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street art manifesto

mr gower, my urban-art-lovin'-partner-in-crime, sent me this article by wooster's marc schiller. i replied to him with a huge rant about it and then realised that i should probably post my rant here, not in his ear.

So, go on, read the article, 'cos i'm going to rant about it and it won't make sense otherwise.

Firstly, this kind of dynamic has happened with art since the renaissance – it's called a 'movement' - you have the superstars who get all the commissions and then the sub-standards who get a lot of the backwash by people who either can't afford the real deal, or who are hoping that they'll become big name and they can cash in on it. Greed has been a feature of art for that long... Hmmm.

The other thing that pisses me off about this kind of discussion is the adherence to 'unique is good/copy is bad'... I thought we'd been through post-modernism. I thought we already established that there is nothing original – ads are ripping off artists all the time and making a packet from it, what's wrong with artists doing the same? Not that I condone mindless money-whoring, but if there is nothing original and there are a group of people doing the same thing, together – stop pitching each other against one another. If you're all not as good as one another, change that – collaborations, collectives, politicise, etc.

And although Schiller seems to be cynical of Steve Lazarides' (of Lazarides' Gallery) business practices (perhaps rightly so, i don't really know), he does thankfully acknowledge that he a) sells a lot and b) pitches the market at the market ie: holds events in warehouses, run-down spaces, uses blogs and online media, as opposed to the trad ad contexts for contemporary (and pricey) art: art forum, frieze, galleries in piccadilly and chelsea.

As someone who has had an interest in street-based work for a long time, the shark-like market of this 'scene' disturbs me. But it's the same thing that disturbs me about other visual art forms (like the nouveau-naive) and the music industry and other commodified creative industries. The problem, i believe, isn't street art, or even just gallerist like Lazarides, it's the whole fucking thing. Greed is part of human nature and digs its dirty little fingers in the most vulnerable of places.

UPDATE: if you've come here from businessweek looking for a blog that talks about "Street painting art business discusses how street painting is being applied by companies to present their messages with a traditional 16th century art form in a 21st century environment. Perfect for public relations, marketing, and advertising campaigns, many companies have used street painting in product launches..." ... you've got the wrong sinatra. go home parasite.

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At 16 October, 2008 17:27, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there you go, breathe out, it's much better ; )

At 17 October, 2008 11:30, Blogger moi said...

My friend works for Steve, he's a good guy.
If people are prepared to pay money for this kind of thing I guess that's their choice.
Whether you consider it as art or not is your choice!

At 17 October, 2008 13:57, Blogger john dodds said...

Ouch, that reminds me I forgot to go to the Lazirides show.

At 17 October, 2008 17:59, Blogger Wooster said...

Lauren - I found your comments very interesting, insightful, and I actually agree with most of them. In what I wrote for Paper I wasn't trying to be cynical of Laz at all. I actually think what he's done has been quite positive for the artists. Everything has two sides and what I tried to do in the essay was to be balanced. I'm pleased that people are now talking about the article.

At 17 October, 2008 23:35, Blogger lauren said...

thanks charlie :) aren't you glad i have a blog, rather than just ranting in your general direction :)

moi - um, perhaps you misread either the article, or my blog, but there has never been a question of whether i consider it art or not. and perhaps i haven't made myself clear, but i'm not saying steve isn't a good guy (in fact, i'm pretty sure i said 'i don't know'). i've met a few of the lovely lazarides' ladies myself, so i'm pretty sure we're on the same page there.

john! well, at least you can still check out the JRs in london, right? or did you miss those too...

marc - um, wow. thanks for your comments and i absolutely agree about a balanced outlook, which i guess is where my side of the steet comes from. and i'm glad you cleared up the comments about laz - in terms of the article, i just couldn't tell your tone and perhaps read into it an unneccessary cynicism. (it's true, i'm a bit of a cynic).

At 18 October, 2008 10:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent rant. Bang on. You get my fullest support on this one young lady.

At 20 October, 2008 13:41, Blogger lauren said...

moi! claire!! you should know me enough to know that i wasn't dissing steve. or questioning their art, grrl!

thanks opi..

At 20 October, 2008 14:06, Blogger moi said...

Hey, I know you weren't - my comment didn't come out right. Fucksticks.


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