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Published 17/05/2013 email E-MAIL print PRINT

Zachary Buehner: The Ascent

Zachary Buehner has no reference to being a graffiti artist on his website, for obvious reasons (In the US and elsewhere, graffiti is considered a form of vandalism or destruction of private property and many graffiti artists have served time in jail when caught painting, hence their anonymity), but that is how he began as an artist.

For The Young Collectors Exhibition at the Leila Heller Gallery, New York, Buehner, together with his friend Jason Castro, created a graffiti mural on the back wall of the gallery. It was suggested that they do it on canvas, so that someone could purchase it, but the mural only lasted for the duration of the show. For their first event, The Committee At No. 8, in conversation with our own Miguel Benavides, the artists talked about their work and styles. For Studio International, he presents a poem or short story sharing his inner thoughts of creation.

The ascent
By Zacahry Buehner

I remember staring intently with a slight squint, and subtle almost imperceptible grin at the urban landscape that confines us. My eyes saw with an uncanny ability to penetrate walls, and envision the freedom of a sly escape to places only seen by the willingness and cunning of an unbound outlaw. I felt as though reality was a set in my own reel-to-reel film with a camera that gently spiraled around me. It began at my feet and rose slowly as it moved to end up with a close focus on my dilating eyes, so curious in their gaze. My filmic scenario switched abruptly, and with a sharp cut into a common reality with gravity pulling hard on the boulders strapped to my back. My heart raced with an abstract patter, palpitating with a mixture of angst and excitement. My brain a fire with powerful synapses enhanced by a dichotomy of my usual mixed pharmaceuticals. One tried peacefully but desperate to retain a sense of calm. The other fought ferociously to prod nerves into action. My balance is a violently swaying scale rocking with a velocity that ripples air.

I began to move, acutely attentive to my surroundings. I was aware of the potential risks from my intended accomplishment. My eyes manoeuvered swiftly to maintain that awareness, and I kept my ears perked to capture what my eyes would miss. I walked ahead, giddy in anticipation, toward the perch perfect for my destination, beyond a dangerous leap from an escape to a high ledge, above a long drop to an unfortunate end. I walked swiftly with the slight brisk breeze that then fell stagnant at my side. I was dressed dark as a shadow to my shadow, a disguise from watchful eyes, when I would settle on that desired comforting place, a restful seat to pride over my feat of escapism. I made my ascent with a complete blanketing of thought, my head amidst a mist, as though time momentarily ceased its existence. I appeared where I sat, my mind admiring the Cheshire, and an immense calm settled over me at last. I tossed off the bone crushing stones from my shoulders, which gave space to lean comfortably into place.

My accomplishment might appear small, but the experience was healing beyond words and far too grand to express through a thousand pictures. It was a brief walk and a short climb to a state of much needed relief. An escape from the binding confines of the urban landscape we created. “When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws are free.” That was the motto of the moment.



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