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Brooklyn Street Art

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BSA Film Friday: 04.24.15

Posted on April 24, 2015

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Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening :

1. C215 and Caravaggio
2. East London Quick Tour of Street Art of : BUSH
3. Vinz: Feel Free Project  (NSFW)
4. Woozy in Athens: Moving Shadows

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BSA Special Feature: C215 In the Footsteps of His Favorite Painter: Caravaggio.

Here is a new short documentary that follows the unique pathway of Caravaggio, as told by one of his biggest fans, the street artist and master stencillist C215 visiting Palermo. He says he is sure Caravaggio would be a street artist if he were alive today. Who would argue?

 

Quick Tour of Street Art of East London: BUSH

We get many video submissions every week and this one really caught our eye because it features two fellows whom you are convinced are going to be singing the lyrics to the soundtrack at any moment — but in fact they never do anything of the sort.

Perhaps they are just telecommunicating the lyrics to us. Possibly they are here to adorn the street art and graffiti, or provide a measuring guage for us to more accurately estimate the various sizes of aerosol pieces. Expressionless and unfazed, they could be modeling their handsome fashions. Perhaps they are protecting the cameraman from thugs who could sneak up on him unannounced. You just don’t know.

“My work is low-fi and I work on no budget and work with unsigned musicians and reaching out to the wider creative community only for this video as I feel there hasn’t been one like this created out there about London,” says Eric, who made the piece. That last bit is probably true. Eric, thank you for sharing. Regards to the actors, and thanks for the tour.

 

Vinz: Feel Free Project  (NSFW)

“The naked people with birds heads represent freedom. They are naked because they have nothing to hide.” explains the street artist Vinz, who was adopted by the gallery system nearly seconds after these bare breasted birds first began appearing on public walls. This is a good opportunity to hear the artist speak for himself and to understand the various visual codes present in his work and their corresponding meanings.

 

Woozy in Athens: Moving Shadows

This car burning during protests against the Greek government takes on a second meaning as street artist Woozy walks up to the burned metal and plastic carcass and begins painting upon it. The shock of the reality leaves you stunned, even as he begins to transform the charred car with art.

SPECTER and Glowing Abstractions On Your Way Down into the Subway

Posted on April 23, 2015

Yes, you were expecting an ad. Maybe one from News Channel 3 and charming Chuck and beautiful Belinda and that wacky weather guy and the whole 6 O’clock News Team. Instead, you got a glowing abstraction, a few seconds of calm on your way down the stairs into the subway. Artists continue to take over the ad space that continues to take over our public space, and these new backlit missives are from Specter.

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Specter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“They use color, form and light to draw you in but offer little to the viewer who is expecting a product,” he told BSA when contacted to find out what he’s up to. He says these abstractions are not meant to feel like ads and “even though the imagery is relative to each neighborhood it is placed in its more an homage than a direct meaning.”

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Specter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Really, these are related to each neighborhood? Yes, he says. “They are all collage/paintings and the references are from my travels. The one with the squares, for example, references the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, and that’s why it’s placed in Greenpoint.”

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Specter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Specter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Specter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toilet Seats and Mirrors : Gilf! and BAMN Create “TIXE” (VIDEO)

Posted on April 22, 2015

Urban exploring and sustainable art-making are not such strange relations in this new project by Gilf! and BAMN, two of the new socially conscious breed of Street Artists we continue to see. Known for her various installations of “Gentrification in Progress” tape across homes, businesses and cultural touchstones that are slated for destruction in favor of luxury condos, Gilf! shares this purely sustainable art project she and BAMN did in an abandoned hotel in suburbia recently. They call it “TIXE”.

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A play on the ubiquitous signs for egress throughout public buildings as well as the abandonment of the building. Gilf! and BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

“We wanted to show how something that has been left for dead actually has so much potential still left in it,” says Gilf!, and indeed many of these shots reveal spaces that look  perfectly usable – but she says they have been left to rot. As an artist, she assesses and sees a lot of promise, “There is such an opportunity to share beauty, to see beauty differently, to see consumption and waste differently.”

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Gilf! and BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

Using only materials that were found on site, both artists created installations that you could easily imagine in a gallery setting, fêted with white wine, hors d’oeuvres and sparkling conversations. Suspended under a skylight above a glistening pool, Gilf!’s gently turning abstract sculpture becomes a beacon of postmodern with nods to both Duchamp’s urinal “Fountain” and El Anatsui’s art inspired and drawn from “huge piles of detritus from consumption“.

Or, it is simply a cluster of used toilet seats hanging from the ceiling.

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Gilf! and BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

“I’ve never been more filthy in my life,” says Gilf!, “but it was definitely one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever completed. I find I am most creative in abandoned, alternative spaces without constraints, expectations, or deadlines- I guess that’s not shocking- freedom is the ultimate facilitator of creativity.”

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Gilf! and BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

Less easy to see in these images are the installations by BAMN that consist of full length mirrors and medicine cabinets that, when arranged in hallways and courtyards in parallel  or constellation formation, serve to draw the light and magnetize it, shooting shards of light across and through a moribund commercially artificial man-made environment.

