Historical Item

Chilean Public Art Steps Up in Time of Revolution

The Writings on the City’s Walls: Street Art and Graffiti in Santiago, Chile in a Time of Social Revolution
FEBRUARY 17, 2020
Reporting: Street Art NYC (LINK)

The following post is by Houda Lazrak:

While visiting Santiago, Chile in late December, I sat down with Santiago-based architect and street art/graffiti expert Sebastián Cuevas Vergara. We met a few blocks from one of Santiago’s main urban landmarks, Plaza Baquedano, now known as Plaza de la Dignidad or Dignity Square — the main site of Chile’s protests against social inequality that erupted last October following a hike in subway fares.

Every Friday afternoon, thousands gather in Plaza de la Dignidad to express their frustration with the high cost of living, rising rents, government corruption and an unsustainable social welfare system. The walls in the vicinity are plastered with protest posters, tags, graffiti, wheatpastes and other varied urban interventions.

Sebastián shared some of his thoughts and observations about the current state of public space in Santiago:

So much has changed here since I last visited Chile in 2013. What are you up to at the moment?

I am currently teaching a street art class at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Chile. This a particularly pertinent moment to be talking about people’s relation to public space in view of all the street art that has surfaced since the social crisis started.

Yes, it does seem extremely relevant.

I have a thesis: Santiago is the city with the most diverse graffiti in the world at the moment. There is poetic graffiti, urban graffiti, feminist graffiti, political graffiti…

And so many posters too!

The languages of the streets are changing. When the protests started, designers started making posters: a simple, straightforward, immediate response. Posters and graphics have been part of Chilean identity since the 1970s, so this was quickly picked up again.

Is this happening mainly in the city center?

It is concentrated in the center of the city. This is where it has the most significance, near ‘zona cero’ where the protests surface every Friday.

How have the graffiti and street art changed in Santiago since the social revolution erupted?

There are several changes. First, many artists are no longer signing their works. The personal nature of graffiti is not of essence now. Artists are, instead, giving their art to the movement. This is particularly interesting, because the graffiti scene in Santiago is very competitive. Second, works are much larger in scale because artists are collaborating. Third, performance art is integrated into the protests and with the graffiti and street art. Finally, feminist street art is now at the forefront. The work of groups like the Chilean feminist collective LASTESIS has gone viral.

Banksy Collaborator Steve Lazarides Tells (Almost) All


'We were lawless!' Banksy's photographer reveals their scams and scrapes

Steve Lazarides was the art renegade’s strategist, photographer and minder. As his shots are published [in a self-published book], he recalls the politics, parties and soaring price tags of ‘Matey Boy’

Stuart Jeffries (The Guardian)
Mon 16 Dec 2019 12.54 GMTLast modified on Mon 16 Dec 2019 16.50 GMT

One Christmas, Steve Lazarides and Banksy [his Stencil Archive] decided to kill Santa. “Reject false icons,” read the slogan hastily spray painted across their shopfront, behind a highly festive effigy they had created of Father Christmas dangling from a noose. Dotted around were signs intended to lure passersby into their shop, in the hope that they would join in the party and buy some artworks. The signs, however, may have had the opposite effect. “Santa’s Ghetto,” read one. “Stinking art piss,” read another.

“There were a few complaints about what we did to Santa,” says Lazarides, once Banksy’s right-hand man. “And about the noise. We didn’t care. It was a group show we did every year, so artists could make a little dough and punters could pick up some affordable art for Christmas stockings.”

Lazarides worked with Banksy for 11 rollercoaster years, initially documenting the artist at work back in 1997, then becoming his agent, strategist and even minder. The Christmas art shop had been rented from one of Soho’s last porn barons – but disaster struck. Liquid leaked through from the floor above, soaking an impromptu chandelier made of traffic cones. “I went to investigate,” says Lazarides. “It was a toilet overflowing. The crowd at the party thought it was part of the show. It wasn’t. It was literally stinking art piss.”

The art he and Banksy sold at Santa’s Ghetto was certainly affordable back in the noughties – but it could not be classified as such today. Lazarides recalls carrying armfuls of original Banksy prints to the shop, where they’d shift for £25. “At today’s rates,” he says, “I reckon each armful would be worth about half a million quid.”

