We’ve covered reverse graffiti in the past on Inhabitat – a practice which involves creating street art by cleaning soot covered surfaces to inscribe them with images using scrub brushes, scrapers and pressure hoses. Now in Brooklyn we’ve discovered ‘living graffiti’ — an idea which takes the idea of clean graffiti to the next level by creating street art out of living, breathing plants.
Eco-minded street artist Edina Tokodi is putting a new spin on green guerilla tactics in the trendy art enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tokodi’s site-specific moss installations of prancing animal figures and camouflage outgrowths are the talk of a local urban neighborhood typically accustomed to gallery hype and commercial real estate take-overs. Unlike the market-driven art featured in sterile, white box galleries, the work of Tokodi is meant to be touched, felt, and in turn touch you in the playful ways that her animated installations call to mind a more familiar, environmentally friendly state in the barren patches of urban existence.
Tokodi believes strongly that the reactions of passersby (or the lack of any reaction at all) is really an indicator of a deeper malaise that we need to pay attention to and reseed with “mentally healthy garden states” and direct interactive engagement.
The artist states:
“I think that our distance from nature is already a cliché. City dwellers often have no relationship with animals or greenery. As a public artist I feel a sense of duty to draw attention to deficiencies in our everyday life. As a cultivator of eco-urban sensitivity, I usually go back to the sites to visit my “plants” or “moss”, sometimes to repair them a bit, but nothing more generally as they tend to get enough water from the air, condensation, and rain – especially in certain seasons. I also like to let them live by themselves. From the moment I put them on the street they start to have their own life. For me, the reaction of life on the street is also very important. I am curious about how people receive them, if they just leave them alone, or if they want to, take care of them or dismantle them. This is what makes my work similar to graffiti, although I am searching for a deeper social meaning and a dialogue with memories of the animals and gardens of my past in a small town in Central Europe. I believe that if everyone had a garden of their own to cultivate, we would have a much more balanced relation to our territories. Of course, a garden can be many things.”
Edina Tokodi studied graphic art and design at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts and also completed urban design course work in Milan, Italy. Her work can be seen on the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and in unexpected outcroppings on a street near you.