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Reflected sunlight shot across mirrors into the deadened pool. Gilf! and BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

We spoke with both artists and asked them to describe TIXE and what they discovered in the process of exploring, arranging, and installing it. Not surprisingly, both describe their work in the context of larger political and social themes, casting the work as part of a greater activism as much as aesthetics.

Brooklyn Street Art: What connections did you draw between the waste normally associated with toilet seats and the waste of western society that allows entire buildings to fall into disrepair like this?
Gilf!: When we first came across this shuttered hotel we were amazed at how many useable items were just left there to rot with two brand new chain hotels just down the street. As I’ve discussed with my previous gentrification work this opportunity really exemplifies the wealth disparity in our country. Two big chain hotels moved in and priced out this small business, unable to compete with such low rates they were forced to shut their doors. The rich get richer- the small businesses struggle and succumb to our American Ponzi scheme of an economy.

Ultimately the homogenization of our cities and the monopolization of our consumer choices can really be likened to shit. We started out with all this diversity and now through the bowels of our top down economic system everything is pretty nauseating and all looks the same. This system only works for a select few- I hope this project can highlight to my fellow plebeians that we need to start looking at things differently. The opportunity to find value in what we’re told is valueless is where our power lies.

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Gilf! and BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

Brooklyn Street Art: This project is as much about sustainability as it is aesthetics. Can you tell us about the philosophy of using existing waste as material for new art?
Gilf!: The idea of using existing waste as materials for my work is something I’ve spent the last couple of years really reflecting on. I’m curious about how we can transform items deemed “worthless” by the general population and create inspiration through their newfound meanings. This project is a direct reflection on the involuntary, almost robotic, rhythms of our society’s absurd extravagance.

We chose to use the materials we found in the space to shine a light on the ideas around perceived value and wastefulness. What happens when an artist uses items that are deemed worthless and turns them into a gigantic work of art? Are they still worthless if their collective meaning changes? Do the toilet seats now have value because they are “art”? I wanted to show that even the most foul of objects and spaces can be appreciated when reconsidered.

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Gilf! . BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

Brooklyn Street Art: What does a re-capture/re-use art installation tell us about the stuff we throw away?
BAMN: It tells us we got our priority’s mixed up. It’s all good to be a fun-employed artist running around making stuff, but most of the world is pushing an idea of progress that looks more like suicide. I get it, we’re all consumers/zombies, but do we have to be so g-damned wasteful about it? There’s gotta be a better way.

Brooklyn Street Art: Urban exploring can have some pitfalls – including safety. Do those considerations enter your mind when exploring an abandoned space?
Gilf!: Absolutely- entering all those hotel rooms by myself one by one was incredibly unnerving. I never knew what I was going to come across. As a woman I have that added layer of vulnerability – which always infuriates me. But getting over those fears is just part of urban exploration. The freedom I had to create in that space trumped my fear of the bogie man who was only living inside my mind.

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Gilf! . BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

Brooklyn Street Art: The rows of mirrors echo the colonades in the way you arranged them. Were you thinking of Greek gods when you were creating light ant reflection?
BAMN: I was mostly thinking of Prometheus (because there just aren’t enough references to Western culture in art). Anyways, the dude was persecuted by Zeus for restoring fire to humanity. This fire can be a metaphor for truth or light, and there are plenty of people today being persecuted for doing what’s best for humanity.

Brooklyn Street Art: What or who was your inspiration as an artist to do these pieces?
BAMN: I just wanted to be spontaneous going into to this post-modern carcass. So I kept to what was available in the hotel. The first thing I noticed walking in was the darkness. Even during the day this place was totally devoid of life.

About 30 mirrors later I had an installation that bounced sunlight into the hotel, down a bunch of dark hallways, into a rec room where the beam of light ends on a live bush that was planted in the middle of a swimming pool that had a few feet of this stuff that can only be described as toe-jam flavored oatmeal.

The paint was found in a supply closet and all the mirrors were propped up by fire extinguishers…I’m just glad I decided not to do anything with those 200 urine-stained mattresses.

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Gilf! . BAMN ‘TIXE” (photo © gilf!)

Brooklyn Street Art: How was the air conditioning?
Gilf!: Let’s just say that working 25 feet in the air in a massive room that was more or less a greenhouse was brutal. The scaffolding was built in a cesspool so there was a certain precariousness up there that I’m sure it added to the feeling of sweat-soaked madness. Coupled with handling used, anonymous toilet seats – it took more than one shower to feel completely clean again. I’ve never been filthier, or more inspired.

 

Gilf! will present SHATTERING, the second of a three-part series of participatory actions centering on destruction and transformation, May 7, 2015 in New York.

See more BAMN 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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This article is also published on The Huffington Post.

