Last night the ABC showed, in their Artscape timeslot, Tony Wyzenbeek’s Paper Cuts – the Art of Ghostpatrol and Miso. This 30-minute documentary concentrated on the street artists, Ghostpatrol and Miso, their art and attractive photography of the streets of Melbourne. Director Tony Wyzenbeek previously directed The Art of Bill Henson, (2003) and was a producer of Love is in the Air (2003) a six part documentary series on Australian popular music. In Paper Cuts, like his documentary on Bill Henson, Wyzenbeek concentrates on the artists and their art in a calm, meditative exploration.
The documentary does mention both the illegal nature and the economics of some of Ghostpatrol and Miso’s activities. However, it does not explore either of these subjects, as neither are normal topics for arts documentaries.
The ABC was more concerned with warning people about “language” than the issue of the documentary facilitating and promoting minor illegal activity. I don’t know if it would have helped Paper Cuts to include the views of any of the many politicians who support of the current draconian anti-graffiti legislation. But to avoid this issue distorts the background; just as a history of art in Australia in the 1950s that failed to note Menzies had banned the importation of modern art distorts the story by that very omission.
The subject of money was also hinted at but the documentary chose to focus on the gratuitous side of Ghostpatrol and Miso’s activities. This is unfortunate as the story of the how these two young professional artists make a living is different from the usual economic plan for artists and incorporates making free art for the community. Currently Ghostpatrol has two large furry creatures with child’s faces in the window display at fashion boutique, Meet Me At Mikes, 63 Brunswick St. Fitzroy. Ghostpatrol’s style translates well from the drawings to 3D fabric creations. In the display one of the creatures has a newspaper crown tied around his head; the hierarchy implied in this image is that of a game’s as the crown is an improvised affair. Window dressing is only one of Ghostpatrol’s diverse income streams that include illustration work, along with the traditional commissions and gallery sales. Street artists, unlike their contemporaries in artist-run-spaces, are not afraid of working in shop windows, along with the shop’s stock, whereas, their contemporaries in artist-run-spaces have a royal dislike for common commerce.
For more about Ghostpartol read an interview with him by blogger, Steve Gray.