Last Thursday, as one of several photographers pointed his lens, two grown men posed by their paintings, shyly smiling and giving no indication whatsoever that they were the reason everybody was gathered. They were young street artists, Iranian siblings ICY and SOT, whose exhibition of around 30 paintings, titled MADE IN IRAN, spent just three days in the Open House Gallery on the Bowery last week.
“They’ve been in New York less than a month,” Mona Dehghan, the artists’ PR rep, told us. “They have been arrested and the like back in Iran for what they do. Expressing yourself creatively is still something that is not fully understood, so to do it illegally on the street is a definite no-go. They are here seeking asylum.” Though they shouldn’t forget that graffiti is a punishable crime here too, they moved to a country where street art is considered high art. Street art’s prominence in the gallery scene has gone hand in hand with the increase of economic disparity in the West, as rebellion and anarchy are suddenly exciting prospects. People such as Banksy and Dan Witz have wrenched street art’s reputation and dragged it from the alleyways, and we asked the artists if the fame of these other artists has had a positive or negative effect on their own careers, especially considering we had heard more than one attendee utter the phrase “It looks like a Banksy.” Read More