Escif is you: The politcs of the wall
First came across this artist(s) in Valencia last summer. Since then I’ve been wondering about what the ‘politics’ of this very literal street art — images and words that level such poignant yet compact visual critiques of society upon the eyes of Valencianos. Reading through their website the other day and found their broken English description of their collective and expansive work quite intriguing. It goes something like this:
Escif is not an artist or a group of artist. Escif is a conceptual project that involves a lot of people. Not just these that creates wall paintings and artworks but also everybody who try to understand it. You are escif.
To contact with escif, you can try email email@example.com or just email yourself and try to answer your own conversation. Not so complicate.
If you want to know, just email yourself and try to answer your own question. Not so complicated. To be sure, Escif. It’s not who you ask, but the question itself that is most significant.
But if it were only so simple. The tone of Escif’s wry crack at who knows the answers to things in this world — don’t appeal to the powers that be but to yourself — is certainly an astute and empowering provocation to make to your audience. An their work does, indeed, speak back to you through the words and images their paint on the city walls, provoking the question: What is the relationship between this image and this word? Does the image change the word? What did I think that word meant in the first place? And what would this picture mean without the word? And, perhaps most significant, what does it mean to have this word/image/provocation here, on this street, in this city, at this time?
Perhaps I’ve been in grad school too long, but the simplicity of this feedback loop between the wall and the viewer is utterly fascinating to me. It throws into an interesting light our processes of interpreting what we see and our experiences (where and when they are) and perhaps even changes our perceptions just a little bit in the time it takes to look at Escif’s work and think about it means to us.
And I appreciate the pause of thought Escif brings. The reaction of my eyes and body to the work, and the pause of the cars that patiently wait for me while I stand in the middle of the street searching for the correct F-stop and aperture to take a picture to bring back to my world with me after I leave the street.
One thing is for sure: Despite the vivid critique that Escif’s work offers of society, the citizen, education, politics and the city, and the sometimes ironic and disappointing ways they come together, seeing their work on the wall makes me happy. If I can site another refreshingly simple wall’s words:
Escif makes me smile. Whatever it is they do, we do, whatever kind of crazy world provokes the work, it makes me happy to walk by it everyday and to know that it moves us to write, paint, think, pause, idle in our cars. Even when the piece is gone, I’m happy for the ephemerality, too. Perhaps that is what Escif ‘is.’