Idols are weird things. Fame is too.
Among the rarest creative phenomenon I've ever witnessed is an artist's embrace of anonymity. The fact that an artist's need for expression is more important than the need for recognition fascinates me.
Perhaps I’m sensitive because I believe, to my core, that every artist wants a kind of acknowledgment they almost never receive and that, if they ever actually have the experience, it becomes morphine. What’s odd is the fact that many artists chase a drug never having taken the drug. Meat hooks having sunk into the soul without the high.
Easy art, hard art
An artist I’ve known for a very long time remarked that religious symbols can evoke a strong response if used in a painting or sculpture, especially if the symbol is treated with disrespect. It’s much easier, he said, to outrage a viewer than to generate a visceral response based on more sublime emotions.
Post no bills
Throughout Philadelphia, at almost every construction site, plywood has been nailed to perimeter fences to obstruct the view of workers, bulldozers and cranes. Posters, then, get plastered-glued to the plywood. Illegally. Advertising for movies, DJs, hair care products, fashion houses and trinkets stick to wood as if chiseled. Strongly discouraged by members of one construction union or another, violently if witnessed, the practice thrives.
Night offers the artists cover. Rarely pursued by construction site mangers after 10 pm, they become bloody pretzels if caught in the act. Otherwise, they make money. Otherwise, they make morphine.
An impenetrable creative culture thrives in Fishtown. Small crimes are romantic. Perhaps this plastered poster of Travis Bickle is romantic. It's a crime. It promotes a crime.
It's trash. It's Pop. It's esoteric. It's violent. It can easily evoke outrage, without a reference to religion. From a benign spot, on a tight street behind a unremarkable building, Giappo has carved a singular visceral spot in the universe. Ubiquitous, authored and anonymous — all at once.
I parked my car on the opposite sidewalk, hobbled across the street and leaned against the wall in the same way I lean against every wall. Listening for sirens, I heard none in a city where, if you listen, they are constant. The tinkle of glasses being placed in a commercial dishwasher replaced sirens.White noise filled the rest of the site.
Seeking mindfulness below a small plastered crime.