Where Do You Stand?

Weekly Wud Ups

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Illegal Individual: Banksys Right to Rebel

"Should graffiti be judged on the same level as modern art? Of course not, it's way more important that that." Banksy


 Banksy is an anonymous street artist who is famous for his political and social artwork. His pieces speak “directly to the masses: humourous and often thought provoking” (Chaundy). Armed with stencils and spray paint Banksy has made a name for himself challenging people to think outside the box or better yet to burn the box completely. Banksy believes that “art should have your pulse racing, your palms clammy with nerves and the excitement of creating something truly original in a dangerous environment.” (Banksy) This personal statement directly speaks to the most recognizable characteristic of Banksys work which is the controversy associated with his tags. The “Broken Window theory”, his ability to call into question our individuality and, what I like to call the politics behind the paint, are some of the reasons why many people fear and feel threatened by this modern artist.  

Banksy, who shall remain anonymous, has been tagging trains, streets, signs, walls, bridges and buildings since the young age of 14. After trying to spray elaborate letters onto a freight train, and almost being busted by British officials, Bansky came to the conclusion that to exhibit his outlook he would have to find a faster way to display his message and flee the scene; therefore, most of his popular and public pieces are painted with stencils in record time. Nicknamed “the Artful Dodger” Banksys ability to tag and take off only strengthens the view that graffiti is a crime. Bansky references the “Broken Window” theory to poke fun at societies attempt to explain crime and enforce punishment on these freedom writers. The image depicts a television set being thrown through a window. In this image the TV represents media, and the broken window represents this criminal theory, which states “crime is a result of disorder.” (Moffett)  “For example, if one window is broken and goes unfixed, more windows will be broken because perpetrators get the sense that no one cares about the windows. The “Broken Window Theory” maintains that a criminal is not in his ‘own world’ committing crimes, but rather commits them in response to the environment around him (Gladwell, 2002, p. 150). This means that the criminal will be more likely to commit a crime, or engage in vandalism, if it is already seen as acceptable. If there is already graffiti on a wall, then the likelihood of more being added is much higher than for a blank wall. Following this line of thought, it can be seen that if an area is already prone to vandalism, that the area will give the impression that no one cares about crime, and more crimes are bound to occur. In other words, minor problems such as graffiti can lead to much more serious crimes occurring, it is, therefore, essential to remove graffiti immediately. (Moffett) If London police officials want people to rebel against this graffiti you can’t help but ask yourself why? What this philosophy fails to address is the perspective of the painter. Is this graffiti calling attention to bigger issues that we shield ourselves from on a daily basis or is it simply a way for these men and women to leave their mark on society? “Is graffiti the voice of the world around us?” Philosopher Georges Batialle would argue “the mind is only at ease when everyone is shouting at once and no one can hear a thing.” (Bataille) Is it truly rebellion if we are being told what to rebel against? Many people would argue that graffiti is okay if it is environmentally aesthetic, and located in a fitting atmosphere, but where do we draw the line before this artwork becomes social propaganda?  Have you ever been driving down the street and out of the corner of your eye you see a bus stop with the slogan “You just proved that bench advertising works?” plastered across it? Do you ever feel taken advantage of as though you had no choice and no control over seeing this advertisement? This type of commercial cunningness calls into question our subconscious participation in media related marketing. All of a sudden personal style, opinion and individuality is threatened by the chance that we could truly be a product of our society. What this slogan represents is our inability to avoid mental manipulation.

Graffiti could be the way to fight back, to let go of that hand that holds you down. Another powerful image features Nipper, the famous iconic dog who, like Bansky, was born in Bristol England. The original RCA advertisement showcased Nipper sitting and listening to the phonograph because the sound quality was so clear he believed he was actually hearing “His Master’s Voice.” This campaign was so clever that it gave birth to one of the most famous record stores to date known as HMV.  In this piece by Banksy you now see Nipper with a weapon of war pointed at this same phonograph. The genius behind this piece is that Banksy challenges us to wonder if Nipper was tired of taking orders and in rebellion will now be listening for his own voice. 

Finally, it is essential to graffiti artists, individuals in our society and the mass media to look at the politics behind the paint. Banksy strongly states that “any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours…You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock that someone just threw at your head. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.” (Banksy) In Raychaudhuri’s article he addresses the deliberate political statement that Bansky is making by drawing a beach on the Israel-Palestine wall, and how tagging this wall calls into question the legitimacy of the wall itself. (Raychaudhuri pg.54) To understand this painting you have to understand that the Israeli army has been occupying Palestine since 1967. In 2002 they began construction on a wall that would separate the occupied territories from Israel with checkpoints and observation towers. The wall stands 3x the height of the Berlin Wall and will stretch from London to Zurich upon its completion. “By highlighting the powerlessness of the Palestinian people to overcome the wall, Banksy is questioning the authority of both the wall and the state which erected it. Painting from the Palestinian side of the ‘Israeli’ wall, Banksy is also undermining the apparent ownership of the wall.” (Raychaudhuri pg.54)

Raychaudhuri indicates how Banksy not only uses these walls to display his artistic talent and clever connotations but also as tool in his warfare. Graffiti is constantly calling attention to the uncertainty or the necessity of some of these structures. They may be in place to keep people out but they also run the risk of locking people in.

