Unknown Artists

Stumbled across this piece by filmmaker Matt McCormick and narrated by the now famous Miranda July from 2001. It seems to straddle the distinction between ironic and critical documentary film, as I find myself both amused and interested at the same time. The short film entitled "The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal" contends that graffiti removers are artists themselves, creating public works sometimes unknowingly that accomplish much the complexity and well, simplicity of many of the Abstract Expressionists. The film seems to have earned both praise and criticism, both flung widely across demographics including graffiti artists themselves and bystanders alike.

the subconscious art of graffiti removal (excerpt) from matt mccormick on Vimeo.

It won all kinds of awards back in 01, though despite my appreciation of Miranda July and her kindreds, I've never seen this. Have you? Any thoughts about whether this is genius or rubbish? It poses some interesting questions about the urban medium which is so prone to attracting contradictions; in fact, the film does a superb job of mirroring the nature of graffiti itself. I'm not sold on the idea of graffiti removal equalling the original artists' work in aesthetics or historical relevance, but it is an interesting spin on the issue. It suggests there may be some value in those mundane, neutral splotches increasingly clouding the surfaces of our cities, which is a rather optimistic scenario. I am one for optimism...but...still...

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