Oct 19, 2011

TREND | Wheatpasting

Mike Newton, Removing Me Wont Solve the Problem, Wheatpaste, 2007
In an industry that is saturated with so many new, talented, visionary artists living in a world with so much to see and say comes the challenge of sharing your work and having your ideas be seen and heard.  Of course, there are always gallery exhibitions, zines, commercial work, social media, etc. What better medium to use than wheatpasting to share your work by enlarging it to double, triple, or quadruple it's size and pasting it in a non-traditional viewing space that is extremely accessible for a larger audience to see it.  It's a left field approach to the traditional framing but picture a huge two-dimensional adhesive work of art covering walls, abandoned buildings, or even buses and trains so it becomes mobile.  Wheatpasting shares aspects of graffiti and can be seen spread all over the place even on garbage cans and park benches.

For the most part wheatpaste art not only displays an artists beauty and talent, but is often accompanied by a political, sometimes satirical message.  There are of course legal issues with wheatpasting but why?  If we can drown and pollute the streets with product placement advertising for corporate companies to get people to buy what they're selling then why not allow the same opportunity for artists through wheatpasting? After all, street art is advertising and has its own idea to sell.  The photo above is by an artist named Mike Newton who created a series of work discussing the issue of homelessness combined with the removal of art such as wheatpasting.
I noticed how the police would move the homeless from street to street, doorway to doorway around town.  This gave me the inspiration for my latest piece "Removing Me Wont Solve the Problem" a kind of twist on the removal of graffiti.
Newton draws a comparison between the use of authority to try and rid of a social problem such as homelessness with the problem of the removal of street art.

One of the most infamous graffiti artists who has become well known that frequently uses wheatpasting in his work is (that's right you guessed it) Banksy.
Banksy, Wheatpaste
 Banksy's identity is unknown and he has left his work all over the world for all of us to see.  His messages are almost always very clear and often pertain to something political.  I think the use of wheatpasting as a way to spread his ideas has made him extremely successful and maybe even closer to changing something in this world or at the very least force people to be stop pretending to be blind by the problems we all face.  Banksy states, “There's nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place” and I couldn't agree more.

Wheatpasting crews are popping up all over D.C inspired by New York's street artists JR, SWOON, and D.C's DECOY.  JR was recently the TED prize winner for the global art project Inside Out.

The Inside Out project has expanded and calls on everyone to become a participant.  On their website there is a statement that describes what the project is.
INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities. People can participate as an individual or in a group; posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window to a wall of portraits on an abandoned building or a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually.

The project stemmed from one persons idea and has now become a collective, collaborative effort to help spread the stories of people's lives we may never cross or know exactly how they live.  It brings light to that blindness of problems and social struggles occurring in the world.  This is a great example of how photography has been integrated into the wheatpasting trend.  Wheatpasting is no longer just drawings and graffiti. 

Another group that has incorporated photography and the use of wheatpasting is Mentalgassi, a Berlin- based creative collective made up of three artists engaged in urban intervention by transforming urban elements using specially chosen images.

Mentalgassi, Wheatpaste

Mentalgassi, Getxophoto, Wheatpaste, 2011

Mentalgassi teamed up with Amnesty International to create the "Making the Invisible Visible" project.  Juxtapoz Magazine covered the story of this project whose goal was to raise awareness about the case of the inmate Troy Davis and the problems within the possible innocnece in some death penalty cases.


Wheatpasting is a rapidly growing way to display art work on the streets.  Who knows maybe in the near future you may be participating in one way or another with an artist that is involved in projects involving wheatpasting or you may just be doing it for you.  

-Angela Zamora


1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this piece, but aside from looking up the formal definition of what "wheatpasting" is, you did not mention what it actually is. Do you think that Banksy meant his comment " There is nothing more dangerous then someone who wants to make the world a better place?" literally or figuratively? I really hope that he meant it figuratively because if that is a literal statement that I find it incredibly close-minded. If no one where to try and change the world then we would never have progress in the right direction to help with situations that are out of those who are sufferings control. I really think that the pictures that include the homeless man, the multiples of children, and the baby in the basin tub really make a statement about poverty, homelessness, and hunger. Aside from that, although I really found the other pictures intriguing but they really did not speak to me about anything but creativity.

    - Kristi Underwood