Saturday, March 24, 2007

Using walls (p.2): the Splasher controversy

There are several excellent Polish sites about art. They focus mainly on Polish art and the Polish contemporary art milieu, and have a certain tendency toward a specialized and a high-brow discourse, but they have lots of good discoveries and insights and are a great reference point. And they're in Polish, which makes me one lucky bastard. Lucky for most of you, they also have lots of images of new Polish works. I recommend two: and strasznasztuka ('terrible art')
From time to time, they also put on things happening outside of Poland. Below is a translation of one of the articles:

"Splasher" is now the hottest street-art name in New-York. Not because of what he makes, but because of what he destroys. Stencils, stickers and posters on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan have been for over a month the objects of the attack of the anonymous 'vandal'. Street art created by people as famous as Banksy or Swoon are destroyed in the same way - by a cruel splash of color paint.


The street art works, once considered only as acts of vandalism, are now themselves victims of a vandal. But is Splasher really just a street hooligan? It seems not. He chooses his goals very carefully - they are always the works of known artists, who have also often entered into the regular gallery circuit, and their works are sold at auctions for big money.


The mysterious Splasher is being looked for on the internet. Bloggers are looking for the motive of his actions. Many believe Splasher simply protests against the commercialization of street-art and against putting it in the same pot with classic works of art.


But what are Splasher's actual motives? Next to many of the works there were manifestos glued to the wall (one of them is reproduced below). They have references to dadaism and expressions like 'True creativity is the joyful destruction of this [existing] hierarchy'. Is Splasher the conscience of contemporary street art? Or a conceptual artist, who as part of an adopted theory of 'destruction' creates a new work of art?


New Yorkers don't appreciate Splasher's "art". The destruction of the works of known artists, such as Banksy, results in disapproval, and even anger. Splasher is not seen as the "savior and renewer", but as a simple vandal. Vandal among vandals? Or could Splasher be the last real street artist, who sacrifices famous murals and stencils in the name of a fight for the purity of the art form? Because what is the difference between street art and gallery art, if we can't destroy someone else's work at will in either place? After all, street art is based on an idea of destroying and lawlessly occupying space. Always at the cost of someone else. After all, the street is not a museum - every street artist, even Banksy, is subject to the same rules and accept that his work can be removed at any moment.


The question remains - do Splaher's desperate gestures make sense? Is it better to fight for a pure street-art, or to cherish its highest achievements?

(text by strembol)

more on Splasher here
And here is the idea that Splasher is a marketing ploy by the very people who promote street art as a commercial art form - this way they get free publicity (with a street-art war twist to it, apparently?).
The very idea shows us something new: that these are real people, existing in a real society, and obeying its laws. Whether they are perpetrators or victims, they participate in a social context. And its a relief to see how clearly they are integrated in it through the Splasher affair.


harlequinpan said...

Great title and text!for me ,it's a big shake!this is far beyond my experience about street art or public i know,just a little works about GRAFFITI in my city,i think it's a nice experience and nice cityscape in a boring city.
Thanks for sharing!

mr.koolguy said...


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