Traditionally the gallery system and the street art world ran at odds with each other, however, in more recent years a more inclusive environment has formed. This has seen the acquisition of notable Street Artist’s works within large public and private institutions. The NGV purchased prominent Melbourne street artist, Miso’s ‘Walking to all my friends’ houses in the world I’ in 2013 following her residency at the NGV in 2012 where her works featured in the Crossbar Café.
For artworks existing in private collections, or those of public institutions, the responsibility to protect and preserve the work (that is to maintain a piece in its original condition) falls upon the institution or owner. Thus, when street artists gift the public art in the streets we are left with the question of who owns the work, and who is responsible if anyone, for protecting it. One form of preserving street art is for institutions to collect works and absorb the responsibility of displaying and archiving them in the most suitable manner.
While street art within the gallery context can defeat the ephemeral intention or cultural statement of some works, it is reassuring for artists to know that an original version of their work is stored and protected. As ‘Walking to all my friends’ houses in the world I’ is not currently displayed in the gallery, the perforated work on paper is stored in a light, heat and humidity controlled environment to prevent and slow down the process of deterioration. This will drastically increase the length of the artwork’s survival in comparison its lifespan as a paste up in the street.
Image from: http://backwoodsgallery.com/bright-night-sky-by-miso-stanislava-pinchuk/