The street art conference aims to interrogate practices of collecting street art in its broadest sense – as the preservation, conservation and accumulation of tangible and intangible things by individuals or institutions (Bell 2017). Contributions will address the de- and recontextualization of street art, including – but not limited to – the following areas of interest: institutionalization, conservation, commercialization, commodification, heritagization, preservation, digitization and digitalization of contemporary street art.
Archivist, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Arhivarka, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
writer, curator, photographer, arts administrator & founder of Vandalog
pisatelj, kurator, fotograf in ustanovitelj bloga Vandalog
Curator, Co-founder of PAPERJAM & founder of MrVains foundation
kurator, soustanovitalj PAPERJAM in ustanovitelj fundacije MrVains
Graduate Students, University of St Thomas
dodoplomski študentje, University of St Thomas
Professor, Universidad de Monterrey | Doctor in Art, Communication and Humanities | Coordinator of the Urban and Public Art research group
Co-Directors, Urban Art Mapping Research Project
direktorja Urban Art Mapping Research Project
Professor, University of Jaén | Professor, University of Huelva
profesorica, University of Jaén | profesorica, University of Huelva
The street art conference programme spans three days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) and is divided into panels (7). Each panel will have 3 to 4 papers (approximately 90 minutes per panel) with a maximum presentation length of 15 minutes.
In order to improve the street art conference programme, we have asked the chairs to manage the time of the presentations efficiently as indicated in the programme. We encourage all chairs to ask questions after each presentation. In case of last minute cancellations, the order of the papers will be followed as listed in the programme.
The street art conference will be held in person at the Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture (Ljubljana, Slovenia) and virtually via stream on the YouTube platform. The stream will integrate, when possible, online and face-to-face platforms.
Conference participants will have the opportunity to ask questions via chat. The online moderator will collect the questions and forward them to the panel chair.
Chair: Tjaša Pureber
Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Studies, Lund University, Sweden
Approaches to Documenting and Preserving Graffiti and Street Art
Unsanctioned expressions like graffiti and street art are ephemeral. This does not mean that they are necessarily short-lived, but rather that they are generally not intended to last and may be altered or removed at any time. However, aspects of such works often live on through different types of documentation. This talk will discuss how we might think about the methods for, as well as the very practice of, documenting – and perhaps preserving – graffiti and street art.
Panel chair: Tjaša Pureber
Martha Cooper & Mitja Velikonja
“I don’t want to shoot something that’s done with permission. It’s an outlaw art. That’s what makes it thrilling.”
It’s impossible to come up with a better teaser for a discussion about graffiti and street art than the statement of Martha Cooper herself in the March issue of Dazed. We’ll talk with the iconic photojournalist of the social and cultural margins of American megalopolises, whose splendor and misery, pain and inspiration she has been tirelessly recording, camera in hand, since the 1970s, within the framework – and undoubtedly outside of it as well – of two of her most famous works. First, her pioneering chronicling of the early New York graffiti scene: she published the first photobook on the topic, titled Subway Art (1984), with Henry Chalfant. The second work is the recent documentary film, simply titled Martha: A Picture Story (2019), in which she and her contemporaries speak about her invaluable contribution to understanding the culture of the streets – especially the side streets, the dirty and graffitied alleys.
Panel chair: Tjaša Pureber
Jasper van Es
Curator, creative producer, co-founder of PAPERJAM & founder of MrVains foundation
Sorry for Damage Done
Unique before and after images of cleaned street art and graffiti in Eindhoven.
The starting point for this project was the discovery of a massive database of photographs made by cleaning companies in Eindhoven, a city in the Netherlands known for its industrial heritage, including the Philips factories. Between 2007 and 2013, these companies were commissioned to remove unauthorised images from municipal property in the city’s public space. As evidence of their work, they photographed each site twice – before and after cleaning – which resulted in a huge archive of 50,000 images. When the artists, Vincent Wittenberg and Wladimir Manshanden, stumbled upon this bizarre collection, they immediately appreciated its historic value and approached Jasper van Es and they made it into a book and small exhibition. The database is a meticulous seven-year inventory of the graffiti and sticker culture in Eindhoven and exposes the city’s struggle with the ambivalence of combatting vandalism versus embracing subcultures. It also documents urban space as a territory where a wide range of people leave their mark. Sorry for damage done represents 3% of the entire database: more than 1.500 chronologically ordered photographs of graffiti and their ‘cleaned up’ counterparts.
