Christian Guémy, aka C215, was commissioned by the authorities of Reims in northern France to create his mark in the streets of the city. This same mark was then ordered to be removed, by the same authorities in the city. The piece featured a sulking boy and was made as part of a major retrospective of work by the prominent street artist C215. Last week, the artwork was scrubbed off by the anti-graffiti team, as ordered by the city’s town hall. Soon after, it turned out that the whole ordeal was a mistake by the authorities who forgot to notify the graffiti-cleaning squad that the particular piece was actually a commissioned one, and therefore, not to be removed. So, it appears that even when street art is done legally and free of potential fines and penalties, it is still not safe.
C215 created three other pieces in the city of Reims, luckily, they have been spared. However, the unfortunate boy, in all the sense of the word, was painted next to a transformer, and his fate was not as lucky. The kneeling, sulky kid was painted next to the town hall, as commissioned by the Culture and the responsible management of events. The leading French street artist was asked to produce several works in the city as part of a large retrospective on nearly 600m2 of his art in the spring. C215 is a prolific street artist, and one of the most prominent names in the scene, after all, he is considered as one of the top veterans still in the game. In fact, this kind of a situation is not too unfamiliar to the Paris-born artist; namely, in 2014, C215 visited Valletta in Malta where he produced various examples of street art on post boxes within the city. Alas, only a few days later, MaltaPost removed the artworks, and this decision caused much criticism from the people who valued the work done by the artist, including the mayor of Valletta who expressed his dissatisfaction by the removal.
The veteran street artist did not seem to be angry about what happened in Reims. Naturally, he was surprised when he received the news that his city-ordered artwork was removed, but the services of the town hall flatly apologized and admitted their wrong-doings. A problem in communication between the authorities and the cleaning squad caused the mistake. C215 plans on returning to the city in early March to make other artworks. He stated that he will make another piece instead of the removed one, but stressed out it will not be the exact same one as he never creates the same piece twice. We are eager to see what other artworks C215 will produce for his retrospective, but we are once more reminded of the discourse of whether graffiti and street art are considered art or vandalism.
All images used for illustrative purposes only
Editors' Tip: Designer&design 086: C215
Christian Guémy, also known as C215, has been described as the French answer to the street artist Banksy. Born in 1973, C215, started spray painting in 2005. Today he is one of the most productive stencil and street artists around the globe. 'Street Art' is a collection of his favourite subject matter: portraits of beggars and refuges living daily on the streets of London, Paris and Istanbul. Portraits of his daughter Nina, whom still remains his muse to this date, are also highlighted in this book.