Up the Wall...
This piece was originally published in the The Courtauldian, the quarterly student newspaper for the Couratuld Institute of Art, London (January - February 2014).
A melee of tyre-tracks now curl around the walls of the Courtauld’s central staircase; the fluid black trails conjuring up splashes of mud and the thrill of a rally for the ravenous wooden toy cars responsible.
Regina Silveira’s installation work is part of this year’s offering from the East Wing Biennale which opens over two nights, on January 24th and 25th .
Silveira’s work gives new production value and whimsy to boyhood fantasies of ‘vroom-vrooming.’ Its sudden appearance early on in the East Wing hang brought to mind the surprise-effect produced by the much-loved miniature gatherings of Courtauld Gallery poster-children throughout the Institute by Pablo Delgado (pictured above and left).
Like the reaction to an engaging newly sprayed graffiti work, my initial unanticipated encounter with Silveira’s bold tyre-tracks was one of smile-inducing surprise. I couldn’t help thinking that causal links between street art and current trends in art exhibition had never felt so clear.
The transience and frisson of street art is fundamental to the ‘pop-up;’ in both cases there is a consciousness of the briefness of the encounter, coupled with the sensation that you have either had the talent or the luck to spot it.
The organised nature of these events marks the divergence of this exhibition type from its lowlier, rampageous cousin. The Art Everywhere project of 2013 provides a good example of the difference in effects. The project, which successfully raised funds throughout the year and displayed poster reproductions of many British masterpieces on billboards and bus stops across the UK last August, facilitated the banding together of a broader arts community through individual participation via donation. Turning a street corner and encountering a Lucien Freud may have caused surprise, but the long, much publicised build-up did dampen the sense of intrigue for those of us who knew it was coming.
As a self-proclaimed ‘newbie’ to London, I was excited to find out about a Banksy not far from my flat: it is just around the corner from my local falafel shop, on the corner of Acklam and Portobello Roads, behind a Perspex cover.
You may know the one; it gained publicity in 2012 when it was sold by the owner of the building on ebay for £208,100, with an extra £5,000 requested for its extraction and the rebuilding of the wall. Somehow or other it has remained. The work features a beret’ed artist with paintbrush in hand, putting the final touches on a single scrawled word, ‘Banksy.’
The Portobello Banksy now finds itself within various tourist trails of London, and proliferating the area, in market stalls and poster shops there are Banksy images and imitations, both good and bad (but mostly bad!).
Perhaps this hype and saturation accounts for the odd deflation I felt on spying the infamously expensive mural. The frisson just wasn’t there.
Elsewhere in Notting Hill, there are fabulously inventive, fresh works that reward flaneur-ing about the place. You may see a brilliantly colourful giant chicken, an astronaut displaying a sign that reads ‘Sky’s the limit?’ or an outlined smile sprayed beneath two windows to make a face or other aditions.
Through its gradual hang, the East Wing Biennale has captured the happy surprise of the unexpected encounter. Just remember to keep an eye out on your walk home.