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Inside Outside: Vandalism, Art and Vandalism as Art cover photo

Inside Outside: Vandalism, Art and Vandalism as Art 2005

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 1636 Bush St., Suite #2, SF, CA 94109; 415-447-9750
Produced by Rosforth
Directed by Andreas Johnsen and Nis Boye Moller Rasmussen
DVD, color, 88 min.

Jr. High - Adult
Art, Graffiti

Date Entered: 08/20/2009

Reviewed by Christopher Lewis, American University Library, American University

This film provides a snapshot of the lives and works of an international gallery of street artists. The collection of personalities includes spray painters, stencilists, “throw up” artists, and a paint drip specialist. The subtitle gives the suggestion the film addresses the question of boundaries between vandalism and art but it really doesn’t, in a literal manner anyway. Instead it’s a celebration of the variety of street artists working around the world, using different styles and media, some with political agendas, others with more artistic intentions, and others seeking recognition. The narrative is driven primarily by the various artists responding to the general question of why they do what they do and describing their processes in action.

The spiritual center of the film is ZEVS, a French conceptual artist whose work includes spray-painting bullet wounds on billboard photos, slicing images out of billboards and demanding a ransom, writing graffiti in invisible ink, and scratching negative graffiti into fluorescent light tubes painted black. What little he says isn’t marked by the seriousness or ambitiousness others in the film display in regard to their work. As he walks the street with a leopard-print stocking pulled over his face, he seems content to let the work speak for him. Conversely Swoon, a New York artist who travels with a bucket of wheat paste to apply her intricately designed and cut out images to downtown walls, serves as a kind of spokesperson for the street artist, expounding on the necessity of street art and pondering whether she can keep it real after selling expensive works to museums and collectors.

Inside Outside isn’t unique in its approach but the work is often striking and many of the artists are entertaining. A similar collection of portraits of international graffiti artists was captured in the 2007 film, Bomb It, which also included Ron English and the Brazilian duo, Os Gemeos. Other notable videos on street artists differ in that they are more specifically about spray painters. These include Graffiti Limbo (2004), Style Wars (1983), and Wild Style (1982). For the record, the other artists profiled in Inside Outside are KR, Earsnot, Pigmeus, and Adams and Itso. The extras on the DVD include longer segments with several of the artists.

The production quality is excellent.

The video is highly recommended for art libraries and public libraries and recommended for general university collections.