What’s in a Name? A Blog About the Anonymity of Street Art

(Photo | Courtesy of Bandana Jain)

Some people do not understand what street art is; their head fills with images of vandalized bus stops, tagged alleyways and ‘yoofs’ with spray cans on the side of train tracks.

Street art democratizes the act of making art. It’s not necessarily the same thing as graffiti but is oftentimes done illegally. Sometimes it may require a little law-breakage, vandalism or trespassing, but that’s how it goes (and that doesn’t mean all of them to break the law, as a lot of work is legal or commissioned). New pieces pop up by the second… as other pieces get removed or erased. You could never keep up with the changes!

It’s diverse, mysterious, political and sometimes all three at the same time. You shall never know! Art itself in any form has the power to make its audience curious. People are intrigued to know: What was the artist thinking while creating this?  Millions of street artists go without their name. Where names matter almost beyond anything else!!

Their purpose is nothing but to communicate their opinions and ideologies. It is to put forward their point of view and to take a strong stand in front of the world. Street art and these artists were never really commercial.

Some of these street artists now go by a pseudonym. Today’s few pseudonymous cultural figures — Banksy, Elena Ferrante — have deliberately sculpted an alt-identity that’s as much a brand as any.

These artists have the purest of the intention when it comes to their opinions. They stand true to what they preach and believe. Communicating that in the form of art harms none but it’s still termed as vandalism. Graffitis are said to be a vandalized form of art. True that these public properties belong to the government, some are even private, but isn’t that graffiti vibrant enough to beautify that surrounding?

But the question remains, at what point does a street artist stop being anonymous? Is all street art anonymous until it becomes more popular? It seems impossible to truly define what is anonymous street art.

Along with the mystery, the street art world is also welcoming in its own way. You don’t need to look a certain way or be anything but yourself. The street art world is made up of artists and art lovers from all over the world, all walks of life and of all ages. It really is so inclusive. Whatever you think, it’s got to be a good thing that people are starting to accept that the creative and talented people involved are seen as artists, not vandals. And that their work, however ‘urban,’ is still worthy of being considered art. People are becoming more open-minded to urban and street art and appreciating where this art form has come from.

Some of these anonymous street arts can seem pointless, but it does set up an important relationship with the viewer that throws normalized art-viewing into question.

“And shouldn’t that be the goal of art, particularly contemporary art, anyway?“


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