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Brooklyn Street Art

…loves you more every day.

Kashink Uses Hairy Four-Eyed Men to Examine Gender Assumptions

Posted on July 30, 2014

The international Street Art scene boasts a small percentage of women artists and KASHINK may perplex even that statistic with her mustache. It’s the same mustache you’ll see on many of her big hairy four-eyed men that she paints in Europe and North America that look like “badass yet sensitive gangsters,” as she describes them. Similarly, her own mustache is drawn on with a marker or paint brush. It’s the absurdity of gender role-play that she likes to examine in her colorful comical way and the Paris-based KASHINK says she considers her street art to be an expression of activism that questions it.

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Kashink (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With the same vivid colors and absurdly intelligent wit that Gilbert and George might use to make fun, KASHINK takes her paintings into a folkloric milieu and adds superhero flatness, depicting her (mostly) men as probably well-meaning dolts, if also conflicted and sensitive. As with most comedy there may be a critique as well.

As an activist the artist has lent her art and her support in a very big and public way to the cause of Marriage Equality in France, where hundreds of thousands of angry anti-gay marchers thronged through the streets to stop its passage. With characteristic wittiness (and fortitude) KASHINK created nearly 200 murals depicting many a gay couple gazing dreamily at one another over a big ornate wedding cake; a series she humorously named “50 Cakes of Gay”.

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Kashink. ActUp. Paris, France. (photo © Kashink)

Recently in New York, a number of her men showed up on walls on the street, and we had the opportunity ask her some questions about optimism, gender conventions, the French love for old skool graffiti and hip-hop, and those two black marker lines above her lip.

Brooklyn Street Art: Your characters have similarities to illustrations found in comic books from the thick lines and bold colors to multiple eyes and the comedic sense they have. Even your name “KASHINK” has a comic book sound. Did you hide in the attic with a stack of comic books when you were a child?
KASHINK: KASHINK is definitely onomatopoeic; I’ve always been fond of comic books. In France there is was always a really big scene and as a teenager I was also into American superheroes as well.

I still buy comics and illustrations and I have a lot of comic book artist friends. I recently painted a wall with JANO, an old school artist who was very famous in France the 80’s; I loved his work when I was a kid. It was pretty cool to teach him how to spray-paint!

I guess I got inspired a lot by all these, but I also get inspired by traditional crafts from around the world. These thick lines and bright colors are quite similar in many different countries.

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Kashink. Paris, France 2011. (photo © Kashink)

Brooklyn Street Art: Speaking of gender, most (all?) of the characters you create are male, and many have a mustache like yours. Societies have experimented with the fluidity of gender and roles over history. Are you continuing that experimentation?
KASHINK: When I started painting walls, I quickly decided not to paint women. It seemed really complicated to me to paint a female character free from any kind of aesthetic codes. I also noticed that there was a strong tradition of female street artists painting really sexy female characters, and I didn’t relate to that trend, I wanted to do something more personal somehow.

I’ve always been interested in the absurdity of gender representation. Since I was a kid I always felt like a tomboy but I also loved to get dolled up and look nice, in my own style.

I’m very interested in the amazing diversity of humanity, and how easy it is to break the codes in a fun way. The characters I paint are mostly male, preferably fat and hairy. Even though they look quite manly I like to put them in unexpected situations where they would express their feelings. They fall in love, they call their mom on the phone, they are sad or scared. It’s just a funnier and more meaningful experimentation than another representation of a tough female.

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Kashink (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: There are some references to queer culture in your art. Would you describe any of your work as “activist” in nature? Or are you just depicting life/imagination?
KASHINK: I’m an activist, not only as an artist but also as a person. This moustache I wear every day is the best example I guess. I think it’s fun to underline the absurdity of traditional female make up. Two black symmetrical lines as eyebrows or eyeliner are perfectly accepted, but the same lines 4 inches lower on the same face are not. I also like the idea of playing with this very old school typically male ornamentation code.

