Friday, October 19, 2012

Street art: My first experience with counterculture

Portrait of Kate Moss by Banksy. Source: stuff.co.nz

As a public school graduate, my experiences with "counterculture" were mostly limited to hating my parents and listening to alternative rock on Rage. I failed at being punk when I pierced my nose with a nappy pin and it got infected and pussy. I tried to become a rapper but realised I didn't like black people enough. I even smoked weed at a Christian music event, but when they asked everyone who "wanted to be saved" to ascend the stage, I got paranoid and ran to the car park. Then I ate two packets of Doritos.

"Napalm Girl" by Banksy. Source: D2 Group

But everything changed when the internet began in 2009. I got an iPhone and used Facebook to stalk friends I used to know in the real world. One of these humans once shared a photo of a "Banksy" artwork of that hungry napalm girl running arm-in-arm with Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. I thought they were showing her where to buy a Happy Meal, and, as a regular consumer of these global brands, I was impressed that Banksy combined Vietnam War imagery with universal symbols of American capitalism (land mines sold separately).

Banksy's "maid" stencil in London. Source: Bored Panda

I did some Googling and found out Banksy was a "street artist". Within minutes it dawned on me that I'd become part of something bigger, that I joined a counterculture which self-reflexively deconstructs and satirises the art establishment, and society in general, with illegally placed pop imagery. I immediately bought some Minties.

John Fekner subvertising billboard. Source: Artist a Day

I began following street art blogs and social network pages to unite with my comrades. I learned about stencils and wheatpastes. Even graffiti didn't seem annoying because it had "artistic genealogy". Street art also helped me justify spending 2+ working hours on Facebook each day. It's where I share photos of street art to my network of followers and each receives about 15 likes or comments (before tax). My affiliation with the movement has helped me cultivate the edgy, neo-anarchist identity I always wanted.

Street artist Shepard Fairey got 'smashed' by AP. Source: Charleston City Paper

Other street artists I like include Shepard Fairey, but he's no longer cool after losing a court case with AP. It was about time he took one for the team!

Space Invader mosaics. Source: Mosaic Ideas

I also really dig Space Invader, but I generally find the French to be feuking stupid, so I unsubscribed from his barely legible mailing list.

Mr Brainwash street artwork. Source: Wooster Collective

Let's not forget Mr Brainwash - one of my idols - who is proof that you don't need creativity to join the cause.

Now I walk the streets and photograph street art on my phone. I share, blog and run it through 2c Instagram filters. Being part of this counterculture is a value-add to my life and I don't know who would listen to me without it.

Have you ever found your identity through counterculture? Have you ever thought "over-30s suck?" Is it time for a REDvolution?

You might also like:

My First Art Exhibition Press Release
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