Friday, July 30, 2010

Vienna Stencil Art

Today I'm completing my series of blog-posts on Vienna's street art, focusing solely on stencil pieces. The top one, my favorite, is Aakash Nihalani's reinterpretation of Banksy's "Love is in the Air" [learn more at Unurth].

As usual, while looking to learn more about this technique, which is clearly designed for quick insertion into the urban scene, I found sites that contain even cooler and more subversive images than the ones I spotted [I'm looking in your direction, Fiveprime].

Complex layers of irony, the shock of unexpected juxtaposition, and the simple willingness to jar viewers from the anesthetizing shopper's gaze seem to motivate folks who stencil icons on the walls of the world's cities. Their haste reflects, but also shatters, a larger urban push.

These pieces are painted onto permanent structures, mostly, but they are still designed for ephemerality. New stencils replace the old, either through urban cleanup efforts or due to changing fashion among the artists. The scene convulses with a stream of strange moments.

You can ask, "What does it mean?" But I think the answer is less relevant than the pre-cognitive experience of encountering a kiss, a gun, or a slogan where it doesn't belong. That instant is more "the point" than any artist's statement.

Oh, and check out the broader trip summary of my adventures in Europe.

(Photographs by Andrew Wood)

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