Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Street Art and Decay

I have been looking at these piles of bricks for the better part of half a year, and over the past 2 weeks someone organized them into a structure leading up the wall. Blows my mind. Reminds me of Anselm Kiefer, particularly what he did with concrete slabs that is now at Mass MoCA.

I find this to be one of the most impressive street art pieces I have seen in a LONG time. A couple of things that are particularly striking are the use of materials that were already present in the location, and the fact that they could be cleaned up at any particular moment by the owners of the premesis. 

This second point I find particularly of interest, and it really struck me the other day as something I had not really completely formulated until I saw a decaying Swoon piece on Flickr. For some people it is the getting up that matters. Some people are drawn in by how clever the concept can be. For myself it is the decay. And what the decay signifies - particularly in a city like New York.  I see street art as a fast track to antiquity.

Bear with me. 

There is a quality that ancient artifacts have, a magnetism, that in the best moments happens to street art. This can be cause by elements, by attempted removal, by other people going over it; there are limitless possibilities. When the street art decays, it gains a life lived. And as most people do not want it on their structures, or the materials that made it are not archival, this is bound to happen, in a relatively short amount of time. And there is something really gained by this. (On this same pin I present that the images presented by street artists in galleries fail to a great degree because this real unpredictability is truly lacking, and can only be imitated at best).

I thought of this the other day when I saw a recent photo of a version of Oedipus that was installed in London, but it didn't really stick in my head yet. The piece is roughly 17 feet tall and is a facsimile of a woodcut that has been enlarged on a architects xerox. The piece has been up for the better part of 4 months now, and it is falling apart. most of an arm is gone, large tatters of paper are falling off. It is starting to look like shit. But I can see if a few things happen it could become truly mystical. If a little more falls off the bottom, someone is going to walk by this massive partial head floating 14 feet up a wall, and it will be left to the participants imagination as to what the hell have they come across.

I think that this is the type of power that resonates in sites like Mesa Verde in the southwest, or even a shell of a cabin one finds in the woods. This is the same astonishment I had a few weeks back when I came across this impromptu sculpture.

1 comment:

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