Pieces of graffiti that have been chipped off a wall are offered up in a box like a conventional puzzle in an exhibition that provokes thought on who street art belongs to, and whether or not it can ever be ‘owned.’ Italian artist Fra.biancoshock removes graffiti from its original context and displays it in fragments, destroying its meaning and the creator’s artistic expression in the process.
Is this uncomfortable? Yes. Is it meant to be? Probably, as Fra.biancoshock is well known for clever thought-provoking urban installations, like a giant bandage plastered onto a crack in a stone wall, or flowers and sympathy cards mourning a cut-down tree.
Entitled ‘Ephemeralism,’ the exhibit at Milan’s 77 Art Gallery continues the artist’s theme of producing works of art that only exist “briefly in space but limitlessly in time.” Fra.biancoshock’s installations can seem humorous yet touch on issues like poverty, capitalism and the value of human life.
The gallery works seem to convey the fact that while graffiti can be displayed indoors if it’s painted on canvases or created specifically for a given site, it’s not really meant to be consumed and appreciated within this artificial environment.