January 10, 2010

New Work, "Stampede of Paste"

I'm in the middle of a new series of portraits of fellow friends. I've been greatly enjoying the delicate and arduous work to create these. It's even stranger to see how slowly or quickly they are removed or buffed. It really makes me wonder about the nature of friendship and how, even when someone isn't physically there, that they can still be more present in your life than ever.

The project has really been a shift from my usual work which is error-prone, abstract, and divorced from clean craftsmanship. The funny part to working so precisely is the opposite tendency when bringing these pieces to the street. The whole project shifts back to a quick and covert operation, where I constantly feel eyes on me. This paranoia is a condition of graffiti and without it, well, graffiti may cease to be graffiti. If I were not to feel such tendencies I might as well be making portraits for the town fair or Wheaties boxes. On the other hand, without such paranoid reactions I might not butcher the delicate accents in these wheat pastes. Regardless, I wonder if this feeling of angst is not only important for working in the street but the essence of working on the street.

I know a lot of people who work under the guise of construction and official city outfits (i'm guilty of this too) in order to get up easier. Wearing the camouflage of sanctioned urban workers is no different than the wolf dressing in sheep's clothing. For some, like Leon Reid IV it is more of a necessity due to time constraints and large and loud machinery. While for others who are simply wheat pasting or painting I wonder how much camouflage is needed before that "essence" of getting up is extinguished. Is the disguise so legit to the eye and to the mind that the work itself is a disguise? Is it a sham to not live in one's adrenaline and embrace the origins of our subculture?

True, ESPO was rockin roll up gates and inventing the tricks that many now have adopted but it feels that Street Art, Urban Art, Graffiti Art has come within a papercut of being co-opted by the sanctioned world. Meaning the more we act like it's legit, the more it is legit. From this vantage I think the street art world is nipping on the heals of MC Hammer. Too legit to quit.

View the project at eriktburke.com

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