NYC///KEEPING UP WITH THE “SPLASHER”…
Since NYC’s most notorious vandal (or is it “anti-vandal”) known only as “The Splasher” started defacing Manhattan’s most notable pieces of street art (which, in turn, were defacing public & private property) last year, with new “splashes” showing up constantly, not a single week has passed where at least a couple people (private parties, usually angry, and media alike) have contacted me trying to figure out who this counter-revolutionary revolutionary is, exactly. While I can say that I honestly have no clueÃ¢â‚¬â€though I’ve been put onto some very legitimate & likely tips, but that’s all I’m saying, for nowÃ¢â‚¬â€it should be pointed out that SAM ANDERSON wrote an in-depth feature on the phenomenon a few weeks back for none other than NEW YORK MAGAZINE tracing the movements of the city’s latest villain over the course of the past year. HAVE A LOOK:
THE VANDALISM VANDAL
WhoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been splashing the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most prized graffiti? The hunt for the radical, youngÃ¢â‚¬â€and possibly lovelornÃ¢â‚¬â€conceptual-Marxist street-art supervillain.
By Sam Anderson, New York Magazine
I. MEDITATIONS ON A STREET-ART SKIRMISH:
Graff beef! Fetishized commodities! Counterrevolutionary fucktards!
The first good look I got at one of the SplasherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actual splashes was at a place called the Candy Factory, an abandoned brick wall at the south end of Soho thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s become, over a couple of generations, one of the most important nodes of illegal art in the cityÃ¢â‚¬â€a shabby outdoor Louvre of wheatpasted posters, stencils, and stickers squeezed between a construction zone and a parking lot. The view changes almost daily: Its prime spots are probably fifteen layers thick. On the day I went, at the center of the mess stood a Technicolor poster of an anthropomorphic pickle-shaped rainbow; above him, there was a portrait of a little Swiss-looking girl innocently playing a flute. And above her, in the upper right corner of the wall, was a sad, frowning candy corn, looking even sadder because someone had flung white paint over its faceÃ¢â‚¬â€a ragged spray that covered one cheek and part of his nose. Near the splash was a poster-size manifesto, partially torn, apparently declaring the candy cornÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s crimes against humanity. It was titled AVANT-GARDE: ADVANCE SCOUTS FOR CAPITAL, and it read, in part:
“REVOLUTIONARY CREATIVITY DOES NOT SHOCK OR ENTERTAIN THE BOURGEOISIE, IT DESTROYS THEM. OUR STRUGGLE CANNOT BE HUNG ON WALLS. DESTROY THE MUSEUMS, IN THE STREETS AND EVERYWHERE.”
The manifesto ended with a warning: “THE REMOVAL OF THIS DOCUMENT COULD RESULT IN INJURY, AS WE HAVE MIXED THE WHEATPASTE WITH TINY SHARDS OF GLASS.”
So began my tortuous descent into the curious case of the SplasherÃ¢â‚¬â€a scandal that had gripped the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s underground art scene for months. It was a tricky case, with triple-crossed motives, riddles nested in mysteries, and loops of self-devouring irony linked together in a gigantic chain stretching clear across the city, from the most expensive Soho boutiques to the Williamsburg waterfront to the industrial streets of Bushwick. Everyone was a suspect: cops, ex-students, anarchists, petty vandals, corporate marketing execs, self-made kings of the underground art scene, even some of the victims themselves.
Here at the beginning, then, why donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t we just lay out the mystery, the so-called facts, as plain as we can make them. In the fall, some anonymous figure started vandalizing the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most celebrated vandalismÃ¢â‚¬â€by which I mean not traditional seventies-style spray-paint graffiti but a relatively new, gentrified outgrowth of that tradition thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s come to be called Ã¢â‚¬Å“street artÃ¢â‚¬Â: multimedia works of astonishing polish and complexity and beauty, often created by artists without a Ã¢â‚¬Å“streetÃ¢â‚¬Â bone in their bodies. Many went to art school and have grown-up jobs and lucrative gallery careers and are terrified of the cops and traditional graffiti crews. Over the past ten years, as street art has become big businessÃ¢â‚¬â€upscale art shows in London and Tokyo, advertising contracts, waves of positive media coverage, blogfuls of groupiesÃ¢â‚¬â€itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s generated exactly the kind of internal backlash youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d expect in a subculture conceived of as guerrilla warfare against consumer culture. The Splasher epitomizes this backlash. In the middle of the night, about six months ago, this vandalism vandal started hitting the sceneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most acclaimed masterpieces, works that might have gone for $10,000 or $20,000 or $30,000 in a gallery, with big sloppy splashes of housepaintÃ¢â‚¬â€teal, white, purple, yellow, electric blue. Beneath the splash heÃ¢â‚¬â€or she, or they, or (who knows?) usÃ¢â‚¬â€would leave a manifesto ranting, in Marxist jargon, about commodification and fetishization and the authorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intention of Ã¢â‚¬Å“euthanizing your bourgeois fad.Ã¢â‚¬Â From November to March, the splashes arrived in bursts, busy weeks interspersed with long fallow periods. By the end of the campaign, observers counted nearly a hundred of them.
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