Taking it from the Streets
By Clarissa Chikiamco
Early man’s innate urge to write on surfaces is evidenced by the cave drawings he’s left behind. It seems though that, despite the passage of thousands of years, the giant leaps of progress, the advent of technology and the movement to the modern and the postmodern age, some things never change. This primeval itch to decorate, to enhance, to brand and to recreate space is still flamingly present in 21st-century man.
While we can credit all forms of visual art to this pining, its closest descendant today is probably none other than graffiti or street art. Modern graffiti, which began in the late 60s in
The launch of Street Plan: Street Art Manila Expo at the Store for All Seasons last September marked the first time Filipino street artists gathered together to show in one venue. Finally united under an art collective called Pilipinas Street Plan, the artists will continue to present their ideas in public venues while aiming to educate people about their form of expression. Often regarded as vandalism, works of gangsters and signals of pathos in the city, street art struggles still for acceptance and due recognition despite already being exhibited in galleries and museums abroad. Boyagimat, who thought of the exhibit, notes on their group’s intentions, “We just want to bring back the streets to the people, [that] it’s a public space and not a corporate space… We are fedup with advertising and political images on the streets – monstrous billboards of cellphone companies, mayors and congressmen: we are being manipulated with these images.” This anti-commercialist bent is an outright refusal to capitulate to the powers that be, even if it seems as miniscule as slapping on a small sticker on the MRT while whizzing past a million and one signages thousands of times bigger.
Noble? Yes. Illegal? Yes.
This sentiment is obviously shared by street artists around the world, creating a communal bond strengthened by the ability to instantly share works and ideas through the internet. In fact, 45-60 international artists from North and South America, Europe, Asia and
Boyagimat muses on the local context of street art, “Most Filipinos never have a chance to go to museums or galleries and are intimidated to enter such venues. So by doing street art we show a different perspective of art viewing and appreciating.” So expect to see some art coming at a street near you.