One Of The Hosier Lane “Paintbombers” Has Spoken Out Against The Commercialisation Of Art

Turns out the dudes who paintbombed Melbs’ iconic Hosier Lane stand by their actions. Or at least that’s what one filmmaker who was involved is saying, in an anonymous interview with the Age.

On the weekend, masked men used fire extinguishers to spray over the existing murals in broad daylight. Bystanders watched in awe, and the incident set social media ablaze.

“It’s just the shock and the awe of it,” said the unnamed flimmaker about the purpose of the project. “But people’s emotional response gives it credence as art. Art is supposed to provoke emotion. But apparently that’s a concept that goes over the top of a lot of people’s heads.”

It turns out the paintbombing was an attempt to combat what some see as the commodification of public space, particularly a place that is important to the street art scene.

One of the most vocal opponents of the stunt was streetwear chain Culture Kings, whose manager had commissioned a mural of Lizzo for their storefront. The paintbombers won’t have one bit of it.

“They’re on the news saying, ‘This is horrible it’s not part of the culture,’ well, you don’t know the culture then,” the filmmaker said. “You don’t realise that a big part of the culture is rebellion, starting conversations, making people question things.” They added that they didn’t approve of the store opening in Hosier Lane in the first place.

The graffiti artists also made statement against the commercialisation of street art itself.

Aside from the promotional art on the Culture Kings storefront, the lane has also seen ads for the Melbourne Football Club and UFC matches pop up recently, among other things. One wedding photographer even charges clients for bespoke “just married” murals for couples to be photographed in front.

Victoria Police Local Area Commander for City West, Inspector Troy Papworth described the incident as “an attack on street art that forms the fabric of the City of Melbourne.” Police have since launched an investigation, which the filmmaker says has spooked the culprits into remaining anonymous for the time being.

The police investigation raises the question about whether or not cops should be deciding what constitutes art in the first place. After all, they technically graffitied over graffiti, taste aside. “If you come in and privatise the wall and call police on the artists, you’re taking away freedom of expression and that’s the real threat to the creativity in that lane; not people throwing a bit of paint around,” the filmmaker said.

“[Hosier Lane] gets painted over every day,” they said. “A lot of these people outraging claim to be fans of street art and graffiti, and they’re in an uproar when really they should be asking for more of this.”