Artists such as Banksy have resorted to using pseudonyms and tagging in disguise to avoid criminal charges for vandalism. Although Banskys work has been featured in exhibitions and movies, and there have been books published housing his street work, paintings and literature, he still refuses to share his identity. His incognito approach minimizes his chance of getting caught in the act and he can continue to create pieces that “lead viewers to reflect on established social practices.” (Chung pg.32) The beauty of his work makes you realize that even if you don’t know what to say, you do have a voice. The strength in an artist like Banksy is that he stands up for people who have a hard time standing up for themselves. In the final image you will see a photograph that was inspired by a Banksy tag. The man in the image was minding his own business sitting on the street in the early morning having a smoke and a coffee when someone threw quarters at his feet. The horrible realization from the do-gooder was that this man was not asking for a hand out but in truth he had nowhere else to sit. A sign was then constructed with a Banksy quote that challenged the small group of people downtown taking photographs to look at the situation from a different perspective. What Raychaudhuri states in his article is that “What the authorities find so dangerous is what, according to Banksy, gives his work a level of honesty that commercial art can never achieve.” (Raychaudhuri pg.53) Banksy himself says, “Graffiti is not the lowest form of art. Despite having to creep about at night and lie to your mum it’s actually the most honest art form available. There is no elitism or hype, it exhibits on some of the best walls a town has to offer, and nobody is put off by the price of admission.” (Banksy)  Cath Crowley stated that "real is better. The truth is better. It makes you feel kind of stupid, but it's better.” 

This shout out goes to Bansky. Thank you for making me feel stupid....I've loved every minute of it. 
Peace, Katers

To the Drummers

"Lose your dreams and you might lose yourself."- Mick Jagger

Since I was a little kid music has been a huge part of my life. My parents played in a band together and my father had to have been one of the most gifted musicians I've ever seen. His instrument of choice was the guitar but he was equally as talented on the bass, drums, harmonica, piano and could probably hold his own with many other instruments. It will be 12 years ago next month that the world lost this incredible musician and I lost a huge part of myself. Although I don't really believe in regrets my biggest misfortune was that we never got to play music together. It's a shame that I had such a resource at my finger tips and now I rely on others to coach me through the chords, beats and rhythms. As a young kid you sometimes miss the true awesomeness that is your parents because they are "your parents" and so I never took advantage of the fact that all those years of listening to him play we could have found time for a lesson or two. There are many things in my life that I thank my parents for but I have to say that music is at the top of this list. Music can take you places you've never been, it can also take you back to places that are hard to remember,  places you love and places you'll never forget. Music has the ability to comfort you, make you dance, make you fall in love, make you cry, or make you overcome things you never thought possible. It's been 3 years since I've started playing the drums and so this week's shout out not only goes to my parents but goes out to the drummers of the world. We live in a time when it's not uncommon to hear synthetic beats in the background of popular songs, and though I'm not trying to downplay the talent this takes, for me it doesn't compare to the physical skill, focus, and passion that you find in the ones sitting behind the drum kits. In an Time interview with Questlove he says he was a little shocked when "Gangnam Style" was the #1 Hip Hop song of 2012 but also that he was guilty of enjoying it on New Years Eve when it had the cast/crew of The Fallon Show dancing on tables. There are so many forms of music these days so we really are spoiled but my heart still belongs to the people who can pick up a pair of drum sticks and lay down the foundation for an incredible song. From Steve Gadd to Danny Carey to Travis Barker to John Bonham to Buddy Rich to Keith Moon to Neil Peart to ?uestlove to my personal instructor Tim Tanner....well the list goes on and on

I don't know how to explain the appreciation I have for drummers….maybe it's because I play the drums, or maybe it's a mentality or character trait that makes you identify with that one member of every band. I have attached a few videos to further inspire your love of drummers but also the next time you find yourself tapping your feet or drumming a beat on your steering wheel start to listen for the drums and you may just start to prefer the drummer.
Peace and Love….
Travis Barker-Remix of Forever
Buddy Rich takes on Animal
Hudsonblu Woodcraft
I have to say that I've always loved working with small businesses because that's usually when you run into the most wonderfully creative, totally passionate and genuine people. Hudsonblu Woodcraft is no exception to this. I met RuthAnn, the owner/operator, when I was working at Sharky's Athletic Club and instantly I knew she was one rad girl. I got to see some of the freestyle and personalized wood work that she's done and so there was no doubt in my mind about who I wanted to work with on keychains for this year's exhibit. If you get the chance head over to her page on Facebook and if there is something you've always envisioned in wood give her a call or shoot her an email and enjoy creating with this talented lady.
Thanks again RuthAnn for the incredible keychains, and everyone else please stay tuned to the StandPoint Facebook page next month when I go into the workshop with RuthAnn for a photoshoot and interview.
Peace and Love

This page is going to be addressed to people who I find inspiring. I am a true believer that inspiration is contagious and I would love this section of the website to identify those I encounter who bring me to life. We pass people everyday who have a story and very seldom do we get to stop, meet these people, talk for a few moments and catch a glimpse of a reality that can sometimes be so different from the one we live in. Other perspectives are how I've built my work; continuously trying to view the world from different StandPoints.

This first Weekly Wup Up? is dedicated to my family and friends. Thank you all so much for the love, support, encouragement, pep talks and confidence you've given me. I know it can be hard at times because let's be honest we are our own worst critics, but you've stuck by my side through and through and my successes are greatly the result of the amazing people in my life. From the "I've got an idea" to "can I talk to you guys for a minute" you've always known that with those opening phrases something risky was about to be proposed but with great risk comes great reward. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and I couldn't be where or who I am today without you. So when you get the chance take a look around at those people who stand behind you with love, support and encouragement, those who stand beside you to help you along the way when you feel doubtful and need reassurance, those who've stood before you leading the way and then you can truly appreciate where you yourself stand.

Love you guys!! Thank You!