Nevercrew is unifying in Berlin with their new “One Wall” project with Urban Nation. The immense marine mammals depicted are not typical in their upright position in this reflective scene. Are they flying? Art they floating?
The artists tell us that they decided on the configuration based on the building walls themselves and are surprised by the opposite yet complementary pose the new mural creates.
Ironically by turning the subjects 90 degrees the scene is more disturbing: you may become more aware of the powerful forces of man and nature that are upending these magnificient beasts and appreciate their fragility.
“It is about common responsibilities and aims despite distances and differences: towards a lost balance between humankind and nature and with human nature itself,” Christian and Pablo say in a statement for this powerful painted piece of unity called “Reification” that suddenly makes it all real.
“This history represents the aboriginal ghostly inscription that circulates between the past and the present, says Mexican Street Artist and muralist Said Dokins as he describes his two new murals in Queensland, Australia.
As we slowly wake to the idea of decolonizing our institutions, Dokins says he is including the names and stories of people he met in Brisbane to create a collective history, “where the words that describe nature and cultural diversity are intertwined with colonial and globalization references.”
Said Dokins says he asked people to share with him a story of Queensland with a single word. “Stories Of A Word” Queensland University of Technology. Brisbane, Australia. May 2018. (graphic courtesy of the artist).
The new Dokins murals are compositions comprise of his unique calligraphic lettering style, sparkling and ornately street savvy as their curvilinear movement and medallion shapes catch your attention in metal and black. Part of the ‘Brisbane Street Art Festival’ (BSAF)taking place in April and May, Dokins joined other international artists such as Kenji Chai y Cloakwork from Malaysia, Tuyuloveme from Indonesia, Bao Ho from Hong Kong, Rosie Wood from England, and Gris One from Colombia as well as local artists like Sofles, Gus Eagleton, Fuzeillear to create 50+ public facing murals across neighboring towns with a variety of themes and styles.
Supported by real estate and civic/business interests along with art organizations – Said tells us that the festival of music and arts also worked very close to Alethea Beetson, director of Digi Youth Arts, an organization dedicated to protect aboriginal cultures.
In his research many with the goal of recognizing the decimated, destroyed, and marginalized aboriginal cultures of Australia, Dokins says he used an exercise of participatory art. By speaking with and interviewing local people he found key words and specific phrases. Eventually he asked participants to share with him a story of Queensland with a single word.
BSA is happy to again be working with the Mexico City based museum MUJAM and Director Roberto Shimizu to bring you news of the Street Art and mural scene from a Latin America perspective.
This time its for “Barrio Vivo” a broad new initiative that is focused on the rapidly evolving Street Art from the ‘Always On’ generation of Gen Z-Late Millenial street painters who are influenced as much by the Internet Buffet as traditional and folkloric imagery.
For the ambitious and welcoming visionary Shimizu its an outstanding opportunity to secure and provide walls in the surrounding neighborhood called Distrito Doctores for a concentration of new talents from all over Latin America.
During the open submission period MUJAM received more than 300 portfolios to review from across the Lingua Latina; Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile,Uruguay, Honduras, Panamá and Guatemala, every state of Mexico, many artists along the US/Mexican border (Tijuana, New Mexico, Mexicali, Monterrey.) Not surprisingly there were a few from Portugal, France, even Germany. The vast overview has given major insights, he says.
Screenshot of the music schedule a the museum parking lot for “Barrio Vivo”
“ ‘Barrio Vivo’ is a dream come true,” Shimizu tells us as we talk about the 10 day festival that just got underway and that carries through this week until final festivities on Saturday. “As you know, for a number of years I have been very interested in the new generations of street artists and I think this could be the most important gathering of this type.”
While the opening days have been a big undertaking with three dozen or so artists, walls, paint, scaffolding, directions, permissions, and communications, ‘Barrio Vivo’ is taking on its own sense of community with so many countries who share language and culture all collaborating. Shimizu also knows how to create a welcoming environment – day long music programs also help to keep a buzzing congeniality at play.
