Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fairey ironic?

Ok, this one is a case which has me very, very torn, not unlike the issue of the moving of the Barnes Foundation from Merion, PA into Philadelphia... anyway, here's the deal: last year street artist Shepard Fairey created a mural on the side of Rocket Cat Cafe, a couple of blocks away from our home in Fishtown. Recently, however, I noticed that another street artist tagged the mural... and now someone is working painstakingly to remove the tag (see the article at this link). Now, to me, it seems kind of ironic and only natural, in a way, that one work of street art (or, as it is sometimes known, "graffiti") would be covered up by another... the fact that someone is taking the trouble to remove the newer tag, in my mind, raises all sorts of interesting questions about the value we place on particular instances of "street art," or any art, really, over any other piece of art - why is Shepard Fairey's art deemed conservation-worthy and the other "artist's" work not? Is it because he's famous? Because someone paid money to have the mural painted? Because it's "better" art than the tag which followed? Why is the tag not simply allowed to be a part of the work, a "street work" in progress? If we were to apply the same judgment to Fairey's work as to the subsequent tagger, would Fairey's work ever be as valued as it is? Because long before he did the Obama "Hope" poster and all that, Fairey was just another tagger himself, in a sense, putting his art up on property which didn't belong to him? Anyway, I don't have all the answers, but I'd be curious as to what others think of this whole issue. It frankly has me stumped, and somewhat amused...

Me, in front of the Shepard Fairey mural outside Rocket Cat, months before the tagging
(photo taken by the lovely and amazing Alison Overton