‘Symbiotic Postures of Commercial Advertising and Street Art’ Stefania Borghini et al 2010 discusses the relationship between street art and advertising drawing upon visual examples to argue it’s point. There is a shared common interest or ‘visual rhetoric’ which uses “elaborate communication structures to inform and persuade audiences”. Street art operates through “paradoxical thinking, associative ability and novelty/risk taking”, advertising borrows some of these ideas from street art to sell it’s products. Both methods require an audience to interact/engage and are publicising the artist/product. Borghini et al researched street art and artists over a 3 year period identifying themes and patterns which link to cultural trends. They discovered a blurring of boundaries between commercial messages in street art which are associated with fashion, film, sports, gaming, advertising etc. Although street art has it’s roots in rebellion an ‘intertextuality’ exists between street art movements and advertising practices. This involves ‘playfulness’ to grab the attention of an audience, ‘aestheticisation’ giving value to everyday objects, ‘manipulation’ whereby the meaning is subverted, ‘replication’ advertising through logos, tags, unique space etc. ‘stylistic’ through communicational codes, ‘rediscovery’ using overlooked and forgotten spaces in the urban environment.

Nuxuno Xan

Street artist Nuxuno Xan in Fort-de-France, Martinique

“Advertisers aim to reduce the consumers’ sight-scope to one single purchase option – street artists strive to extend the capability of passersby to observe normally unobserved, invisible urban lands”.

Situationist International Anthology, ‘ Definitions’ 1958 lists ideological meanings behind The Situationist movement consisting of collective organisation, game of events, constructing situations, psychogeography, derive – experimental behaviour linked to conditions of urban society, detournement as propaganda culture, decomposition.

‘Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography’ Guy Debord 1955 discusses psychogeography in more detail, the study of urban environments through the method of ‘drifts’ (derive), “the study of precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviours of individuals”. Psychogeography encourages the participant to experience the elements of an urban setting in relation to sensations for example lighting, sound, time, ambience etc. “people assume generally that elegant streets cause a feeling of satisfaction and poor streets are depressing”. The text refers to contradictions that occur when the media encourages more use of public transport, cycling, walking whilst promoting the selling of car ownership through advertising.

‘Jazzmen’ 1961 describes the work of Jacques Villegle a French mixed media artist linked to the New Realists a collective of European artists working with mass media, salvaged objects, satire and sociological reality. Villegle removed posters from Paris walls to create decollage pieces which were mounted on canvas in layers creating compositions of colour and typography. The process he used implied the deterioration of civilisation, densely layered surfaces suggested social, political critiques and reflections of society.

All texts seek to explore a relationship between art and the urban environment, discovering the overlooked and abandoned, connecting with our feelings and emotions. There is a social/political ideology operating within each which challenges the dominant ruling class and capitalist/consumerist society. Common interest exists between collective organisations such as The New Realists, The Situationists, Street Art Movement  and for example The Loiterers Resistance Movement a Manchester based collective of artists, activists and urban wanderers interested in psychogeography, public space and the hidden stories of the city “we can’t agree on what psychogeography means but we all like plants growing out of the side of buildings, looking at things from new angles, radical history, drinking tea and getting lost; having fun and feeling like a tourist in your home town. Gentrification, advertising and blandness make us sad.”

The article on street art and advertising describes “street art as an emerging template for commercial advertising and its associated rhetoric with the double nature of creativity as product and process”. Research could have considered the inevitable issue of corporate vandalism which is occurring as a consequence of street art becoming fashionable due to it’s edgy and urban format. Street artist MadC is currently suing British Airways for using her work in one of their ads without permission. The Evening Standard article suggests “corporates must co-operate with the artists to make it work”.

As with street art and advertising there is a similar paradox between the view of urban environment as once decrepit and ugly is now being seen as edgy and desirable. Brutalist architecture is back in fashion with planners, politicians and private developers cleansing the working classes out whilst moving in the artists to make an area up and coming, a term known as ‘artwashing’.  The Balfron Tower in Bow, East London is an example of this particular exploitative practice, “it was very clear to me from the start that all was not well with the decant of Balfron Tower, and the stories I heard were heart-breaking, but consistently told of ruthless and nefarious tactics to clear the building so that the homes could be redeveloped by a luxury property developer and sold off with zero percent social housing.” Rab Harling Balfron Social Club

Site and Situation: The Street the idea of seeing beauty and value in the urban environment and everything that exists within it such as street art, community, decay, nature. Advertising and capitalist consumerist society needs to respect and acknowledge this rather than exploiting it. In the film Estate A Reverie by Andrea Luka Zimmerman, a moving piece about the regeneration of a Hackney housing estate there is a scene with tourists visiting the run down estate as part of a Open House event. One particular visitor asked permission to take a photo of one of the residents standing in from of the home he was being evicted from there was no conversation with the resident only a thank you for the photo as if he was a souvenir not a person. What is this obliviousness and ignorance which pervades our modern day society?

 

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