One work, called Bomb Middle England, depicted three elderly women playing bowls with balls that had lit fuses coming out of them. In 2007, Sotheby’s sold a version of this image for £102,000, at the time the most ever fetched for a Banksy. It has since been eclipsed, with the title now held by the 2009 painting Devolved Parliament, which went for £8.5m earlier this year.

While Lazarides is happily reminiscing about the Santas of Christmases past, Banksy is on the streets of Birmingham making art about the scandals of Christmas present – in the form of his mural and video of two reindeer pulling, not Santa in his sleigh, but a homeless man called Ryan lying on a bench in the city’s jewellery quarter.

A Lesson in Street Art, Part I

A Lesson in Street Art: how a movement morphed out of graffiti and into the art world (Part I)

By Katherine Keener Published on 9 December 2019 (art-critique.com)

PURPOSE OF THIS LESSON:
Street art is a relatively new movement that is becoming more and more prolific in the art world. In this lesson, we will explore the history of graffiti, which is what street art is born out of, and then explore how street art has become what it is today. Looking at the history of graffiti is critical to understand the nuances of graffiti vs. street art and to understanding the pros and cons of street art as a movement and how artists categorized as street artists have either embraced or responded to the movement. At the end of the lesson, students should have a better understanding of how graffiti paved the way for street art. They should also be able to think critically about an artwork to determine ways in which it is more kin to graffiti or street art.

This lesson is best geared towards secondary or high school level students. Here, we have presented the topic as an art history lesson but it could easily be adapted into a studio art lesson, too.

PART I: HOW GRAFFITI GOT TO THE 21ST CENTURY AND PAVED THE WAY FOR STREET ART

44,000 Year Old Cave Art, Including Hand Stencil, in Indonesia

Earliest known cave art by modern humans found in Indonesia
Pictures of human-like hunters and fleeing mammals dated to nearly 44,000 years old

Hannah Devlin (LINK)
Wed 11 Dec 2019 18.00 GMTLast modified on Wed 11 Dec 2019 18.12 GMT

Cave art depicting human-animal hybrid figures hunting warty pigs and dwarf buffaloes has been dated to nearly 44,000 years old, making it the earliest known cave art by our species.

The artwork in Indonesia is nearly twice as old as any previous hunting scene and provides unprecedented insights into the earliest storytelling and the emergence of modern human cognition.

Previously, images of this level of sophistication dated to about 20,000 years ago, with the oldest cave paintings believed to be more basic creations such as handprints.

“We were stunned by the implications of this image,” said Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University. “This was just mind-boggling because this showed us that this was possibly the oldest rock art anywhere on the face of this planet.”

The painting, discovered in 2017, is one of hundreds in South Sulawesi, including a red hand stencil, which was dated to at least 40,000 years ago. But the latest finding is exceptional as it is more than twice as old as any previously known narrative scenes and hints at ancient myths and an early capacity for imagination.

Excerpts from The Nature of Paleolithic Art (2005)

The Nature of Paleolithic Art by R. Dale Guthrie (2005, The University of Chicago Press). (Photo shows Paleolithic hand stencils from El Castillo, Spain)

Art behavior evolved for creativity, the same way that lungs evolved for breathing. (p. 391) Creativity is something more than just doing things differently or unconstrained novelty. It is about beautiful alternatives within apt constraints. (p. 397) I suspect much of it [cave art] was done at a time in life when creative play provided the most fun. So calling it “art for art’s sake” may not be quite accurate. (p. 399) Paleolithic art certainly appears to me to be less “meaning-full,” less belief bound, and more a matter of individual perception and experiment. (p. 433) Paleolithic art is a silent touch from distant ancestors, their marks are a reminder of our own vitality and mortality, a prompter to savor our present in this ancient arena of life…. The truly good message from Paleolithic art is that one would be wise to play: play physically, play mentally, and, above all, play artfully. (p. 460)

How Were Negative Handprints Made? (p. 118)

