Language of the Wall

Pera Museum

Graffiti / Street Art

Today, graffiti and street art have moved out of underground culture and are no longer viewed as vandalism, but rather as a global art movement. Since the 1990s, appreciation of graffiti and street art in Turkey has increased significantly, having influenced not only a small artistic circle, but several generations. In the exhibition “Language of the Wall: Graffiti / Street Art”, this art form was presented in a museum setting for the first time.

African and Hispanic minority groups in New York needed to define their place in society and to express their existence at a time when the American Dream was being questioned due to the economic and political changes of the 1970s. Soon, simple signatures attained calligraphic value, style, and color; tags began to appear in larger and more impressive shapes, more often and in more hard-to-reach places. Visible and memorable graffiti received more respect. As graffiti artists, striving to be original, advanced their style, they pushed the limits of calligraphy.

Cope 2, "Made in America", spray paint and acrylic.
Interview with Cope 2.

As artists create international value through their increasingly diversified works of different style and techniques, the street art movement evolves from being an individual struggle for existence and addresses larger masses by embracing social issues. Expanding its audience through the subculture created through music and dance, graffiti and street art are not just artistic forms of expression, but also manifest a certain way of living.

With its selection of international and local artists, alongside a framework incorporating a historical perspective, the exhibition explored the current dynamics, different styles, and aesthetic notions of the street, addressing the movement alongside other disciplines such as photography and music. Instead of confining the artists within the walls of a museum, the exhibition also allowed them to use the streets of Istanbul, not only to spread their works across a larger space, but also to debate the concepts of “inside” and “outside.”

In this online version, explore hi-res images of the artworks, watch interviews with some of the artists, and follow them as they create their works on the Museum's walls.

Henry Chalfant, Photographs of subway trains painted by leading artists, New York, 1970s amd 1980s.
Interview with Henry Chalfant.
KR (Craig Costello), "Untitled", acrylic.
Interview with Craig Costello.
Turbo, "Turbo vs. Monsters", spray paint and marker.
Futura, "Untitled", spray paint, acrylic, and neon.
Interview with Futura.
Photography by Martha Cooper.
Herakut, "The World Made Me Do It", mixed media installation.
Herakut being photographed by Martha Cooper in front of their work in Abbasağa Park, Beşiktaş, Istanbul.
Interview with Herakut.
C215, "Nina I Love You", stencil and spray paint.
Carlos Mare, left to right: Open Letter to David Smith, Winds of Whirling Dervish, Turkish Opus.
Interview with Carlos Mare.
Wyne, "Green Industry", spray paint.
Suiko, "Scorpion", spray paint.
Suiko, "Kedi Kuyruğu (Cat's Tail)", Levent Cultural Centre, Istanbul.
Evol, "Blocked Delivery", stencil and spray paint.
JonOne, "Untitled", spray paint, marker, and acrylic.
JonOne, "Untitled", spray paint, marker, and acrylic.
Interview with JonOne.
Gaia, "The Human Cost of Development", spray paint, acrylic.
Another detail from "The Human Cost of Development".
Detail from "The Human Cost of Development".
No More Lies, "Chameleon's Dream", stencil and spray paint.
Logan Hicks, "Free", stencil and spray paint.
Logan Hicks, "Smokescreen", stencil and spray paint.
Logan Hicks in front of his mural in Ihlamurdere Street, Beşiktaş, Istanbul.
Tilt, "Minibus", spray paint and ink.
Interview with Tilt.
Mist, "Hashtag", spray paint.
Interview with Mist.
Funk & TabOne, "In Style We Trust, In Museum We Bomb!", spray paint.
Funk & TabOne time-lapse.
Photography by Hugh Holland.
Psyckoze, "Catacomb - Plage", mixed media installation.
Detail from "Catacomb - Plage".
"Traces", a film about Psyckoze.
Mural by Psyckoze in Abbasağa Park, Beşiktaş, Istanbul.
Credits: Story

Curator — Roxane Ayral
Project Managers — Fatma Çolakoğlu, Tania Bahar,  Begüm Akkoyunlu Ersöz
Project Assistants — Ulya Soley, Alanur Ataç
Digital Media & Adaptation — Bihter Ayla Serttürk
Spray Cans Sponsor — Montana Cans
Gallery Wall Paint Sponsor — Jotun

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.