CANEMORTO – TOYS

Following their ignominious street a̶̶r̶̶t̶̶ movie Amo-Te Lisboa, now available online, also a main topic of our interview with the artists, the Italian trio CANEMORTO opened their exhibition TOYS in February 2016 and launched a new video as the film sequel, in which the protagonists of the movie decide to leave the street art life behind and undertake a career in contemporary art.

The term toys was not chosen by chance – in the graffiti language, it indicates an inexperienced or incompetent writer, opposed to what is defined as a king, the best writer, and it is used in this context to ironically reflect the ambiguous border between street art, graffiti and contemporary art. The solo show, presented by Section 80, featured works on canvas and installations related to the theme of Amo-Te Lisboa, continuing to challenge the superficial state and commercial-oriented evolution of street art today, as well as the lack of knowledge and understanding about the graffiti writing and rules among the new wave of creators.

In addition, CANEMORTO launched a video with the same title as the exhibition, in collaboration with Milan based director and videomaker Marco Proserpio, part of the Sterven Jønger collective, who is currently working on a full-length movie called The man who stole Banksy, and the video Toys is, according to the artists, a spin-off of this upcoming documentary. The short film is a mix of reality and fiction taking the viewer through rap, graffiti, art and cinema in a sort of parody that highlights how street art has become dependent on the art market conventions. A focus of the video, available below, is the recent debate regarding the decision of Blu to erase his wall paintings in Bologna (it is not the first time Blu takes this position, some may remember the 2014 erasing of murals in Berlin), in response to the controversial exhibition Street Art: Banksy & Co: L’Arte allo Stato Urbano, to which other artists also reacted. Toys contains an exclusive interview with Camillo Tarozzi, the Italian restorer who made the discussed removals of Blu’s works, filmed by the director Marco Proserpio in January 2016.

In the past years there have been several discussions whether street art should be preserved or not, fit in an art space or remain on the streets, with museums opening to further develop the art form, art fairs and festivals embracing it with some significant consequences and galleries considering it for their exhibitions programme or even turning it into a core activity. Google already assumed a role in the preservation of street art and others have become concerned with the dilemma since the growing profitability and popularity of Banksy and other street artists. And in approaching the Blu debate, Hyperallergic reminds of Banksy’s reaction to the Sincura Art Club’s 2014 auction of his apparently salvaged works of street art. “This show has got nothing to do with me and I think it’s disgusting people are allowed to go around displaying art on walls without getting permission” (Banksy quoted by Hyperallergic). Moreover, as it is created on the streets and still perceived as a form of vandalism, graffiti has become an issue of copyrighting, with fashion designers, pop stars and filmmakers being more than simply inspired by the phenomenon. 

CANEMORTO raise some important questions, but they also reached their conclusions: “Let’s say that when you know many sides of a story, then you have to choose a side and take a position: that is exactly what street artists should do, starting from realizing that so-called street art has become the frivolous and spoiled niece of graffiti.”  

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Caterina Colombo

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Caterina Colombo

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Jacopo Farina

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Caterina Colombo

CANEMORTO - TOYS / Photo: Walls of Milano

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Photos: Jacopo Farina, Caterina Colombo and Walls of Milano. Click on the images for zoom and credits.

More info about the artists on their website.