Streetart is everywhere. Unsolicited, it leaves its traces and signs in urban space. It conquers public space with stickers, posters, extensive murals, and stencil graffiti. It’s galleries are the world’s streets. What began as graffiti in the large cities on America’s east coast forty years ago has since experienced a decisive development. Even if the majority of actions continue to be produced anonymously and illegally, it is no longer exclusively a phenomenon associated with youth culture. Many of the protagonists have emancipated themselves from the pictorial language of graffiti writing and experimented with new forms of expression. With their subtle and humorous, occasionally offensive interventions in the urban landscape they attempt to force open familiar visual habits. As a rule, they are not concerned with damaging the urban infrastructure but with participating in a dialogue with the public.
There is a variety of Streetart. Temporary actions, unusual objects and sculptures, lettering, and characters are woven into the visual flow of the city as stumbling blocks. The possibility that many of the passers-by take no notice of these interventions is consciously taken into account. Thus they comprise a subversive counterweight to the constant presence of advertising, whose blinking images and seductive buying options dominate everyday life. It is not only in this respect that Streetart is the expression of a critical examination of the social, cultural, and economic dimensions of the city, which in the age of globalization is rapidly and sustainably changing.
Streetart has recently experienced a downright hype. Numerous galleries and museums around the world have organized exhibitions, and works by the most well-known representatives of the genre have gained premium prices at auctions. What some accuse of being commercialization, the loss of authenticity, and the betrayal of original interests is viewed by many artists as a new chance. By transferring their themes and methods in the protected space of the museum, they develop very new and surprising approaches. But what kind of art is this that leaves its ancestral terrain? Do the works not require the city as a resonating space, as an immediate opponent? And is one of the essential features of Streetart not its impermanence, its spontaneity? The Kunsthalle Barmen will be devoting itself to these questions in a large-scale exhibition.
Ash, Herbert Baglione, Boxi, Brad Downey, Ben Eine, Faith47, Boris Hoppek, Mark Jenkins, JR, Os Gemeos, Mirko Reisser (DAIM), Swoon, Zezao,
Curated by Rik Reinking
Dates: 08. May – 25. September 2011
Opening hours: Di – So 11 am -6 pm, Do 11 am -6 pm / Mo closed
Von der Heydt Kunsthalle, Wuppertal Barmen
Geschwister Scholl Platz 4-6