This post is a little late, but you know what they say, “Better late than never.”
Hanksy (@hanksynyc) is an anonymous street artist born to Internet fame through his humorously infectious wheatpasted posters found on decrepit walls, mostly in New York City, that poke fun at American popular culture. His type of humor is the kind that is so stupid that it’s funny, and I’m not saying that maliciously. You’d agree with me after seeing pieces from Hanksy like “Kanye Brest” and “Dope Francis”. Even the moniker that he chose, “Hanksy”, is obviously a hijacking from the most famous street artist of our time, Banksy. You can often find Tom Hanks’s grinning wheatpasted face nearby Hanksy’s tags, if you’re wondering about the other popular culture reference.
You know how I’ve been bemoaning the death of street art? Well, Hanksy might have heard my complaints because he put on a rather noble endeavor in Los Angeles a little over a week ago in an abandoned mansion that should give street art fans some hope. He invited 50+ artists to this mansion to paint and takeover almost every inch of the place, leaving behind a visual anarchy of graffiti, murals, installations, and performance art. Some recognizable names in the US scene and abroad, like Craola (@craola), Morley (@official_morley), Skid One (@skidonedms), Mear One (@mear_one), Fanakapan (@fanakapan), etc came to destroy these walls. There was no sponsor, no entry fee, and certainly no commercial efforts to sell wares. Artists had worked in the mansion for weeks, but it was viewable to the public for only one day, October 10th from 6pm to 10pm. There was even an after-party at the neighboring rundown house, which anyone could attend after contributing a small donation at the door.
Ephemerality? Check. Raw, dirty, and disorderly? Check. Graffiti and murals? Check and check. We got ourselves a proper street art party, boys.
I am still a little torn about how I feel about this show. It’s nearly captured the rebellious, DIY, ephemeral essence of street art, but what makes street art different from all other art is that it is publicly persecuted and it is this persecution that drives the creativity and relevance of the genre, which a legal show cannot ever hope to achieve. Let’s take for example Iranian street art and the fatal persecution that these street artists face for their art. If you take out the context of personal risk and political struggle, then their images lose all power and are nothing but silly little stenciled pictures on walls. However, once the context is restored, the images are suddenly imbued with power and potency. However, that is not to say sanctioned shows like Hanksy’s don’t have their own utility in the sphere. Perhaps it could be a gateway for attendees to research said contexts.
Well, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Check out the pictures from the show and decide for yourself how shows like this fit into the current state of street art. Let us know what you think in the comments.