Good Guy Boris
The Miha Artnak
Panel chair: Ljiljana Radosević
1 Adris Díaz Fernández, Rodrigo Ledesma Gómez & Ana Cristina García Luna
Universidad de Monterrey and Yadira Nieves Lahaba Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, México
The Systematization and Classification of the Mural Works Produced by the CALLEGENERA Urban Expressions Festival: A Case Study
The muralist creation of the Festival of Urban Expressions CALLEGENERA as an artistic consumption culture aims to identify the works, to describe and catalog the murals chronologically and socio-spatially, and to design a recording model for the analysis and documentation of the muralistic creation.
The urban art festivals make it possible to update the existing panorama, in relation to the subject, with the presentation of exhibitions, the intervention of walls, the realization of workshops, discussion tables, conferences, the screening of documentaries and the recounting of research contributions. The Callegenera Urban Expressions Festival organized by the Council for Culture and the Arts of Nuevo Leon (CONARTE), Monterrey, Mexico, with its 10 years of uninterrupted existence, is an example of what has been done to recognize the cultural manifestations that exist in public space, whose purpose is to disseminate the production of new talents and recognize those who have been intervening for some time in the walls of the city of Monterrey (Mexico) and even around the world.
The systematization of the festival’s activities has allowed the configuration of a historical line and the navigation of the 10 years of intervention with a mapping of the murals, achieving geolocation through the online platform Omeka.net, where the works, of all editions of the festival are shown, through the curation of content by year, author, or location. It also integrates audiovisual materials, to enhance cultural and psycho-environmental education of the population and to re-signify public space. It is understood that urban art is in most cases ephemeral, so its systematization is a necessity in today’s world to study and make visible the murals and their authors.
The research is the result of a joint work between two universities, the University of Monterrey and the Autonomous University of Nuevo León, both from Mexico, through the research group Arte Urbano y Público. It is an interdisciplinary research with a focus on sociology, art, architecture and information.
2 Maria Udovydchenko
Archivist at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Street Art and Graffiti Archives in Private and Institutional Collections: Ephemeral Documentation
Today in Russia most of the materials related to the history of street art and graffiti are in private archives. These archives are gathered directly by artists or street art hunters that makes them closed for researchers. However, two years ago, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art began to complete its archival funds with materials related to these phenomena. Simultaneously, the issue of archiving is relevant for a number of other Russian institutions, whose activities are related to street art. Archiving various types of documents becomes the part of large-scale projects – from creating a timeline for the emergence and development of Russian street art, to interactive city maps with marked art works and other visual forms, including a thematic museum exposition.
The report offers the observation of private and institutional archives as two ways of collecting materials and comparing next key points: different types of collected documents, how materials arrive to archives, methods which are used for description and representation of the materials. The phenomena of an institutional archive will be considered as an example of the Archival collection of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
3 Gabriele Boero
Graduate student at Genoa University
The Restoration of 1984 Pieces by Delta 2 and Phase 2 in Quattordio, Italy: A Burning Debate
In 1984, the NYC writers Delta 2, Rammelzee, Ero and Phase 2 went to Italy to promote one of the first graffiti exhibitions in Europe, Arte di Frontiera (“Border Art”), curated by Francesca Alinovi and held in Bologna. On that occasion, the four writers were invited to paint a large approved mural in Quattordio, a small town in Piedmont. In 2017, the municipality of Quattordio decided to restore the two large pieces by Delta 2 and Phase 2 through the help of professional restorers. The initiative was mainly driven by Marco “Kayone” Mantovani, writer and street artist, who directly requested the permission for this kind of preservation of Phase 2.
