Street Art: Beyond the commonplace

Street art, whether considered controversial or not, can be a strong tool of communication whose voice represents a call to social change and protest.

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Mural in Denver

Graffiti, names, murals can be all considered as forms of street art, as they are conceived within the street, which ‘is taken in a very broad sense to denote, roughly, any urban public space’, as Riggle (2010) states in his book Street Art.

Considering this, it is appropriated to add that street art can be ‘utterly ephemeral and relatively enduring’ (Riggle, 2010).

However, one of the things that makes street art and graffiti unique, is how temporary it is, because an artist places it within a public environment, and allows it to take a life on its own, where it is subject to the possibility of another artist going over it, or removal by the authorities.

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MSK graffiti

There is a reason why street art was born on the street.

Buildings, trains, walls, are all accessible and visible elements of the urban sphere, with which it is easier to transmit a message, an ideal, and so on, since they are all part of the public environment.

In few words, street is accessible for anyone, an underestimate resource of knowledge.

As artists use galleries, museums, street artists use the street as a drawing board.

 

The street, though, is a property of the city and other people, so its artistic use is considered as act of vandalism.

This is the reason why many street artists keep their identities anonymous and use pseudonyms.

Unfortunately, since the illegality, many street artworks exist only within a short unity of time, before they are erased.

Because of this, street artists dangerously place them in areas where they do not risk to be crossed out, as the top of buildings, bridges, high walls.

Something that it needs to be said about street art, is that when removed from the street context, it loses its meaning and moral value, as it has been quite literally taken out of the street.

 

An example of a prominent street artist is London’s Ben Eine.

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Ben Eine street artwork

The artist has decorated the street of London with coloured letters placed on shop shutters.

 

As Eine explains about graffiti, ‘It isn’t causing that much damage. At the end of the day you’re only changing the colour of something.’

 

Having become to old to play ‘guard and thief’ when making graffiti, the Londoner artist decided to opt the street art.

In terms of street art, as he states:

 

‘Everyone can see it, smile at it and understand it to a certain extent. It appeals to a much wider audience.’

He began with ‘stencilled stickers and wall pieces of his name’, as claimed by Gavin (2007) in her book Street Renegade.

Eine, apparently, is really into shop shutters, used as drawing boards to create his letters made with emulsion paint and brushes, using a spray can to quickly touch up the outlines.’ (Gavin, 2007)

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Ben Eine painting a capitol ‘M’ on a shop shutter

Moreover, he experimented 3D words, by placing coloured plastic cups into fences. Surely, an inventive technique that allows you to interact with words and letters through different perspectives.

 

Bibliography

 

Gavin, F. (2007). Street Renegade. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

 

Riggle, N. (2010). Street art.

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