Graffiti and advertising are two urban phenomena that can be examined through their overlapping traits. They usually stand in opposition to each other (consumerism versus anti-system, mainstream versus niche, commercialism versus freedom), sometimes they go side by side (sign painting, lettering, hand-painted signs and murals), at times they dangerously interrelate (graffiti in advertising and illegal advertising in form of urban art), and in some instances they work against each other (ad busting, subvertising).
Graffiti artists, as well as advertising companies, display their work in public spaces. Their goal is to communicate with the viewer and reach the right audience. Graffiti sends a message that can be deciphered only by an exclusive group of people participating in the graffiti culture. Street art, on the other hand, is more accessible and reaches a wider audience. Moreover, graffiti can be perceived as a means of advertising a persona or an alter ego, or even a struggle for attention (especially in the era of social media and the Internet), since graffiti artists often work as graphic designers.
Graff and advertising use similar tactics – multiplication (the more, the better), they focus on visibility (the bigger, the more visible the better), they use the same media (posters, wheat paste, stickers). They even draw inspiration from the same sources, such as pop culture, comics and art.
For an incidental viewer, they can produce a similar effect – visual chaos. However, such excess (like neons in Asia or graffiti in Berlin) undoubtedly brings about a certain charm, as well as an atmosphere of vitality and spontaneity.
Many people consider graffiti, alongside advertisements, to be a plague haunting our cities. Illegal graffiti is often associated with vandalism and shown in a bad light by the media. In some instances, it is not admitted to galleries and not considered to be a form of art. For these reasons street artists often become social outsiders, creating their pieces outside the rule of law, under the cover of night and hiding behind pseudonyms.
The main idea behind the show was a creative revamp of various advertising media – billboards, old signs, advertisements, citylights or advertising poles. The artists were given an opportunity to play with the form of these objects, to scrutinize and dialogue with the content of the advertisement, or to simply present their artwork in an unusual way. Subsequently, old advertisements got a second chance at life and the pieces gained additional value.
The exhibition is an ongoing process, in which new objects are being added over time, gradually crowding the exhibition space and building up to a sense of constantly changing urban landscape.
We believe that placing graffiti in a gallery takes away a lot of the complexity and street energy it has in its true, illegal form.
By using the tactic of overloading, i.e. combining numerous seemingly incompatible elements, we want to build an ultra-urban space, reflecting the grassroots energy of graffiti; a full of stimuli visual utopia, a pleasant cacophony of surprising elements and correlations.
Utilizing the entire space of the hall, we present a diverse collection of works made in various scales and techniques. The combined artwork allows the exhibition to be perceived in two ways; as one installation, or separately, as individual pieces. We hope that being in the hall and observing the relationships between different objects is an intriguing and fresh experience.
Juxtaposing these two difficult to define and evoking intense reactions phenomena aims to show the complexity of the multi-layered wonder, we all know as the City.