“More than 40 upcoming emerging high quality artists are painting all around the Doctores neighborhood,” he says. “Our purpose is to give them the elemental tools and platforms to explore their work and creative processes. It is also very important for every artist to have the responsibility and the seriousness a festival offers.”
He also knows that there is no way to control everything, but those are basic tenets of art in the streets anyway. “Because you’re painting next to other great talents and your work will be in the streets where even the most amazing pieces could be vandalized.”
And what is his take on the newly minted “Barrio Vivo”?
“As the curator of the festival I have chosen each one of the participants,” he says as he shares some observations. “The styles are totally mixed and it is very interesting how this new generation are in constant evolution and most of them have also many other talents like music, dance, performance and installation.”
Some clues perhaps, to a fuller cultural dialogue that is taking root in Street Art as it evolves forward.
After the extensive traveling we have been doing, it is really great to be back on the gritty dirty amazing streets of New York City. Finding the small pieces tucked away in doorways and empty lots and back alleys and paying attention to things that most blogs wouldn’t even care to mention has been central to our study of the Street Art scene for more than a decade. If you are out there we will see you. We thank this city for not disappointing again.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Alien Light, Anthony Lister, Bebar, C3, City Kitty, D7606, Danielle Mastrion, GumShoe, Harlow Bear, Lunge Box, Thankssss, and Topa.
Mexico and Estonia; an unlikely couple. But sometimes love is like that. In a time when orthodoxy globally is seemingly self-combusting and obviously falling short in meeting the needs of people, it is perhaps no surprise that the unique hybrids of shared strengths are those that arise and can lead.
A cultural love child combining the traditions of these two nations has resulted in a surprising amount of cross-cultural exchange and mural making in the last year or two. Today we have just some of the artworks made during a two-part event held in each country, the first in Tallinn, Estonia in June 2017 and the second in Querétaro, Mexico during March 2018.
The unlikely pairing by two sociological searchers who love graffiti, Street Art, and the mural traditions of the past as much as the modern mural phenomena now speaks a common language of aesthetics in multiple spheres.
Together Édgar Sánchez and Sigre Tompel have mounted two large cross-culture jams, attracting numerous artists and trans-national interpreters (nearly 100), presenting and renewing interests in history, indigenous people, traditions, and the environment challenges of today.
By highlighting the similarities and distinct differences in traditional and modern culture, these two are the magnetic field around whom a multi-faceted public art practice is developing that showcases urban and mural artists.
Together the two say that the effort is “a reminder of what makes us feel proud of being Mexicans, Estonians, and even better, what unites us beyond our nationalities: our cultural freedom. Our responsibility of making this place, this world, a better place than how we found it.”
The enterprise is frequently steeped in metaphor and symbolism and a search for meanings in the overlapping of traditions. One that is often sited is the Blue Deer/Fern Blossom intersection.
In México, according to ancient Huichol tribe tradition, people go to hunt Blue Deer to search for wisdom and inner vision. Searching is also involved in the Estonian ancient tradition of searching for the Fern Blossom that is said to appear only during the summer equinox of June, which they call Jaaniöö. Both traditional cultural stories represent prosperity, protection and fertility, they say.
“Mextonia is a gift to remind the world about the Spirit; a collective soul in the shape of a Blue Deer, in finally finding a Fern Blossom,” say Sánchez and Tompel.
For Mr. Sánchez, the Mexican co-creator and author of the Mextonia Manifesto, there is a belief that there are larger forces at work in the Universe and that Mextonia is a platform and vehicle for the new generation.
When reading his observations you will see that the platform is hoping to lead Millennial artists to reconnect with a sense of culture and identity, two things that are sadly slipping away due to the dopamine-laced fire hose of mass media stimuli, social and otherwise, that we are collectively exposed to.
For Tompel, the Estonian co-director of this bi-national transcultural journey, “Mextonia was born from a personal ‘vision quest’ to better understand the native wisdom of Mesoamerican natives.”
