Contributions by Anthony Didlick, Diana Ilies, Charlotte Elliston, Corrina Eastwood, B Drobnak
Rather unintentionally, I have seen 2 pieces of art recently which are described as being by ‘street artists’. Living where I do, you can’t seem to look at a building that isn’t decorated by some street art – some of it good and some bad, but I actively sought out these 2 works, as they seemed to offer something more in terms of concept than the usual street art statements.
The first I had read about as being a piece of work commissioned by PETA to draw attention to the poor treatment of animals in the meat industry. The website for Empty the Cages helpfully provided a map to the various locations of the artworks, which were showed to be fake caged vents displayed on the sides of buildings, with parts of animals trying to escape. I was hoping to enjoy looking for and seeing others reaction to these pieces, as a piece of art which is found by accident in a public place and surprises or shocks you out of your usual thought patterns can be sometimes more effective than art in a gallery setting, as it is unexpected and disconcerting.
I found the first one after a bit of a hunt, just opposite the Scala in Kings Cross. No one walking by stopped, looked or even glanced at it.
The second one had, judging by the 4 holes in the wall and square outline on the building where the map led me to, had been stolen (so at least someone had seen it – although probably someone like me, with a map).
The third location the map led me to was here,
, an unpromising alley round the back of a council estate. I had a good look round but could not find anything resembling any art.
If the aim of these works was to draw attention to anything, I am afraid they seem to have failed – if a viewer can’t find them when armed with a map and the will to look, what hope do general passersby have in noticing these subtle and not promisingly placed pieces. And if they do spot them, to then go out of their way to find out what they are and where they came from – rather than just lumping them into the general ‘street art’ category?
So as I gave up on Dan Witz and his caged animal works, I made a trip to the corner of Chrisp street and East India Dock Road to see a giant mural by artists Irony and Boe. And when I say giant – I mean giant!
This is a painting of a chihuahua which is as big as a building, there’s no hope of this being missed for being too subtle. The artists have commented that they use animals as subjects as a way to engage people with work which is on their doorstep. This piece in particular could also be seen as a comment on the gentrification of areas of East London, and was permitted as part of the Changing Spaces project, along with Fitzrovia Noir which utilizes empty spaces to facilitate creative work.
Art in the public space can often have the potential to be overlooked, or become something like street furniture and not even seen so it was great to see people stopping and looking at the Irony and Boe piece – one lady even stopped to have a chat to me while I was taking these photos, which is why this work gets a thumbs up from me!