Thursday, June 28, 2007

Envy, Hypocracy, and the New Era of Street Art: Interactive Graffiti

Has street art peaked?

Now even the New York Times is covering The Splasher. Most recently, in today's article, As Street Art Goes Commercial, a Resistance Raises a Real Stink.

The Splasher, is creating quite a stir among the Street Art scene, because he/she/they are "splashing" several well known street artists' work with white paint and random messages. You can read the 16-page Splasher Manifesto here to learn a bit more about the intent, but it seems pretty obvious:

The blurring lines between commercial art, advertising/marketing, and street art are creating a lot of friction between the haves and the have nots. The street artists who are getting famous, making lots of money, and becoming recognized as "legitimate" artists, are hitting quite a nerve with the hard-core graffiti artists (aka those who have not yet made it).

On one hand you have a new street art elite who now hold conferences and art shows in famous galleries and pontificate about "meaning", "trends", "style" and other haughty topics. On the other you have those desperate for attention and dying of envy. And then you have a bunch of people who are trying to figure out whose side they are on anyway.

Is the Splasher making some genius statement -- perhaps the last creative concept in street art? (What do we call about: Interactive Street Art) Have the elites grown fat and lazy and lost their way, seduced by money, power and fame? Is the destruction of another artist's work an act of war? Should we be reading about these debates in the New York Times and on panel discussions? What happened to the underground!

Not that it necessarily divides along the lines of who is achieving success or financial reward, but money and cozy connections to the establishment seem to be at the root of the conflict. (Isn't that usually the case in these situations?)

Successful street artists and many who love their work don't want to see their pieces destroyed. That seems fair. But The Splasher and those who support him/her/them, believe they are pointing out an obvious hypocracy. After all, isn't The Splasher just communicating via Interactive Graffiti?

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