by Kate Suters in New Art on Thursday 6 March 2008

That street art has defined our cities as a myriad of individual cultures has nothing to do with most people’s knee-jerk reaction to it. Despite negative media coverage, most people do enjoy the randomness and intricacies of street art. It’s only when the ingenuity wears off and our cityscapes are vandalised with meaningless second-rate versions — commercial and otherwise — that we tend to get bored or angry at its appearance. How fitting then that culture commentator, Francesca Gavin, has taken on the task of documenting the latest talents in street art in her book Street Renegades: New Underground Art. Uncovering what Gavin terms as ‘new wave’ is a fine selection of innovative street artists from all over the world, whose sole intent with their work is to humanise our cities and give them back to the people. Notable inclusions are Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, and his building sized charcoal drawings, G* (Jerome Demuth), and his powerful photographic street installations, knitting group Knitta and their world-wide attempt to colour the world with yarn, and my favourite, On_LY (Carla Ly), who is simultaneously fixing the urban appendages of her city with humour and seriousness by attaching extra large band-aids. Essentially, the importance of Street Renegades lies beyond its ability to capture the emerging talents in modern street art, and to focus on what these artists are actually engaging with — freedom of speech. As Gavin herself admits in her introduction, ‘In a world where everyone is transformed into a passive consumer, creation can be a potentially revolutionary alternative’.