New trends in street art are usually so fickle and under-established that even the slightest bit of organization within a movement can reveal great potential, or fall apart completely. Luckily this is a tale of the former.
Lately, the most frenetic personalities on the streets of Sydney are the kind that lug around buckets of wheat paste and telescopic mops. Paper and paste street art wasn’t born here, but the local artists have turned it into a strong collaborative community. They create together, go to Kinkos together, split a long-neck of Coopers Green, mix up some paste and hit the streets together. The ecosystem has been so cultivated, that a cab driver, dubbed Godot, has started to record, paparazzi-style, the nighttime activities. Who was there, and who wasn’t.
Enter pop-appropriation master, Ben Frost, who put his head together with friend and paste-up artist, Bridge, an idea was born. They named it Paste Modernism, devised a mission statement, and started calling up other artists.
The manifesto was simple: Paste Modernism will be used to promote, foster, experiment with, and document the art form of paste-ups. No sponsors, no sales, no advertising! Invites were home made and announcements were posted on Myspace and Facebook with a location that remained secret until 3 days before the event.
Ben has been investing a lot of thought in the virtues of exhibiting outside of the traditional gallery space. Hibernian House in Sydney’s Surry Hills area - former headquarters for Anthony Lister, Mark (Kill Pixie) Whalen, Numskull and Kid Zoom - has become a rite of passage for many street artists. Most of the walls of the converted warehouse are already tagged, stenciled, stickered or postered on. Artists of Paste Modernism found just enough space in an upper room, lovingly christened The Crack Den, and continued the paper trail through the stairwell to the street level exit. The resulting exhibit was an amped-up version of each artist’s street style and personality. Pieces were bigger and more polished than ever, with some notable breakthroughs in materials and techniques that were used. The entire space was thick with appropriated images, hand drawn creatures, screen prints, photocopies, paste, artists, guests, media, cameras, music, and more long-necks of Coopers Green. The draughty halls caused less chills than the pure excitement of being amongst a watershed of activity- something that could very well put Sydney on the map as a paste-up capital.
The “Crack Den”
Paste Modernism was first published by Juxtapoz Magazine in September, 2008