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Lady Liberty Deconstructed: Danh Vo “We The People” in NYC

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See this review published on Metro New York June 18, 2014

A lunchtime stroll this week through either City Hall or Brooklyn Bridge Park will be less about smelling the roses and more about viewing the first large-scale public exhibition in NYC by Vietnamese artist Danh Vo. Sponsored by Public Art Fund, “We The People” is an interactive installation of oversized copper sculptures sharing the quiet terrain of a downtown Manhattan park.

In varying sizes and shapes, spanning the length of the two parks, the pieces slowly emerge from disparate abstractions into a conceptual puzzle. As viewers playfully put the pieces together, “We The People” becomes more than an “Alice in Wonderland” world of gargantuan lawn ornaments. It’s a 1:1 replica of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty.

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Kenny Scharf WAT-AHH! mural located in SoHo, NYC

Advocacy and Advertisment in the Art of Kenny Scharf

Kenny Scharf WAT-AHH! mural located in SoHo, NYC

Kenny Scharf WAT-AHH! mural located in SoHo, NYC

From Banksy’s NYC residency to tagged facades devouring NYC, Graffiti is breaking through the Art Canon’s glass ceiling and maturing into a socially conscious art form. SoHo is undoubtedly the king of street art on Manhattan, and it will be hard to miss the new addition to this neighborhood’s graffiti skyline at the intersection of Lafayette and Prince by artist Kenny Scharf. This psychedelic 2,500 sq. ft. mural is not just a treat for the eyes but was sponsored for an altruistic cause by WAT-AAH!, a brand of water encouraging the youth of tomorrow to live healthier, more active lives.

See this published on Metro New York April 7, 2014

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#Banksy and his NYC Residency takes an inevitable turn towards Commodification with his Greenpoint #Graffiti

October 8, Greenpoint. The door is now reported to have been removed.

October 8, Greenpoint. The door is now reported to have been removed.

Greenpointers are really missing the mark.

October 2, Banksy tagged a Chelsea garage door located on 25th and 10th underneath the High Line and across the street from Pace Gallery. Since the tags inception, his graffiti took on many styles and transformations. I enjoyed walking past it the few times I did that day to see a new perspective on his original art because of its tagged acquisitions. However, Banksy’s ephemeral nature did not please all that witnessed the transformations during what he defines as “Restoration” Phases (Please see my previous Blog Post to see Restoration Phases of Banksy’s Graffiti). I overheard a group of girls sulking over how someone would destroy such an important piece of art. Destruction? I would not go as far as to say Banksy’s mark is devalued; his mark is only taking an inevitable course that he either dictated, approved, or simply did not care to stop.

October 8, a Banksy popped up in Greenpoint. However, it did not undergo restorations like his previous tags. Instead the owner of the door covered the graffiti up to “protect it.” The Hyperallergic article written by Hrag Vartanian stated, “A person named Robert Dunning from Park Slope, Brooklyn, offered the man who was directing the crew $1,000 and a new door for the piece. The man, who refused to be identified, asked, “$200,000?” The man was obviously not tempted by the $1,000 and a door.” It is now being reported that the door has been completely removed.

People are missing the point. Banksy is an elusive street artist that works in the public realm. His graffiti art is not meant to be bought or sold, but is meant to change with time, grow with its surrounding space, and eventually be forgotten after new tags continually appear. My friend did bring up an interesting counterargument affirming the actions of the gentlemen trying to buy the door as only natural. Allow me to paraphrase my colleague: “Banksy should probably be smarter than to tag on a potentially removable object, he’s a commodity.” Banksy should know better as to his status of Contemporary Art Star and should act accordingly to the only natural actions of misinformed viewers.

On a side note, it seems Banksy is inclined to tag moveable and/or removable objects. His tag in Chelsea on 25th and 10th is on a garage door, and he created two on-the-move exhibitions using utility trucks: one with a complete waterfall oasis touring the East Village, another with stuffed animal farm animals peering our of a truck moving around the Meatpacking Distract. Maybe this is a quip on society’s obsession with possessions, or that art commodification is inevitable. I like to think Banksy intends transience to permeate graffiti’s total ethos; art that changes with time, moves through time as well.

If you have seen “Exit through the Gift Shop” you will understand Banksy’s satire in his title. When perusing a museum show, we exit through a gift shop where we can purchase posters, mugs, books, and other merchandise plastered with the exhibiting artist’s artworks. Banksy is right; even when we are unable to own or purchase a piece of art, we can own or possess its image.

Society today has a problem with temporal art. We want to take its photos to remember its existence. We care just as much about the Image as we care about the Art. We want to buy graffitied doors so we can own a “Banksy”. When it comes to art in the public sphere, and especially Graffiti, it is not meant to last, or live on forever: it is meant to change with the times, metamorphose through the seasons, and eventually fade away. Give up the Image, and you can have some fun with the Art.

#Banksy and his NYC Residency

I dub October: The Month of Banksy!

Each day during the month of October this elusive street artist will be tagging (a) different spot(s) around the city.

