Josh Keyes‘ newest series features subjects both manmade and natural, their common element being several layers of graffiti that cover a space shuttle, a melting iceberg, and even a whale’s tail. For the last ten years these marks had remained in the background of Keyes’ paintings, adding detail to the supporting elements of the environment rather than being integrated into the subjects of his work.
For Keyes, the decision to place graffiti writing in the foreground questions our relationship to the natural world, and what impact we are undeniably leaving on our planet. The iceberg for instance, is marked with the words, “I’ll melt with you.” This blood red message could be the voice of both the iceberg and the tagger, a warning that we will all be melting if we continue to desecrate the Earth.
“Are there things and places that graffiti should not be?” asked Keyes to Colossal. “Who is to say what surface is to be kept graffiti clean? My personal concern is that this will be a reality some day and speaks to a larger issue of our relationship with the natural world. The satellite and space graffiti hints that even if we colonize other worlds, what mark will we leave? No matter where we go there is evidence of our presence.”