Invader is a graffiti artist who began his work at the start of the street art movement in the 1990s. Following a simple idea not just in the style of his pieces; mosaics forming characters and art in relation to the classic arcade game Space Invaders, but also in his message. Many of his pieces can be found in hard to see places, or places that they may not be expected, this is to symbolise the ease of invading our lives without knowing, similar to that of CCTV and surveillance.
Based in Paris, France, this post will take you to one of the closer invasions the artist has undertaken to his home. Amsterdam was invaded back in 1999, so nearly 20 years on I found it quite a shock to find quite a handful of pieces have stuck around (sorry) and some even to have sparked more artists to work in the same ways and areas.
Within sight of a prominent square of Amsterdam, this first piece is also one of the quaintest. Nieuwmarkt is the most central metro stop to the ‘old centre’ of the city, and features the stunning castle you can see in the background of the first shot. This piece, however, was not so easy to find, nor was it trying to avoid passersby looking at me rather strangely. Mainly as there is a magnificent sight just nearby, but also as the view is nothing more than a building that is above our heads no less.
Ir. B. Bijvoetbrug
Looking out onto a wider part of the Amstel river, this invader seems to deflect both the attention of tourists (other than me) and the authorities. With the sight being a tremendous view of passing boats and the sun set behind the camera here, I was more attracted to the obscure placement of this invader. Viewing boats sail by and the tourists being oblivious to it, this piece has even managed to avoid being removed when the ‘no loud music’ was installed.
The classic issue with graffiti is that it is seen as ‘vandalism’, which by definition it is. Invader’s artwork is sometimes not even seen to be classed of vandalism, a Schroedinger’s Cat scenario if you will. The Blauwbrug is a historical bridge over the Amstel river with gold crowns attached to its pillars, however, the addition of a now 20 year old mosaic hasn’t seemed to have damaged it at all, and in fact has brought about more photographs of the bridge instead of the views from it.
20 years is a long time. Toy Story had only existed for 4 years in 1999. Some of Invader’s Amsterdam pieces have seen better days, and this being one of them. Opposite the Anne Frank House museum, many other artists have begun to add pieces to this staircase, none seeming to have lasted as long as the invader. Again despite the age of this piece, the simple message of surveillance is still apparent today, this beady eyed alien looking suspiciously at all passersby.
The ever changing landscape of a city has had some effect over Invader pieces. The needs of a city’s inhabitants of course take precedent over street art, but the slow growth of nature can also have a more concealing effect. Take this ivy for example, when researching the location of this piece, the piece was clearly visible. Now after a few years, the piece has been hidden. As time goes on, the hunt for each piece becomes more and more difficult
Not only can nature have an effect on a city, but there are some unintended uses throughout the city that can both be an advantage and disadvantage to many other things. Invader’s street art can easily be hidden. In searching for these pieces I have yet to see any of them completely covered up, partially due to the chosen locations, but there must also be a portion of luck here. Not many things represent Amsterdam more than bicycles, so I was so happy to get a shot of this artists work with an identity of the city it is in.
My final stop in the city was this well preserved blue alien looking curiously at the street sign. People were completely oblivious to it as I stood getting the right shot. I believe by making the character look at a street sign, not only has the artist made the piece more visible, but this has also had a change of meaning through technology advances in the past twenty years.
Our phones have been an extension of ourselves. Whilst on this trip I found myself using my phone for directions more than the street names. This space invader now seems to be saying more along the lines of ‘look at where you are’ here than other pieces. Not only has Invader found an art style that has relevance to surveillance but is also relevant to the potential addiction we have with our phones.