Archive for the 'Street Art' Category

Summer solstice

I’ve been trying to figure out what the hell I am doing (at least with my sticker project).  Since 2004, I’ve been to Berlin six times and made dozens of trips to NYC, plus individual trips to San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Munich, and Madrid (mostly work-related except for NYC).  Students, alumni, and friends have picked up stickers in Amsterdam, Rome, and several cities in eastern Europe.  A couple of thousand stickers by now.  A growing database.  An exhibition in 2006.  A blog with musings and lots of links.  Two conference papers.  A few sticker contacts.  A faculty carrel.  A SLU-funded study trip to Germany with three students this summer.  Another upcoming exhibition in the fall of 2010.  A short list of publishers, residency programs, and grant opportunities.

Now what?

I need to figure this out.

The reading and research I’ve been doing leads me to Web sites regarding antifa, anarchy, (anti)-authority, identity, nationalism (often through sports), politics, war and political conflict, globalization, etc.

There is such a huge amount of material out there that I’m not sure where to focus my energy.  What’s my angle?  Cultural studies seems the most apt, but I don’t know anything about social theory, literary theory, political economy, etc.—or I should say, not enough to write about in relation to stickers and street art.  I met recently with a consultant in academic publishing who thinks I’m onto something with my sticker project.  She suggested I write about this material in relation to my interest in visual literacy and media literacy, which would certainly be unique.  But would it be of use to anyone in any sort of circumstance or situation?  She reminded me that publishing is about sales.  Yeah, I know.  I just don’t know how my project translates into $$.  If anything, the stickers and street art I’m interested in reject capitalism and capitalist authority wholeheartedly.

Just today, I came across a blog linking back to mine called Anti-German Translation.  They had used a few of my antifa images in a post called Variousness 8 (30sep09).  The ATG Web site led me to a fantastic list of resources with categories labelled: anti-german translation picks; antifa; autonomous culture; autonomous politics; eurozone; football; conspiracy; kritik and theory; middle east; thinkers; documentationsarchiv reporting global fascism; icare news; the cst: monitoring anti-semitism; contested terrain: platform against anti-semitism and for emancipation; shift: anti-capitalist perspectives; 3wayfight: our enemies’ enemies are often not our friends; slackbastard: against fascism, for anarchy; and planet kommunismus.  Each category includes scores of links.

See what I mean?  So much reading to do, much less make sense of.  I’ve always thought of myself as a studio artist, not a writer.  I like making things.  I do like to write, too, though.

A new me, perhaps.  Just in time for the summer solstice.

Wooster Collective in Berlin

Too bad my SLU study group and I will miss the Wooster Collective meet-up in Berlin and a chance to meet Marc and Sara Schiller, the NYC-based couple who has done so much to advance street art around the world.  Plus the students would have loved going to the hip Club der Visionaere; they talked about it all the time.

No complaints, though.  Our recent trip was fantastic in all respects!!

MediaSpree protest June 5, 2010

During the last day of our study trip to Berlin, Spencer and I found ourselves at the front end of a street protest against MediaSpree.  Well, the front end of 1/2 of the protest, as it turned out that two groups merged together from both sides of the Spree.  MediaSpree involves the commercial development of property along the river in the Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg districts of former east Berlin that is dislocating neighborhoods, squats, local businesses, etc. with big multinational shopping malls, office buildings, MTV, Universal Studios, and the controversial o2 arena.  People are calling it a new wall to replace the Berlin Wall that ran through the region.  Unfortunately, Stickerkitty forgot to bring her camera that day (crap), but there are a bunch of photos on Flickr if you search MediaSpree, including good sets from PM_C and Mikael Zellman.  Berlin was dotted with stickers, fliers, and a huge mural announcing the protest.

Despite what was supposed to be a peaceful protest there was a strong police presence, which is something I certainly wasn’t used to.  Kitty didn’t like the scary dogs that were there like this one.

It was fitting that our trip ended in front of this mural, which is on the cover of the book I gave to the students before we left, Street Art in Berlin 3.0 by Kai Jacob.

