Monday, January 29, 2007

Mosh pits? No! Dan Witz!

One artist who's remained a favorite over the past few years has been Dan Witz, legendary New York City street artist.

Witz is well-known for his legendary pranks-- turning random buildings into faces, for instance, just by adding a strategic balloon. (see at right)

This might go back to the previous topic of graffitti culture in general-- (that skating on-the-edge danger factor)-- but surfing through multiple images of Witz's work, I've come to asking myself a different question entirely:
"Just what goes on in the human psyche once it's been completely enveloped by aggression?"

It's a question many ask.

Of course, aggression seems to be a human emotion directly connected-- or at least "perceived" as connected-- to the male species, especially of the young variety.

Witz has done a series of works reflecting on the phenomena of the "Mosh Pit."

Perhaps it's looking back on the Gen X music years-- or the fact rock music has broken into so many different genres and sub-cultures-- but the modern mosh pit has taken on a far different meaning than it was originally.

Nightclubs and music festivals eventually had to enforce a huge crackdown on moshing after multiple injuries and deaths sparked huge increases in liability premiums.
(Image provided by RyRy80 of Flickr)

Towards the end of the 1990s, a new scene had been created-- a truly "Disaffected" youth; one that now had 2 choices... (1.) stand around unimpressed by their favorite act and pretend like they do not care; or (2.) Beat the living crap out of their best buddy next to them for pretty much no reason at all other than "Hey, it's cool."

There's so much in these nubile bodies that is aching-- you can feel their pain, delerium, and even the crip bristle of the blonde mohawk in Witz's imagery.

The muscles are lithe-- the white skin and dark shadows likely cold and damp as living proof of the nocturnal living habits of the participants.
But there's something odd about these works in that they truly feel silent.

I cannot even begin to think of what song might be playing, or what band.
The focus is turned on to these audience members-- the ones usually back at Rows 7-13, we all know who they are-- as the true fans stick to the sides, the back, or the Obsessive front row.

The pit turns on itself in a moment of sheer exhiliration mixed with panic...

I can't help but think of these works in terms of concert disasters through history-- whether it be the Stones' hardest lesson learned with the Guardian Angels, or Great White's pyrotechnic mishap in Rhode Island a few years back.

Witz has truly mastered the ability to transcend time and place and made it his own as an observer just enough out of harm's way, all the while showing the intensity and risk involved with being right in the midst of it all.

Please check out his work at:

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Anonymous said...

That house with the baloon nose is so cute! LFaye

Mom said...

wow I was going to say the exact same thing, the house face, how can we do that to our house to give it some personality?

Also, the disaffected youth/punk crowds, a great place to be away from, eh?

I like that you brought out the "risk" of really being there. To me that kind of risk isn't worth taking.

Testosterone at its worst.