This year the mural needs a new restoration, and the controversy about this issue between the Urban Art world in Italy has resurfaced. This issue shows that we still need a clear conservation protocol for all the different aspects of Urban Art and that the work of restorers is still often seen as “re-painting” by writers and street artists. However, there are still some interesting questions to discuss: How long can we try to save something that is clearly ephemeral? Should we consider non-in-situ ways of conservation? Or should we just accept ephemerality without any kind of conservation at all?
Panel chair: Mankica Kranjec
1 Heather Shirey, Todd Lawrence, and Paul Lorah
Co-Directors, Urban Art Mapping Research Project
Archiving and Activism in Theory and in Practice: The George Floyd and Anti-Racist Street Art Database
The Urban Art Mapping George Floyd and Anti-Racist Street Art database documents and archives examples of street art from around the world that have emerged in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This project makes use of the digital archive in order to situate works produced in the street — including plywood protest art, graffiti, murals, stickers, wheatpaste posters, and more — as part of an ongoing movement demanding social justice and equality. The database contains abundant metadata including visual analysis of the works accompanied by a description of key themes, geolocations, and dates of documentation. To this end, the archive facilitates a nuanced understanding of the text, iconography, and issues that appear in street art on a global scale, explored in relation to local experiences, responses, and attitudes.
In creating a street art archive, we recognize that artworks created in the streets are by nature ephemeral and have the ability to capture raw and immediate responses, their meaning negotiated and shifting over time. This interdisciplinary project draws on the methodologies of art history, cultural studies, and spatial analysis, and we seek to play an activist role as we join in the call for societal reform. In “Constituting an Archive” Stuart Hall envisioned archiving as a form of activism to achieve social justice and called for “not an inert museum of dead works, but a “living archive,” whose construction must be seen as an ongoing, never-completed project.” (Stuart Hall, “Constituting an archive,” Third Text, 15:54, 89-92, 2001). The narrative of this uprising is ongoing and complex; the archive, we argue, is a tool that allows us to guard against the cooptation and over-simplification of this narrative, thus allowing the messages to continue to resonate over the course of time.
2 Adem Ojulu, Frederica Simmons, and Rachel Weiher
Graduate students with the University of St Thomas
Memorializing a Movement: Making Permanent the Ephemeral
In our project, archival work is not simply an academic exercise; it serves as a form of protest. Through this process, racialized bodies salvage, preserve and record ephemeral objects that are artifacts of movements that their oppressors seek to destroy. The Twin Cities has stood witness to a year of violence against Black bodies like no other, in the wake of not only George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, but Dolal Idd on December 30, 2020 and now Daunte Wright on April 11, 2021. In response, people took to the streets to create, in words and images, a visual record of the movement through protest art. Our team, led by Black women confronting the tyranny of institutionalized brutality in Minneapolis, implements critical race theory as a tool for art analysis in praxis towards the production of a grassroots organization illustrated catalogue of protest art to catalyze social change.
3 Alexander Paulsson
Senior Lecturer at Lund University
Of Tags and Trains: Graffiti as Edgework in Subterranean Stockholm
The history of graffiti is as much a history of tags, throw-ups, and style as it is of subways, layups, train yards and other subway system infrastructures. In this paper, I seek to explore how subway trains are experienced and acted-upon by graffiti-writers, and how their knowledge of the subway system becomes an integral part of their mobile practices. The close connection between graffiti writing and subway systems was probably first detailed by Craig Castleman (1982) in his seminal book Getting Up: Subway Graffiti in New York. Although the lengthy interview excerpts in that book primarily covered the emerging subculture of graffiti, including the youngsters’ vivid descriptions of style and knowledge about other writers’ style, Castleman also described graffiti writers’ experiences and knowledges of trains, timetables and subway infrastructures and how they navigated in layups and stations.