My personal life and my tendency to paint sensitive big hairy guys also led me to paint gay men in obvious situations. In 2011 I even had a solo show I called GAYFFITI. Then I worked with Act Up for a little bit and started painting walls related to gay marriage and equal rights. In December 2012, the first protests started in Paris. It was very shocking to see all this aggressiveness and all the energy some people were ready to put in order for other people not to have rights, especially in France.

I thought it was interesting to start using a strong symbol that anybody could understand and relate to positive memories. Everybody loves cake. So I started my project “50 Cakes of Gay”. At first I thought I’d paint only 50 in total but I’ve been painting more than 200 now in 9 different countries, and there are more to come!

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Kashink (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Where did the text come from that appears on the new series of hand painted posters you put up in Brooklyn recently? News headlines? Songs? Stories?
KASHINK: I’ve been adding text to my characters for a while. Especially on these paste-ups I call “The Johns”. I like the idea of starting a story and encouraging people’s imagination. These phrases could be interpreted in many ways; they could all be part of very different stories, like a part of a comic book. Sometimes they also are lyrics of my favorite songs, depending on my inspiration.

I’ve been wheat pasting those for a little while, and when I visit a different country I write the text in the local language. I did some in French of course, but also some in Polish, Greek, Arabic and Basque for example.

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Kashink with Lister hovering. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Why is it valuable to put art in public spaces?
KASHINK: Well I guess we need to keep in mind it’s not valuable for everybody. Some people are not that interested in art and don’t really see the point. As an artist, I like the idea of sharing my stuff and make it visible, it’s a good way for me to share my ideas as well; in that way it seems valuable to me at least.

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Kashink (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Your drawings appear very optimistic and full of color. Would you describe yourself as generally optimistic?
KASHINK: I’m definitely an optimistic person. I realized recently that since I was born I’ve constantly heard about deforestation, pollution, ozone holes, economic crisis, unemployment, and all kinds of disasters.

I think that nowadays we’re at the crossroads of our history, many things changed drastically in the past 50 years and it’s going faster and faster. I’m very curious about the coming next 10 or 20 years, and I don’t want to be pessimistic. Of course we’re all going to die, but I want to believe things can also evolve in a good way somehow.

I see more and more people who want a better quality of life, who quit a job they hate for something else, where they might get less money but a better environment.

There are more and more people of our generation who are not interested in consumerism, who don’t want a TV, who try to think for themselves. It’s pretty interesting.

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Kashink (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Many French art fans are very loyal and enthusiastic followers of the original 70s/80s New York graffiti artists and hip hop scene. Growing up in Paris, did graffiti culture interest you as well?
KASHINK: I guess that the French hip-hop scene has probably been the biggest in Europe. I grew up in what they call “la banlieue”, and I would take the train to go to Paris. The tracks were covered in throw ups, and in the city there always was a lot of tagging. I was attracted to graffiti and to the music as well, I remember when the Wu Tang started being known in France, I also liked Onyx and A Tribe Called Quest a lot. But I was a metal head, and back then it was weird to like both in France.

When the original soundtrack of “Judgment Night” came out, I was thrilled to see that my favorite metal bands and rappers could collaborate. It was awesome !!! Then Ice T came out with “Body Count,” which was very exciting too.

But I guess I was already more attracted to characters than styles back then. I remember seeing some pieces from Honet when I would go to Paris as a teenager; they were very different from what I was used to, in a way I got inspired by his style.

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Kashink (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Last year we did an extensive article on Wynwood and its first all-female artists edition. How was your experience in Miami painting along such an internationally known group of intelligent, talented, opinionated and fun-loving women?
KASHINK: Being in that show was an amazing opportunity, it was also very cool for me to get to meet all these great artists. I was actually very curious to ask them about how it feels to be in that game for a longer period of time. Most of them are older than me and some got tired of painting walls after a while, some others still paint but not necessarily only their own stuff. I spent a few hours smoking spliffs with Lady Pink on the roof of our hotel and asking her about all this, it was really interesting.