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OverUnder in Seattle: Peculiar Portraits & Mural for “Urban Artworks”

Posted on April 21, 2015

Reno averages 114 cloudy days per year.  Seattle is about twice that number. Can you blame Overunder for moving to Reno? Despite the endless days of gray, Seattle’s pretty nice to live in, according to many. The economy is fueled by the high tech industry and is also one of the most progressive cities socially, recently enacting a $15 minimum wage, new taxes on the wealthiest 1%, and there are well funded social services for the homeless and those seriously in need.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. “Kurt Kobangs” Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

And truthfully, painting under gray skies is actually preferable to burning under hours of blasting sun, so Overunder recently returned to Seattle to create a new mural for Urban Artworks, a youth oriented public art program that is celebrating its 20th year. In addition to the “monster mural”, Overunder also had the opportunity to complete some characteristically “free-range” installations, the kind we were more familiar with when Brooklyn was his stomping ground a few years ago.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

A very distinctive style on the street that recalls work of pals Labrona, Troy Lovegates, even Barry McGee and more West Coast folk surrealists, OU continues his visual anagrams on the street that toss around the elements now familiar to his vocabulary – rolldown gates, distorted monochromatic figures, brownstone facades, somewhat brooding expressions, wit. You’ll see the linework is cleaner and more confident than ever, the palette pleasingly saturated, the waving curvilinear forms now more expressive even as they beguile.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

We wanted to see what he had to say about his work now, and how his pieces on the street came about, and how he conjured the new mural for Urban Artworks;

Brooklyn Street Art: We notice that you are doing a number of portraits recently, and that they are fairly compact. Are these people in your life or your imagination?

Overunder: The wheat paste pieces are mostly imagined although a little reality sneaks in time and again for trips. When I travel I like to make pieces about place so naturally the people that live there become game for sampling. For example one piece is of a good Seattle friend who spends each year fishing in Alaska to make money for travel. That piece shows a man engrossed in a tornado emerging from a boat atop a coin.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you describe a typical process for creating one of these – do you sketch, paint, cut-out, and wheat-paste?
Overunder: The process is very pure, just spray paint on paper. A typical process involves tacking a roll of paper up, cracking a beer, and just seeing what happens with a can of spray. Oh and maybe a little Freddie Gibbs or Isaiah Rashad as soundtrack.

I try to keep each piece to an hour or less so they don’t get over-worked and then I cut them straight off the wall.  For every 2 or 3 pieces I put up in the streets probably 1 piece gets tossed in the trash and another archived so I can look back at my progression (sometimes regression). These pieces are very liberating and give me the freedom that I can’t achieve in my murals. It’s just my subconscious and the medium. Especially now that most of my murals involve more research, time, supplies, and stamps of approval from various parties.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: How do you chose the text that sometimes goes directly over the face, and what is it about?

Overunder: I don’t want my wheat pastes to be precious or special and the best way to de-virginize that smooth and perfect paper is to christen it with whatever’s on my mind. In a way the text chooses me. A lot of times I have no idea what I’m writing but it becomes brutally honest. There is a reason why diary and diarrhea are found next to each other in the dictionary.

Since I put shading and line work over the top the text gets pushed back and becomes more of a technique to build background texture. i.e. a kneeling red figure I put up in the ID (International District) reads, ‘There is comfort and then there is convenience and then there is undeniable devotion and then there is unquestionable kinship and then there is regrettable choices and then there is all the other stuff.’

That could be interpreted many ways but to me it was a joke about my inability to distinguish between then and than.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you connect with Urban Artworks and can you describe the organization?
Overunder: They reached out to me after hearing about me through mutual friends. It was inspiring to learn about them as they are a very unique organization that works specifically with adjudicated youth to create public art. The youth are paid by the county to work on projects and they gain work readiness skills, art experience, and self confidence through the creation of their murals.

Urban ArtWorks also takes pride in giving aspiring muralists opportunities to build their own portfolios and skill sets through the whole process. The program is in its 20th year and looking to build their roster by working more with artists beyond the Seattle area – so, I hope to be back to create with them again and maybe even lead a youth mural next time.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: The mural features airborne creatures … and a cassette tape that looks like a mix of home jams. How do these fit together?
Overunder: Under the supportive assistance of Urban Artworks I created this mural titled “Contribute” for a new apartment development on Capitol Hill. While the theme involves showing birds flying to a nest with gifts to contribute I was also fortunate enough to involve several of my all-time favorite Seattle artists as they helped contribute to the overall mural.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Collaboration has always been important to me as a humbling bi-product of process and as a tool for apprenticeship. Aside from Derek Yost (who assisted on most of the mural), I involved No Touching Ground, Kyler Martz, Yale Wolf, Paulina Cholewinski, and Kathleen Warren who is the Director for Urban Artworks. The mural itself combines Gulls, Swallows, Killdeers, and other two-winged friends reported to be seen most by the Seattle Audubon Society.

I tried to create some movement amongst the large space by weaving birds, birch trees, and unspooled cassette tape as it gets tangled in the birds nest. The background blue gradient utilizes the natural shadows cast by the architecture to create an abstract sundial from sunrise to just past high noon.

Brooklyn Street Art: Why does it always seem to be raining in Seattle?
Overunder: I don’t know but I do know that that is the reason why I moved out of Seattle in 2004.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Process shot. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Process shot. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Process shot. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Kathleen Warren/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Jake Hanson/Urban Art Works)

 

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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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