go on for while describing the differences, but the main one is that street art strives to achieve what real art does a better job of: creating something entirely different and making a statement about some facet of life.

Yes, there was a time that street art was successful in this aspect, but that has long since passed. What Banksy and other European artists did to bridge graffiti, art and politics was innovative, but the moment I started seeing street art blogs with pictures of trees wrapped in yarn I almost vomited. Is that the message of street art? Some cliché statement about how we should protect the trees? The answer is emphatically yes. Pretty much every single street art piece has the exact same message told in a more and more boring way: we’re flushing our planet down the drain; we the 99% must take back the streets by making it our canvas; you get the idea.

To make matters worse, so many street art blogs don’t know how to differentiate good and bad graffiti. Just because somebody sprayed letters on a wall doesn’t mean they are an artist exercising their democratic rights. Graffiti writers are supposed to do their work and hone their craft before getting any attention – now all they need is some hipster to see their name on a dumpster and post it to Instagram with fifty hashtags and suddenly their ‘saying something’.

What’s unfortunate is that a lot of street art today is actually pretty nice aesthetically speaking, but since the artist has chosen a medium that is completely played-out their work will never be taken seriously. I mean, would a serious artist really want their work to be on the same plane as the fifty thousand V for Vendetta stencils out there? Consider also the completely over saturated subject matter of environmentalism in street art; making another clever and pretty mural is not going to help the cause.

What made street art great in the beginning was its illegal nature. But ever since mainstream culture decided to embrace it instead of cover it, street art has become a kitschy-Pinterest-hipster paradise. If this is the world that you as an artist would like to work in, be my guest.

I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised; this sort of cultural phenomenon happens all the time. Remember what happened to Grunge in the early ‘90s? And hip hop in the ‘00s? Wherever there is something on the edge of society that suddenly becomes popular there are people ready to hop on the bandwagon. This doesn’t mean that the art form is completely dead, but it does make it a lot more difficult to work within its sphere. Although, the street art bandwagon is so far gone that being able to stand out is nearly impossible. If you want to make a splash as a street artist, I’d suggest bringing back the destruction. If the world is going to accept your painting on the wall, destroy the wall instead.

Image: Dfrg msc

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