John Fekner finds a new public space

A piece by John Fekner, uploaded to Tumblr in January 2013. Courtesy of John Fekner.

A piece by John Fekner, uploaded to Tumblr in January 2013. Courtesy of John Fekner.

John Fekner was making street art in NYC as early as the 1970’s, mostly with spraypaint and stencils. He seemed to somewhat disappear from the street art community while he taught at Long Island University, but resurfaced in the last few years as a personality on Twitter, where he and his work was rediscovered by a new generation of fans who had only seen hints of his early street art. Twitter is where he first connected with me, and also with artists like Remi/Rough and Stormie Mills. The first street artist Fekner connected with through the web was Josh MacPhee. who reached out to Fekner in 2003 for his Stencil Pirates book. But Fekner hasn’t just used the internet for promotion and connecting with fans. He’s also found a home for his work on Twitter and on Tumblr, where he posts archival images and new work. Much of that new work fits right in with Tumblr’s overall aesthetic of manipulated images and animated GIFs. There’s also Fekner’s sawitandsawedit project where he takes images that might be circulating around Tumblr and re-uploads them along with another version that has been slightly digitally altered. Like so many artists in this chapter, Fekner has a history of making street art, but has transitioned to making organic viral art that exists and is distributed entirely digitally through the public space of the internet.

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