My New Street Art Column, Re:Public, Launches on ArtCal

Nihalani/Poster Boy Combo Piece

I have a new column devoted to street art and titled “Re:Public that made it’s debut on ArtCal today.

The monthly column plans to explore the fast-evolving street art scene and its obsession with public/private space and breaking rules.

I am very excited for its evolving nature which will–I hope–partake in a conversation with the work itself. All good street art is part of the great urban dialogue that us city dwellers take for granted so with a column I hope to capture some of the back and forth as I interview, critique and explore the new, curious and beautiful on the walls, tunnels and hidden niches of New York.

Today’s column talks to two talents that hit the streets running this year:

Already being recognized for their ephemeral contributions to the genre, I’ve created an annotated photo essay to accompany the article here.

Since I can never possibly be everywhere, I partly rely on fans, artists and casual admirers of street art to provide me with tips and photos about New York’s wondrous scenes, so feel free to pitch me with ideas and suggestions either in the comments of this post or via email (the link is on the top right of this blog).

12 responses to “My New Street Art Column, Re:Public, Launches on ArtCal”

  1. This is awesome! makes me want to be on subways and walk the streets of NY right now (partly because I’ve been in the country too long)!! I can see what a gift this blog/article is for those who don’t have the chance to be in one of the greatest cities in the world!
    Keep it coming Hrag!

  2. congrats on the art cal gig. I liked some of aakash’s work but was a bit horrified by the whole “lets make art around passed out homeless guys” thing.

    not cool….

  3. I agree that its problematic but it’s interesting to me that people will not help a homeless person on the street but at the same time find it offensive when someone treats him/her like street furniture.

    I think Aakash was commenting on the dehumanization of people and I think it was an ingenious way to make people hypersensitive to a horrible social problem. It makes me happy to hear people were actually offended by it. It would’ve scared me if no one reacted at all.

  4. There’s no getting around the fact that it’s exploitative.

    Someone that is passed out has no choice about where they want to participate in his “art”. Try to imagine what the reactions might be like for the people that wake up and see that they have been toyed with while they were asleep.
    Do you think they like it and it makes them feel better about their situation or do you think they will feel violated and belittled? Now consider the fact that a large percentage of the homeless are also mentally ill.

    How do you defend that?

    You can also argue that because many homeless people are mentally ill or dont have too many choices that even if they agree to participate its still explotative. You can look no further than the bumfights videos to see what people on the street are willing to do for a buck. Maybe he can collaborate with those guys.

  5. I guess I’m not defending it as trying to understand it. The fact made me very uncomfortable but that’s why I wanted to include it in the article. I think sometimes street artists go to far, which is often inevitable in any dialogue about public/private, and this is one of the instances where Aakash did. I was very impressed though that he was very upfront about it and didn’t try to squirm out of the implications for what he did.

    About bumfight videos…those are so disturbing and I personally can’t believe they sell well..

  6. Hmm. I like his geometric paintings a bit better than the tape stuff. They feel so much more complete. It almost looks similar to Sharon Butler’s work, but more punkified.

    As to the homeless stuff, at least he’s not permanently scarring people, like the deified a-hole extraordinaire Santiago Sierra does.

  7. What hasn’t he done. He just is a professional a-hole.

    He basically pays extremely poor individuals to be spectacles– get a straight line permanently tattooed on their backs, holding heavy wooden beams against a gallery wall for hours on end, standing in a gallery en masse at an opening while the well-heeled clientele walk past observing them as “the art.”

    I believe he’s a Mexican artist– and primarily uses the poor of Mexico City as his subjects.

    Posts ads for “day laborers”.

    One job was to make them masturbate and pay them a pittance.

    Basically he says the work is about showing the plights of the poor, but in all honesty he’s taking more advantage than anyone in their regular day to day migrant labor would do with the flashes of the camera bulbs.

    Deitch famously had an exhibit planned of his back in ’03 that fell apart at the seams and never took place.

    Probably a good thing.

    The most dangerous thing he ever did was jacknife a semi on a Mexico city interstate and leave it– blocking traffic for miles.

    Some say he’s an “artist.”
    I say “Asshole.”

  8. Correction– just looked up. He is from Spain, not Mexico. But he primarily uses Mexican and Central American laborers.

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