THE TORN OFF HEAD ...

By Carlo McCormick

There’s a little story by the supreme iconoclast and prototypical absurdist, Daniil Kharms, that seems to address well the contradictory polemics on the form and function of public space in contemporary urban planning. Kharms, who founded the Union of Real Art, or OBERIU, movement in 1928 and attained great popularity as a young man before running afoul of Stalin, died of starvation while still in his thirties in custody of a state psychiatric ward for his anti-Soviet ideas during the siege of Leningrad in 1942, which somehow grants even more gravitas to the nonsense he embraced as a poet to articulate the ridiculousness of reality. Short enough to quote in its entirety I take Matvei Yankelevich’s translation of this story from his book of Kharms selected writings, “Today I Wrote Nothing.”

Lynch Law

Petrov Gets on his horse and, addressing the crowd, delivers a speech about what would happen if in place of the public garden, they’d build an American skyscraper. The crowd listens and, it seems, agrees. Petrov writes something down in his notebook. A man of medium height emerges from the crowd and asks Petrov what he wrote down in his notebook. Petrov replies that it concerns himself alone. The man of medium height presses him. Words are exchanged and discord begins. The crowd takes the side of the man of medium height, and Petrov, saving his life, drives his horse on and disappears around the bend. The crowd panics and, having no other victim, grabs the man of medium height and tears off his head. The torn-off head rolls down the street and gets stuck in the hatch of a sewer drain. The crowd, having satisfied its passions, disperses.

The garden and the skyscraper it would seem are of equal value and beauty, two things our ideal city would have in ample abundance if we could have our druthers, and certainly not the kind of either/or proposition we would want to entertain. While most contemporary metropolises have both public gardens and skyscrapers, few could say to have them in perfect balance or proper distribution. Inequities aside, for surely some neighborhoods are better served than others by the ratio of development to public space or the relative beauty invested in either, the very notion of balance is itself problematic. That is, while collectively the body politic demands a need for both, rarely is either created with the other in mind. Born of very different agendas and serving contrary purposes, the garden and the skyscraper are rather more oppositional forces than complimentary terms.

Our talk, which is ultimately about how individuals, groups and in particular artists, can re-imagine these sites and situations of the city, queries this topography for points of access and weakness. We will begin by considering the visual history of the garden and the skyscraper as cultural metaphors- called different things over time, like parks or towers- that have helped define and design our concept of civilization for centuries now. But we regard them only so far as a kind of reconnaissance, and stay there only long enough to figure out a way to bulldoze them over. We must recognize the metonymic power of garden and skyscraper alike, how each is a kind of synecdoche standing in for so much more, and take their various significations- of innocence, life, purity, power, ill-fate, aspiration, of escape and return, city and country, utopia and dystopia, ascension and the fall- as embodiments of a certain authority or stasis which is there for art and society to accept or defy. These are the nodes of conjunction where we meet, places where we may take our collective stand and try to topple existing orders, diversions for the eye whose deeper meaning is just the stuff we could lose our heads over. 

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.

EXHIBITION & STREET ART TOURS - BUY TICKETS HERE

Ticket info for Nuart's 'Space is the Place' exhibition and Street Art tours

STREET ART TOURS

Private & company street art tours tailored to support your specific needs and interests.

WORK WITH US

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NUART GALLERY

Nuart Gallery aims to nurture emerging regional and national talent whilst at the same time hosting and producing exhibitions and projects from some of the world’s leading street and contemporary artists.

THE UTOPIA BOX-SET

The Utopia Box-set. feat 14 of the worlds leading names in Street and Urban art. Available now !

NUART PATRONS CIRCLE

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ELOQUENT VANDALS DOCUMENTARY

Shot on location at Nuart Festival features work and candid interviews from some of the worlds leading players in the scene.
Running time : 25.17. Directed by Martin Hawkes

ELOQUENT VANDALS BOOK

Eloquent Vandals The History of Nuart, is out now. Spanning over 5 years, 304 pages of exclusive images with essays from Tristan Manco and more...

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