The Freedom of the Gesture of the Street Artist, in the Face of Normalising and Disciplinary Pressures!


In this particular political moment where the tendency is to elect leaders who are determined to build walls around their countries, shameless ramparts, economic, humanitarian or religious barriers, it is more opportune than ever to remind ourselves that from the outset a wall is destined to be breached, jumped, circumvented, blown-up and painted-on. In cities, it even calls – especially when it is gray and blind – to be conquered clandestinely and becomes the backbone of freedom of expression [1] -, able to transform itself into a brilliant work of art!

This important special Outside-the-box issue of My Way honours all the wild and illicit practices such as tagging, graffiti, or frescoes of all styles which “run free” along the walls of our cities. Long considered as acts of vandalism, yet for the most part, in recent years, has come to be recognised as a fully fledged artistic movement, commonly referred to as Street Art and which now boasts it own biennale (Urban Art Biennale).

It was during the recent and very remarkable appearance of anonymous clandestine frescoes that we met with Alain Laipower, passionate director of Lezarts Urbain. He murmured to himself that these frescoes would be the work of a certain Bonom, an audacious emblematic political gesture, of those who “help the city to breathe”.

If these are to be recognised equally as illegal forms of expression of protest which resist increasing normative and disciplinary pressures – while at the same time operating as a spontaneous re-conquest of urban spaces. -, it remains very instructive for those of us who are trackers of the incomparable, interested in the subjective dimension at stake for the street artists recognizable by a style – that’s-it, it’s him [2] – that brings them out of anonymity.

Thus, in an interview with Denis Meyers the “guy with the graphs”, we discover that his performance-exhibition Remember/Souvenir – completely outside the norm in terms of scale and because it’s so bound up with destruction – which has pushed him forward in a powerful cathartic impulse. A portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat depicted by Catherine Heule, we gather that the graffiti are marks of his social affront to authority, his way of “making a name for himself”. And from the encounter with Kool Koor we approach the whole issue of the search for an identity, through the beauty of lettering, in the parallel world of the street.

Finally, Maria Torres Ausljo and Katya Stoycheva remind us that cinema – with director Yorgos Lanthimos – as well as photography, allied with the experience of psychoanalysis – are not to be outdone in terms of the resonance of finding a place without norm for the solitude of jouissance. Against the ignorance, that is around the walls or in their gaps!

P.S. During the plenary sessions of PIPOL 8, we will have the chance to encounter Bonom/Vincent Glowinski: he will present a dance performance during which his creative action projected onto the big screen will improvise fascinating paintings!

Translated by Raphael Montague

[1] “First I see a wall which looks at me. The wall can become oppressive to the point that it becomes necessary for to intervene” confides Bonom, part-time street artist, interviewed by Guy Duplat in La Libre, 12th of February 2014.

[2] Formula used by Jacques-Alain Miller in order to qualify the signature of the symptom. Cf. Amirault M., Bricoleur du réel. Gaston Chaissac, épistolier, Paris, Navarin-Le champ freudien, 2017, p. 158.


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