PLAYING IT AS IT LAYS
Evan Pricco is the Editor-In-Chief of leading international contemporary art magazine, Juxtapoz, based in San Francisco, California.
Prior to starting with Juxtapoz in 2006, Evan worked at SF-based gallery and apparel company, Upper Playground. He is the author of Juxtapoz’ continuing book series. Evan has contributed text to numerous books, as well as written for Playboy.
He continues to champion Public Art everywhere he goes, and has been interviewed by Bloomberg News about the merits of Public Art and its financial impact. He now lives in Sausalito, California.
It’s funny to me that in 2015 we have sort of un-punked the punk once again. You would think with over 40 years of experience dealing with underground cultures that we all cherish and love, ones that we have used as the columns of the “Parthenon of indie,” the ones we have seen be taken by big marketing plans and ad campaigns and sucked dry of any original spirit, you would think that we would have gotten it right by now. Street Art got serious, got famous, got bought, got sold, and became the best way to sell condos in the gentrified neighborhoods of the Western World. This isn’t really... fun, now is it?
The roots of Street Art are there in some places, the parts we all love, but Street Art went from interventionist and experimentally fun to part of our pop culture lexicon in a way that almost made it too self-conscious. But the problem isn’t necessarily Street Art’s fault, or the blogs that cover it, or the curators who organize it, or even the fans that love it. Street Art travels in a way that makes it hard to actually hold context; camera phones sort of sucked that play right out of it, that interventionist and Situationist version of play. Even in researching this year’s Nuart, I came across an essay that summed it up for me from 1958’s Internationale Situationniste #1; “The new phase of affirmation of play seems to be characterized by the disappearance of any element of competition.” It goes on to quote Dutch historian Johan Huizinga as saying play “brings a temporary, a limited perfection.” As much as I want to turn this into an essay that reeks of collegiate plagiarism, I do like the way this sets up the thinking for Nuart.
Play is experimentation, play is spontaneous, play is working under the old adage that there are no rules, no guidelines set, no expectations, just pure enjoyment in the process of creating “something” that will just exist. That is how I look at it. And I understand why Nuart has chosen to focus upon this topic this year; we have lost a little of this rhetoric when we talk about Street Art, or graffiti, or any of these prevailing art cultures that we cherish and revisit each year. I have been thinking about this a lot in the last few years, as our magazine is asked time and time again, month after month, to curate projects bringing Street Art aesthetics to brand campaigns. It’s hard to say no, even when you are quite aware that, well, you happen to be playing a major role in eliminating the play aspect of the art form. As Martyn mentions quite well in Nuart’s theme this year, you take away the ludic tendencies within Street Art and urban culture.
Huizinga is quoted in that same essay as saying, “the consciousness of play being ‘only a pretend’ does not in any way prevent it from proceeding with the utmost seriousness..” I like this sentiment. Blu, Banksy, or P183 are all artists that have done the best in this scenario, consistently pushing the boundaries of play with seriousness, spontaneous with agenda, politics with aesthetic style. That is an important point to note.
So, I’m really hoping to learn new ways to get that feeling back, how to understand once again how important the element of play is in everything in the art world. How the undirected spontaneity is the reason why we cared about urban culture in the first place. I’m using this year as my own workshop, my own learning lesson, if we are being honest with each other. I’m going to listen to FUTURA and Jamie Reid, and hear the originators of street play tell their stories, and really give insight as to what it meant to create a scene when there was no definable scene. When you just played it as it laid. That is a good place to start this year...
This year’s Nuart Plus symposium will investigate the ludic tendencies in street art and DIY culture. Artists, academics and industry experts come together to exp...
Jamie Reid is one of the great English iconoclastic artists. Although he is perhaps best known for the deployment of Situationist strategies in his iconic work fo...
Evan Pricco, Futura and Ernest Zacharevic discuss how commerce and entrepreneurship allows artists to achieve financial success outside of DIY and institutional c...
Scandinavian premiere of HBO's Banksy Does New York at SF Kino - Saturday 17 October
Permanent Education (a mural about the beauty of knowledge)
Free Nuart Plus guided tour of this years Street works. This tour is conducted in English.
Exclusive Scandinavian premiere of JR's "Les Bosquets"
Iranian artist Nafir and the TRAFO.no youth organisation hosted this year's stencil workshop at Metropolis, Stavanger with local people aged 16-22. Loving the out...
ESSAY : Evan Pricco, editor-In-Chief of leading international contemporary art magazine Juxtapoz.
ESSAY : Pedro Soares Neves, researcher, designer, and urbanist
ESSAY : Xavier Ballaz, social psychologist and educator, has been developing projects related to urban art for over a decade.
ESSAY : Carlo McCormick, esteemed pop culture critic, curator and Senior Editor of PAPER magazine.
ESSAY : Steven P. Harrington & Jaime Rojo, Founders of the influential art blog BrooklynStreetArt.com.