She says the enthusiasm and knowledge of Sánchez guided her to better appreciate ancient traditions like those of the Mexican Huichol tribe, and that this new appreciation enlivened her interest in her own homeland of Estonia, which she began to study in earnest. Together, the two of them have poured the molten iron of their combined roots and cast a foundation that many artists are now adding their interpretation to.
Whether it is costume or symbols or rites or ceremony, you can see a deep desire to be inclusive in the styles and expressions. The spring festival, for example, extended its message with the collaboration with the PangeaSeed Sea Walls effort, headed by Tré Packard and his team in pursuit of “combining art and activism on this level and caliber to champion for the oceans,” and often sited aspiration.
“Art and public activism can educate and inspire the global community to help save our water resources,” says Packard. “Regardless of its location, large metropolitan city or small coastal town, all drains lead to the ocean and the ocean provides every breath we take. The Earth cannot exist without healthy oceans and water resources.”
With this in mind the city of Querétaro was chosen for the multiple aqua-related public artworks as a way to draw attention to the city’s own reliance on water that is transported from a hundred kilometers outside the city. This chapter of “Mextonia” was also known as “Water is One”.
The experience and study has even helped coin new terms, like transgraffiti and transgraffiti muralism.
“Muralism and Street Art have proven to transform cultural symbols and catalyze culture,” says Sánchez. “Now, Transgraffitti is a trans-personal kind of muralism, which distances itself from both; names and pop culture, by taking deep cultural symbols and re-expressing them in a transcendental and contemporary way.”
In this respect, it is a unique view of Street Artist and graffiti writers in contemporary practice from an evolutionary perspective. In the Water is One Manifesto 2.0 that was released this spring the organizers write:
“In today’s world we see millions of young people expressing on walls, influencing the streets and society. They write their names to identify with their space: we call them graffiti writers. As they grow and explore, some look beyond the writing of a personal name and embark into trans-personal-creation.
They research social challenges, paint visual metaphors and transcend borders. They discover the power of their painting over streets and culture. They become a kind of contemporary shaman, producing street incantations.
This is the transpersonal-graffiti, and we call it Transgraffiti muralism.”
As BSA correspondent from Tallinn and Querétaro, veteran photojournalist and ethnographer Martha Cooper attended the installations, exhibitions, celebrations, and ceremonies in both countries and she collected a wealth of important information to share.
In her own words Cooper says, “Street art is a worldwide art movement and Mextonia has shown how creative two different cultures can be when combined. Excellent idea – brilliantly realized.”
As mentioned Part 2 in Querétaro, Mexico was a collaboration with Pangea Seed and it was a concerted effort to highlight water resources, and “The Water Is One” theme was reflected in the murals.
“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” ~Jacques Yves Cousteau
While these 40 or so photos are resplendent in conveying the spirit and dedication shown daily by participants, they are ultimately a very small sample of the hundreds Cooper took.
Similarly a blog platform like this cannot comprehensively cover the events or the perspectives in their entirety, but we hope that you can gain a greater appreciation for the depth of feeling, scholarship, and talent that is represented here in Martha’s photographs and our descriptions.
We conclude our text here with an interview that Ms. Cooper conducted for BSA with Sigre Tompel to better understand the breadth of the festival and also to get more detail about a sacred spiritual ceremony that Cooper attended with native peoples and the artists during her Mexican visit this spring.
Martha Cooper:Can we call “Water Is One” in Querétaro Part 2 of Mextonia? Are you planning Part 3? Sigre Tompel: Yes, it is a sequence of Mextonia, part 2 (Mextonia in Estonia was the element of Fire, Water Is One was the element of Water. Yes, we are planning part 3 and 4 (Earth and Air).
Martha Cooper:How many artists participated in both the Estonian and Mexican festivals? Sigre Tompel: In Estonia we had 60 artists and in Mexico 33 – together with graffiti writers and neighboring walls of the Dome. These 5 artists were actually in both festivals – Aaron Glasson (New Zealand), Sänk (Estonia), Sermob (Mexico), Renata (Mexico), Goal (Mexico). Our whole core crew is a total of 15 people.
