Culture

Artist Profile: Commander Ankle

“Alright, pass me the Keen.” Adelaide street artist Ankle is balanced precariously on a parapet two floors up, easing his way towards a blank wall, a fresh canvas for his work. Carefully passing him the pile of cardboard, I can’t help but ask what inspires him to these crazy heights.

“It’s a big cliché, but the do-it-yourself attitude pretty much drives my life a lot of the time. Everybody comes up with awesome ideas and then realises they don’t have the skills, recourses, money or support to follow through. In fact we’re encouraged to be consumers rather than creators.”

I edge my way forwards, hands outstretched like some clumsy acrobat, regretting that joint I smoked earlier. Finally collapsing on the ledge, I notice Ankle has already started to unfurl his latest creation as he continues to muse.

“Street art is so simple. In fact, that’s half the reason it’s so empowering. It’s got a great DIY quality to it that helps you realise how easy it is to make some kind of impact on the world that people other people will see. Hopefully even change the way they think about something. My first Keen’s were sticker-sized and I imagined how much more amazing they would look if they were 6ft tall. So the obvious thing was to blow up the image so big that there were only a few pixels per A3. Then after sticking all the pages back together I had a poster that happened to grab people’s attention more than some expensive, unwanted billboard.”

Propping the life size cut-out against the wall, Ankle grabs his broom and begins coating the surface with glue. I ask him why he choose to plaster the city with a relic of video game folklore.

“I like the idea of this forgotten computer character taking over the streets and hanging out in some random locations in the city space. Keen was all about blasting the shit out of evil-doers and was a great vigilante icon for young children. Graffiti isn’t all that different. Most people think I just love computer games. I don’t think I’ve played a video game since I was 10. Graffiti is a far more fun game in my opinion.”

Peering down at the street below, I begin to realise just how many people will notice his latest creation when the sun comes up. I uneasily ask if we might get in trouble being up here this late at night.

“Compared to using spray paint, paste-ups are a great medium for not looking as suspicious, so I’ve definitely been able to avoid a lot of hassle because of the medium. With that said, I’ve still had my few experiences running from authority, hiding in dumpsters, all that fun.”

Looking over at our supplies I contemplate the struggle it would take us to get out of here quickly should the cops come looking. Ankle admits he has been caught on the wrong side of the law before.

“Getting arrested was classic. Since getting busted Keen and I haven’t been seeing each other that much. For now I reckon Keen and myself are gonna take a break. Whether we’re going to be working as some nerdy illegal team again is uncertain right now.”

Easing the cardboard figure into place on the wall, we take a moment to step back and admire Ankle’s handiwork before turning to leave the same fear inducing way we came. With Commander Keen on the back burner for now, I ask Ankle where I might find work by some of his contemporaries.

http://woostercollective.com is a fantastic blog featuring the best of that kind of work.”

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