deappropriationproject.net, documenting years of street art on one Mission District wall, goes online.
For ten years now, the legal wall on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District has hosted hundreds of pieces of art. Pasted posters represent the vast majority of the wall's art, but also includes anything from stenciled posters, stencils, stickers, and even children's drawings. Artists like Swoon, Shepard Fairey, SAW, members of Just Seeds, and many more have put up stencils on this wall over the years. I have been photographing this wall since I moved to San Francisco, and so has Bruce Tomb, the owner of the former Cop Shop that had the wall as its facade. Tomb has documented the wall at least once a week since around 2001, and now he has begun to put his archives online.
This is what Tomb has to say about what he calls the (de)Appropriation Project, aka the Democracy Wall, the Valencia Wall, the Poster Wall, etc.:
"The wall as a resource for a range of disciplines has become more evident over time. As a dynamic artifact, time has been a key aspect to understanding its value. The range of imagery and subjects seems to be unlimited, triggering considerable dialog with neighbors and colleagues. As new cultural issues arise, the archive expands to incorporate them, becoming a living record of our culture and concerns."
Tonight, Tomb and Southern Exposure had a community discussion about the project. It was a supportive group in attendance, but some did raise questions about how the art on the wall relates to issues like class privilege, gentrification, potential corralling of public art, etc. Overall, the group appreciated Tomb's curation of the wall (he only cleans up flakey parts and never censors the content), his drive to not take the art down when the City once threatened him with fines, and his general support in allowing the wall to exist on his property.
The conversation about the wall is only beginning, as is the site deappropriationproject.net. Tomb plans on adding and enhancing his archive into the future, and will continue to document the content that goes up on the physical wall.
Stencil Archive will go through its own photos and identify the ones that were taken on or under the wall. Hopefully this documentation will enhance that of Tomb's site, and allow people to see some of the art that he may have missed.