Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Street Art In A Pub - What Is It Good For?

Absoultely nothing would be the obvious answer, well apart from say maybe attaching yet another particularly knobish and upper crust Dublin bar to the continuing upward vogue of street art. If you want to see the heart and soul sucked out of this relatively disobedient form of art you could do far worse than take a stroll down to Four Dame Lane for the 'War What is it Good For?' exhibition taking place in tandem with Coors until mid-October.

Banksy's Gitmo exploit at Disney and his recent punking of Paris Hilton turned the eyes of the world once again to the subversive world of street art. The English guerrilla artist replaced 500 copies of her new album in shops around England with mangled culture jammed versions of the original cover. Taking aim at the cult of narcissism around her, the CDs were accompanied by audio remixes asking the question 'Why am I Famous?'

One of Banksy's most famous works 'Napalm' is currently featured in the exhibition which aims to sketch the intersection of war, consumerism and pop-culture through the visually arresting medium of street art and thrash culture collage. This print display by some of arts most critically engaged pioneers includes work by Warhol, Bast and Ralph Stedman. Shepard Fairey of "André the Giant" fame spreads the message of disobedience through his iconic postage stamp portrayal of revolutionary women. Also featured is Irish born Will St Leger, a sometime Greenpeace crusader running under the guise of 'artivist,' he apes the dominant aesthetic of graphic design to undermine advertisement culture. Here he provides a crude but effective ironic meshing together of traditional Irish nationalism and Celtic Tiger consumer when Michael Collins gets a pair of high-street shopping bags. Meanwhile Gee Voucher's visually arresting portrait Soldier undermines masochistic military culture with a simple set of pursed scarlet lips.

Unfortunately most of the work on display looks like prints locked away behind glass in a frame. You could do as well yourself lazor printing your favourite collection of street art off the net and wheatpasting it to your toilet door. There was no attempt to create an atmosphere from the work, it was left diminished in stature against the barren yuppie environs that is this particular dress code hell hole of a venue. In fact its impossible to get up close and view the prints without interupting someones evening at a table, mounted as they are above various booths.

This exhibition is meant to say more about Four Dame Lane's events over the coming winter months than either war or street art. They couldn't even have been bothered spelling Will St Leger's name right in an extraordinary display of half arsed latching on. I can't be bothered commenting on more of the art some of its great but really you can see it better on the net. This wasn't even worth going to for the opening night free drinks. Take a walk around the city and see whats on the walls, avoid this like the plague and hope for the best that the exhibition that took place in the Digital Hub last year returns again to showcase some of Ireland and Europe's finest street artists.

Elsewhere: Banksy's recent punking of Paris Hilton has drawn cynicism in some quarters ( 1 ). There is a view that paints it as a double edged attempt by the record label and him at promoting the various egos involved in it in a mutual wanking session of genius marketing. As usual make up your own mind.

The art on display in Dame Lane includes:
Andy Warhol - John Lennon Banksy - Napalm Gee Voucher - Soldier Bast - Thug Ralph Stedman - Daily Mail Obey/Shepard Fairey - Revolutionary Women AN? - Hearts and Minds Will St Leger - Duty Free State Morgan - Def Con

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to antropheatgmail.com

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