From: New York, NY
Based in: New York, NY
Main Artistic Themes: Street art
Russell King is a New York based street artist experimenting with re-purposing
abandoned news boxes, sign postings, and
curbside video installations.
He earned his MFA from the New York Academy of Art.
As a born-and-bred New Yorker, I was made aware from a young age that I lived in a place everyone wanted to be part of. I felt lucky, but I was also conscious that I might always have
to share my home with the rest of the world.
Over the past decade, my career as a street artist has not only allowed me to become part of a small community of outsiders in this metropolitan expanse but has also given me a unique perspective of the city few are privy to. I have been able to witness first-hand the shifting landscape and expedited gentrification occurring in every usable corner of post-9/11 Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs.
From SoHo to Brownsville, spaces once adorned with graffiti and urban art representing the voice of a neighborhood began to vanish, and along with them the inhabitants who could no longer afford to live there. Through these city streets that have been the inspiration and frame for my art, I have seen New York lose much of its heart to make way for endless new developments, willing to bulldoze and build over its history in favor of modernization and mainstreaming, but at what cost?
As big business blankets the city in one glass high-rise after another, it has removed much of
the public real-estate for urban-minded artists to express themselves. Concurrently, corporations have entered into the guerrilla ad campaign more so than ever before, commissioning street artists to create and post adverts for luxury brands, buildings, and the like, resulting in more competition for less space, and bringing about the mainstream acceptance and cultural appropriation of the formally-shunned disciplines of graffiti and street art.
The whitewashing of this one particular aspect of New York’s cultural identity, in congruence with the city’s relentless expansion upwards and outwards, is emblematic of a larger global trend toward globalization and gentrification. Rather than fight for space to put art on the streets, I began to take from the streets to make art. While I have experimented with repurposing abandoned newsboxes, sign postings, and curbside video installations, the cornerstone of much of my work is simple wheat paste and paper—torn up building development markers,“Cash For Your House” signs, film shoot announcements, high fashion advertisements, etc., the tangible proof of the new New York.
A Chanel ad plastered over a Supreme ad plastered over a summer blockbuster movie ad, often still wet from the one before it, symbolizing our ever-shortening attention spans and insatiable need for more and easily-digestible trends. I cut through and unearth layers upon layers, letting them feud among themselves in a figurative battle of one-upmanship to become
commentaries on the society from which they are gathered, a society where newer/bigger/faster/more expensive is better, where consumerism is king, and where everything, including the very facets that make it unique, is expendable.
Selected Street Art