Street Art in Vitry-sur-Seine (France) : Spencer Elzey in Europe

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BSA is lucky to be a clearinghouse for many people who participate in and celebrate the Street Art scene – artists, curators, designers, collectors, galleries, museums, researchers, academics, historians and fans. Because we have never taken advertising readers tend to trust our platform and people in the community give us great behind-the-scenes opportunities to learn and share freely with others about the creative process and the culture on the street. It also gives us the freedom to do whatever we want when planning editorial or content.

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Claire Pinatel (photo © Spencer Elzey)

Recently we had this idea about giving our site out to artists or art-lovers a week at a time so they could also fully share their personal experiences of the Street Art/public art/graffiti/ scene. So this week before Thanksgiving we’re giving the whole week to one person as a “residency”, our way of sharing this valuable platform and inviting you to have a greater voice in this conversation.

Spencer Elzey loves art in general and is an avid Street Art fan in particular and he likes to take trips that include shooting images on the street in whatever city he visits. He also supports artists by buying their art, regularly attending art exhibitions, reading and studying about them and following their evolution. Over the last couple of years we have seen that he is also a dedicated Street Art hunter with camera in hand on the streets of New York City when he isn’t at his regular job – and he loves to share what he finds with others on social media and as an occasional contributor to BSA.

When we heard that Spencer was planning a trip to Europe this fall we proposed to him the idea of him keeping a photo journal to be shared exclusively with BSA readers and we offered to help connect him with some friendly guides on his trip so he could get some splendid and exclusive photos. He enthusiastically accepted the offer and here is the first day of Spencer’s one-week residency on BSA, an edited treasure trove of images and insights from the guy himself.  We know you’re going to dig it.

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STeW (photo © Spencer Elzey)

Here’s this weeks schedule:

  • Monday is Vitry-sur-Seine Street Art.
  • Tuesday will be Paris Street Art.
  • Wednesday will be a special collection of the installations from the Le Tour Paris 13 project.
  • Thursday will be his adventures in Berlin.
  • BSA Film Friday will feature a selection of videos reflecting the cities he toured.
  • Saturday will be Spencer’s London showcase.

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ROA (photo © Spencer Elzey)

Of all four cities Spencer visited over a two week trip, this one seemed to really embrace the value of street art to the culture, he says. “In terms of which city was the most welcoming of street art I’d have to say Vitry-sur-Seine was because this is really a grassroots campaign kickstarted by C215,” he says of this city of 83,000 that is called a commune and lies on the outskirts of Paris.

It’s not hard to believe that the scene is attributed in large part to the influence of the well-regarded stencil artist C215 as this is a guy who considers his work to be community service and who regularly features people from the city he is in as subjects of his portraits. That’s why he was the perfect guide for Spencer, who says he learned a huge amount of information in a short time.

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

“I have to say that C215 is one of the more interesting, opinionated and knowledgeable artists that I have come across. We started the morning at his local café with a coffee. I explored around a little by myself while he was attending to some prior engagements with his gallery and then he caught up with me out on the streets. We eventually had lunch and then went back to his house. Topics ranged from his opinion on the scene in general, on other artists, on galleries and it even touched on street art websites and documenters.

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

“I hadn’t realized that he has only been doing stenciling for seven years but it was easy to see how far his pieces have come from the few monochrome stencils that still remain around Williamsburg (Brooklyn) from around 2008,” remarks Elzey.

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

“What C215 has done in Vitry-sur-Seine is much bigger than I expected it to be, both in terms of quantity of work in the area as well as the impact on the community. The first piece that he put up there was about five year ago and within that time there have appeared at least 150 different pieces from him and other artists throughout the area,” says Spencer.

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

Naturally, Elzey was shooting whatever odd or curious or thrilling piece he found on his travels through this city that celebrates artists, in addition to the work done by his host. “I was definitely surprised with how much Street Art there was in Vitry-sur-Seine. I took around 200 pictures of different pieces while there and I’m still seeing pictures on Instagram of things that I had missed,” he says.

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

One piece in particular by C215 impressed him a lot – because of it’s impact visually and its perfectly contextual placement. Additionally, Elzey felt that it illustrated the regard that the residents have for the artists work and the fact that people didn’t appear to think of it as illegal or vandalism, per se. “While I was exploring and taking pictures, various residents pointed with excitement about pieces just around the corner that I should go look at,” he says.

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

“There was one older gentleman, probably in his 70s, who just simply said “La porte” and smiled while pointing in a certain direction. I rounded the corner to see a stencil of the Virgin Mary on the back door of the main church,” he says of one of the few religious themed pieces that the artist has created. “C215 had indicated that this was one of his favorite pieces in the area and it was nice to see that residents appreciated it as well. Had it not been for this project there really would be no other reason for me to have travelled down to Vitry-sur-Seine but it was definitely worth it.”

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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C215 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Jorge Rodriguez Gerarda (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Yuri Romagnoli (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Finabarr DAC to the left with Guy Denning to the right. (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Finabarr DAC (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Ripo (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Nychos (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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EmileOne (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Amour (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cristian Sonda (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cristian Sonda (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Kashink (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cope (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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MP5 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Nunca (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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David Walker (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Etnik (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Indigo (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Gaia (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Alice Pasquini (photo © Spencer Elzey)

 

We hope you enjoy this one week residency on Brooklyn Street Art and we congratulate Spencer for his dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm.

Our sincere thanks also go to those who offered their hospitality and agreed to give Spencer a tour on our behalf; to the stencil artist C215, who graciously took him around Vitry and who shared with him a history and background on the scene there, to Maroune and Mehdi at Itinerrance Gallery for providing Spencer with special solo access to Le Tour Paris 13 while hundreds were queing outside, and to the dynamic German duo Various & Gould who welcomed him into their studio and showed Spencer some really cool spots around Berlin. This open and generous community spirit really makes the work that we do feel so inspiring to us, and we thank each of you for playing host to Spencer and for sharing your knowledge with the BSA family.

 
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