Street art is more and more getting it’s just due as a true art form, but like any art form, styles and imagery gets redundant as it becomes popularized. So it’s amazingly refreshing when an artist truly comes from their own place, both in style and subject matter. This can be said for Berlin-based street artist Vermibus, who is well known for his anti-advertising street interventions, having altered bus stop and subway advertising all over Berlin. What he does is so unique – removing the advertising from its casing, and then using solvent to break down the layers of ink and gloss that create an unattainable, imaginary, branded image. The results are haunting. After he has altered the advertisement, he replaces them in their cases, turning the public space into a gallery rather than paid advertising space. His whole process reminds me of the bathtub scene in The Shining, where Jack finds himself making out with the corpse-like Mrs. Massey instead of the gorgeous babe she first appeared to be. The glossy, airbrushed women who stare disdainfully and sexually at us from the advertisements are transformed into hideous, hellish creatures of darkness and evil. Vermibus describes his process as “challenging the imposed image.” In an interview with Open Walls Gallery, who represent his exhibited works, he tells us: “I work with solvent and with it I take off the mask of the model, the make-up, the retouch…and the brand. I take off the brand, as it is for me the ultimate mask. The brands goal is to remove the model identity. The model is not a person anymore but an image whose only value is for selling.” It’s interesting that he is not attacking the brand nor defacing the person in the image – he is removing the impenetrable veneer of falsehood that permeates this type of advertising. By removing and altering parts of the image, he creates something new and more beautiful; and he gives the public these images as a gift of art, rather than the original ad’s demand for money in exchange for false self esteem. Check out his latest street intervention for Berlin Fashion Week, where he altered subway advertising. Also, I’ve included a moving video of his process, as well as photos of some of his gallery pieces.
Above photos: http://thomasvonwittich.de/