Image courtesy of John Roleke at About.com
The street art collective 5Pointz won a stay of execution (restraining order) freezing the building owner’s demolition preparations. It’s all over the news: here, here, here, etc. Lawyers for the collective centered their arguments on a clause from the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), which allows certain visual artists to prevent the unauthorized destruction or alteration of works installed in buildings. I’m not a proponent of high-rise, luxury apartment buildings. The proposed building is one of the last things LIC needs, other than more hipsters. However, I am not entirely sure what the collective hopes to achieve through this suit. In this article, Ms. Chanes, one of the attorneys for the collective, called Judge Block “a judge for the 99 percent.” Last I checked, OWS is on an indefinite hiatus. The victory is a far cry from the injunction that the collective hoped for and likely to be short lived. Furthermore, the whole endeavor seems like a futile battle against the implicitly ephemeral nature of street art. Last time I visited 5Pointz, I watched the building serve as a backdrop for a music video, variety of fashion-centric photo shoots and quasi-gallery opening. We get it, the place is cool but the hype is entirely counter to the ethos that spurred the street art movement. Shouldn’t these artists, who pride themselves on their ability to make art in unlikely places, while flouting institutionalized notions of “art,” move on? That the building is called a “mecca” is unsettling to me and fundamentally inconsistent with the movement it represents.