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samedi 30 août 2014

Street Art in Tahiti

Lagoon Graff
The Graffiti, or Street Art, is caught in spatial planning policy in Polynesia nowadays... like everywhere else. It reconnects with this very prehistoric "rock paintings". It’s sprayed on the stone, concrete, metal, by thin layer and transmits a visual, graphic, ethical or aesthetic discourse...

On May 2014, the first international festival of graffiti "ONO'U" in Papeete, is not in fact the first intrusion of what belongs to the spray-painting, mural, stencil, bonding line, collage, all what’s penciled and so on, onto the walls and facades of the capital and other Polynesian islands. It follows two decades with many "wild" achievements; but also with framed artworks by associations of graffiti artists, cultural events or works commissioned by individuals.

A Street, a perspective
Has it the Tahitian public space been really rehabilitated in popular attitudes like a place of expression? Has it become currently the springboard that defends the living arts in urban than in rural areas? Did the artists revisited the old and original forms, or have they created a new imaging?

Do the recent pictorial achievements really fit the "street furniture"? How do the Tahitians address the representations that foreign artists have made of them? What are became graffiti...

…By way of extensive beginnings...
For millennia, the volcanic rock, brittle and fragile on Polynesian high islands, has left us some vestiges of petroglyphs: ideograms or pictographs, some of which are indecipherable. Before like now, it appears that the graphic art of the Polynesian islands is dedicated to corrosion: the centuries-old printing woodblocks have resisted rarely, neither the decorated tapa (bark cloth) nor the tattoos, lasting only the time of a skin, of a lifetime...

Carved in lava stone
Walls or natural caves, store fronts or public buildings gables seem to have always done office of speech area, of tribune, individually or collectively, in different periods. After having enhanced the educational purposes in the Middle Ages, the walls are confronted with protester  proposals or reports  (see the matter of billboards that stirred the Renaissance ...).

So let's recall the reactions to the first official stencil graffiti: "NO POSTING",  placarded by the Third Republic in 1881 ... and in the same vein, "some measures of  assimilation, enacted by Jules Ferry, want to prohibit  the Tahitian language and  to francize the "natives"  of the colonies ... That's justifying a certain imperialism. "

It is surprising that the Deixonne Act of 1951, "authorizing the teaching of regional languages, has been applied only in 1981 to French Polynesia." And in this joust of cultures and minorities against the power, the practice of graffiti has been as controversial or chased.

A message, a picture (2011) 
            On the walls of cities, the authority will confirm its role of monitoring and censorship, consumer associations their response to the saturation of urban advertising. The thugs are using them for transmitting information about their break-in, the individual or the anonymous artist to publicize his heart strokes, his protests, his SOS.

Historical outline  

The Graffiti becomes aesthetic representation in the 1900s. The first Atlantic crossing of lettering was committed by Kilroy in 1942. This employee of a factory of military bombs from Detroit (Michigan) attempted to serve his peaceful position by the following markings: "Kilroy was here ", tagged on the hull. In Europe, the soldiers reproduce the tag on the walls still standing. Message received.

The rebellious period of the sixties saw the flowering all kinds of slogans on the walls. Meanwhile the lettering (pure graffiti) is signed by a tag. The works are stylizing. With emblems or chimera the graff spots are diversifying, on movable supports (trucks, cars), on areas deemed inaccessible (tunnel, the top of a building), play the trick of the eye, become airspace art, upset the perspectives and viewpoints.

Before (2011) ... After (2014)...
The Graffiti or Street Art is one of the hallmarks of contemporary aesthetics of the twentieth century. This does not mean that this vast wild and open museum originally have been entitled to something else that "a minimum recognition, a ridiculous and microscopic place in the media, a constant suspicion of prefectures, a permanent rejection of art institutions.

On the other hand, some capitals were sponsors such productions ... to dress their environment. What about now?

Tabu and "octopus"

Graffiti Festival in Papeete
The legal framework is strict: "When they aren't on authorized carriers, the graffiti are for the French or Polynesian criminal law, destruction, degradation or willful damage of property belonging to others." In 2001, the taggers are stuck through the sites, journals, by the device "OCTOPUS (Tool of Centralization and Operational Treatment of Procedures and Users of Signatures)" which has nothing of the harmless octopus.

"Furthermore, the content of the inscriptions (death threats, incitement to racial hatred, defamation, etc.) may be an offense in itself."

In March 2009, the "Town Bulletin of Papeete" began a campaign in these terms: "More than 9,000 "tags" have been identified in the city; it is a scourge! The fight against this eyesore has become a priority for the city of Papeete. These inscriptions attack the eyes and cause a feeling of neglect and insecurity”.

The long hunting of "Tags" on"Te Honoraatira"
An explanation is needed: "If we go by the theory of broken glass developed in the United States, graffiti is a source of insecurity because it lets the people feel that their neighborhood is neglected by public authorities and that the social incivilities go unpunished.”

Anyway, I like to "breathe" cities through windows that the taggers open onto the blind facades, the broken walls in disadvantaged neighborhoods. I resume my pilgrimage, started there three years. Is the urban landscape being changed with the Graffiti Festival 2014?

Forever  or ephemeral?
The Street art is unfortunately perishable. It is not immune to the ravages of time, or the human hostilities. For example, the soul of Beirut, rebuilt at the heart of his injuries, touched me deeply in 2003.  What’s remaining after the 2006 war?

He "may at any time be lost forever." "Under the Street Art Project, the Cultural Institute of Google works with experts from fifteen countries to preserve more than five thousand images of works and exhibitions."
A snack on the edge ...
Sometimes designed on surfaces previously occupied, but especially on the gigantic spaces, it begs the question of their effective integration into the outlook of the initial cityscape. Some bring their inspiration BD vision, completely out of line. Others are modernizing their fenua (country in Mao’hi language) vision. Others, finally, play with color or their feelings.

Quickly assimilated into the everyday look, quickly forgotten, some even are overshadowed by the return of the debris. However, they re-driven everywhere on the island of Tahiti, the desire to hide or renovate chipped palisades.

Urban Poetry…ephemeral ...
The Graffiti can it be institutionalized as it was fought. Can it continue when it is an act of the moment?

Games of views ... unreal ... fantasy, future, lightness of humor ... the Graffiti is art of the unfinished, like the poetics.

"... We are told street
This is our stage, our ring, our choice

An article of   Monak

Copyright Monak. Ask for the author’s agreement before any reproduction of the text or the images on Internet or traditional press

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