ART IGNITES CHANGE

By RJ Rushmore founder of Vandalog and Employee at the Phiadelphia Mural Arts Program

This year’s Nuart Plus program sets up a false dichotomy of muralism versus activism and neuters muralism’s power. Day one of the Nuart Plus talks will be on “Muralism,” and day two will be on “Street art and activism.” Is there no room for activism, or at least some kind of political voice, within muralism? By saying “Street Art and Activism” but just leaving muralism as “Muralism,” we have ripped out muralism’s heart. Shouldn’t it be “Muralism and X,” whether THAT “X” is “activism” or “gentrification” or “communities” or what have you? The way we have titled these events suggests that muralism is at best art for art's sake and at worst meaningless. If we are meant to be having a debate about which of these two fields is “better,” those of us organizing Nuart Plus have already picked the winner simply by how we titled the each day of talks. I disagree that muralism is simply “Muralism.” It certainly can be “Muralism and X.” To pair it with “Street Art and Activism,” I suggest “Muralism and Social Change.”

Activist street art creates an undeniable visceral response, and it gives a voice to the voiceless. But what if you are not voiceless? What if you have access to the halls of power? Surely you are not precluded from also improving society, perhaps in ways that align with the same issues and values that activist street artists are interested in.

Take where I work: The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program has, for 30 years, shown that artists can infiltrate government and promote positive change through art while working with and from inside the system. Mural Arts is a part of the city government in Philadelphia, and the program has used an insider approach to fulfill ideas that traditional activists can only dream of.

Here are a few examples of how we work within the system and use muralism to ignite change:

·      Every year, Mural Arts works with thousands of at risk and adjudicated youth in art education classes where students assist in producing murals or other public art.

·      Mural Arts’ community mural-making process empowers residents to take control of the aesthetics in their public spaces, hopefully inspiring greater democratic participation more generally.

·      By building long-term relationships with Philadelphia-area prisons, Mural Arts provides restorative justice, art making, and job training opportunities to hundreds of inmates every year.

·      Mural Arts’ muralists and teaching artists are all paid, pumping money into the local creative economy and providing jobs in the arts for many local artists.

Working within the system does not preclude working for positive and sometimes radical change. Personally, I’ve never felt more like an agent for positive change than now that I am working for “The Man.”

Some murals are purely decorative: essentially outdoor wallpaper, covering up blight or whitewashing a sponsor’s reputation. Other murals are louder than a bomb: providing jobs for artists, empowering local communities, and skills training for at risk populations. Street art is the same. Artists like SpY draw our attention to the dangers of a mass surveillance culture. Other street artists use walls solely to promote their vacuous gallery art. Muralism is not the enemy of change. Apathy is.

NUART PLUS 2014

This year’s Nuart Plus program will tackle the two ends of the street art-continuum, namely “safe murals” on the one hand and street art and activism on the other.

THE TORN OFF HEAD ...

By Carlo McCormick. The Torn-Off Head Stuck in the Hatch of a Sewer Drain, or the Occupation and Negation of Public Space

STREET ART 3.0

By Evan Pricco. Who will try and control it's future.

SITE OF EXPLORATION

By Peter Bengtsen. Street art, murals and public space as a site of exploration

MURALS, ACTIVISM and CENSORSHIP

By Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo. MURALS, ACTIVISM and CENSORSHIP

ART IGNITES CHANGE

By RJ Rushmore. Art Ignites Change: Infiltrating the system to promote social change

TILT INTERVIEWED

French Graffiti Writer Tilt discussing this years themes.

FRA BIANCOSHOCK INTERVIEW

Italian Urban Interventionist discussing his practice and this years themes

±MAISMENOS± INTERVIEW

Portuguese artist Miguel Januário under his ±MAISMENOS± guise

MATHIEU TREMBLIN INTERVIEW

French Urban Interventionist discussing his Situationist art practice, graffiti and more.

FIGHT CLUB

The legendary fight club returns with a lively Activism V's Muralism debate going on down the local pub.

THURS 04.09: FIGHT CLUB

Muralism or Activism: Academics meet pop cultural critics and the public in an environment of heated debate lubricated by alcohol.

FRI 05.09: BEAUTY IS IN THE STREETS. MURALISM

First day of our international Street Art symposium focuses on the rise and rise of Muralism.

FRI 05.09: CIDADE CINZA

Marcelo Mesquita and Guilherme Valiengo meet Os Gemeos and other Sao Paulo graffiti artists who are celebrated everywhere except in their home town.

FRI 05.09: BSA FILM FRIDAY LIVE

Brooklyn Street Art's Steve and Jaime introduce us to a "live" version of their renowned Film Friday series.

SAT 06.09: STREET ART AND ACTIVISM

Day 2 takes a more revolutionary twist and looks at protest and activism's place in Street Arts future.

SAT 06.09: WORKSHOP WITH ICY & SOT

Join Icy and Sot in this in-depth and practical look at creating Stencil Art.

SAT 06.09: CIDADE CINZA

Marcelo Mesquita and Guilherme Valiengo meet Os Gemeos and other Sao Paulo graffiti artists who are celebrated everywhere except in their home town.

SUN 07.09: STREETART TOUR

Join Nuart's first annual street art tour and be amongst the first to experience this years fresh street works.

PETER BENGTSEN (SE)

Author, Art Historian and Sociologist

RJ RUSHMORE (US)

Blogger, Author and Curator

EVAN PRICCO (US)

Managing editor of Juxtapoz Managazine

CARLO MCCORMICK (US)

World renowned pop cultural critic and author

JAIME AND STEVE FROM BSA (US)

Authors, Bloggers and Founders of Brooklyn Street Art

EIRIK SJÅHOLM KNUDSEN (NO)

Respected scholar and champion of Street Art

MARTYN REED

Martyn Reed, Nuart founder, curator and man about town.

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