I will be traveling the expanses of New York City to document Banksy’s “New York City Residency”. Stay tuned for Photos of his original tags and updated images during each “Restoration” phases, and of course, my 2 cents.

Day 2, October 2, 25th and 10th Ave, Chelsea

Day 2, October 2, 25th and 10th Ave, Chelsea

Day 2, October 2, 25th and 10th, Chelsea, a "Restoration" phase

Day 2, October 2, 25th and 10th, Chelsea, a “Restoration” phase

Day 2, October 2, 25th and 10th, Chelsea, a "Restoration" phase

Day 2, October 2, 25th and 10th, Chelsea, a “Restoration” phase

Day 3, October 3, 24th and 6th, Chelsea, a "Restoration" phase. This photo was taken on October 5.

Day 3, October 3, 24th and 6th, Chelsea, a “Restoration” phase. This photo was taken on October 5.

 

Dumbo Arts Festival 2013 : A Photography Experience

SAWCC "Micro Fiction Game"

SAWCC “Micro Fiction Game”

SAWCC "Micro Fiction Game"

SAWCC “Micro Fiction Game”

Kyle Goen "Transparency Red"

Kyle Goen “Transparency Red”

Graffiti Walkway in Dumbo

Graffiti Walkway in Dumbo

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov "Ship of Tolerance" docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park #art #daf13

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov “Ship of Tolerance” docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park

PATRICIA CAZORLA & NANCY SALEME "Playing at Work"

PATRICIA CAZORLA & NANCY SALEME “Playing at Work”

carousel rides at Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park

carousel rides at Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Re-Accrediting Americana: Tatzu Nishi’s “Rediscovering Columbus”

Tatzu Nishi’s “Rediscovering Columbus”

Tatsu Nishi
“Rediscovering Columbus”
Site-Specific Installation at Columbus Circle, NYC

Enclosed inside a 6th floor walk-up designed in Art Deco decor, Christopher Columbus sure got himself a swanky studio apartment in Midtown Manhattan’s Columbus Circle neighborhood. Designed by Gaetano Russo, the statue was erected as part of New York’s 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. The monument itself consists of a marble statue of Columbus atop a 70-foot granite rostral column, with Russo’s intent being to depict Columbus situated on his monumental ships’ Masthead singlehandedly discovering America.

Americana Apartment Wallpaper.

The apartment itself is Art Deco 1950’s Chic. Able to lounge on suede couches, or sit idle in low-riding leather chairs, enveloped within low-lit lamps surrounded by child-like wallpaper adorned with iconic characters idolizing America’s recent pastime, one is anachronistically invited to sit amongst Americana splendor. Upholding this solid American foundation to the 1950s are the many books that align the small bookcase in the corner of the room, including Modern Masters like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, along with pop-histories on the Civil War and Baseball. Nishi re-presents Americana to the people, a time of post-war suburban flight, doo-wop tunes and poodle skirts, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and steadfast American individualism. However lovely it is to imagine a simpler time cruising your Chrysler around town as if living a scene strait from George Lucas’ “American Grafitti,” these pastime memories fall flat from nostalgia to pastiche when viewers are too young (or too technologically narcissistic) to remember such times. With lives so far removed from concrete Post-WWII “Baby-Boomer” pastime circumstances, present memories of the hyper Tech-Savvy Internet generation fall short of any real-world connotations, resulting in a nostalgia that becomes nothing more than false consciousness imbued with fictional symbolism.

A Room with a View.

Incongruous with the profound alliance to a 1950’s America, Nishi scatters current news periodicals throughout the apartment, including a television streaming live feed from CNN. The inclusion of high-profile periodicals is an interesting commentary on the meta-history Nishi creates in Columbus’ apartment; within the apartment, black and white birds-eye view period photographs of Columbus Circle adorn the walls and satirically, as one exits the apartment, two photographs, one of the Statue of Liberty and the other of Lower Manhattan both taken from the perspective of a passenger on a ship, hang on the wall—all mimicking Columbus’ many perspectives of New York City. With news, documentation photography and mass media broadcasting to name a few of the many contemporary outlets of informative communication that shapes societal consciousness, Nishi eloquently comments on how one view is never enough and bias is just as much a part of objective news as truth.

We are offered a never before seen glimpse of the Authoritative Explorer Columbus brazen against his masthead, taking his first glimpse of the newfound discovered continent. As adults, we all understand the story of Columbus, with his discoveries leading to Spanish colonization of the Americas. Taken from his Ivory Tower, one is able to put into question the foundational motives of the United States: at once under siege to outside foreign domination (first Spain, then Britain), our coming-of-age into the United States we know today only appropriated the same tactics of Renaissance authoritarianism. Perpetuation of individual gratification grounded in Post-War isolationism and moralizing McCarthyism foundational to American identity was never shaken from contemporary United States society, and Americana itself, however flat of a tangible connection to history (and rightfully so in the age of technological simulacra), is just as much apart of lives today as it ever was during its reign in the 1950s.

Americana at its Finest.