The ID “PERU ANA ANA PERU“, as it appears on a mail box, or stuck over a poster, or spray tagged in an abandoned doorway, baffles, irritates and amuses the average New Yorker. Their repetitive tag also solicits questions like: who the f**k are they, why are they tagging my neighborhood, who’s Ana, and do they come from Peru? The outfit is understandably evasive. The NYPD is cracking down on what it perceives as a crime spike by perpetrators of vandalism.
It is not for this journalist to cast doubt on the wisdom of saving City property for advertising conglomerates. But I was intrigued. Why do they do what they do? Tracking down PERU ANA ANA PERU, was surprisingly easy. I simply went on their website and hit Contact. I asked them for an email interview. They obliged right away. This is what they said (and honestly … I’m still none the wiser) – JAK
What does your name mean?
Our name has many meanings, in many different languages, and actually changes with weather conditions, stock market indicators, and the tides. At one point in time it meant ‘one in the hand is worth two in the bush’ but soon changed to ‘when it rains, it pours.’ It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s similar to those tiny, clear, worm-like things that sometimes get on your eyeballs and that you can see in your vision, but that when you try to look at them, they move, and you can never get a clear look at them… yeah that’s kind of how it is.
How many people are in your outfit?
A guy and a girl from Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Given that 99% of the public (probably) do not notice your work why do you do it?
It’s fun, and when people DO notice, it gets more fun.
What did you start with first stickers or posters? which do you prefer?
Random tagging actually came first, then stickers, then more stylized art pieces and posters. We have no real preference, as they each have their own value. Tagging and stickering are, of course, much easier and can be done at our leisure, while on the way to the grocery store, or while out buying drugs. Posters and other more serious works take much more time, but sometimes have bigger payoffs, especially as you go bigger and bigger. When we find the time, we take to posters and the like, otherwise, as is the case generally, we stick (no pun intended) to stickers and tags.
How to you create your work?
In our kitchen while eating tacos. Seriously.
A lot of Street Artists seem to pimp their work outside of major galleries as opposed to projects, low-profile public spaces and slum neighborhoods, is this hypocrisy? or do you think they’re simply making a statement?
We don’t really care either way.
Do you consider Street Art a movement that’s becoming outdated? Is it still fresh?
Street art has definitely lost some of its allure to the public as being new and somewhat exciting. It used to be that pieces in the street seemed to cause a sense of wonder about the origin of the work itself, as well as about its creator: “What is this piece doing here?” “Who put it here, and why?” But now, this is no more. We all know the answers to all these questions, and we no longer ask them. In a sense, the street going public is harder to impress now, especially in urban and metropolitan mega cities where there are and have been a host of artists’ works in the streets over the past decade or so, and even longer with respect to graffiti. In this sense, the street art form has indeed become outdated, and a bit boring.
As far as its freshness is concerned, it’s really up to the individual artists how far they want to go, and how original they want to be in the work they produce for the street (or anywhere, for that matter). Personally, we haven’t really put any work out for a long time (other than stickers, which we don’t necessarily consider art, or artwork, generally speaking), and this is primarily due to not having had time (what with other artistic [film] obligations), but in many ways, this is also due to our having grown bored with the ‘street art’ form.
Sometimes we feel like street art has become a regurgitation and a cliche of itself, and this is reinforced by the notion that there is very much a ‘street art’ look with respect to the art work that belongs to the genre. Take a second and google ‘street art’, and you’ll begin to see the same types of images over and over again: stencils, screen prints, pseudo socio-political images, cartoon faces, anti-establishment manifestos, satires on global advertisement, numerous pop culture references from Elvis to god knows who, etc. It’s like there is a grab bag of a limited number of methods and techniques that the street artist can choose from when thinking about throwing his or her hat into the ring, and they all pick and choose and then go for it, somewhat blindly. But what we initially found so exciting about the whole street art thing was the notion that what it felt like was simply art that one puts in the public atmosphere as a declaration of not wanting to have to enter into the established paradigm or traditional avenues of presenting one’s work to the public (the gallery system). So what was exciting was the sense of endlessness that ‘street art’ offered, and how it felt like one could pretty much do anything as a form of art, so long as it lived in the street. In a sense, it seemed like all areas of art could be included inside ‘street art.’ Could fine art become street art? Conceptual art? Performance art? It seemed like the answer was yes. Any art could become street art, or public art, as long as it moved into the street, to the public.
But now, years later, it’s still basically rendered to the same tenets of its own artistic mediums, and seems to be afraid to move outside of them. Moreover, with the success of street art galleries and the potential for street art ‘fame’, the traditional modes of street art production (stencils, wheatpastes, urban and socio-political imagery, etc.) have become the go to for new and up and coming artists looking to get into the game. Perhaps it is that these forms of producing work are so easy (literally, anyone can do it), and recognition in the street comes so fast due to things like flickr and facebook and street art forums and websites, that it’s robbed the movement of the potential to grow and change and move past what it started as. In a sense, street art is stuck inside of itself. It’s like rave music, and this is somewhat depressing. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not completely shitting on street art. Lot’s of people are making wonderful work and we continue to be excited about the potential that street art possesses. But it is definitely in a lull of complacency, mediocrity, and self indulgence. But, hey, so are most of all the other arts. Don’t get us started on the film world, for example.
And do you think Street Art is an expression of pure democracy or subject to the same albeit inverted elitist sensibilities of Fine Art?
Street art definitely has its fair share of bullshit, and is most certainly subjected to the same sensibilities of elitist, high societal tom-foolery that the fine art world is so accustomed to. But this is strictly with relation to ‘success’ in the street art world. So if you are simply just looking to get up all over town and have fun, get some followers on twitter (or whatever), then yes, it is purely democratic, and your work will have to speak for itself. But if you are looking to crack into any form of the established hierarchy of the so-called art world (Chelsea, for example, in NYC anyway), it definitely helps to be rich and cool, or, at the very least, have rich and cool friends. And if you are rich and cool, AND you have rich and cool friends, then, by all means, welcome to the party–you can check your coat near the restrooms, and there is free wine in the back (not that you need it to be free).
Tell us one thing you’ve never told anyone before (public)
In 1819, we killed a man, who was a woman, who was a cat. True story.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Ballin’, shot callin’, and basically living the lives of gangstas.
Would you ever sell out, cash in and live off your global art sales? And why should that even be an issue (right?)
If we ever have ‘global art sales’ we will gladly make money off of them. And it would only be an issue if we ever have ‘global art sales.’