To find this documentary has been like a revelation, somehow the demonstration that there is someone else speaking our same language: The Subconscious art of Graffiti Removal is a 16 minutes documentary of 2002 directed by Matt McCormick, a young producer (but also an artist, a photographer and a musician) active since 1999. The topic of the short is, as the title successfully express, how the act of erasing graffiti by painting over it can be analyzed as an artistic practice of our contemporary.
The “subconscious art” is a product with artistic relevance that was created without conscious artistic intentions or commitment; the author tries to convince us that the traces produced removing graffiti can be compared with abstract impressionism, minimalism and russian constructivism, or even are seen as the most recent inheritance of these movements.
The unconscious artist doesn’t necessarily possess any artistic achievements or studies, but his work can indeed be compared to the complex art of Malevich, Rothko or Rauschenberg. The most interesting assertion is, we believe, the style analysis which ends up with a classification of the (anti-)graffitis in different classes, which respect a rule or a tendency as any of the artistic currents, such as “symmetrical”, “ghosting” and “radical”.
The short movie takes place in an industrial district of Portland (Oregon), which is becoming, it is said, the first graffiti-free zone. A woman passes biking through a lifeless industrial landscape, with containers, highways and big machines at work, but no human beings. This wired atmosphere is supported and enhanced by an electronic soundtrack, which gives to the short an almost aseptic feeling.