No matter which images pop up on public walls, from the mammoth scissor-lift, highly narrative commissions of the mega popular to the miniature two-minute paste-up-and-run, there resides in every piece a comment on the human condition.
In recording these quick knock-off pieces there are an overwhelming number of images that deal with total dejection and hopelessness. Some pieces demand acknowledgment of their pain while others speculate on whether suicide is a preferable alternative to their current situation.
There are aggressive calls for political activism, as well as the opposite view, total resignation accompanied by only a slight glimmer of hope of ever making it to the end of their lives without witnessing either the end of the world or even worse – suffering more political embarrassment.
These various plights are visually expressed on surfaces in every city with a choice of charcoal, paste-ups, felt tip pens, sprays and occasionally even blood.
These visual performance pieces expose the hopelessness and destitution that many young artists struggle with. It is their visual echo of the horrific rise in inflation and cost of living, often the disappearance of the savings and pensions of their middle-class parents and it also makes real their highly improbable ability of ever being able to move out of the family home to begin their own adult lives. The loss of this pivotal right of passage can predictably lead to drugs, alcohol but hopefully also – some art.
The range of themes can run from humour, slagging each other off, defiance, desperation, homelessness, sleeping in the rough, to defending some kind of moral high ground.
Overwhelmed, they struggle with not knowing if they are “real” artists or not. Are they the scraps – the leftovers from the mainstream street art movement that has split into artistic sub categories?
Are they simply aiming for fame and just using the more public canvas of the street to achieve it?
Who knows? Aren’t we all inhabitants of our own madness.