Obviously street culture has been mixing these influences together in a never-ending lust for experimentation; punk with hip-hop, skateboarding with tattoo, performance art with graffiti – for the past four decades at least. The folk tradition of cutting and pasting predates all our modern shape-shifting by centuries, but institutional/organizational curating often often has a preference for sorting street culture disciplines into separate piles.
With the inaugural exhibition “City Lights” MOMO, Swoon, Faile, and Maya Hayuk each bring what made their street practice unique, but with an added dimension of maturity and development. Without exception each of these artists have benefitted from the Internet and its ability to find audiences who respond strongly to the work with physical location a secondary consideration. Now as world travelers these four have evolved and refined their practice and MIMA gives them room to expand comfortably.
On opening day (which was delayed by weeks because of the recent airport and transit bombing here) the crowd who queued on an overcast day down the block along the Canal in Molenbeek was undaunted by the wait and expectant. Housed in a former beer factory, the greater collection includes large installations by the marquee namesin the main spaces and smaller pieces ranging from Stephen Powers and Todd James to Piet Parra and Cleon Patterson in galleries evoking whitebox galleries.
If the popular imagination of “museum plus Street Art” conjures anything for you, it may present some kind of overture toward the continuation of the street into the formal space and vice-versa. Faile’s two-color stencils and slaughtering of walls inside clearly connect to ones they have done over the last 15 years and that are currently on New York streets. Their huge prayer wheel assembled here was actually shown in the center of Times Square last fall with tens of thousands of tourists climbing it, sitting upon it, posing for selfies with it and spinning it, so the continuum is very much intact in that respect.