Alternative Berlin

At Spencer Homick’s suggestion, my SLU students — Kat Dwyer, Bridget Montesanti, and Charlie Reetz — and I signed up for a walking tour yesterday with a group called Alternative Berlin to see and learn about street art.  It was a great way to begin our two week journey — better than I expected, to be honest.  Our guide Mark was extremely well informed, not only of the “scene” itself, but also about the ways in which artists engage the community with their work.  He discussed street art as much more than mere decoration and/or defacement of the public environment.  The work we saw expressed commentary and critique regarding various social-political issues here in Berlin, Europe, and elsewhere.  I’m going to ask the students to choose one artist each and reflect upon and write about what they saw.  Prost, Just, Miss Van–I’ll need to check my notes to list some of the other artists.

We also went to the ATM Gallery to see an exhibition entitled Mutation by stencil artist Czarnobyl.

At the end of the day, Mark had everyone cut an 8-pieced stencil of a gorilla, and we spray painted it onto a piece of canvas to bring home with us.  The students loved it.

Bomit presents “Giant Hype”

Not sure what’s up with this new Web site Giant Hype.

Their first post highlights Shepard Fairey’s mural at Karmaloop in LA.

There doesn’t appear to be any commentary on the new site yet.  Despite the success and glam, I like SF’s work a lot, indoors and outdoors.  Saw a great wheatpaste mural by chance in DC when I was there a couple of weeks ago.  Walking down the street towards Dupont Circle, hidden down an alley, and voila.  Lovely.


Turns out Stroke.02 will take place in Munich the same time I’ll be in Berlin in May-June with three students from SLU.  I’m hoping to get funding for all of us to attend.  Our Hatch friends will be there, plus many other sticker and street art n’er-do-wells from throughout Europe.

BIG SECRET! shhhhhh!

The stickerhead I didn’t want to reveal a couple of weeks ago will be up north this week photographing spring maple tapping.  SnapZ to SapZ.  Har de har.

the faith of graffiti

A few years ago, I stumbled across the faith of graffiti in a used book store.  Published in 1973, it includes documentary photographs by Mervyn Kurlansky and Jon Naar, with an essay by Norman Mailer.  As A-1, Aesthetic Investigator, Mailer describes meeting up with CAY 161 and other young street artists in an apt. in Washington Heights.  They talk about “the curiosity of past passions to write the name, as if, like the Twist, it was over.”  That is, by the time Mailer wrote the story in the early ’70s, legal penalties against graffiti artists in NYC were getting serious and often involved police beatings and jail.  In his interview, Mailer also sensed that something had happened to the process itself of tagging the urban environment.  As they continue talking, Mailer asks the group “What is the meaning to you of the name?”  From the essay:

“Cay speaks up on what it means to watch the name go by.  ‘The name,’ says Cay, in a full voice, Delphic in its unexpected resonance — as if the idol of a temple has just chosen to break into sound — ‘The name,’ says Cay, ‘is the faith of graffiti.’  It is quite a remark.  [Mailer] wonders if Cay knows what he said. ‘The name,’ repeats Cay, ‘is the faith.'”

Fantastic.  the faith of graffiti has been re-released this year in an expanded edition with additional photos.

WHATYOUWRITE + trip to Berlin approved!

There are so many graffiti resources online these days including this one, “WHATYOUWRITE that’s what’s up.”  I came across it while looking up information about Martha Cooper.  Check out their long list of artists’ links.

Also: my proposal to bring students to Berlin this summer was approved!  We’ll be there for a little over two weeks at the end of May – early June to document street art and sticker art for a spring 2010 exhibition at SLU.  We’ll meet up with Oli and Nada at their sticker Hatch Museum, and visit several sites such as the Galerie Neurotitan, Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, the Stasi Museum, and others.  There is quite a bit to cover in such a short amount of time to give the students a sense of Berlin’s history and an understanding of important issues today — all of which are represented in contemporary sticker art.  Nonetheless, our goal during the trip itself is to document and collect everything and conduct research when we get back.  The exhibition will include the students’ creative responses to what we encounter on our trip.


A great aligning of the stars may take place in March where I live way up north in snowy nowhere’s ville.  So as not to jinx anything, I’ll keep this big news under wrapsCan’t talk about it here.  Or here.  Or here.  Or here.  Stickerzzzzzzzzzzzz.



Flickr Photos

October 2021