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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.

The fraught business of removing and selling street art murals

The fraught business of removing and selling street art murals
Published on CNN, 20th January 2020 (LINK)

Written by Christy Kuesel

This article was published in partnership with Artsy, the global platform for discovering and collecting art. The original article can be seen here.

Banksy is well known for creating murals in the dead of night, frequently addressing social ills like homelessness or poverty. Tourists and fans gather around each of his new creations, often spurred to the site by a post on the anonymous artist's Instagram account. So the idea of removing one of these works from public view and selling it is bound to stir up strong emotions.

"It's against the street art world for items that are done in public to be sold," said Darren Julien, founder and CEO of Julien's Auctions, which specializes in selling pop culture-related items and street art.

Many businesses tagged by a famous street artist may not want the attention, or would rather take the financial windfall that could result from selling the work. The owner of a Valero gas station in Los Angeles certainly benefited from Banksy's creation of "Flower Girl" (2008) on their wall. The work depicts a girl with a basket of flowers staring up into a security camera, and was created late one night in 2008.

Another street artist, Mr. Brainwash, asked the gas station owner if his friend could stencil something on the side of the wall. The work later appeared on Banksy's website. When the owner of the gas station decided to sell the property, he looked into ways to save the mural.

How Julien's Auctions actually got a nearly 8,000-pound hunk of concrete to auction, however, is a bit more complicated. The auction house advanced the seller the $80,000 removal cost, and a construction crew came in and removed the section of wall on which the mural was painted. The 2013 sale of "Flower Girl," which brought in $209,000, was one of the first times the street artist's work had been auctioned in the US.

Sales of street art murals in general are divisive. Artists often object to the transformation of a work they created for public enjoyment into an art object to be bought and sold. Although Julien acknowledged the controversy around selling Banksy murals, he argued, "The other side of it is that [auctions are] really what made them famous."

A Primer on Aerosols

Aerosols, explained
Tiny particles floating in the atmosphere have a much bigger impact on the planet than you might think, and human activity plays a role.
BY ALEJANDRA BORUNDA for National Geographic

THE MOST VIBRANT sunsets, cloud-choked skies, and cough-inducing days all have something in common: They happen because of aerosols, tiny particles that float in the air. Aerosols can be tiny droplets, dust particles, bits of fine black carbon, and other things, and as they float through the atmosphere they change the whole energy balance of the planet.

Aerosols have an outsized effect on the planet’s climate. Some of them, like black and brown carbon, warm the Earth’s atmosphere, while others, like sulfate droplets, cool it. Scientists think that on balance, the whole budget of aerosols ends up cooling the planet slightly. But exactly how much, and how much that effect can shift over days, years, or centuries is still not totally clear.

What are aerosols?
The term aerosol is a catch-all for many kinds of little bits of stuff that end up suspended in the atmosphere, from the surface of the planet all the way to the edges of space. They can be solid or liquid, infinitesimally small or big enough to see with the naked eye.

“Primary” aerosols, like dust, soot, or sea salt, come directly from the planet’s surface. They get lifted into the atmosphere by gusty winds, shot high into the air by exploding volcanoes, or they waft away from smokestacks or flames. “Secondary” aerosols form when different things floating in the atmosphere—like organic compounds released by plants, liquid acid droplets, or other materials—crash together, culminating in a chemical or physical reaction. Secondary aerosols, for example—make the haze that gives the U.S.’s Great Smoky Mountains their name.

Aerosols come from both natural and human sources—and sometimes both at once. Dust, for example, is scoured from deserts, the dried-out edges of rivers, dry lakebeds, and more. Its concentrations in the atmosphere rise and fall with climate; in cold, dry, periods in the planet’s history like the last ice age, more dust filled the atmosphere than during warmer stretches of Earth’s history. But humans have affected that natural cycle, making some places dustier than they otherwise would be and keeping other areas damp.

Sea salts provide another natural source of aerosols. They’re whipped out of the ocean by wind and sea spray and tend to fill the lower parts of the atmosphere. In contrast, some types of very explosive volcanic eruptions can shoot particles and droplets high into the upper atmosphere, where they can float for months or even years, suspended miles above Earth’s surface.

Human activity produces many different types of aerosols. Fossil-fuel burning produces particles, as well as the well-known greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide—so cars, airplanes, power plants, and industrial processes all produce particles that can collect in the atmosphere. Agriculture produces dust, as well as other things like aerosolized nitrogen products, both of which affect air quality near and far.

Face-Scanning Tech Expanding in USA, EU

Fight against facial recognition hits wall across the West
The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition.

By JANOSCH DELCKER and CRISTIANO LIMA (POLITICO)
12/30/2019 05:03 AM EST

Face-scanning technology is inspiring a wave of privacy fears as the software creeps into every corner of life in the United States and Europe — at border crossings, on police vehicles and in stadiums, airports and high schools. But efforts to check its spread are hitting a wall of resistance on both sides of the Atlantic.