Building on this observation, this paper traces how knowledge of subway trains and the large infrastructural systems are key to graffiti writers’ mobile practices. Gaining know-how about stations, lay-ups and train cars becomes crucial to creating throw-ups, whole-cars and so on. Blogs, podcasts, and writing about graffiti will be drawn upon to trace how these mobile graffiti practices are intertwined with the emergence, consolidation, and application of infrastructural knowledges, or what I call, edgework epistemologies. Theoretically, Lyng’s (2004) work on edgework will serve as a source of inspiration, along with the literature of mobility studies and science and technology studies.
Beyond subcultural politics, the paper provides new insights on graffiti as a mobile practice by exploring the edgework epistemologies involved in navigating risky and potentially lethal subway infrastructures. As such, the conclusions speak to broader debates about the production of urban creativity and street art epistemologies.
4 Panos Leventis
Professor of Architecture, Drury University
Re/Telling Di/Visions: Creative Urban Practices in the Contested Eastern Mediterranean
This creative response contribution engages grant-funded research fieldwork undertaken during the 2019-20 academic year in the Eastern Mediterranean cities of Beirut, Jerusalem and Nicosia, and crafts a fictional narrative that binds the finds of the fieldwork, speaks of its intentions, ponders the meaning of its collected data, and imagines future possibilities for its applications.
While in the cities mentioned above, four researchers from varied disciplines (Art, Architecture, Public Policy and Urban Geography) collected visual, textual and interview data from streets, walls, public squares, ruins of war, artists, activists, and citizens, building a database for the study and comparison of graffiti, street art, murals, and other creative urban practices undertaken near or within contested spaces.
Following the contextual experience of urban spaces of past and present contestation in the Eastern Mediterranean, goal of the grant, the fieldwork, and the under-construction database was to understand the character and intensity of agency and empowerment that artists and creative practices bring to the complex socio-urban structures of those spaces and populations.
This contribution uses methodological tools from hermeneutics and phenomenology to weave together the data collected from the three cities by telling a story. The narrative enters into the context that bears and carries the urban creative practices, re-contextualizing them and giving them the possibility to be understood and interpreted, by multiple voices and in multiple ways, in their original sites.
Thus, a fictional textual narrative accompanied by collected visual data is proposed as a research practice, becoming a way of re-telling the hi/story, content and nature of urban creative processes, in this case practices that are activist by nature and intention, and that cannot be studied, understood, or interpreted unless their urban and sociopolitical context is also immersively and experientially engaged.
Panel chair: Sandi Abram
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.
Panel chair: Maria Udovydchenko
1 Konstantinos Avramidis
Lecturer at the University of Cyprus
The Politics of Collecting and Preserving Architecture and Graffiti: Notes on an Atlas of Drawings and Writings
Graffiti and street art are site- and time-sensitive: They make sense to the streets and the walls they occupy. But what happens when graffiti of different types, areas and spaces are documented—as photographs and drawings—and brought together and displayed in a curated book object that is governed by different rules of viewing and, thus, of being? This presentation addresses this line of inquiry of de- and recontextualization through a reflective examination of a designed book object—the author’s by-design doctoral dissertation—that focuses on Athenian graffiti and, by extension, architecture.
The Atlas of Athenian Inscriptions is a book of drawings of writings and writings on drawings that offers—in both drawn and written form—a close study of several key situations in which graffiti has been recorded. By selecting and curating visual material—whether found or produced—from seemingly unrelated places and eras, the book weaves a network of surfaces to suggest an Athenian ‘graffiti landscape’ in which heterogeneous times, sites and inscriptions are concurrently at play. The Atlas re-situates images thus is capable of creating innovative relationships, deciphering particular correlations and producing new meanings, while allowing us to make sense of, navigate in and reconstruct the graffiti landscape through characteristic surface environments. The presentation focuses on the form(at) rather than the content of this project. It is interested in what the graffiti do rather than what they say: what happens when these come together in various sequences and assemblages enabling us to identify existing or forge new affinities.
