The Wall project first appeared in 2009 in Art-Strelka cultural centre as an open exhibition ground, where works representing genres of graffiti and street art were displayed. The initial concept of the project worked out by Stepan Krasnov and Andrey Tseluyko (who are members of 310 group) implied the imitation of the so-called halls of fame (these are the illegal zones street artists may work in). Such areas, being empty and away from crowded streets, are often visited only by the insiders. Those unfamiliar with graffiti culture may have not even a vague idea of these special territories and come across them only when roaming along the streets...
The project was transferred to the territory of a Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art "Winzavod", and this gave an opportunity to increase the number of the project's goals. Staying away from pioneers of graffiti museumification and considering Contemporary Art Center started with a graffiti festival, the project offers an opportunity to discuss whether such projects may generally exist in official surroundings since any appropriation of graffiti seems to be a stillborn idea.
The Wall Project may be more than just an open exhibition ground. It is a kind of a debating-society, where internal and external problems of graffiti culture are made actual. Besides displaying separate works, artists and trends, every new exhibition should be an argument or a narration devoted to special cultural processes and practices of street art as well as to street art in general.
Make — “The Wall”
The most natural graffiti environment is urban fences and buildings facades. In addition these architectural elements are considered basic in modern regional urban planning. After the USSR collectivization period for the most of our countrymen private property cult and contrast of private and public property became commonplace. People don’t trust each other, build high fences around their “microworlds” and dachas and also place themselves into metallic capsules trying to minimize the contact with urban environment.
On “The Wall” the author recreates a conventional fragment of urban environment which could be seen if the wall wasn’t there. We got used to handling problems by understanding and solving. In this case the main problem is the wall between “Winzavod” and the street, between the people, between the artist and the audience. And if physical destruction of this wall of misunderstanding is impossible, simulation is the only way. The author creates an illusion of vacuum in his project trying to show that in fact neither the wall nor the artist, nor the problem exist — only open space without frontiers.
Pasha Hudoy — “Friends only”
We won’t concentrate too much and even analyze why the author chose these very colors, composition, font and all this positive, sweet and clown geometry for his work — I will go straight to the point — to the meaning of the written, but not how it was done, because the real graffiti artists often write their names and reproduce other symbols, words, aphorisms and slogans not by means of specially selected, but by any available materials without paying much attention to compliance between the form and the meaning. Probably in this imitation of spontaneous random solution, assimilating to a typical graffiti artist who practices lettering, we should find the reason why this pitiful and dead-end in the meaning phrase “Friends Only” was written so vivid and joyful as if it was a theme screen of a film about first, true and sincere school friendship.
Nevertheless this work was done the right way. This web meme displays the order and customs of this subculture precisely. Graffiti widely represented in very different city areas, sure mostly concentrated in specific half-legal autonomic zones — waysides of city infrastructure, along railways etc., sometimes seen in other places, but tending to be widespread–stays the "thing-in-itself". Everybody sees it, but few understand what it is about, what it is for and who needs it. The answer to the question “who needs it?” was given by a policeman in the movie “Stylewars”: “Maybe they, the graffiti writers, consider this art. Maybe they are exited with what they are doing. Maybe they really like it and their friends like it. But they forgot to ask us, the rest of the city dwellers.”
Pasha 183 — “Industry”
The author tries to visualize the contemporary position of a modern street artist on the market and in the art industry, since it is namely street art that makes the eternal struggle of a creative genius with cultural and political dictate of the regime sharp and vivid.
Street artists who were brought up to enjoy the ideas of freedom and independence, who are traditionally not a part of the system and who are used to speak up their ideas without any limitations turn to be paralyzed and mute the same very moment they cross the borders of the so called “big art”. It is senseless to be a part of the official system without obeying its rules.
Stas Dobry — “False-Faced Art”
The work by Stas Dobry is entitled False-Faced Art. This is how Stas sees creative work and development of a street artist. The author concentrates on his graffiti instrument, that is, aerosol can spray paint. He signifies the role of this instrument in the subculture. Besides, he denotes the roles of the companies producing it and informs of the fact that those main elements of the culture of consumption, which had dominated the subculture, lost their influence.
The work by Stas Dobry is a symbol of street artist’s freedom of self-expression being limited and suppressed by the stereotypes and rules of play he has to follow. Normally these stereotypes are forced upon artists by corporations in graffiti industry.
This situation reminds us of the early days of graffiti when Subway Art was developing rapidly and speed was the most important factor when working on a new graffiti. In this respect, aerosol spray paint became the most popular medium. Every artist uses this instrument. There is even a cult of using can spray paint in graffiti culture. Many graffiti artists used this medium in the early days of their career. Later it even became a fetish. No doubt this was a limiting factor. Later on, graffiti artists began using other instruments but anyway this subject is extremely significant for the development of an artist. Aerosol spray paint sets street artists free.
Kirill KTO — “Simply No One”
Four years ago a graffiti festival was held at the Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art "Winzavod". Back then graffiti and street art were extremely popular. They served the purpose of attracting happy-go-lucky crowds to the emerging art centre. This anniversary was a formal occasion and the reason why Simply No One was created. It was possible to paint it because there was a huge wall available as well as some paint I have left since my times of street painting. However, the reasons for creating the work are deeper than that.
This is the way I see the contemporary society, where every single person is pressed to make his/hers everyday life, habits and thoughts similar to the life, ideas and thoughts of the others, where everyone has to follow a uniform pattern of behavior, which allows for very few deviations in using consumer goods or choosing places to relax after a stressful week. I see this all as a signature, for which only one font is used. This signature is Simply No One. Tiny people are locked inside. It is true that everyone is unique but this applies only to the insignificant level of graffiti artists’ "name", "style" and handwriting. This is compulsory individualism so to say, which was willingly accepted by street artists. On the other hand, what other choices did they have?
Margaret Thatcher said once: "Civil society is nonexistent any longer. Individuals and sometimes their families are the only ones existing". Half a century later the situation changed dramatically. Nowadays there is practically no space left for cooperation or any interaction whatsoever. Instead we are offered heaps of opportunities to express ourselves, to demonstrate our own unique individuality and originality. There’s only one "but", we have to play by the offered rules. Graffiti writers (nickname style writers) have their own code of conduct, which is, writing their names everywhere, doing it as often as possible, in a bright and unforgettable way, polishing their penmanship and gradually earning a reputation in the community. Even though this name may not be deciphered by any outsider — so what? They simply have to be heard.
More information: www.thewallproject.ru/eng