Urban Art — after the boom in street art in the 1990s, the phenomenon of artistic design in the subway stations and quarters of new city districts can be increasingly observed internationally. In Vienna, too, this art form has gained more and more significance in the municipal zones and living spaces in recent years — not in the least because it seamlessly fits in with the everyday life.
Street art has its roots in the graffiti movement that emerged as a subculture in the 1970s in New York and other big US cities. Through artists who are particularly successful on the art market — such as Keith Haring or Banksy — it began its conquest of the world. In the past year an international street art project has started with the French artist Honet, along the subway line in VIERTEL ZWEI, the city development project completed in 2012 by IC-Projektentwicklung GmbH, a value one holding AG company in Vienna’s 2nd district: 14 concrete pillars along Vorgartenstrase of the subway line U2 constitute the ideal platform for the project, a cooperation between VIERTEL ZWEI, WIENER LINIEN (Vienna Transport Corporation) and KOR GmbH: the WIENER LINIEN have made the surfaces of the pillars available to the artist and are thus carrying on their engagement as a vehicle for culture in the field of art in public space.
Honet’s minimalistic figures on the pillars refer visually to the superheroes from the 1970s and link these with a modern totemism. Based on the heroes of his youth in combination with manga or sciencefiction figures, Honet designed figural samplings that are reduced to simple geometrical forms and thus serve the quick communicability of urban logos. Thus Honet assigned the logo as important cultural element of urban communication a completely new meaning: in Totem Modern stylistic elements of pop culture encounter significant color accents in red, orange, yellow, bright blue or green flashing in the visual urban overflow.
Stimulated by the concept of the totem, Honet transforms the pillars between the Stadion and Krieau subway stations into cult objects, which full of allusions pay homage to the gods of pop culture and from today’s point of view reflect the former function of the column as a historically and religiously charged object. From the perspective of a cultural site which plays a pivotal role as space of agitation for the graffiti movement, Honet considers the subway and its stations as rootlike interwoven intersections of our society. The artist endows the pillars in his installation with a new function: they become a temple for currently ritualized processes. The abstract spaces running across the pillars are constituents of a setting that everyone can enter.
Text: Ursula Maria Probst
subway pillars of the line U2 between Trabrennbahn and Stella-Klein-Löw-Weg, 1020 Vienna