Before I jump into my reaction to Beyond the Street: With the 100 Most Important Players in Urban Art I think it’s important to explain what I think is good street art and why I’ll stop and photograph something outside. While I’m familiar with a lot of the “names” out there I do try to stay a bit ignorant of who’s doing what. I don’t want to be persuaded by reputation—I want to be as interested in stuff on their own accord, not what other people have said or sold in a gallery. I’m a visual guy so I can tell pretty quickly what’s been done with skill. I don’t think people should just live off their reputation if they’ve done shit work recently.
Last night I checked out Deitch whom was hosting the book launch of Beyond the Street: With the 100 Most Important Players in Urban Art. I’ve been a fan of this project for quite some time. Patrick Nguyen who is one of the editors contacted me a couple years ago asking if they could use a photo that I shot. I said sure as I wasn’t doing anything with it. Time passed and I forgot about the whole thing. Out of the blue a couple months ago I received a new email explaining that they ended up not using it. To be honest I wasn’t sad about it but appreciated the fact that they kept my two year old email and wanted to let me know. He also mentioned that they were going to launch the book soon in London & New York. So that brings me to last night.
I don’t think I’ve ever used the word spectacular ever in a post, but as I flipped throughthe book for the first time that’s what I was thinking. It’s one of the first book on street art that has managed to do a great job of balancing images and text together. The design is really tight though occasionally the type reminds me of Print & ID magazine. Aesthetics aside, how does the content hold up? It’s hard to say as I haven’t read the book yet. What I can say is that I’ll be spending some quality time with it over the long weekend to find out. The title is pretty ambitious though at first glance probably can seems like it’s covered a lot of what is worth documenting and talking about. Obviously they’re not going to be able to please everyone with the list but for me that actually wants to learn a lot more about some of the characters out there this book is a great starting point.
While I don’t know a lot about who’s doing what, there were three sets of people that I looked for and didn’t see in the book. I’m a fan of what peru ana ana peru and how they spread their stuff over the city. The designer in me likes how some things stay consistent while at other times become consistent in their inconsistency. The second group is Graffiti Research Lab. They blast digital stuff on to outside walls. How they’re pushing ideas, tech, and o pen source is worth mentioning. The third is Monsieur Chat. From an aesthetic pov he’s doing a lot of really tight stuff. I would have liked to have known more about each of those people and would have been good additions to the others.
The other thing that I would have liked to see is possibly a timeline along with criteria of how the people were chosen. Keep in mind that I haven’t actually read the book and there might be a rational embedded in each story that becomes apparent as to why certain people are listed. But with that all said I think this book should be on the shelf (and read) of anyone that has stopped briefly outside to look at marks that most people ignore in the busy daily life.