Martha Cooper:What was the name for the type of group that performed the ceremony at the walls? What was burning in the pot that produced the smoke? Copal? Sigre Tompel: They are called Concheros, they use Copal , smudging for blessing. The message was smudging the artists to thank them for their work and to bless their way back home, so they can arrive healthy and happy. The name of this particular group of Concheros is “In Xochitl In Cuicatl”, Flor y Canto (Flower and Singing) and they are lead by Conchero General Manuel Rodriguez. The name is in Nahuatl, the ancient language of the Mexica.
Martha Cooper:Does the ceremony have a name? Can you say a few words about what kind of blessing it was or what message they were sending the artists? Sigre Tompel: The Concheros hold the tradition of the old Mexican belief system. After being conquered by the Spanish, they decided to hold balance and harmony between the two belief symbols, so they started honoring Christian symbols, while honoring also Mexican symbols, usually in secret. Concheros need to be reconsidered as a Cultural Heritage of the World, they are not “syncretic” by ignorance, but to keep the sacred balance of cultural hybridization.
The Concheros were very happy because the artists expressed the metaphors of their dances into the murals, and because this represents a kind of Mexican renaissance that returns to an earlier time, reinterpreting the ancient classic pre-religious Mexican belief systems.
Read this article in Spanish / Leer este articulo in Espanol aqui:
TRANS-GRAFFITI Y EL FESTIVAL TRANSNACIONAL “MEXTONIA
Publicado el 26 de Mayo, 2018
México y Estonia; una pareja improbable. Pero a veces el amor es así. En una época en la que la ortodoxia global es autocomplaciente y obviamente no satisface las necesidades de las personas, quizás no sorprenda que sean los híbridos únicos de fortalezas compartidas los que pueden liderar en el mundo.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. Street Vendors in Abidjan with YZ Yseult Digan
2. The Yok & Sheryo: Public Silo Trail. Albany, Australia
3. “Chile Estyle.” Trailer
4. Faith XLVII Talks About Her Installation for “Beyond The Streets”
BSA Special Feature: Street Vendors in Abidjan. YZ Yseult Digan
“I pay attention to the intensity of the gaze and the posture, so the passerby is challenged and seeks to question the project.”
A sociological experiment and intervention on the streets by the French Street Artist YZ takes place in Abidjan and camera work in the crowds allows you to appreciate the action on the street. A city of 4.7 million people and the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, the city has a lively culture of street vending that is unregulated and often populated by children.
YZ speaks with the folks she meets who are vending, who she refers to as “girls” although many are women. Her goal is to better understand them, she says, and to create a Street Art campaign of their portraits.
“I realized that their situation was very different from the men. So I wanted to know more about them. So I started the project ‘Street Vendors’,” she says.
The Yok & Sheryo: Public Silo Trail. Albany, Australia
The Yok & Sheryo brought a clever creature across an enormous four tower wall in Albany, Australia as part of a public art program funded by private interests like BHP, the Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company. The Public Silo Trail is bringing artists like HENSE from the US and Phlegm from the UK to paint Artworks on grain silos, transformer boxes and all sorts of unexpected infrastructure to connect a series of regional towns.
“Chile Estyle.” Trailer
“Every social movement creates a cultural response,” says an organizer from the late 1960s who helps us trace the origins of Chilean Street Art and graffiti to the murals that became a crucial part of public discourse here. “We painted all of Chile for the Allende election campaign.” The trailer for the upcoming movie now in post production features a highlight of INTI and many open discussions of the evolution of graffiti and muralism simultaneously, eventually leading to the fascination for murals that currently reigns.
Faith XLVII Talks About Her Installation for “Beyond The Streets”
Faith leads you to the abandoned spaces and investigations of lives and stories that she often conducts when looking for the ideal places to make her art. “There is almost a holy, sacred feeling in that silence,” she says as she traverses places and stories and brings them together for an alter of sorts in the new exhibition now in Los Angeles called “Beyond the Streets.”
Today a wrap up of BSA at an unusual location in Colombia to see a new initiative with Street Artists in an abandoned distillery brought back to life with their imaginations and penchant for transformation.
