‘Tags Not Labels’, a major new exhibition of street art organised by the V&A opens in Belfast today, headlined by Banksy, Miss Tic, James Hewlett, and Shepard Fairey
A major new exhibition of street art organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum has opened today at the Belfast’s Ulster Museum. It showcases over 30 street artists including some of the biggest names in street at, from Banksy, and Miss Tic, to Gorrilaz animator Jamie Hewlett and Shepard Fairey, the artist whose work became synonymous with the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. Alongside these streetart superstars, four local street artists have also been selected. to take part in the exhibition.
‘Tags Not Labels’ show hopes to unpick the various prejudices associated with street art, and to demonstrate the diversity and talent that can in fact be found in the field. ‘A lot of people have a preconceived idea about street art, which they may see as vandalism, but the art is extremely significant in the way it can be seen as social commentary, as well as influencing printmaking, mainstream graphics and advertising,’ Kim Mawhinney, head of art at National Museums Northern Ireland, explained. ‘We have selected work from artists we believe the public will be excited to see in our galleries for the first time. It’s unlike anything we have offered our visitors before and we hope it will attract lots of interest – especially from our younger audiences’, she added.
As to the selection of the four local artists, Mawhinney described how she and the jury ‘were amazed at the quality of the submissions for the exhibition and had a difficult time making our selection’. But the struggle was worth it, with Adam Turkington, one of the judges, overjoyed that ‘the museum has chosen to give our best young artists a platform alongside the international show’ – ‘it’s brilliant!’ And, pre-empting the inevitable criticism, Turkington stated the case for such recognition of street art: ‘Street art takes very specific local issues, social tensions and architecture and places them within the context of a global movement’: in other words, it is a political act that ‘has its roots in marking territory, ideological, geographic or artistic’.
Tags Not Labels runs until March 2012
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