Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Now That's Street Art

A cooperative of artists known as the Germen Crew transformed this neighborhood in Pachuca, Mexico from drab (below) to explosive.

More views below.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

I'm behind the general concept and I can't fault the technical execution. I may not care for the choice of design, but overall I approve of the notion.

That said, I do have questions and suppositions that remain unaddressed. The linked article makes some odd statements and insinuations which I have my doubts about.

There's a bit of hyperbole floating around here, with statements like "In an unprecedented effort..." being tossed about. I mean, really? People painting a neighborhood is "unpredecented"? Somehow I think not.

Next up, the government struck a deal with these artists? What about the people themselves? Did they get all 1808 people to agree to have their 209 houses painted in this way? Was there a vote? Did they get to choose from various designs?

Also note something about the above numbers - that's an average of eight and a half people living in each house. It seems quite safe to assume they're all poor renters, so I would then assume the government owns and controls the housing? Meaning the residents might not have had any say whatsoever?

The article also says this project "directly benefits" the residents. That seems like a stretch, no? Artistry has value, and surely can be said to benefit people, but only in an indirect, intangible way.

Hiring a bunch of pretentious foreign "artists" looking for press exposure would certainly be a cheap way to "whitewash" a poor, problematic neighborhood for the sake of PR and political expediency. "Look at how much we care about the poor! We gave their crumbling neighborhood this colorful paintjob! Surely there are no deeper fundamental problems with it now!"

I'm also a bit suspicious of the project being "a tool of social transformation". Phrases such as "during the process, the violence amongst younger people has been entirely eradicated" could just as easily be replaced with "during the process, no charges of battery or of homicide were reported". That basic correlation (assuming it is even accurate) could be entirely coincidental for all we know - maybe they chose to paint the neighborhood during an annual police crackdown. Who knows?

And yet that doesn't stop the artists from coming out and implying their own responsibility for the lack of violent crime, while being careful not to outright claim it.

The same line of thinking applies to "several jobs were created". By whom? Whom did they employ? Even being generous and assuming, yes, the art project itself created some jobs, are we counting the artists themselves among the jobs created? Even if we're only talking about local residents, what was the quality of the jobs? How well did they pay, and how long did they last? Paying a couple locals kids a few pesos to help with the painting after school for a week isn't quite what most people think of when you boast about "creating jobs".

Now, I might be thinking a bit cynically here, but my experience with most "art collectives" in the modern age is that they're master crafters of self-profiting bullshit. They love getting onto headlines and making grandiose statements that are superficially impressive or compelling, but which are carefully worded so you can't take them to task if you dig deeper into what's actually going on. Their entire business model revolves around getting press exposure and pitching a carefully crafted "image" of themselves to attract patrons. So pardon my suspicions, but I've seen this sort of thing too often before to just trust the surface story outright.