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Kashink collaboration with Foxx Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Kashink collaboration with Foxx Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Kashink with CB23 trying to pass unnoticed on the bottom. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
 
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Wall Therapy 2014

Posted on July 29, 2014

Wall\Therapy has concluded in Rochester again, this year with a focus on portraits and today we bring you an update from some of the talented photographers on the scene in this north western New York town. Essentially a mural project that is beautifying the city with a very eclectic mix of artists working in styles across the board, Wall/Therapy had a smaller roster this year, and perhaps a more local focus. Here’s a snapshot of some finished walls.

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Sam Rodriguez. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Tomas Flint)

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Omen. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Omen. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Omen. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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David Walker. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Jarus. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Jarus. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Caitlin Yarsky. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Shawn. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Alice Pasquini. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Shawnee Hill. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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John Perry. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Alice Mizrachi. Detail. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Alice Mizrachi. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Elicser. Wall\Therapy 2014. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

BSA would like to thank the organizers, photographers and volunteers at this year’s edition of Wall\Therapy for sending these exclusive images to us to share with our readers.

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
 
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Dede Discusses New Site-Specific Stencil Series In Tel Aviv

Posted on July 28, 2014

“Site-specific” is a term employed by some Street Art conceptualists often today, but the relevance of location to the piece on the street may not be as clear to the viewer as the artist would have intended even when it is the product of a high-minded process for selection. This is not the case in Tel Aviv where Street Artist Dede is taking “site-specific” quite seriously in a new series of pieces where a stenciled view of a city scene appears precisely where this view can also be observed with the bare eye.  By producing this visual double-take, the location and stencil placement instantly invoke a closer examination and consideration of just what is being called into view, and perhaps to ask why.

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

It could be a scene you otherwise would have overlooked, but somehow now it is elevated by the fact that the artist has taken the effort to cut and spray a stencil here and probably did so with purpose. It’s a highly effective method of sharpening our focus and we’re glad that it has brought Yoav Litvin to BSA today to share his recent interview with Dede about the series as well as to discuss his views on life in Israel during this time of intensified conflict with Palestine. Yoav also shares his photos from these new site-specific installations as well as other examples of the artists’ stylistically eclectic offerings.

 

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Belonging, Territoriality and Healing in Israel: An interview with Dede

by Yoav Litvin
 

Whenever I visit a city, I try to dedicate time to venturing on the streets in search of art as a way of assessing the local and current creative vibe. By chance, I was in Israel when the most recent violent conflict erupted between the Israeli army (the IDF) and Hamas in the Gaza strip. During my two-week long visit there, I spent countless hours arguing against violence and for peace and reconciliation; against the powerful interest groups and for the people.

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Dede. Close up. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Together with Dede, a local street artist, I walked through various neighborhoods in Tel Aviv in search of art. Seeing the beautiful and at times chaotically colorful walls, I once again felt the positive and potentially healing power of art, even more so in this dire context of war. I have always believed street art can represent a creative, non-violent form of rebellion. It can serve to challenge the powerful, the violent and the selfish and offer an unfiltered, free and raw voice- from the people to the people! As composer and playwright Jonathan Larson epitomized in his famous quote: “The opposite of war is not peace… it’s creation!”

Here I talk with Dede about his current series of site-specific stencils, and how these may reflect some of the realities in this troubled town and part of the world. Additionally we see his most recent large-scale murals, which revolve around relevant issues of belonging, displacement and escape.

Yoav Litvin: What’s your thought process behind these site-specific installations?
Dede: I began this ongoing site-specific series of stencils at the end of 2013. It stems from many thoughts/ideas on technique and the ways in which we are exposed to street art today. Importantly, I was very much influenced by a text written by the cultural critic Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and its ramifications on our modern way of life.

