Thursday, August 1, 2013

Like Banksy - only 1/100th as talented

Chalk-Le-chat: Like Banksy or Blek Le rat (only 1/100th as talented)

A different kind of chalking

By Norah Dooley

Last month I compared my work to Jenny Holzer and this week I am thinking about Banksy and his predecessor, Blek le Rat, (born Xavier Prou,1952) who was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and has been described as the “Father of Stencil Graffiti”.  Lest you think I am totally out of my mind -  I
Mon petit signature
shall clarify. I do not believe myself to be in anyway comparable to these world-class artists. I only mention them as examples of the inspiration for my work and to give some point of reference for what I am doing. Deciding I needed a "nome de plume" like my heroes ( my heroine, Jenny Holzer, is simply herself) and knowing that imitation is the sincerest form of mimicry I have, for now, settled on Chalk le Chat.

Cool, right? It is like Blek Le rat, only I am 1/100th as talented or prolific. I am also considering the moniker "Pastore Fata" after Shephard Fairey but he gets into a lot of  trouble so it ma be a bit risky.  Running with the Chalk Le-chat idea allowed me to
designed myself a little signature
( see left ). Mostly, I create really simple chalk drawings about the stories I have just told to surprise and I hope delight the children who stumble upon them. If they mystify and inspire those who have not heard my stories - that is great. The fact that the act is noncommercial and intends a democratic inclusiveness. I sometimes draw with my audience, teaching them how to use simple shapes to draw some of the animals that feature as characters in my stories. And other times I  leave chalk beside or nearby the drawings,  inside a chalk circle of words saying "Express Yourself".

Here  is the wiki entry for "street art"
Street art is art, specifically visual art, developed in public spaces — that is, "in the streets" — though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives. The term can include traditional graffiti artwork, sculpture, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, and street installations. Typically, the term street art or the more specific post-graffiti is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art.

Artists have challenged art by situating it in non-art contexts. ‘Street’ artists do not aspire to change the definition of an artwork, but rather to question the existing environment with its own language. They attempt to have their work communicate with everyday people about socially relevant themes in ways that are informed by esthetic values without being imprisoned by them.John Fekner defines street art as "all art on the street that’s not graffiti".

Whereas traditional graffiti artists have primarily used free-hand aerosol paints to produce their works,"street art" encompasses many other media and techniques, including: LED art, mosaic tiling, murals, stencil art, sticker art, "Lock On" street sculptures, street installations, wheatpasting, woodblocking, video projection, and yarn bombing. New media forms of graffiti, such as projection onto large city buildings, are an increasingly popular tool for street artists—and the availability of cheap hardware and software allows street artists to become more competitive with corporate advertisements. Much like open source software, artists are able to create art for the public realm from their personal computers, similarly creating things for free which compete with companies making things for profit.

Traditional graffiti also has increasingly been adopted as a method for advertising; its trajectory has even in some cases led its artists to work on contract as graphic artists for corporations.Nevertheless, street art is a label often adopted by artists who wish to keep their work unaffiliated and strongly political. Street artists are those whose work is still largely done without official approval in public areas. For these reasons street art is sometimes considered "post-graffiti" and sometimes even "neo-graffiti.St reet art can be found around the world and street artists often travel to other countries foreign to them so they can spread their designs.
Children join Chalk le Chat at Honan Librar
The motivations and objectives that drive street artists are as varied as the artists themselves. There is a strong current of activism and subversion in urban art. Street art can be a powerful platform for reaching the public, and frequent themes include adbusting, subvertising and other culture jamming, the abolishment of private property and reclaiming the streets. Some street artists use "smart vandalism" as a way to raise awareness of social and political issues.Other street artists simply see urban space as an untapped format for personal artwork, while others may appreciate the challenges and risks that are associated with installing illicit artwork in public places. However the universal theme in most, if not all street art, is that adapting visual artwork into a format which utilizes public space, allows artists who may otherwise feel disenfranchised, to reach a much broader audience than traditional artwork and galleries normally allow. Street art can also be a form of political expression used by the oppressed and people with little resources to create change.

Banksy - © Clipstone Crop
From a blog that follows Banksy:
Banksy’s latest street pieces which appeared in London over the Easter bank holiday reworks an old anarchist slogan coined by Emma Goldman “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” The piece seems to be a reference to a spate of recent arrests in LA of street artists such as Invader and Revok who are involved with the MOCA show. — New Banksy street piece in London references arrests in LA.

Blek le Rat in LA
From the Street Art Blog, post NOV 19, 2011:

Blek recognized the great ability of street art to address the populace in ways other art could not. Through stencils often centered on social observation, Blek involved his viewers in a guerrilla war against complacency and conformity, highlighting the strength of the individual and inspiring a reflection upon the status quo. The guerrilla art we are familiar with now has much to thank Blek le Rat for, a point driven home with impact when looking at the work of notorious British-graffiti artist Banksy, whose style is not only based on that of Blek but whose subject matter (including soldiers, rebels and even rats taking over the streets) is inarguably influenced by Blek as well.

1 comment:

Connecting Stories said...

2. Give without expecting a return.

Many street artists create work with the belief that freedom of speech and free art should be enjoyed by everyone. They create out of pure enjoyment and give their art to the world selflessly. When you put things out into the universe without the expectation of a return, it will come back to you in one form or another.