Living Walls Conference: Debate Continues

In the comments section of the Burnaway article

There’s this, from MTM:

“My disappointment with the City is not in the lack of public work or ’street art’ but in the lack of discourse about it especially after this very egocentric grand stand of self professed street art is largely over.

I’m not sure if the conference or Pecha Kucha presentations approached any of the important questions about the act of graffiti and it’s place in art history because I didn’t attend. But from a outsiders critical and curatorial perspective, I think the project lacked some grounding and rigor. There were questions that occurred to me over the course of the thing and I wish there was more discourse about it here. Instead all I hear is “what a great party that was!” So if nothing else, yeah, it was a great gathering.

Not depreciating the camaraderie and good times of the ‘happening’ but what did it transform exactly? Or address creatively that hasn’t already been done? Isn’t that the goal of “street art?” Who has noticed that was not in the know already?

Will this effect legislative decisions in the future with respect to public art funding? As Cinque pointed out in last weeks CL (in a POV that should have been the cover), maybe the time is now to be lobbying, getting in the gold dome and leveraging some power? Instead the energy built by this project will fizzle out as volunteers and organizers for weeks to come will still be wrapping up what was the biggest house party Eyedrum has ever seen. And returning a lot of real estate back to it’s previous condition in some cases.”

ETC. Unfortunately, this person goes on.

And this, from Greg…

“Funny, didn’t know street rules included getting permission to paint on walls, in the daytime, along side a bunch of artists that wouldn’t risk not returning their census ontime, let alone getting taken in for vandalism and trespassing. I enjoy the thought of local artists getting together to paint murals and try to beautify the city, but lets not confuse this gathering for something its not. I’m assuming the reason more seasoned street/graffiti artists didn’t join the “MOB” is because to them it would be the equivalent, and as rewarding as developing the new urban street campaign for Maxwell house.”

He goes on as well, but at least he’s less long-winded.

Of course, I had to chime in (for a really long while) as well:

“MTM, please save the criticism for the conference you actually attend, which may lend your opinion a shred of credibility. “The project lacked grounding and rigor”—how would you know? And since you didn’t attend, don’t you think any assumed “lack of discourse” falls on you? At the Georgia Tech talks, Jeff Ferrell, Jordan Seiler and Jason Eppink all addressed issues such as advertising parading as street art, what denotes “public” space, how uses for public space—including but not limited to federally funded art and privately funded advertising—reinforce “normative” ways of being in society, even down to “normalizing” our aesthetic preferences, how altering your community via art can be instructive or helpful (google Eppink’s Astoria Scum River), and may even affect legislative or infrastructure change in a community. Not to mention Seiler’s work using art to call attention to illegal public ads (like the legal ones aren’t mind assault enough!) As for “what did it transform” or “address that hasn’t been done,” I wonder, did you even make it to the gallery show? Because there were hundreds of people at Eyedrum that night, plenty of representatives from “mainstream America,” plenty of people who weren’t “in the know.” And those people were engaged. They were discussing the art and the phenomena of a smelly, sludgy garage as part of an art show. Know how I know this? Because I overheard those conversations. I WAS there. My guess is that Living Walls has inspired some people—adults and especially kids—to start making art and maybe even street art. Because at Living Walls, art was “cool,” it was a party and it was inclusive. It wasn’t museum stuffy. “Low-brow” or “pop-art” gallery shows may occasionally occur in Atlanta, but to my knowledge nothing like this conference has ever happened in, I daresay, the greater South.

As for Greg, you’re right, some of the artists involved in Living Walls rarely get up on the streets. But most of the artists get up constantly and were putting up illegal pieces at night (a few even got mugged at gunpoint for their troubles) the entire week they were in town. So, um, do your homework.”

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