Bringing Photos Back to the Street

We’ve talked some about ‘alternative publishing’ here on Dva but this might be more outside the box than you’ve heard before, but hopefully will be intriguing to some of you. Matt Mallams, and a few others I know of, are getting their photos out into the world in innovative ways that bring a much different reaction from viewers. To sound foolishly ‘arty’, the photograph is taken from its normal context, or the context it was created in, and morphed into a new kind of object. It is intriguing to me, messing with the often-stodgy limitations of ‘where photographs belong’ (on websites, on newsprint, on walls).
(c) Matt Mallams. Poster from one of his photographs
In addition to lots of great work that falls into more traditional realms of photography/photojournalism Matt Mallams is pushing some boundaries and developing his own way of bringing his pictures back into the streets. I’ve been idly thinking about how to make ‘photos as street art’ for years, but haven’t done the first thing about it, so it is great to see a talented photographer trying it out.
(c) Matt Mallams. Stencil of 'CPMcB' image
He is also producing t-shirts with a cool image of his (if I were back in the States, I’d definitely be picking one of these up):
(c) Matt Mallams
If you want one, follow the link for info. Printed on whatever color tshirt you like, $15.

That image has made some earlier street appearances, and was actually my first sight of Mallams’ push to get images out in this new way. Be sure to catch his journals too (unfortunately I can’t give you a direct link because of how his site is set up), which show a different side to Mallams’ vision.

I love it, congrats Matt… can’t wait to see what is next, I’ll let you know if I ever get something started myself. And can’t wait to do our rogue street exhibition some day.

I know of a couple of other instances of this kind of photo street art, including this random post that came along a couple of months ago on (what other than) the Slog: “Currently Hanging on the Tennis Court at Cal Anderson”. Someone tied a collection of photographs to the chain-link fence at a popular park in the center of the active Capitol Hill neighborhood, and a writer for the Stranger newspaper (who produces the Slog) saw, photographed and commented. Simply, they were impressed with the expression of the exhibition, not knowing who did it, why, or really what it was all about. Perfect, provocative, fresh. I love it. And if you read the comments on the blog post some people figured out that it was probably a highschool photo student from a nearby school, which is great.
Street exhibition at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle. via the SLOG

M. Scott awhile ago pointed me toward Zoe Strauss’ ‘under-highway exhibition’. I haven’t found anything better to show it than Flickr set. Again, great idea (though from the looks of these pictures, not quite right to my taste).

Also, Magnum did something a bit unusual when it had exhibitions on kiosks in Paris, or even on a video screen in the center of Manhattan. I can’t find a picture for that, but as the NY Daily News said, they were “operating on the notion that New York deserves art where it least expects it…”. Cool, but a bit too close to an organized exhibition with state approval than the vibe I like in these other examples!

Mallams also reminded me about the work of JR who recently completed an opus in the Nigerian slum of Kibera. See more of the impressive and inventive work here at the online bible of street art (as far as I know) The Wooster Collective. While you’re at it, look at some of the beautiful self-published books they’ve produced.
(c) JR

As for me, I’m starting work on a project about a Roma slum here in Belgrade that is soon to be torn down. Its a complicated thing, and if I can continue to get access (there were complications this week) I’ll be sure to tell more soon. But I’m thinking of the ripe possibilities of turning pictures of ‘the invisible’ (most in Belgrade have no idea what life is like in there) into something that confronts the public more directly. Mm, I’m excited about this.

Please, if you’ve experimented with this or seen other work that has, send it my way!

6 Responses to “Bringing Photos Back to the Street”

  1. Jeremy M. Lange

    Matt,
    I seem to remember reading somewhere, I can not find it and I looked for a while, that a few years ago Tim Hetherington wheat pasted prints of I think his Liberian work on walls in Monrovia to give access to the photos to all people, not just those who go to art galleries. At the time I remember thinking this was brilliant.
    When I lived in Richmond, VA we did a couple photo shows of flyers posted on poles and walls on the main shopping drag. Was never sure how many people actually looked at the photos, but it was fun.

  2. rich-joseph

    I wheat pasted prints in AZ around 2002 or 03. I still have a desire to do something on a much larger scale. Maybe, just maybe I’ll do something here in the Middle East. We’ll see. Love the post. Cheers!

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