How the images of these Paleolithic handprints were produced remained a controversial puzzle for decades. Casteret (1934) was the first to propose that they were made from liquefied pigment sprayed on with the mouth. During the 1960s and 1970s several researchers presumed that spraying pigments onto cave walls probably required some sort of device like a blowpipe or hollow tube. But Pedel (1975) and Barriere (1976) championed direct blowing with the mouth as the main process…. Both Groenen (1987) and Lorblanchet (1991) have argued that complicated paraphernalia are not necessary. Rather, all that is needed is to nibble off a bit of common oxide pigment or charcoal and to spit a fine spray on the wall. It requires a little practice, mainly the knack of spitting tiny amounts in little high-pressure sput-sput-sput fine jets. At its best, this results in a smoothly graded spray, like a modern airbrush. Of course, many images were made hastily with cruder, spit-splatter-spray glops of pigment chunks here and there.

While many hand images are well made (they are the ones usually reproduced in coffee-table art books), most are rather rudimentary and incomplete. Some are hardly recognizable, with one or two jets of ocher leaving a faint negative of two fingers without terminal ends. That is why different scholars provide different lists of caves with handprints or have had widely varying estimates of total handprint numbers for the same cave - it depends on what level of smear one counts as a hand.

I encourage you to try this method of hand stenciling at home. Use red powdered cake coloring, not ocher, as the latter is inordinately difficult to clean off your face. The best result is had by keeping the mouth about 20 centimeters away from the hand and background. It takes only a minute per hand. The most rudimentary Paleolithic ones may have been done in a matter of seconds.

David King, Crass Symbol Designer, Dead at 71

David King, San Francisco Artist Who Designed Iconic Crass Emblem, Dies at 71
Sam Lefebvre Oct 22 (KQED)

David King, the San Francisco artist best known for designing the English punk band Crass’ iconic and widely reproduced anti-establishment emblem, died at home Thursday following a years-long fight with cancer, his frequent publisher Colpa Press confirmed to KQED. He was 71.

The English-born designer, photographer and musician, who moved to San Francisco in 1982, created what would become known as the Crass symbol—a stencil-friendly design incorporating a cross and what he called a “diagonal, negating serpent” with two heads—more than 40 years ago to criticize the mixture of church and state. He also participated in New York’s Downtown scene of the 1980s and the Mission School milieu the next decade in San Francisco.

The “explosive and memorable image” has “acquired a ubiquitous independence as a sign of protest,” design historian Steven Heller writes in a new book of King’s work. A popular tattoo, the symbol is perhaps rivaled only by Black Flag’s logo in subcultural prominence. It’s also been appropriated for commercial purposes, moving King in recent years to revisit the stark symbol in various publications and exhibitions with color and levity that better reflects his work’s tone.

“David’s iconic symbols were a badge of authenticity in the underground scenes across the globe in the pre-internet era, recognizable at 65 mph on the back of a squatter punk meandering down an alleyway at four in the morning,” writes the artist Barry McGee, who King met at the San Francisco Art Institute, in Gingko Press’ new David King Stencils. “What symbol has even come remotely close to so immediately showing one’s allegiance to an ideology or attitude?”

King, remembered for his poise and sharp dress, was born in the United Kingdom on April 10, 1948. In a 2013 interview with this writer, he described being attracted to the “riots” and “beacons” of color in commercial designs on comic books and candy wrapping amid the grey, post-war cityscape. Mod fashion of the 1960s was more to his liking, and King attended art school from 1964 to 1967.

In college King met the artists eventually known as Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher of Crass, afterwards working as a graphic designer. At the inception of punk, he gravitated towards stencils, subverting the militaristic style to promote peace. In 1977 at the communal Dial House near London, King encouraged Rimbaud to write down his criticisms of the state’s propagation of Christian values through public education, leading to the pamphlet Christ’s Reality Asylum.

New Uploads for Pollen-filled Sunsets

Submission thanks to: TXMX, Josiah, Brooklyn Street Art, Mission Local, and Jeremy Novy
Vinyl backup by: Pink Floyd, Animal Collective, and Tom Waits
Photo: color snap of Bear and Bob Thomas' original Grateful Dead logo stencil (1970, WI)

The rest of the CDMX stencils

akore (just one)

A few from C215

>NEW< leni (Hamburg)

liebsein

>NEW< marie (Hamburg)

marshal arts

pirho (just one)

raf urban

>NEW< STeW (FR)

>NEW< jaune (BE)

toxicomano (just one)

>NEW< unklar (DE)

A few from Basque

A few from Hamburg

Just one from France

A few from Spain

Louisiana

Historical 1970 stencil from Wisconsin

Eclair’s mural on Divisadero

Nice one from YON in SF

The Mission (just one)

On Valencia St. (just one)

Peter Kuper Mentions Stencils

Excerpted from "Peter Kuper: Conversations," edited by Kent Worcester, from a 2009 interview with Kuper by Christopher Irving (pp. 76-77).

