Deitch reactions…

I’m really late to the party on this one, but I finally got around to seeing the SWOON and Barry McGee shows currently at the Deitch galleries in SOHO. Photos of the shows can be seen here on flickr.
I will start by saying that I love SWOON… I tried to player hate her for a while but it didn’t work out… she is dope. That being said, for me her work lost much of it’s meaning in the gallery. This is not a cut on the installation, but rather a testament to how powerful it is come upon one of her pieces in the streets. I’m not sure what her work has gained by moving indoors.
The Barry McGee show made me uncomfortable for other reasons, mainly because my favorite part of it was looking at tags by other people. And while this might have made sense if the show was in Iowa, in SOHO I don’t know why I wouldn’t just step outside and see all of this in its natural environment; where the graffiti is “real”. Putting graffiti in a gallery is always tricky business, and again, in this case I don’t know what is gained.
I don’t mean to be a pessimist, I had a great time at both shows and am happy that they are there. Mainly I am happy because the more the general public starts to see graffiti as something more than vandalism then maybe we will start to see people doing less jail time. The Deitch shows for me are bitter sweet because even though SWOON and McGee are currently the toast of the town, and COPE is doing his billboard for TIME magazine, the New York Times reported last week that “Graffiti arrests are up 88.9 percent citywide since January” due to increased funding for the NYPD city wide vandal squad. So while the art and advertising worlds (not to mention video games and movies) are in love with graffiti at the moment, there are a lot of people in jail right now for writing their names in the city.
Both shows end this saturday, so if you haven’t seen them yet be sure to check them out. I’d love to hear other peoples reactions to these shows (or to my ranting), please leave comments if you have them.