This series of photographic murals examines the delicate play between ephemeral street art and commissioned murals. Being an underground street artist for many years, I have developed an understanding of urban architecture and public space that is inherent in making artwork that will not only inhabit this space but, interact and raise questions about what it is and what it communicates to its audience. This audience is comprised not only of the typical art gallery or museum attendee, but also by a general populace that brings a unique vantage point and a differently informed view to the work.
Working with Atlanta Celebrates Photography and being it’s public artist of the year meant taking my work that had once been underground and on the fringes of culture to a new level. It allowed me the freedom to create work on a much larger scale than what had previously been possible.
Technically the work is very simple and immediate. In its purest essence, it is no more than photocopies glued to public building walls. The medium of wheat paste takes its name from the glue that binds the printed imagery to the exterior walls. This wheat paste (also referred to as Marxist glue for its ability to allow the individual to bypass capital and industrial means) is the adhesive medium used from ancient times to contemporary times by many activists, subversives and subcultures like nineteenth and twentieth century circus bill posters, contemporary hip-hop and punk culture, communists, anarchists, even Toulouse-Lautrec's popular silk screened posters. This process is typically called wheat pasting or poster bombing. Using this material rather than a more contemporary product, gave the work new layers of meaning, and the depth and nuance created by the conceptually rich underpinnings of its history.
After choosing the public walls were this work would exist, sketches of scenarios and notes about how these vignettes would relate to their architecture would steer the type of photography I would do with the models. These models were brought into the studio and photographed using controlled lighting conditions that later would help visually integrate the figure into its architectural surroundings. These images were then enlarged using large format photocopiers and then tiled onto the exterior walls of the chosen sites.
I decided that there should be many sites for this work, and that the work should be something that emerged over a period of time so that a public dialogue could grow around this emergence. I also felt the work should inhabit only the urban confines of downtown Atlanta. The architecture of this metro area was an important aspect to the work. Bits of defunct wiring, gutters and downspouts, bricked up windows, the texture of artistic tagging, rusted metal, utility boxes and junctions, steel support mechanisms, fire escapes, the stains and soilings of a city’s functions: these are the elements that juxtapose themselves with the visual imagery that I present to the viewer.
This work was installed over the course of two weeks, with a total of 13 sites, the bulk of which remained up for a month to six weeks, contributing to its ephemeral nature. Most of this work was then removed, though a handful have remained to deteriorate, decompose and integrate into their surroundings. This work was documented using a large format camera and Polaroid film, allowing me to create an edition of fine art prints that go beyond simple documentation and become aesthetic objects themselves. This takes the work to galleries and museums, bringing it to a new set of viewers in a more traditional fine art setting.