29.04.2011. - 29.05.2011.

Eye Nerve Bombing

art ditu, filjio, gaz, lonac, lunar, oko okato, pajcek, petar popijač, peha plus, puma 34, sank, sretan bor, svenki and others

During the last few years, in the public discourse on artistic interventions in the city’s streets, the term street art is becoming more common. The works in Branimirova Street used to be called graffiti, while their new version is commonly labeled by the media as street art. Without entering the domain of formal and aesthetic distinctions of the new generation of artists and artworks, it is clear that the significant terminological shift from something that was up until recently linked with specific subcultures and vandalism, in itself points to an interesting artistic and social phenomenon. Who are the protagonists of this new wave of street art, how do they perceive their role of claiming public space, are they any different from their predecessors, how are their activities perceived by art history on the one hand and the law on the other, these are just some of the questions this exhibition deals with.

About street art

In the broadest sense, street art denotes every kind of creative activity that takes place in public space. Considering the fact that this includes a wide range of artistic activities, from installations, performances, music, dance, to visual arts, for the purposes of this exhibition, we decided to limit this exhibition only to the latter aspect. In popular literature, especially on the Internet, the term is usually connected with specific and characteristic visual media like stencils, stickers, collages, combinations of drawings, messages and signatures and the likes, which also differentiates it from graffiti, tags and common doodles on formal level as well. Still, although some artists decide on only one medium or style, an important aspect of this art phenomenon is hybridity; therefore it can be claimed that street art as such is not at all restricted by material, method, or by that which it represents or for whom it is meant.

From an art historical point of view, the appearance and global popularity of street art is, on the one hand, possible to perceive as a result or a contemporary echo of the non-institutional art practice which marked a large part of the 20th century. It is generally associated with direct artistic interventions into public space and the conscious avoidance and/or refusal of the mediating role of galleries, museums, art criticism, i. e. the institution of art in general. The examples of such strategies are numerous: from the historical avant-garde’s manifestos which call for a general creative mobilization and the transference of art to the streets, different conceptual art practices of the 1960s, to contemporary authors whose claiming of public space is often politically toned.

However, as opposed to the above mentioned examples, the phenomenon of street art is specific in the sense that it uses the street as a strong and unifying platform for communicating a direct, non-pretentious and often personal message, provoking a spontaneous and instant reaction. This form of art indicates and symbolizes creative human presence in the streets, independent from institutionalized limits of taste, appropriation and allowance. It carries an inherent protest against corporative and state control of public space, if not explicitly, through the message it conveys, then implicitly – by disrespecting private or state property where it is installed. At the same time, that which is written on the walls is a sincere reflection of the society that resides in that city.

In today’s world of technology and internet, scores of information and their rapid exchanges, street art spontaneously keeps track with the contemporary way of life. As such, it presents a typical postmodern entity which freely borrows from the “supermarket of styles”, copies elements of popular culture and advertising, and through this “textual hunting” adds new meaning to otherwise irrelevant or outdated elements. By marking the city’s inventory, these attempts of “beautifying”/”defacing” public space can also be observed as a way of understanding the city in line with many other aspects of contemporary life that is subject to designing and personalization.

About the exhibition

Since one of the main characteristics of street art is direct activity in the context of the street, we believe that by transferring works into the gallery space they automatically lose their original meaning and develop other connotations. Therefore, in dealing with this specific phenomenon, we decided for a documentary curatorial approach whose aim is not selection or valorization, but recording the recent appearance of street art in Zagreb and Velika Gorica.

The works themselves are present in the Gallery only on a virtual map which we consider an appropriate medium for their documentation, considering the fact that these works are often ephemeral and also remain unnoticed in the street bustle or they cannot compete with the rest of the city’s visual inventory consisting of the ever more dominant commercial contents.

In order to offer the broadest possible insight into the development and status of the local street art scene, we wanted to ensure that the selected interviews represent many different positions: from artistic, curatorial, theoretical and critical, to legal and law-enforcing ones. Grouped into thematic units dealing with certain topics and/or problems, the video-interviews present the main part of the exhibition and open numerous questions: from the definition of the phenomenon, its claiming of public space, institutionalization and illegality of street art, to the status of the local scene and the strategies of self-representation on the one hand, and interpretations in the media on the other.

Since the interviews could not include all street artists and everyone who feels like it, we have opened a platform for the mapping of the scene, establishing connections between names and marking their joint actions through an interactive wall. (Sanja Horvatinčić, Nina Pisk, Zana Šaškin)