The next level

“NEXT-LEVEL BULLSHIT” is the street term for crap coming out of a person’s mouth that reaches a point of absolute nonsense.

For those fainting at reading the above word in a local paper, take a look at Urban Dictionary online and the top 10 trending words with young people, to be really disturbed).

Fremantle artist Zora Avila explores the rhetoric around graffiti in an exhibition that juxtaposes architectural form and the randomness of organically grown urban environments such as Fremantle.

It poses the question of whether graffiti is endemic to a city’s enlightenment, expression and art—or nothing more than ego and destruction.

Street artists such as Banksy and Roa (who painted Fremantle’s giant numbat) are sought after and feted, while taggers are shunned, begging the question about legitimacy of the artform, Avila says.

“Is tagging no more artistic than a dog cocking its leg on a building to mark its territory?” she asks.

“Is graffiti actually art—or is that a sanctimonious acquiescence to the fact that ‘we just can’t stop it, so we may as well embrace it’? Is it just some next-level bullshit?”

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Avila says: “Most of us are in two minds about graffiti. We love it on the Woolstores…but not when you have to paint over it on your property.”

The artist has feet in both camps: “What would our world be without graffiti and this form of art?” she asks.

The award-winning artist was born in the US where, as a child growing up in Houston, Texas in the 1980s, she was influenced by gritty movies set in a graffiti-covered New York.

“[They] were a little bit scary, disturbing to a kid, but fascinating. I was always drawn to that. That was America, not the view from my lounge room.”

Passionate about architecture as a youngster she spent hours reading the homes section of the newspaper, drawing the footprint of houses.

She went on to a business degree, turning her back on art until marrying an Aussie and moving to Freo some years ago, where she stopped to take stock of where and who she was and what and who she wanted to be, “and I haven’t stopped [painting] since”.

Next Level Bullshit opens at the PS Art Studio on Pakenham Street, Fremantle January 30, until February 14, and the artist is promising a launch worthy of its inclusion in the Fringe Festival calendar.

“In true Fringe style there will be fun things happening for music lovers and anyone interested in art. It won’t be just paintings on the wall.”


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