Its Our Thing is a fascinating new exhibition that looks to explore graffiti and the origins of hip hop in Blacktown. By presenting work from artists who were active during the developmental years of Hip hop in the area, and putting these works into context with art that influenced the genre. The show sets out to examine how today’s new Hip Hop generation which operates on the immaterial world of the digital era connects to the mostly analogue Hip Hop generation from the past, and the related academic research involved in Blacktown council’s graffiti management plan.

By presenting the Street Level archive, new and old artworks and the archives of Minky Rawat and Khaled Sabsabi – artists who were active at the time, the exhibition endeavours to bridge the gap and set the work in the context of the period. These artists where influenced by Joseph Beuys, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol whose works have been integrated in the exhibition.

A key ingredient to understanding the show is to focus on the different approaches of these artists associated within the subculture and their varied practices and responses. The practice known as ‘fine art’ derived from a formal art education and training, is distinct from the practice of ‘street art.’ ‘Street art’ can include a mix of media across fashion, style, site-specificities and genres.

Similar artistic strategies were adopted in the USA by Andy Warhol, who successfully acted as a social and creative chameleon. Meanwhile in Europe in the1960s, Joseph Beuys was spearheading the notion of social sculpture to which current practices of socially-engaged, interdisciplinary and participatory artwork owe a great deal. Pablo Picasso’s art had a constant autobiographical nature, an inventiveness, such as his part in Cubism, which changed the course of Western art. He developed new methods of observing and understanding the human figure.

Rawat and Sabsabi want to effect environmental and social change, and to understand their own existence, through their projects.

It’s Our Thing opens from 6pm, Thursday 2 June, with pioneering hip-hop crew Def Wish Cast and emerging local act Soul Benefits performing.

Focussing on community engagement, throughout the exhibition visitors to Blacktown Arts Centre can participate in free artist-led workshops, and a panel discussion with the artists and curators. These will include exploring hip-hop culture in Blacktown now, and in the 1990s, and feature a demonstration of analogue sound mixing by Khaled Sabsabi (6 July).

It’s Our Thing
2 June – 6 August
Blacktown Arts Centre

Courtesy the artists and Blacktown Arts Centre

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