Right now, the Urban Affairs exhibition is running in Berlin. It's focus is on urban art and street art... in other words, mostly graffiti. Day to day as I move through Chicago, I often spot new tags sprouting up throughout the city. Most of them are gang related, and make the city look dirty. But sometimes... you see something that really is a work of art, even if it's not supposed to be there. There is a culture of street art that exists outside of the gang related graffiti we are used to seeing. Berlin is known as a sort of Mecca for street artists, but many of the artists participating in Urban Affairs have made their marks all around the world. As I browsed the different participants online, while I found some pieces that I wouldn't want to find on my front door when I stepped out to get the paper in the morning (okay, I don't get a paper delivered, but work with me), I also discovered some really beautiful, thoughtful images. The one above is the work of Xoooox, one of the featured artists. I also liked some of the work of Einsamkeit, below.
Almost more interesting than the images themselves, is the idea that these street artists are making pieces that are seen by the public everyday and their work is becoming apart of the landscape. They are putting themselves on the map. It's at the point when I think of this that my mind starts pulling away from the wall that they've painted, away from the city, the country, the continent and starts thinking of street art's place in the world and in time. The artist that really started me thinking about this was Eltono. He has tagged places in Spain, France, United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Italy and Portugal. Despite the fact that what he is doing is, well, illegal, he has a certain respect for the space he marks. His tags are recognizable because he has created an icon that represents the form of a tuning fork. There is something about the simplicity of it that is both modern and timeless. My brain fast-forwards to a moment in the future when archeologists are uncovering cities in Europe, and finding his graffiti and looking for answers in it. In the meantime, they look beautiful in the spaces they fill and they really seem to make sense there. And, while I'm not going to hit the streets with paint cans, it definitely got me thinking, how can I expand my world?