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— "Friends only".
Pasha Hudoy (www.pavel-hudoy.ru), Moscow, November 2010.

About the author.

It happened that most participants of the movement generally recognized within or for their external activity started doing graffiti in their early youth. This situation is characteristic for both post-soviet territory and the whole world where at least any recognizable graffiti scene exists. For instance, there are two separate periods of artistic biography stated in CV’s of western graffiti and street-art artists published in magazines: 1) first spray can experience, 2) first nickname appearance.

If we don’t focus on importance/unimportance of these phases of artistic development we should notice that for early-starters (experience of 10—15 years) it’s much harder to give it up. They are more likely to relate their life (occupation, personal acquaintances) to graffiti or allied spheres: decorative and applied arts, graphical design, youth politics, show-biz, modern art etc.

It’s like some kind of drug. Heroin can be given up but in favor to vodka or a religion sect. There isn’t any way of fulfillment of one's potential and no will to look for it because everyone is quite satisfied with integration into international graffiti community, smooth professional advancement, new acquaintances, orders for mural acts and exhibitions.

The framework of Russian graffiti community established during the recent 10-year period that expresses itself by only one movement — “nickname writing” and its derivations: never-ending escalation of obnoxious vandalism in the streets and colored letterings along the railway routes – is the most vivid confirmation of this.

Intense and overwhelming development of interesting original but not stereotyped street-art currently can’t be observed, but there are vivid indications that this is to happen to streets and passages of Moscow and other Russian megapolises.

Summarizing the above mentioned and referring (slight hint is enough for some points) we assume that only if one starts doing graffiti as an adult not a teenager, when he/she has a profession and a permanent occupation, not parasitizing on one’s parents and room-mates, not seeking approval of leading figures and independent from community, one can notice those simple, funny and sometimes sad features of in-crowd.

Pasha Hudoy, jeweler by profession and consequently careful and pedantic person, can be related to a not numerous, but important group of “attentive wingside spectators”. After a year/year and a half graffiti experience he tried easel painting, specific hybrid ”canvas graffiti”, wrote political slogans and displayed acute social problems by street art. He cooperated with servile and discredit modern art exhibition curators. However he got tired of it all or as he states it: “it caused acute abruption — fake, hackwork, insincerity, feebleness”. So he returned to craftsmanship — laborious, good-old, tried-and-true occupation — restoration of icon frameworks and making jewelry. Not being inert and dogmatically consistent as veterans of the street-art movement, understanding the possibilities and general situation with ironic-cynic attitude characteristic of him displayed in such works as “Old woman, hit the youth with a stick” or unauthorized political actions in support of governing party and city administration — the real sponsors of protest youth subculture. Pasha diagnoses the “movement” briefly and significantly.

Text by Kirill KTO.

About the work.

We won’t concentrate too much and even analyze why the author chose these very colors, composition, font and all this positive, sweet and clown geometry for his work — I will go straight to the point — to the meaning of the written, but not how it was done, because the real graffiti artists often write their names and reproduce other symbols, words, aphorisms and slogans not by means of specially selected, but by any available materials without paying much attention to compliance between the form and the meaning. Probably in this imitation of spontaneous random solution, assimilating to a typical graffiti artist who practices lettering, we should find the reason why this pitiful and dead-end in the meaning phrase “Friends Only” was written so vivid and joyful as if it was a theme screen of a film about first, true and sincere school friendship.

Nevertheless this work was done the right way. This web meme displays the order and customs of this subculture precisely. Graffiti widely represented in very different city areas, sure mostly concentrated in specific half-legal autonomic zones — waysides of city infrastructure, along railways etc., sometimes seen in other places, but tending to be widespread–stays the "thing-in-itself". Everybody sees it, but few understand what it is about, what it is for and who needs it. The answer to the question “who needs it?” was given by a policeman in the movie “Stylewars”: “Maybe they, the graffiti writers, consider this art. Maybe they are exited with what they are doing. Maybe they really like it and their friends like it. But they forgot to ask us, the rest of the city dwellers.”

After nearly 30 years the situation doesn’t change. The people fond of graffiti keep on creating an image of trickster-superheroes who are fast and effective at re-signifying the city environment in the dead of night, who wage a symbolic guerilla war against faceless walls, dull everyday life and who post flicks of their creation at special web forums with limited access for viewing and comments. I wonder if there will be more views and comments if these posts are marked “everyone can see this content”. I guess not. The isolation policy, the distancing of the subculture from social life, even this kind of “elitism” declared by some graffiti artists (for instance Blez: «We know something you don't know») aren’t considered their priority. Also a lot of consumers/creators of modern art also consider themselves a privileged class. There is a big united “family” of artists, curators, collectors, their allies. In this case a gallery owner’s works are exhibited in his/her friend’s gallery and allied artists act as reporters in a magazine owned by another friend’s gallery owner by turns. A sect-alike relationship, favouritism, in-crowd, corruption, personal preference and old acquaintances, gossip and intrigues, picking somebody to pieces and behind-the-scenes disputes — no wonder why nobody wants to read the “hidden” posts with mutual songs of praises. And year after year in the galleries we can see the same familiar faces (with permanent look of spirituality and plastic glasses of red wine in the teeth).

Text by Kirill KTO.