I’ve always been a fan of public art especially stencils and wheat pasted posters. There’s been a long tradition of using these methods of public propaganda to promote subversive political ideas and critiques of culture. Often the graphics and posters are clever and thoughtful and the critiques they make witty and sharp. (See this video for how it’s done.) How could one not want to squat, take to the streets or run to the barricades after being inspired by such expressions of creativity?
It is within this context that I view the current crop of stencil/graff/flyposting artists here in Los Angeles and sad to say, these attempts at public art are hardly worth the mention. (Shepard Fairey? Pffft.) Most of the wheat pasted pieces I’ve seen, especially on the west side of the Los Angeles River are all about self-promotion and lack original and creative qualities.
Take this poster for instance. Einstein holding a sign that says “Love is the answer?” In this day and age of La Crisis and the numerous dire situations this city finds itself in, and the only thing this artist can come up with is this pseudo-hippie slogan? Oh how edgy! And Einstein…really? And when has ‘Love’ solely been the answer to anything? Some people’s ideas of love can be pretty screwed up, so no thank you. Social change comes not from wishful thinking and sappy slogans but from real engagement with the world we live in. Perhaps it’s this engagement that’s lacking from the current crop of west of the River public art.
“ People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth. “– Raoul Vaneigem, 1967
See LA Taco for an amazing gallery of public art from Argentina.