FORM(AT) | PANEL 5 | Pandemic Public Space
During the COVID-19 pandemic, any “rules” for creating, viewing, documenting, and sharing street art and public art went out the window. Constrained to our homes, the internet became more of a public space than ever before. The first piece that Banksy created during lockdown looks to be in his studio’s bathroom. With advertisers abandoning their billboards, New York City’s near-empty Times Square was covered in artists’ messages to essential workers. Ground murals claimed enormous swaths of physical space for Black Lives Matter activists, before primarily being documented by drones and shared online. Public artists turned to making posters to be shared at protests, but also on Instagram. In many cities, the streets were suddenly overwhelmed with fresh graffiti, but the empty streets meant fewer eyeballs. The greatest acts of street art in the last 12 months have almost certainly been fleeting moments of destruction, captured by frontline photographers and videographers. The relationship between physical public space, the internet, documentation, and the art itself is now blurrier than ever. This discussion will cover the blurring of those lines, with a combination of firsthand perspective and highlighting the clever ways other artists and activists responded to an audience suddenly locked down but online.