Claiming Back Our Culture

...go against the grain

by Crystal Kruger
Guerrilla Art: sounds a little dramatic I know. But visionary may or may not actually be a better word. (I’m going with may). Inspirational may be another. Or delivering. Redeeming. Whatever. The term implies a sense of anonymity, rebellion and that of it being a covert operation. It’s all this. And so much more. By no means is guerrilla art a new concept, being a product of thousands of years of humanity wanting to leave it’s mark in the world. For a day. A year. A century. It doesn’t matter. All have the same intention of leaving behind a mark that changes the landscape for those who follow. I’m not talking about graffiti, not in the sense that springs to mind. It’s not about pointless destructive tagging. Aside from the fact that it is often temporary, I’m talking about the little random things that people do, or intentionally leave behind. Things they draw or write. Things that will make you think, or smile, or laugh, feel inspired by, or wonder at.

To me this is the very best of art forms. To me it is about reclaiming the space that is ours, where we live and work and study. Where we go out. Taking it back to the people, where anyone can make a difference to anyone. Share an opinion. Instill a sense of community and culture in those who see it, that isn’t corporately manufactured, or designed by a marketing team to sell a lifestyle that requires continuous consumption. It’s a sounding board for political or social statements. It’s about real people and feeling real emotions. It reconnects you to the environments in which you exist. In an era where we are too busy. Too tired or self-absorbed. Too comfortable.

Guerrilla art is someone throwing a hand full of seeds into an abandoned flower pot, or a crack in the pavement and letting them grow. Letting them be beautiful. It’s about affecting the people who pass. Who have stopped looking properly at life, but are suddenly forced to, because it’s changed.

Guerrilla art is someone chalking a quote, or even a single word on the pavement, for people to pass over. Impermanent. Unexpected. And possibly the most interesting thing to happen to you all day. They’re inspiring, they are witty. They make you want to think. And by tomorrow they could be gone. But the message will linger infinitely.

Guerrilla art is changing a corporate poster to create a new meaning. To poke fun. To challenge your perception. Or the assumed perception. To make you laugh, awaken you to an alternate reality. Or at the very least make it known that someone isn’t entirely happy with it. And that maybe there is a very good reason for it, too.
It’s a book that someone loved and then left on a park bench; having scribbled in the front cover a message to read it and pass it on. To spread the joy. It’s about taking a photo of something on the street and sticking it up near the object. Refocusing your attention. It’s little artworks about someone’s life. About the mundane. About actual issues. Anything. It’s someone leaving a love letter in a public space for others to read. To evoke an emotion. It’s about making moss grow on a wall to create a picture. It’s about transforming garbage, taking the ordinary and making it amazing. It’s about asking questions. Giving answers. Interacting.

It’s about a Post-It on a wall asking you to notice things you take for granted – the sound of your feet on the pavement, or the amazing colour of the aged bricks on a building.

It’s a concept epitomised by Henry David Thoreau – “It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. To affect the quality of the day – that is the highest of arts.”

It’s about expressing who you are. It’s about reconnecting with the people around you. Not that they know who it was, but it’s about being able to create your own culture and believing what you think is right. Being able to challenge the world. And more importantly change it. It’s about caring and it’s about art imitating life.