Live… street ART

Freed from the confines of theatres and galleries, artists increasingly explore public spaces and avant-garde ideas by Jeff Ko

Girls On Top Graffiti London New Bird Street Owls

one of the main challenges for art and theatre is engaging its audience. The first hurdle though is that only a small percentage of the population will even visit exhibitions and performances. People are often intimidated by galleries and class-exclusive theatres, perhaps unsure how to behave, where to stand and look, or too afraid to ask questions about what they see. And so artists can spend whole careers trying to bridge the gap between their art and its intended audience, creating new approaches that grab attention and engage with people.

Girls On Top Graffiti London

Graffiti by ‘Girls On Top’

Graffiti is a prime example of the movement towards a more direct interaction with the audience. It has lead to a change in the fundamental concerns of painting and has set its own rules, no longer concerned with the issues of a canvas, the representation of ‘things’ or conceptual ideas. Graffiti focusses on the visual, the graphic, the public and the urban space.

Banksy Sweep London Graffiti Hoxton Maid

One of Banksy’s paintings in London

Graffiti crews are generally a male-dominated world, but ‘Girls On Top’ (GOT) are the first girl-only crew in the UK and they hold events and painting jams in South London. They aim to raise awareness of the lack of females in graffiti and at the same time, the inequalities elsewhere. The daubs of angry disaffected young men on urban walls have opened up opportunities for frustrated artists everywhere to communicate directly with the public. We only have to consider the phenomenon of Banksy to realise how what was once thought as vandalism, has become poetic, guerilla and political expression – often more popular and more valued than conventional gallery art.

King Robbo Banksy Graffiti London Painter

Legendary graffiti artists Robbo and Banksy’s feud was played out in their art

“People are often intimidated by galleries and class-exclusive theatres

This movement has also begun influencing sculpture too, with Hannah Barry’s ‘Bold Tendencies’; a yearly event that transforms a car park in Peckham into a sculpture park for the summer. The project presents three dimensional art works outside of traditional gallery spaces and independent of society’s consent.

So what about theatre? What parallel anarchistic performance can we see and find outside of conventional theatres and tastes?

‘Duckie’ is a post-queer performance and events collective (based in SW9) that are stretching the art form and audience expectations. In east London they run ‘The Posh Club’, an elegant event for older folks that consists of high tea and cabaret sideshows, which include tap dancers, opera singers, comedians, acrobats, a variety of Elvis incarnations, ukelele bands and ballet. ‘The Slaughterhouse Club’ is another project by Duckie, based in Vauxhall. It’s a workshop project with Thames Reach Hostels for homeless, vulnerable Londoners struggling with alcohol and addiction issues. On their website they claim to be ‘Purveyors of Progressive Working Class Entertainment’.

The world is changing and its art is changing too. Intolerance is the new taboo while everything else is permitted, celebrated and enjoyed.

Duckie Posh Club Alternative Theatre Performance

‘The Posh Club’ by Duckie

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