Piano Bombed

Midwest
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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(photos courtesy Fat Caps and Chrome)

Chicago is known for the combination of its excellent architecture and tough, gritty urban life. Both aspects of the city’s personality met briefly yesterday, when two graffiti crews tagged a long wall of the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing at the Art Institute. While we would never endorse vandalism, there is no denying the visual power of the bright colors and riotous script dashed across Piano’s formal surfaces. The Art Institute, however, did not ponder the artistic merit of the tags. Cleaners from Graffiti Blaster were removing this tags within minutes. The tags, momentarily at least, renewed the debate about how graffiti functions, its artistic value, and its relationship to art institutions–no small feat for a few cans on spray paint. (Tip: Gapers Block via Fat Caps and Chrome.)

7 Responses to “Piano Bombed”

  1. jack says:

    Your article does a great disservice to maintaining a healthy urban environment by condoning such behavior. There is nothing vibrant or artistic about vandalism. I wonder if the AN website was hacked and tagged you would find it visually appealing.

  2. jack says:

    Your article does a great disservice to maintaining a healthy urban environment by condoning such behavior. There is nothing vibrant or artistic about vandalism. I wonder if the AN website was hacked and tagged you would find it visually appealing.

  3. chum says:

    chillout chimp.

  4. ballistamagazine says:

    I would definitely consider myself a member of the minority in that I am trained in architecture with an abundant love of graffiti. I have always made the argument that graffiti, if anything, is the sign of a HEALTHY and socially sustainable community. Aesthetics aside, graffiti is indicative of a participatory environment and that is much more comforting to me than a pristine plane of concrete. To quote Richard Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation, “which is more dangerous to the future of the earth and of the human communities on it: is it the vandal who after all is striving in his ignorance and confusion to establish an identity for his neighborhood, or is it the graysuited oligarchy to whom neighborhoods are nothing more than square footage and loose change?” I would hardly consider Piano “gray”, but you get the point. DIscontent is healthy; graffiti never killed anyone.

  5. urban heatmap says:

    For me it’s one more historic step like banksy gradual uprising, Tate modern intervention, the pichação in Choque Cultural, hobbo novel in London, BNE in NY…

    My work goes all around this subject (check:http://urbanheatmap.blogspot.com/), as a researcher a producer and creative protagonist. The reflexion until now led me into the conclusion that there are several fronts that must be worked simultaneously to deal with this issue, this fronts are:

    1 transmit to the responsible technicians (architects, designers, engineers …) that this kind of manifestations (not only graffiti) are effective realities like other construction and management constrainments (ex: the rain, the wind…) this way they could act in full knowledge and not only put it in the same drawer (vandalism) that broken glass. Ignore, incorporate, defend, and others are possible postures, but the most important it’s to be conscient of the decision.

    2 talk, talk, talk, give space to dialogue, improve participation, involve into the community all the ones that what to make creative and positive inputs into the public space, discuss in conferences, talks, workshops, spread the knowledge about how it works, clarify the preconceived notions trough multidisciplinary and socially unsegmented forums, publications, inventories, historic references, improve research and non commercial communication.

    3 incorporation into the urban landscape giving conditions for big productions, at the same time defining policies for small interventions, cleaning fast and protecting (point 1) all the surfaces that are for some reason aren’t suitable, promoting the positive practices trough honest freedom.

  6. westcoastpov says:

    Setting aside the all-too frequent willingness for the self-annointed intellectually elite to indulge the antics of hoodlums by cloaking them in chic counter-culture garb, what is the value of such graffitti, really? If it’s ” the visual power of the bright colors and riotous script dashed across Piano’s formal surfaces”, to what end? How has it enhanced by enjoyment of the built environment or even challenged me to see the world differently? What’s it done is further underscore the absence of civility and the need to trumpet self-absorption.

    OOOOhhh look at me, aren’t I clever!?

  7. urban heatmap says:

    The role of this kind of manifestations are driven by many factors, as many as creators, maybe many search the attention that westcoastpov refer.

    Independently of graffiti viewed as art or vandalism (or both) the fact his that this things append since ever, like the rain, but as an human behavior.

    The technicians (in this case Renzo Piano archistar) design the roof for the rain they should also predicted the human behavior in cause.

    In other case partial solutions are find only with bad policies like repression, cctv, or economically unsustainable continuous cleaning.

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