A Short Discussion of Hip-Hop, Art, and their Entanglement
Smithsonian American Art Museum
DJ at America Now at the National Museum of American History. Photo by Brightest Young Things.
Shanti Boyle is an intern with SAAM’s Office of External Affairs and Digital Strategies.
America Now is an annual one-day festival that celebrates art and history. This year’s theme, a Celebration of Music, will certainly require harmony between the hosts of the festival: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and National Portrait Gallery. On June 22nd, guests can spend the day exploring hip-hop’s effect on American life at the National Museum of American History and conclude the evening at the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum with a free concert.
In this Celebration of Music, hip-hop headlines. A topical and fitting genre to showcase, the festival almost follows a chronology, allowing participants to learn about hip-hop’s national impact and ending with a concert that exemplifies its current state.
On the banks of the Rhine, Dusseldorf is a city where pockets of high quality urban art can be seen and explored. Much of the works are products from street art festivals and events held over the years. The street of Kiefernstraße meanwhile stands alone as once of the most unique streets of its kind anywhere in Europe.
A mural apparently by Banksy has appeared next to the Marble Arch in London. Showing a child planting a sapling into the ground and holding the ‘Extinction Rebellion‘ logo. It also contains some scrawled writing which says ‘From this moment despair ends and tactics begin.”
By the time we had arrived the piece had of course been covered in perspex. It’s always a race against time these days when a new Banksy appears. Sitting on a low wall next to the Arch it had become an impromptu tourist attraction. Lines of people were already there waiting patiently to have their photo taken next to the work.
Banksy on the Marble Arch
The mural appeared just after the conclusion of the Extinction Rebellion protests which saw demonstrations across London. The Marble Arch was one of the key locations at which protesters would gather. The choice of topic isn’t a surprise. Much of Banksy’s previous work has had an environmental flavour to it. A recent piece in Port Talbot showed a child seemingly enjoying the snow. Before revealing that it was actually waste from a nearby incineration.
Although, at the time of writing, the art has not been confirmed by Banksy himself. It is remarkably similar to the artists most recent installation at the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. That artwork shows a child drawn in the same style playing with some building blocks next to a love heart sized hole in the West Bank Barrier. The style of stencil, the scrawled message and the political theme all point to the artist as being responsible.
The Extinction Rebellion concept and idea has been growing over recent years, The symbol itself having first being designed in 2011 by the artist ESP. Now used as a rallying banner. It was adopted in 2018 as the symbol for the mass movement which has grown exponentially over the past year. We saw it for the first time in 2016. Created by Carrie Reichardt as a giant mosaic as part of the ENDANGERED13 event on the arches next to the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Banksy’s use in this latest work is another powerful affirmation that the symbol is here to stay.
Painted within the public space of Marble Arch it’s always a question as to what the council will choose to do with it. Posing a dilemma to the local authorities, Westminster council would normally clamp down on unauthorised graffiti or street art in the area. It’s a fact that no doubt would not be lost on Banksy who will be well aware of the public value of his art. It’s another feature of the artist that, following a series of protests which disrupted so much. The symbol of that disruption might well now be protected next to one of London’s greatest landmarks.
The extinction rebellion mural appeared on 25 April 2019 and was photographed by Inspiring City on 28 April 2019. It can be found next to the Marble Arch in London.