Art In The Streets Review - Artweek.la June 2011
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Will Art In The Streets mean money in the
bank for MOCA?
Graffiti was once considered
an act of vandalism, a nihilistic, anti-social practice perpetrated by
maladjusted dullards who lingered at odd hours to scrawl on public walls - and
to a large degree, it still is.
Yet, in tune with art's
mainstreaming, and the integration of lowbrow and outsider art into the
bigger picture, the last decade (or two) has seen these "delinquents" make
Much like America's attitude
towards money (it's not how
you got it, but whether you've got it) graffiti's pundits hit the
mainstream. Like an overpriced collectable high top sneaker, the movement jumped
from the ghetto to the gallery with lots of commercial pit stops in
Jeffrey Deitsche's night for
the kids is a far cry from a series of immediate scrawls spawned from a
juvenile hand. Sponsored by Nike and featuring fifty name artists from the
graffiti and street art community, including Banksy, Fab 5 Freddy, Lee Quiñones
and Shepard Fairey, it's a safe bet big draw for MOCA, ensuring a big public
presence through August.
So where to start?
Should we delve into the mire of debate that questions the validity
of street art as a microcosm of "lowbrow," generally? More precisely
should the immediacy of a wall scribble be awarded the same status as an
intricately crafted oil painting, sculpture, or short film, worthy of a museum
Basically, it's a bit late for that. Today, art
viewing is a mainstream component of social repertoire, a populist pursuit
catering for everyman, not an indulgent exercise for the social (or
socio-economic) elite. Been to downtown LA galleries, Create Fixate, Venice,
Noho or any other "art walk" of late? It seems gallery visits are up
there with basketball games, movies, raves and NASCAR. We're talking people
who say things like "I'm really into art now. I like Banksy and I saw
Exit Through The Gift Shop… it was rad…"
Is this newfound populism a bad thing ? In this nouveau
socialist "art really shouldn't be the domain of the bourgeoisie, should
it?" era, "As long as it sells," seems to be the answer (re-read
aforementioned money mantra – it's not how you got it, but whether you've got
it) nouveau socialist "art really shouldn't be the domain of the bourgeoisie,
should it?" era, "As long as it sells," seems to be the answer
(re-read aforementioned money mantra – it's not how you got it, but whether
you've got it)
Kind of ironic considering
the likes of Banksy's work has plummeted in price since its heyday in 2005.
Populism does have its price - yet I don't think he has money issues.
Rumor has it Mr. Robin Gunningham owns millions in real estate and even a
Art In The Streets is a
spectacular, strongly curated show. There's a faux alleyway complete with
darkness and trash, a steamroller, spray cans on shelves (wow?) and some nicely
colored graphic work.
I'd be keen to ascertain
revenue projections for this show at MOCA; I'm willing to bet it's a record for
the museum. Ultimately the act of graffiti is one generally synonymous
with the immediate, a spontaneous social act, and a rhetorical
anti-establishment gesture. Hence it being displayed in the hallowed white
walls of a museum is contentious, incongruous, and paradoxical.
Still Art In The Streets
isn't about kudos for the converted. It's about attendance numbers, like a
commercial cinema showing a blockbuster action film. It's a huge draw for MOCA
that will hopefully finance more adventurous, intellectual and exotic
shows in the future.