One big reason: Western governments are embracing this technology for their own use, valuing security and data collection over privacy and civil liberties. And in Washington, President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the death of a key civil rights and privacy champion have snarled expectations for a congressional drive to enact restrictions.

The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition, which they have sold to police agencies and embedded in consumers’ apps and smartphones. The stalemate has persisted even in Europe’s most privacy-minded countries, such as Germany, and despite a bipartisan U.S. alliance of civil-libertarian Democrats and Republicans.

Advocates for tighter regulations point to China as an example of the technology’s nightmare potential, amid reports authorities are using it to indiscriminately track citizens in public, identify pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and oppress millions of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. Current implementations of the software also perpetuate racial bias by misidentifying people of color far more frequently than white people, according to a U.S. government study released just before Congress left town for Christmas.

“Facial recognition needs to be stopped before a fait accompli is established,” Patrick Breyer, a member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party Germany, told POLITICO.

"The use of facial recognition technology poses a staggering threat to Americans’ privacy," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is prepping legislation to crack down on the software, said in June.

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.

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.

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.

Twitter Stencils Cause a... twitter (SF)

Twitter ad campaign runs afoul of city vandalism laws
EXAMINER STAFF; Sep. 12, 2019 4:45 a.m.; LINK with photos

Some BART riders have called a recent Twitter ad blitz around Powell Station “irritating” and “overkill,” but city officials are calling it illegal.

Or at least part of it.

The social media company launched an ad campaign this week in San Francisco and New York City that covered the walls of the station with images of user tweets about Twitter.

All well and good, if potentially annoying for some viewers, but the campaign continued outside with sidewalk chalk stencils extending into the Tenderloin — and that puts it in breach of The City’s vandalism laws, the Department of Public Works said Thursday.

“Our sidewalks are not to be used for commercial purposes, they are not billboards,” said Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for DPW. “Any company that advertises on our sidewalks is breaking the law.”

Gordon said DPW will typically send crews out to remove the stencils and contact the person or company responsible to collect the cost of the cleanup.

“Our crews really should be focused on other areas, but we want to keep our sidewalks free of commercial content,” Gordon said.

A Twitter spokesperson on Thursday said the company’s media agency had “confirmed necessary approvals ahead of the chalk installation.”

“We haven’t been made aware of any legal issues related to the chalk. We will of course comply with any requests made by the city,” the spokesperson said.

Twitter is not the first company to run afoul of The City’s strict vandalism laws with sidewalk stencils.

Lyft, to give one recent example, drew legal action from City Attorney Dennis Herrera in 2015 after it stenciled ads on sidewalks across The City.

Broken Windows, Again?! Battle against taggers in SF, 2018 Recap

Battle against taggers makes its mark as San Francisco’s graffiti plague eases
SF Chron (LINK)
Evan Sernoffsky Jan. 4, 2019 Updated: Jan. 4, 2019 4 a.m.

They usually strike at night. Spray can in hand, they scrawl their crude tags on San Francisco’s historic brick facades, business windows and sidewalks.

And when morning reveals the destructive spree of graffiti, the vandals are usually long gone, leaving property owners with a stubborn cleanup job — possibly even a fine.

But thanks to an aggressive new strategy by police and prosecutors, such incidents of vandalism appear to be in decline, according to the latest numbers. Reports of graffiti to 311 have hit an all-time low since the city started tracking the data at the start of 2016.

There were 3,371 such calls in November compared with 7,611 reported during March, according to data provided by the district attorney’s office.

Chase's Pattern Park Debuts

Street Artist Chase Explores Light and Space as His Pattern Park Debuts
LILY MOAYERI | MARCH 30, 2018 | LA WEEKLY

The horror show that is parking in Los Angeles is legendary. And parking in West Hollywood takes the nightmare to a whole other level. But Pattern Park, the fourth and most recent of West Hollywood’s micro-parks, is a bright and colorful spot in this dismal landscape.

The park was designed and painted by renowned street artist Chase. His striking patterns, applied using spray paint, exterior latex paint and stencils, decorate the sidewalk surrounding the parking lot on the north side of Sunset Boulevard between Sherbourne Drive and Horn Avenue. Also benefiting from Chase’s instantly recognizable style is the parking booth inside the lot and the fence surrounding it, which is decorated with cutouts of Chase’s signature eye.

From Venice Beach to DTLA, from Ventura to Long Beach, many walls in the Southland feature Chase’s murals. Born and bred in Antwerp, Belgium, the 40-year-old Chase has lived in Los Angeles since the mid-’90s and he doesn’t take his adopted hometown’s acceptance of his art for granted. Over eggs Benedict at brunch al fresco in one of the Sunset Plaza restaurants just across the boulevard from Pattern Park, Chase — who sports an “LA” tattoo under his right ear — recalls his early days of trying to differentiate street art from graffiti for Los Angeles business owners.

“You didn’t used to see walls like you see now,” he says. “You saw some alley work behind Melrose or downtown back alleys. You saw some stuff from freeways. Venice had the tattoo shop and the graffiti walls, but I always thought the art was good enough to be on the main street.

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