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Found Art 2005 - ongoing...

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As an adjunct of my Return to the Street I have also been picturing what I refer to as ‘Found Art’ or what another Artist friend of mine once codified as the ‘Museum Without Walls’. As it is understood by an international legion of younger people today, what is referred to as Graffiti, these scrawls and graphics we see everywhere, represent the expression of the underground, the authors most often young artists with no opportunity otherwise in societies that today more than ever disdain such expression in deference to corporate sponsored ‘product’.

These mystic messages seen in conjunction with the advertisements that bombard our every waking moment in the urban world, torn posters, discarded newspapers and other such detritus, constitute the raw semiotics of our culture, the stuff of an anthropologist’s dream. My first interest in same was sparked by the work of a street buddy from the late 70s who was Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the progenitors of the Graffiti Art movement of the 80s along with Keith Haring. Before he became the celebrated ‘enfant terrible of that scene, Jean-Michel was going around for some time posting his scrawls all over New York under his tag ‘Samo’ (Say More). As profound as the text were the lengths he would go to, his stuff showing up even on the cupolas or steeples of buildings, leaving one to wonder how he managed to get up there and why he felt it necessary.

But the answer is simple, he was another young artist with something to say and no other opportunity available to him at that time...

I have another friend who is a Painter and German national. He receives his support, commissions and the like, from his own native land that has infinitely more respect for the cultural, but he has also maintained a Loft in the East Village going back to the late 70s at least. “So why do you keep this place in America?” I logically inquired. “I love your GARBAGE”, he replied. “New York has the most interesting garbage in the world and we don’t have this in Germany.”

Interesting thought there. What does it mean exactly? He’s talking about Freedom of course and this is exactly what this Graffiti or Street Art represents. Will we be happy when it is eliminated as the ultimate realization of the conservative agenda, as the Real Estate moguls have spelled it out, an endless panorama of High Rise multi million dollar Co Op buildings and streets restricted to the Rich and sanitized of all evidence of dissent or alternative perspective?

Is this dream to be considered ‘progress’ or is it merely the Lemming like acceptance of the nightmare NOT so Brave New World predicted by Orwell and Huxley?

Shelly Rusten