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Yoav Litvin: Why did you choose the locations you did?
Dede: Every location has its own reasons, each attempting to focus attention on an important issue within our modern urban reality. These include the housing crisis in Israel, urban development and restoration of historical landmarks/buildings.

Yoav Litvin: There is a long-standing conflict surrounding territory in Israel. Do your site-specific installations address it? How?
Dede: There is always conflict on territory/resources, perhaps everywhere in the world but I see it clearly here in Tel Aviv. Just like in any capitalist society, real estate here is bought and sold in accordance with personal interests and therefore can be controversial in a community. For example- see my stencil of the tower that was built in Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv (below). The rest of the neighborhood is only two stories high and many residents were against the construction of such a tall building- there were petitions and protests but eventually those with money won out. Land is expensive and Tel Aviv is prime real estate in Israel. There is a constant increase in housing prices and this is making Tel Aviv a city exclusively for the wealthy.

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 Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Yoav Litvin: I had a lot of fun shooting these stencil installations, trying to capture the art together with its subject. Are you trying to create a dialog between artist and documenter? How do you view street art documenters within the scene, especially with the central role of the Internet, social media and photo sharing?
Dede: Documentation is extremely important for street art, because of this art form’s inherently ephemeral nature. However, seeing a photograph can never replace the feeling of standing in front of a piece and personally experiencing it. Documentation conveys the idea as best as possible without experiencing it first hand. In this series of stencils, documentation is a central theme.

Stencils are regularly cut based on photographs, and this series was sprayed at the location the pictures were taken. Thus, the photographer has a central role in capturing both subject and the art it conveys. My notion was to challenge the documenter and in turn, the viewer of the photo. This work was intended for an audience that relies on social networks for its street art consumption.

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Yoav Litvin: How has your art evolved since last we spoke? Is it becoming more personal or do you feel you are reaching out to the public with relevant issues to the community?
Dede: This is a question I ask myself all the time. Honestly, I cannot really say what has changed in my art. I let my art lead me, and do not try to lead it. I feel I am trying to evolve in both realms you mention, focusing on my personal style, but also my interaction with the community, both locally and globally.

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Yoav Litvin: I find street art to be an excellent device for an artist to communicate with the surrounding communities. Do you try to appeal to a strictly Israeli audience in Tel Aviv? How do you engage the Palestinian  population, for example in neighboring Jaffa?
Dede: Street art engages everyone everywhere, especially today in the age of the internet. As an artist in Tel Aviv, Israel, I am aware that my art reaches Palestinians as well as Israelis. In fact, I often correspond with Palestinian artists, and am pleased when they enjoy, interested and/or are emotionally touched by my work. I feel my work is a personal reflection that appeals to people everywhere, not just Israelis, Palestinians or any other category of people.

I love painting in Jaffa, and during your last visit we walked through an abandoned building in Jaffa in which I and friends painted. Local residents are very positive and appreciate street art. I wish art could bridge all gaps between peoples here and everywhere.

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Dede. Jaffa as seen from Tel Aviv. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Yoav Litvin: One cannot discuss Israel today without addressing the current violence. Has it affected your art? How so?
Dede: The situation here is very complicated and disturbing. It is a conflict that has been going on for years. This conflict has affected my art and inspired me to create in many ways. I love Tel Aviv, but during wars it is a difficult place to live in. One of the central themes in my works is the need to escape to a safer place, whether in the physical or emotional realm. This stems from different motivations; mental, social and political. I do not believe any citizen should live in a state of fear anywhere, and my art conveys these notions.

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Dede and Latzi collaboration. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Dede (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Dede’s studio. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Interview written, edited and translated by Yoav Litvin. Mr. Litvin is the author and photographer of the recently published book Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Gingko Press.

For more information regarding Yoav Litvin click HERE. For more information regarding Dede, click HERE

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
 
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