There is no “street art” in the USA. it’s dead…if it ever even happened.
I had a lot of reservations about this trip. Eddie told me the French are nice now…hmmm, not sure i’m buying that. I had to go see for myself. The last two visits to Paris left me not wanting to ever return, no matter how good their cuisine is. Snails and Beure Blanc anyone?
This was my third trip to Paris. It’s nice to be in a city unburdened by the obligation of visiting all the tourist traps. Le Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame, Les Champs Elysse. ..not this time! We drank coffee on the lawn outside and admired the Tour Eiffel from afar while streams of sandal wearing tourists lined up for miles. We aimlessly strolled the streets partaking in Parisian cafe life. Whether it was cappuccino dobles and snacking on pastries or charcuterie platters with vin rouge we stopped often to sample the local fare while seeking out new spots for our works.
Being in Paris and enjoying the wine one has the tendency to start philosophizing and thinking deep existential thoughts. Like, How long are my works going to stay up here??? Why can you not purchase Grey Goose vodka inside Paris? Is this street art or graffiti? Did i really just pay $9 euro for a cappuccino??? Why are we doing this??? Does anybody care? Can I pee here?
the streets of Paris are crushed with posters, stickers and graffiti… Luckily, nothing like Berlin. it’s nice to see some blank walls when you have work to get up. We were introduced to a bunch of new names on the streets: Konny, Gregos, Clet Abraham, Jack le Dit, Ride in Peace, Alo art, mixed in with a bunch of familiar names : BNE,Cost,Invader. . . speaking of invader…
people would stop us and ask “do you know Invader? (eeen-vah-dere) no??? eeees really poplar here….” shit…. it is nice to not be asked about Banksy for once.
What the fuck is street art anyway? Are we just foolishly chasing temporary immortality?
While putting up works we quickly learned that we had fans on the streets. The locals really appreciated what we were doing and would chant “COLA COLA COLA !!!” at us while pasting up our posters. We often were engaged in deep conversations with drunk passersby and other street artists. Nothing like at home where self righteous assholes will always have something to say about what you’re doing and they may just drop a dime on you.
I joined Eddie in Paris for the week leading up to Solstice. I didn’t really make much of this fact, but two important things evolve:
1. the sun didn’t set until 11pm. yes, 11pm. Which means it didn’t get dark until midnight. The sun would come back out at 5am which allowed us less than 6 hours of darkness to do our deeds each night.
2. Paris was in the midst of a party of epic proportions. It lasted for days and people were on the streets partying past 4 am. The citywide street party culminated with Sunday’s Music Day celebration. We listened to Chopin performed on a piano on a bridge over the Seine, lounged at the river and later avoided catastrophic glitter bombs while pasting up in the gay club district.
I love Europeans. They truly know how to seize the moment and live for today.
this party atmosphere helps to offset how on edge the city is after the Charlie Hebdo incident. If you pay attention you’ll see the heavily armed military walking about. Paramilitary Street Cops, Elite Undercovers and some heavily armed SWAT teams rolling around. The good news is that they really didn’t care about a couple of american punks throwing up art all over their city. We did have a couple of encounters with Authorities, but we never had an issue getting our works up.
it’s such a different attitude back home regarding the streets. We live in a society that allows us “false freedoms” We assume that we have freedom of speech, but…see how quickly the buff comes for you if you put your work up. There’s a good chance of catching a case too. Just a few years ago San Francisco used to be a mecca for Graffiti and Street Art, overloading with talent. Take a look today and you’ll notice there is very little “street art” or graffiti. What you see now are “Legal Walls” or “Murals.” It may seem like the “Street Art” movement is burgeoning, but in reality these “murals” are pre-approved statements by local powers that be, waiting to slap their name on our works…It’s a sham. There is no “street art” in the USA. it’s dead…if it ever even happened. Just another buzzword for corporate marketing schemes.
another deep question…. if you put some work up in the streets and a hipster didn’t flick it and post it to instagram, did it really happen?
In Paris and most European cities the graffiti and street art runs. There is no overwhelming need to erase our words from the streets. These classical cities are crushed, but yet, the authorities allow it. Another deep question, Why do they not feel compelled to flex their power and erase this eyesore from the streets? There are many anti-government and anti Sarkozy sentiments scrawled across town. Nobody is buffing these.? Powerful clichés line the streets of paris ” vivre es morte” and “joie de vivre” etc…. Often after putting up some of our works, the locals would come out and add some witty social commentary to it. As Eddie stated one fine morning…”at least they’re not drawing dicks on them.”
Speaking of fine mornings, we ended each night’s paste session with vodka – agrum cocktails and gummi bears. Oh, and some fine hashish I scored on the streets! Love that French hospitality. We saluted the sunrise, greeted the moose and then went to bed! Ready to repeat our shenanigans later that day…
till next time…
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