This Is Not Graffiti (A group exhibition in Townhouse Gallery’s Factory Space)
If you take graffiti off a street wall and put it inside a confined space, is it still graffiti? Does street art maintain its value when you remove the noise, the faces, and the life of the streets and put it on a safe wall? Do the walls still tempt the artists to leave their signature marks upon them? Better yet, does it still speak to the public?
For decades the world has witnessed the arrival of graffiti art into public galleries; artists like Banksy have made both their names and fortunes by bing able to easily negotiate successfully the two domains. Yet as graffiti becomes more mainstream within the art world the argument of vandalism vs. art rages on.
Egypt’s streets have inspired graffiti for several years now, despite the former regime’s efforts in containing and suppressing those involved. However, events following January 25th revived this form of expression, where artists took to the streets and walls to relay their messages to both the regime and the people. This increasing sense of freedom and courage has helped artists push political and social boundaries with their graffiti, going for larger, more daring concepts while often working in broad daylight, tempting fate as well as the authorities. The nine artists involved in This is Not Graffiti have been inspired by these events and directly translate its influence through their messages across the city. Although the revolution has mobilized activists from across the political spectrum to legalize their postions, graffiti artists continue to use public spaces to emphasize their personal concerns and political statements.
This is Not Graffiti explores the concept of taking a raw art form tailored in the public terrain and relcating its making into a private space. For most of the participating artists, this is their first time woring indoors, thus providing an environment stripped of the streets’ unpredictable characteristics. While some adhere to the traditional stenciling and ‘throw up’ methods adopted worldwide by graffiti artists, others will experiment with materials and techniques more commonly seen within a gallery setting. The necessity for speed is often a factor in the graffiti artist’s process, but within a confined space, this has been removed, offering the artists an alternative
engagement with that process. How they will respond to or ignore this factor should be clear in the finished work. Will the exhibition on September 18th contri-bute to the ongoing debate that has surrounded the production and power of graffiti? Can it still be regarded by some as graffiti when it is removed from the street?
Given the freedom to create signature pieces of their choice, the artists will reveal their work for the first time at the exhibition opening, not only to the public but to each other as well.
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