Your stencil style: How do you go about doing that?

Kuper: I photocopy my pencil drawings, and then cut a stencil out of the photocopy paper. I spray them with enamel spray paint, not an airbrush, so I can pick up one can, put it down, and then spray another fast.

How did you first arrive at using stencils for comic book art?

Kuper: My lifelong pal, Seth Tobocman turned me on to them. I was looking at an illustration he did this way and it rang my bell. It was apparently a very loud bell, because that was in 1988 and here, to this day, I'm still doing stencils. At this point, I feel like I want to move away from spray paint because of its toxic nature. The irony of doing pieces on our degraded environment using aerosol sprays is too much.

Spy vs. Spy is done in stencils, right?

Kuper: I did it in stencils when they asked me to try out for the job figuring they wouldn't go for it. I didn't want to try to mimic the style of [Antonio] Prohias', I thought that "If I'm going to do this, I'll do something that's different. I thought they'd thank me for my kooky approach, bid me adieu and I'd go on my merry way." When they said, "You got the job," I thought I'd probably just do it for a year. I'm in my thirteenth year of Spy vs. Spy.

Do you do these stenciled comics a panel at a time, or the whole page?

Kuper: I do it a page at a time. I usually spray a base in red and black. I spray the red paint first and then spray the black on top of it, which gives a glow of the red under the black. Occasionally I do more than one stencil per piece, but not that often. I'm experimenting now with rolling or brushing on acrylic paint with a stencil.

Later in the book, Seth Tobocman briefly mentions stencils in the 2014 interview with Steven Heller (p. 100)

Tobocman: I learned about stencils and street art from Anton Van Dalen and Michael Roman....

40,000-year-old cave art in Indonesia

40,000-year-old cave art may be world's oldest animal drawing
The Southeast Asian island of Borneo joins a growing number of sites boasting early cave art innovation.
BY MAYA WEI-HAAS
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 7, 2018 (LINK)

COUNTLESS CAVES PERCH atop the steep-sided mountains of East Kalimantan in Indonesia, on the island of Borneo. Draped in stone sheets and spindles, these natural limestone cathedrals showcase geology at its best. But tucked within the outcrops is something even more spectacular: a vast and ancient gallery of cave art.

Hundreds of hands wave in outline from the ceilings, fingers outstretched inside bursts of red-orange paint. Now, updated analysis of the cave walls suggests that these images stand among the earliest traces of human creativity, dating back between 52,000 and 40,000 years ago. That makes the cave art tens of thousands of years older than previously thought.

But that's not the only secret in the vast labyrinthine system.

In a cave named Lubang Jeriji Saléh, a trio of rotund cow-like creatures is sketched on the wall, with the largest standing more than seven feet across. The new dating analysis suggests that these images are at least 40,000 years old, earning them the title of the earliest figurative cave paintings yet found. The work edges out the previous title-holder—a portly babirusa, or “pig deer,” in Sulawesi, Indonesia—by just a few thousand years.

“In the entrance, there's a little chamber to the right, and it's there—bam,” says archaeologist Maxime Aubert of Griffith University. It's not the earliest cave art ever found. But unlike earlier scribbles and tracings, these paintings are unequivocal depictions of ancient animals, his team reports today in the journal Nature.

The bovines and handprints join a growing array of artwork of similar age that adorns the walls of caves around the world. These paintings mark a shift in how early humans thought about and engaged with their environment—from focusing on survival and daily mundane necessities to cultivating what could be the earliest threads of human culture, explains Paleolithic archeologist April Nowell of the University of Victoria.

“I think for a lot of us, that's a true expression of human-ness in the broadest sense of that word,” she says.

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