Monday, 9 March 2009

Over exposed

Most street art is well-executed and sharp. It is obviously intended to be eye-catching, can distract or amuse and, at it's best, intrigue but it's rare that it reveals much about its creator. (Banksy insists on his anonymity.) A couple of recent examples in Shoreditch are changing such preconceived ideas, however.

First up was Amsterdammer Laser 3.14, whose artless spraycan slogans appeared in EC2 late last year. "How can be peace be so violent," he questioned. "These are five easy words," seemed a moment of drunken inspiration, as was, "Please let me finish my sentence for…"

But then the words became more troubling: "Haunted by regret and the consequences of endless longing"; "Give me the key out of this cage." There's more if you want to hunt out further evidence of a breakdown played out on the streets of Shoreditch.

Then, near Valentine's Day, came a series of black and white portraits of a faceless (married?) woman performing a strip tease. The photographs were taken in a flat and posted in a seedy alleyway near Old Street.

The first time I saw them it felt like a minor assault. You are immediately aware of how exposed she is (she pulls her bra down to brandish a nipple, her raised skirt reveals the crotch of her white knickers). This could be a horrible revenge – the public revelation of intimate photos – but the placing of them in this single side street hints not. Still, the first time you see this form of street tart, it takes you aback. Attention seeking it may be but it's certainly attention grabbing.

Other pictures around the same time also featured a woman, again displaying her pants – this time with slogans written on them ("Up yours"). They were posted further afield, and printed differently – in colour or on coloured paper – so it seems to be someone else (both in terms of subject and photographer). They hit on the same mode of very public expression simultaneously.

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