The aim of this presentation is to introduce ‘atlasing’ as a design method and to critically reflect on the methods of collecting, drawing and writing that the thesis develops. The preservation
of these graffiti, not only saves them from oblivion but also promotes a rupture to the smoothing of its political asperity attempted by architecture, institutions and those writing on graffiti that seek to restrain it, thus turning critical archiving, or rather ‘atlasing’, into a creative practice countering graffiti’s potential institutionalization and commodification.
2 Laura Luque Rodrigo & Carmen Moral Ruiz
Universidad de Jaén & Universidad de Huelva
The Complex Task of Cataloguing Street and Public Art: A Methodology Applied In Works in Jaén (Spain)
The research, conservation and dissemination of scientific knowledge of works of art, begins with the process of cataloging. The importance of cataloging urban and public art stems from its ephemeral nature and circulation. Social networks can contribute to the identification of this type of artwork. Nevertheless, it is necessary to link the artwork to its urban context, as it cannot be separated from it. The nature of this art implies the use of different techniques such as photogrammetry and interviews with the artists and actions such as the promotion of collective projects that involve the community.
The cataloging of urban art is an emerging subject with some new theoretical advances but little sufficient practical experience. The Group of Urban and Public Art, part of the Spanish Group of International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, has developed some theoretical approaches that take into account the differences between graffiti, self-organized urban art and public art. These approaches and principles are now being explored in a research project in Jaén (Spain) entitled “Painted in Wall. Study of Wall Paintings in the Province of Jaén in the 20th and 21st Centuries”, funded by Instituto de Estudios Giennenses.
The progress of this research is addressed in this proposal paper. The example of a cataloguing card, a thesaurus and an application process that could be extrapolated to other examples. Indeed, there are synergies with other projects, such as the cataloging of artworks at Callegenera Festival in Monterrey (Mexico).
3 Ljiljana Radosević
Ph.D. candidate at the department of Music, Art and Culture Studies, University Jyvaskyla
Urban Heritage Hub Case Study: New Life of Street Art in Virtual Reality
As most authentic graffiti and street art is done without permission, its longevity and status in the art world can be volatile. And yet, that is precisely the form of expression that needs to be understood and documented. Until now, good photography has been the most valuable and common way of preserving a memory of the existence of these artworks, but with new technologies and their availability, some new avenues of exploration have opened up. “Preserving” a wall in virtual reality (VR) might be the best substitute so far for the real wall and the context in which it exists. In this way, a viewer can still stroll past the wall and experience what it means to come face to face with a piece.
Urban Heritage Hub is a project that aims at preserving and digitizing archives containing photographs and other relevant materials, as well as existing graffiti and street art in Belgrade, Serbia. The project has three segments: digital archive, VR walls, and VR exhibitions but the construction of each segment was heavily burdened with the issues of incompatibility of new technologies and the old systems of preservation. Moreover, the possibilities of building the new exhibition spaces in VR raise many questions about the role and responsibilities of a curator. Therefore, the presentation will tackle some crucial issues that arise when trying to create a heritage institution that exists only in the digital world and that looks at graffiti and street art from the perspective of heritology.
4 Enrico Bonadio
Reader in Law at City, University of London
Preservation of Street Art and Graffiti under Copyright Law
Stefano S. Antonelli
Street Art in the Art World
Stefano S. Antonelli is an Italian street art curator and a co-founder of the private Rome-based non-profit organization 999Contemporary, focusing on the study, practice and development of urban contemporary art, art projects in the public space, curating exhibitions, and educational and charity projects. He has curated more than 200 art projects in Italy and abroad. In 2014, he co-curated the Urban Legends exhibition, the first street art exhibition hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome.
“The Man Who Stole Banksy”, directed by Marco Proserpio, starts as the story of the Palestinian perspective of the most important street artist in the world and soon turns into the discovery of an extensive secret market of masonry stolen from city streets around the world, of cultures meeting and clashing in the face of an unsustainable political situation, and of the ongoing debate of commercialization versus preservation in street art. The screening will be followed by a discussion with curator Stefano S. Antonelli and the director of the film, moderated by Good Guy Boris.
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