Banksy and other graffiti artists turned a tunnel near London Waterloo station into a public exhibition space in June 2008. What is questionable is that usually street art is linked with prohibition and risks with operation carried out at night. Could we think that the example of Waterloo tunnel is transforming into a more formalised culture street art? Could it be it an attempt to control street art culture? Or a recognition of its existence to have a place in the city for graffiti artists to express themselves without risking being arrested.
The city of London is a major place for street arts, Banksy is a key artist that promoted and pushed for a recognition of the street art culture. Banksy is well known in London for his political engagement messages on walls and follows Kurt Iveson idea of public address. Where urban spaces are used as public address systems where co-presence is achieved in space but not in time (Iveson, 2011). Indeed, most graffiti are carried out at night and some in difficult-to-access places such as roofs and high walls. This means that people will later connect with the arts hazardously by passing by.
Street art and graffiti texts were not very well considered before the 80’s. New York City was the first experimental place that moved street art walls to high street art galleries. Banksy through his company’ Pictures On Wall’ (POW) promotes himself but aslo a range of street artists such as ‘Space Invaders’. Luke Dickens ethnographic studies described the POW works from their beginning to a more professional production and distribution of street arts (Dickens, 2010).
Waterloo tunnel is very popular nowadays for street artists and visitors. This two groups are able to meet at the same time in one location. This example of localised street art, is not going to stop artists to go and put their mark on various locations such as Banky that continues to display his work in various city’s walls across the globe.
Austin, J. (2001) Taking the train: how graffiti art became an urban crisis in New York City, New York: Columbia University Press – Chapter 2
Dickens, L. (2010) ‘Pictures on walls’ Producing, pricing and collecting the street art screen print’ City, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 63-81
Iveson, K. (2011). Mobile Media and the Strategies of Urban Citizenship, MIT Press
http://www.picturesonwalls.com [Accessed 11/11/2014]