Kilroy was here.


Just Opened:

The End is Far

Jonathan LeVine Gallery, 529 W20th St., NYC (9th FL)
Tue-Sat, 11a-6p

a series of new works, a site-specific installation and live performance by Polish-born, New York-based artist Olek, features new multi-layered crocheted sculptures and panels. With the addition of finely crocheted lace doilies, metallic gold ribbon and a new approach to typography, themes of freedom, justice, feminine power and strength are conveyed through subject matter such as boxing gloves, skulls, skeletons, sickles and horseshoes. Photo of Olek by Jonathan LeVine. - thru Mar 23

For your consideration:

“How has ‘graffiti’ sustained its status as a so-called urban problem during this extended period of neglect toward the nation’s cities, when issues of poverty, public schooling, health care, and meaningful employment—the material structures that support everyday lives—have been passed over?  Why did writing achieve such an extraordinary rapid and sophisticated aesthetic development in New York City long before it had even appeared in most other cities?  What has sustained that development across time, and why has it appealed to so many of the city’s youth?”

—Joe Austin, excerpt from “Taking the Train” (2001), pg. 7 


“Through my research, I discovered that the theoretical generalizations about the aesthetics of graffiti quickly became a moot point, as the theory could only be upheld at great cost to what writing meant to individuals.  Theorizing about what graffiti pieces mean in the abstract also seemed to me to be at odds with trying to understand the critical sociological issues about who writes and how the practice of writing and the experience of the subculture community affect their lives”

Graffiti is “a medium capable of embodying contradiction”

—Gregory J. Snyder, excerpts from “Graffiti Lives” (2009) pg. 9

Excerpts from Howard S Becker’s book, “Art Worlds”:

“All artistic work, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people.  Through their cooperation the art work we eventually see or hear comes to be and continues to be.  The work always shows signs of that cooperation.  The forms of cooperation may be ephemeral, but often become more or less routine, producing patterns of collective activity we can all call an art world. ”

“Art worlds typically devote considerable attention to trying to decide what is and isn’t art, what is and isn’t their kind of art, and who is and isn’t an artist; by observing how an art world makes those distinctions rather than trying to make them ourselves we can understand much of what does on in that world.” 

Despite having a female president and some remarkably liberal legislature regarding gender and sexuality (same sex marriage is legal for instance), “machismo” still manifests itself through both formal and informal social relationships in Argentina.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, male street artists far outnumber the women that are active in this art world.  However, more and more women have been taking their work to the street, and some Argentine women like Hyuro, Pum Pum, and Georgina Ciotti have attracted international attention.  There are also many active female graffiti writers like Shine and Mickey despite the male-dominated image of graffiti (generated through the risk, illegality, physicality, and brave recklessness associated with graff).  Street art is undeniably labor intensive, and a large piece might require days of work and hours of painting, climbing up and down ladders, etc.  Even the use of aerosol requires physical work and maneuvering.

In an interview with Carolina Cuore, she expressed her frustration with the projection of gender expectations even in the supposedly free world of street art.  She has heard other female artists express fear of vertigo, and aversion to the general intensive nature of the work.  In her interest of breaking these stereotypes, Cuore plans on starting a regimen of physical training to prepare her body for a long future of street work.  Women seem to be  more cautious in approaching street art and are more likely to take the workshops on urban art or stencil making (Indeed I noticed the “Aerosol Urbano” workshop was at least 80% composed of women).  All of the female street artists I had interviewed in Buenos Aires also had a background in fine art—none of them were self-trained or taught themselves through the practice of graffiti.

All of that being said, women have had an undeniable (and underrated) presence in the movements of street art, graffiti, and activist art in Buenos Aires.  It was first of all the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo that truly started to reclaim public space during the end of the last brutal dictatorship in the early 1980s.  Then the Grupo de Art Callejero (GAC), as an all female group of young art students, helped pioneer the explosion of activist art in the late 1990s.  Pum Pum is another female street artist/graphic designer that has been around since the first explosion of aesthetic street art post 2001.  As street art continues to be normalized in Buenos Aires, I have a feeling that the number of female artists will continue to increase—and it will be a refreshing voice for the city.