Street art is the intersection between art and life, just what the avant-garde always wanted.
“Graffiti…the last free media is in your hands.” Reads a slogan under the new and impressively painted wall near Brunswick Station. The wall near Brunswick Station consists of three wild style pieces with lots of cartoon characters and birds by Awol Alpha, Los Guiros, and Drew (correct me please if I’m wrong I’d like to get the attributions right for the record). Street art likes to believe that it does have a political content, even this fun piece; “the last free media” is polemical exaggeration but the idea of freedom is important to street art. Street art wants to be seen as gratuitous, free expression, outlaw art given to the community.
The freedom of street art is balanced with commercial interests and the commercial use of street art is becoming still more common. I don’t mean exploitation but legitimate commercial work. Although street art is gratuitous street artists are not above making money from their art and not above adding a business logo into their design. Pizzerias and Chinese café have been adding street art to their walls. It attracts the customers and decorates what would otherwise be a blank wall. Aerosol art has always had a commercial application in painting cars and not surprisingly some of the best walls are around crash repair businesses.
There is a fresh new legal work on the side of a house in Florence St. in Brunswick. The image of Ganesa, the elephant headed Hindu god sits amongst some the wild colourful calligraphy with paisley-like patterns showing through. The piece is popular with the neighbours too – one of them jokingly took credit for it as I admired it.
On Sunday 25th in the afternoon the ABC had a repeat broadcast of Rash by Nicholas Hansen, an award-winning documentary on Melbourne graffiti scene. Watching it again reminded me that some things have changed in the street art scene (there are now street art galleries and draconian anti-graffiti laws) but much has stayed the same. The documentary is available on DVD at Mutiny Media.
Big shout out to the guys at Illegal Fame magazine for sending me their Winter 08 issue, it was very kind of them. There is more editorial content in the issue: news, reviews, interviews and more of their excellent Ghostwriter series, along with the usual pages and pages of photos of outstanding street art.