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Right Wing Street Art?

March 14, 2009

I recently was asked a series of questions by about why there is so little right-wing street art by Paul Schmelzer (editor for the Minnesota Independent) for his Eyeteeth Blog. He crafted a post around my answers, and here it is:

At the 2009 Conservative Political Action (CPAC) conference this weekend, The Daily Beast’s Max Blumenthal found a rare kind of artist: a conservative hip hop musician. Self-defined “Republican rapper” Hi-Caliber says he takes inspiration from the likes of Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh to lay down lyrics like: “A socialist in the White House / what have we done? / You think Bush was bad? / Now the real fun has begun / The Democrats want to take my gun…”
But what Blumenthal found at CPAC, I haven’t had much luck in finding in the visual arts: interesting street art coming from a right-of-center perspective. In my search, raised in my Thursday post, “Where’s all the rightwing street art?,” I got in touch with artist Josh MacPhee, who founded Justseeds, an artists’ cooperative, online store, and blog. He couldn’t offer examples of artists, but he shared his thoughts on the topic of why they’re so hard to find.
He says the American political Left draws from a long history of visual agit-prop, whereas conservatives have used other vehicles. “When [the Right] is marginalized, it has built itself through local radio broadcasts, direct mailings, election to local office, etc.—channels that appear to be legal, mainstream, and legitimate,” he says. “The Left has no problem appearing to be speaking from the margins (even if they are speaking from a position generally held by the vast majority, i.e. the anti-war position right now), but the Right always wants to speak from the center, to claim they are being marginalized, but simultaneously appear to be legitimate and supported by the majority.”
He posits that illegal or guerrilla art has long been a way for people whose voices aren’t represented by corporate media channels to be heard. “For most of the history of this country, and more specifically for the past eight years, the ideas and opinions of the right wing, and even the extreme right wing, have been common currency. They are seen in daily newspapers, heard on the radio, even spread across billboards,” he says. “There is much less of a need for right-wing graffiti, when the right wing speaks to the hundreds of millions from TV screens and evangelical church pulpits.”

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6 comments on “Right Wing Street Art?”

in Italy I was surprised by the large amounts of right-wing graffiti (depending on the town of course). it was mostly of the neo-nazi / ultra-right variety, lots of ‘anti-immigrant’ and ‘white power’ type of stuff, the cross-in-a-circle symbol, occasionally swastikas. probably on the far margins of the right, to some degree. I guess we are lucky not to have so much of that here…
frequently graffiti battles would be visible, with the leftists crossing out the rightists’ stuff and writing their own, then being crossed out again, then again.
there was also one right-wing/skinhead squat, in the rural area outside of Rome. they were proud to be “the only right-wing squat in all Italy!”

Swastika’s are probably the most popular right wing graf, and probably get buffed faster than anything else.
As long as there are bathroom stalls, right wingers will use them to prove that racism and sexism still exists, no matter what they say in public.

as an anarchist artist, i’m glad not to be subjected to iconic rightwing/conservative propaganda art, but there’s a couple things I think are missing from this (short) interview.
First, how do we define leftist art? A lot of the contemporay radical images I see that draw on the, “long history of visual agit-prop” make free use of soviet social realism. What do we call the politics of Stalin’s totalitarian state-controlled government if not conservative or right wing? It’s certainly not any form of proper democratic communism. Stalin even organized a complete crackdown on what he considered ‘dangerous leftist propaganda’, going so far as making it illegal for the revolutionary supremetist painter Malevich and his followers to make images in his/their style, basically instilling social realism as the default graphic style of the revolution, but operating as a propaganda tool for his oppressive conservative regime. Powerful imagery to pull from, terrible contextualized history.
Second, i firmly believe that street art is a (positive) reactionary political act. We’re inundated daily with the images of those in power from passing an American Apparel billboard, a National Guard poster, or seeing that Girls Next Door in on the TV schedule. There has to be a relationship between owning the dominant visual landcape with the ongoing freedom to ‘create’ within that paradigm, and needing personal revolutionary acts to find a voice.
P.S. Just Seeds is simply the best ever. Thanks for all your work.

from our Flickr page
Subject:
Hi, saw someone was asking on the blog about right-wing street art. I think this might qualify Resist Multiculturalism
The guy who’s stream that was on uses other symbols such as the black sun as also used by the Nazis, but he keeps a lot of it coded.

Artists interested in contemporary right wing esthetics should look at the the graphics being used by European neo-folk, industrial, goth, nazi-goth, and nationalist music groups. The posters, CD jewleboxes and swag being offered for sale by bands like, Blood Axis, Von Thronstahl, Arditti, Allerseelen, Non, and early Laibach, etc. is where to find the beginnings of a right wing style that’s more refined and codified than skinhead music and art. The Cold Meat Industry website: http://www.coldmeat.se/home.html has some examples of this. The post apocalyptic expat Swedish (now living in Iceland), master painter Odd Nerdrum is a favorite artist of right wing esthetes who eschew the term “right wing” in favor of “Traditionalist” or “radical traditionalist” to describe themselves.
An good introduction in the form of a brief manifesto of anti-left Traditionalist thinking can be found here: http://www.cakravartin.com/the-purpose-of-this-site

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