Street Art Remix
Street Artists culture jam at the forefront of social change: advocating free speech, serving as mirrors to the status quo, inventing new forms of social commentary, often riffing on icons, images and advertisements to convey their spin on economic and gender disparity, environmental issues and political activism. Generally installed under cover of night, street art emerges superhero-like from the shadows to champion the underdog.
Comedic and cultural remix approaches have included the Guerrilla Girls’ successful challenge to gender discrimination in the art world starting in the 80s, with wheat paste poster campaigns that plastered New York City.
Now wildly successful and prolific worldwide, British native Banksy’s stencil work and installations have taken on some of the most challenging issues of our times: greed, alienation, poverty, environmental destruction and with a sardonic, often brilliant visual take that has launched him into the art world vernacular. His unexpected fame, parodied in his film Exit Through the Gift Shop, deals with the irony of the edgy street art scene morphing into the Los Angeles “it” moment.
Shephard Fairey began as a street artist. His “OBEY” series freely shared on walls and streets worldwide earned him fame and fiscal success through the sale of posters, t-shirts, design and large-scale commissions. Despite his enormous success, his work continues to be rooted in give-away, with annual limited edition series of images offered for environmental and social justice, including his current series of images dedicated to #OccupyWallStreet. During 2008 election, Shepard Fairey‘s donated “Hope” graphic became a ubiquitous image both offline–as a poster and sticker–and online, even as a Facebook profile image for many supporters of the Obama team.
This year, the Ted Prize was awarded to French street artist J.R., a “photograffeur” whose artwork has adorned the walls of rooftops and slums around the world, giving voice to the voiceless via large-scale photographic projects. His most recent project, “Women Are Heroes,” highlights the ways women become targets of violence in war zones. Here is an excerpt from the film in progress produced by J.R….
…and here he is at TedTalks discussing his work:
Swoon’s work combines wheat paste street installations street performance, and DIY aesthetics with social change initiatives. Aside from her abandoned buildings works on paper, which combine a German Expressionist woodblock style with shades of shadow puppetry, she is also known for found object flotilla projects. The Swimming Cities project uses the DIY/Makerfaire ethos to bring awareness the importance of our waterways. Scavenged materials from garbage dumps provide materials for collaborative raft-building in these traveling theatrical and live music spectacles on rivers.
Swimming Cities Project
Wildly imaginative found object, seaworthy boats were constructed by a collective of artists led by Swoon which made their maiden voyage to the Venice Biennale in 2009. Coverage in New York Magazine included a colorful slideshow.
Swimming Cities Ganges Project launched a 2010 Kickstarter campaign which successfully funded the project’s launch in India:
Konbit Shelter Project
In this TEDxBrooklyn talk, Swoon describes the genesis of the Konbit Shelter Project, an artist’s intiative to build housing and community centers in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. The before and after visuals shows the visionary effect of artists’ collaborative contributions in creating dwellings and buildings following a disaster.