This was taken just before we were about to walk up the Brooklyn Bridge. H E L L O Brooklyn!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Shepard Fairey "May Day" at Deitch gallery (Soho/Chinatown) NYC

When you see art pieces like these after having waited for 45 minutes in a line of art lovers (bourgeosis or underground,) you'd be relieved that the wait was worthwhile.

Even before this exhibition was open up to the public in the evening, fanatics of underground grafitti artist Shepard Fairey had lined up for his 'on demand' prints of icons from as early as 8pm. The Obey Giant website had rescheduled the time for lining up from mid afternoon to as early as 1pm. Poor out of towners were probably disappointed when they discovered that the limited prints were already gone. Prints sold for as little as $30, yet varied depending on the icon figure. You could imagine that these limited prints were soon to be sold on ebay for $300 and more.

Many would recognise Fairey for his painting of Obama with the word 'HOPE,' which played a significant role in the Presidential race of 2009. Yet, Fairey has an interesting biography to his artistic inspiration. His art is rooted in his earlier years as a skate board graphic designer and illustrator. What started off as a pure accident, that is "Andre the giant and the posse" is now "OBEY" Fairey's clothing line pulsating with unique underground graphic design Tees.

"...the Andre The Giant sticker was just a spontaneous, happy accident. I was teaching a friend how to make stencils in the summer of 1989, and I looked for a picture to use in the newsppaper, and there jsut hppened to be an ad for wrestling with Andre The Giant and I told him that he should make a stencil of it. He said "Nah, I'm not making a stencil of that, that's stupid"' but I thought it was funny so I made the stencil and I made a few stickers and the group of guys I was hanging out with always called each other the Posse, and it was sort of appropriated from hip-hop slang - Public Enemy, NWA and Ice-T were all using all the word." (FORMAT MAGAZINE: 2008)
Interestingly enough, the motivation and spirit behind OBEY is Existentialist philosopher- Heidegger's concept of Phenomenology, which is a complicated philosophical theory that my good years in university had taught me. Unfortunately, those years are far away and I can't remember what the hell it's about.

Referring to the OBEY GIANT website, which provides more detail on OBEY and the significant relationship with phenomenology, Fairey states:
 "The first aim of phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment...

...The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. 
Bearing in mind that Obey has no meaning.
...Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them as an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily......The Giant sticker seems mostly to be embraced by those who are (or at least want to be seem to be) rebellious.  Even though these people may not know the meaning of the sticker, they enjoy its slight disruptive underground quality and wish to antiestablishment/societal convention..."

I find this explanation for OBEY intriguing not only because I too was affected by the power of the "OBEY" image, which is what phenomenology is all about, but it asks everyone to ask themselves questions about the reality they live in where words, images, commercialism and cultural mindsets transform our way of experiencing our surroundings. Our senses are tuned from a very early age from how we are brought up to think and to how we experience different forms of realia.

Personally, the OBEY capitalised word (in white over red) on the one hand encourages my mind to immediately zap onto an authoritian figure making me feel victimised to merely starring at it. Yet, on the other hand, as I know there is no practical meaning behind the word, but to astound people, I feel more than pleased with myself knowing that it did work. I starred at it and succumbed to his big font, but there is no punishment or crime that I've committed. I may have even chucked : )

The same can be said of Andre the Giant image, which is more of an image that strucks me as something from Orwell's 1984's "big brother" icon. We are constantly being watched by Andre. This stencil can be found anywhere in the world that has graffiti. What originally had been born from underground skate boarding culture is now something framed and idolised in various prestigious art galleries.

Here are a couple of photographs I took of the opening at Wooster street and the crazy gatherings of art students, carators, hipsters, skateboarders, art lovers, A-listers, and motor bikers.

There in the middle of this road was the opening of Fairey's exhibition in a Soho gallery, which sits nicely with a wall filled with underground grafitti art. Here, people were either queuing up to see the exhibition, jamming outside on the streets with trendy friends, sitting on their thousands of bucks worth of low rider motorbikes or leaning on a "too much spray paint" wall with a ghetto blaster at hand.

I've moved to NY

I've moved to NY
I have certainly moved to New York City