Visual Vitriol and the Center for Punk Arts is proud to sponsor a photography show that will be projected on a large screen in the outdoor covered patio of Domy Books in Houston, Texas starting at 7:30 pm. Featured work by Ben DeSoto will highlight his documentation of punk in Austin and Houston during the 1980s and early 1990s, including avid shots of Suicidal Tendencies, the Swans, Big Boys, Butthole Surfers, Circle Jerks, and many more. David Ensminger will present a decade of Montrose street life documentation, focusing on contested spaces and street art, homemade signs, urban landscapes, and the ever-mutating skin of the neighborhood. The flash art event is free, open to the public, and each photographer will be on-hand to discuss the work. Ensminger’s continuously updated catalog can be viewed on-line here, plus his folklore blog featuring similar material can be found here.
Space is not a neutral and passive geometry. Space is produced and reproduced and this represents a site of struggle.
Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 1991
The Second Skin of Cities: David Ensminger
Graffiti, stencils, stickers, and flyers invoke often-unseen communities creating public spectacles that distress and fray official boundaries of civic space. Each art site becomes a micro-world, a confluence of personal meaning and identity that occurs in the fissures of the local terrain. The pieces become nomadic signs negotiating their own legitimacy while juxtaposed next to nearby domestic, commercial, and municipal space. As such, they subvert the semiotic signs of civil society — street signs, bus depots, railways, utility boxes, and housing. Inundated with vernacular street art, the sites mutate, displaying a rough vernacular environment, like a spontaneous democracy misbehaving. The contested space – the skin of the city, a topography tingling with meanings and counter-meanings — is an ever-changing recombination of signs and captures the algorithms mapping each generation. Each piece of street art becomes ideological shorthand. For my full-length article on the topic published in Popmatters during Spring 2011 , click here.