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Wannabe art

What is the difference between graffiti and street art? The later is art but that is just a deductive point and the actual difference may be very subtle, like the difference between a carton of Campbell’s soup cans and Warhol’s cartons of Campbell’s soup cans in an art gallery. Part of the difference is that one is in an art gallery and the other is not but that is neither a necessary nor a sufficient difference, a point that seems to have been lost on some wannabe street artists. The white walls around Sutton Gallery in Fitzroy have become covered with graffiti as if this brings the writers closer to art. And now the stairwells of Westspace and Bus artist-run-spaces are becoming covered with tags. Outside Westspace I saw two pairs of shoes hanging from a wire. There are tags on their soles: Drew & Putz. If you sign it does it make it art?

Outside West Space

Outside West Space

But there are still more desperate acts of wannabe art on exhibition in Melbourne. When I visited No Vacancy the smell of aerosol was in the air as Swifty prepared a Susuki hatchback to do a ‘live’ piece at the opening. The Urban Dictionary  defines “Like a Swifty” as a incredibly bad or embarrassing performance at something which the person/s tried hard at. This sums up “The Swifty Show” at No Vacancy Gallery. I have never seen such a derivative exhibition, there is less original content in it than a photocopier. Swifty  is a British street-style designer who wants to be Pop artist and thinks that by re-branding Andy Warhol’s and Jasper Johns’ old images he will be one. Simply re-branding Vegemite jars or Campbell’s soup cans with his own “Swifty” logo is the work of a designer rather than be an artist. I don’t know what fool thinks that this is wit or the sophisticated work of “an unrepentant acolyte of the post hip hop sampling generation”. Swifty’s work might have pseudo-intellectual appeal if you have read a child’s guide to Pop Art.

I don’t know why so many street artists are desperate to get into art galleries when really they could earn a better living as designers than wannabe artists.

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

5 responses to “Wannabe art

  • Melbourne’s skateparks, eyesore or urban art? | OzSoapbox

    […] Art and Culture critic, Mark Holsworth sums it up nicely; The white walls around Sutton Gallery in Fitzroy have become covered with graffiti as […]

  • S W I F T Y

    hey mark – get a life ! – swifty

  • S W I F T Y

    Are you familiar with a famous quote by Jim Jarmusch

    “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. if you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don ’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.” nuff said !

  • Jimbo

    I disagree with you there Mark.

    The layout, and individual pieces in the show were cool.

    Perhaps your not familiar with Swifty’s career and work?

    Your obviously not a designer or an artists. Because your blog sucks and couldn’t be any more removed from the Melbourne art scene.

    Admit it Mark, you dont really have a clue do you.

  • ben

    I have to agree with Marks review on this one. The exhibition was poorly curated and the work stank of the all too common ill formed street art arrogance. This is not the first time I have seen poorly produced street art exhibited at a gallery. There is much too much hype surrounding Melbourne Street art galleries. The artworks are rarely progressive and do not intrigue or question viewers, they sit neatly in the realm of advertising or popular cultural images. Superficial. Superfluous.

    Obviously, Jim Jarmusch is a talented director, his style is unforgettable. Nice work quoting his ideas.

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