then Lovebox Festival, Victoria Park, London
15 Jun – 17 Jun 2012
OK, so who’s idea was it to mash up memories of an embassy car park (Banksy, Swiss Embassy, London) with the spirit of a secret NY subway station (Workhorse et al, Underbelly)? Step forward Nelly Duff with their one night only art on scrapyard fodder jalopies in an abandoned basement car park under an intimidating Hackney block.
Street art gets the setting it deserves in this underground swamp, it is filthy, reeks of piss in corners, had to be swept of needles and shit and figuratively is a million miles from the sanitised, optimised cubicles most art in the city is seen in. The walls are festooned with graffiti evidencing a propensity towards racism (NF), football tribalism and even burned out occult weirdness.
This show is as much about the vibe as the art. Over this space is a concrete playground surrounded by high rise council flats. Intended originally for the cars of local residents, the space became the problem haunt of junkies and vandals with a noted propensity for torching vehicles. Contributing nothing to easing the social issues in the area, the council sealed off the car park many years ago, residents who have lived in the blocks for over 10 years said they had never seen it open. Brutal walls and stark lighting lend a grimy austerity which fuels the sense of in-hospitable danger. Calcifying stalactites leach out of the concrete and drip something that probably isn’t spring water on cars and punters. So it’s a perfect place for some street art.
Ten artists jumped at the chance to pimp clapped out cars, though Jorge Rodrigues-Gerada confided he would have liked his to have been burned out and rusty as well, who’d have thought that’d have been too much to wish for round here. Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is far better known in America where his forte is the top-to-bottom building end gable photorealistic portraiture done in charcoal. The rougher the surface the better he says, this car represents quite a different scale to his usual street works. The medium is charcoal on white paint in the style of revenge attack on teacher’s car. I love the detail of the photographer reflected in the eyeball.
Dr D never misses a political target and this week has seen a former Prime Minster of the UK demonstrate the extent to which politicians have been at the whim of an excessively dominant media baron. Politicians and the press are stable targets for Dr D so he/she/they (whatevah) must be wetting themselves with the revelations in London this week about the media and government taking dirty weekends away to finger eachother, while the media mogul stuffs hoards of cash in tax shelter hide-a-aways made from feeding us a diet of scandal, lite porn and celebs. The scary thing is the headlines pasted in the car are from real lfe.
Eine’s Beemer has been decorated in a crystalline diamond pattern which originated from the new direction used for the background of his recent Lowrie Museum mural, The application slick and mechanical, the colour pops off the car though photos from the Lowry suggest that the pattern works better in lighter colours as background to huge circus font letters rather than the small stencil tags on automobile bodywork.
Dan Hillier’s car was stuck in the darkest corner furthest from the bar, probably not being seen by many in its paste-up’d glory, which is a shame as the scary surrealistic fauna as humanity and dali-esque bodies are fascinating.
Toasters have thrown almost the full stencil repertoire at their racy looking machine, flames and flying stones in the form of buff toasters, abstract toaster parts and dayglo toasters spew out from the tyres of their car, there is no shyness about bold colours here. See how many toaster parts you can spot!
The average man on East London council estate if pressed to identify the piece of graffiti he notices most often would almost certainly recollect “them teef wiv the pink gums”. Not content with just a car to batter, Sweet toof has boldly gone “all car park” producing a myriad of lenticular faces across several successive pillars, not to mention teef, teef and more teef everywhere.
Sweet Toof seems capable of transforming any paintable surface into a sickly sweet menace of teef, check the wing mirrors, the Merc badge and out of shot even a fire hose reel has been subjected to the slack jawed toof decay thing. Sweet Toof’s pimp mobile looks like it is venting pink vapours into the gloom of the roof as it positively glows with marshmallowness, has pink ever managed to look so malevolent?
Part 1 of this reflection on Banger Art closes with a selection of photos from ace snapper HowAboutNo. Part 2 will be with you in the next couple of days, you may anticipate more stunning photos and highlights from the St Peters Estate bunker.
UPDATE – Part 2 featuring Pablo Delgado, Aida, Will Barras, Matt Small and others here (opens in new window)
More delicious HowAboutNo photos in a flickr set here