“Uh, yellow, black, with some white… because it’s high up,” Ben Eine says as he sketches out the four letters, G-O-L-D on a small piece of paper. He’s codifying an idea to paint the letters across the four huge storage tanks where M-City has painted a metaphorical gold-mining scene upon over the last few days. The massive piece is timely and timeless; referencing to the current informal gold rush happening here in Colombia, once again altering the physical and political landscape.
A rotating mist fan is slowly stirring the thick tropical air while we sit at the round wooden table in this industrial compound watching Ben with a pen as he shows M-City his idea for topping off the piece – in his own charming manner.
“Yellow, black outline, little shadow. Your shit goes like this, blah blah blah. And then white outline. Or maybe like super light blue outline so it bounces off the silver. Yeah-yeah,” says the English graffiti writer with some final certainty on his vision.
“Okay, perfect,” says the agreeable M-City, who quickly begins sourcing paint in a nearby pile of cardboard boxes. As a Street Artist who is curating this first phase of painting at this old Colombian distillery for Dictador Art Masters Foundation, he is helping others to hit their goals as much as he is directing his own creative work. Finally the collaboration is finished and it beams across the drying muddy field in the sun.
It’s this kind of collaborative camaraderie that often characterizes the Street Art scene across the world and one that sets this project apart from many “festivals”. For one thing, this project is private and small and away from the roaring crowd that can often accompany street works, and developing your idea as an artist can be done with minimal interruption.
The smaller artist roster also means that many of these creators have an opportunity to get to know one another better, to seek feedback, to formulate, to share perspectives. The old distillery setting itself is a highly unusual gallery environment that perpetuates the feeling of an extended studio.
“We are completely amazed by all the stuff here on every level. All the objects, the whole factory,” says Jan, one half of the Polish duo Monstfur as he surveys a rounded tank that they are spraying layers of grey, black, and white to form a stenciled cranium that also matches the one tattooed on his arm.
“Feeling the textures, seeing the patterns. Everything is so full of inspiration for us,” he beams. Placed in this laboratory of ideas, the guys seem right at home with their layers of decay and their Frankenstonian mythmaking – including their collective name that combines the English and Polish word for monster.
As you climb rusty ladders and duck under cobwebs or the occasional silently swooping bat, you see the possibilities for childlike ideation, opportunities to launch imaginary tales and adventures, directing energy and stirring alchemy.
Toxicomano takes the journey even further.
“Have you heard of Yage?” he asks, eager to share stories of a hallucinogenic plant that people who live in wooded, mountainous regions have used for years to transcend this reality. “It’s a strong beverage in the Amazonian,” he says. “When you drink it you are stoned.”
Fair enough, but how does that relate to the 4-story high yellow and black jaguar with nice hair that is staring at you like a feline Mona Lisa? You’ve seen him going up and down the cherry-picker carefully laying out and spraying the stencils here for days and this intense model has unveiled, then commanded, this brick wall.
“All persons have a jaguar that is inside,” he explains with a sincere stare into your eyes. You reflexively make a quick internal inventory of yourself to see if it is possible to confirm the veracity of that statement. Well, maaaaaayyyyyybeeeeeee, now that you mention it.
“When you drink this yage you can begin to think differently about your place in the world, your people, your environment,” he says. “The jaguar is the tiger of South America. From Mexico to Argentina we have the same jaguar. I think they are really pretty. I think in this area it is possible to find jaguars as well,” he says, which seems to indicate an excellent opportunity to scan the adjacent field of tall grass.
What does this Colombian Street Artist’s jaguar want to do? “I think my jaguar wants to communicate to the others and tell people that everyone has a jaguar inside.”
A great note to end this hot and sticky week in the farmlands and mountains of Northern Colombia. Mixed with the sun and the mud it has also seemed like a possibly mystical place that once housed the precise and time-honored industry of distilling. Now enlivened with the new works of English, Polish, and Colombian graffiti writers and Street Artists, it becomes an installation in an unusual location full of possibility – and we are curious to see where the next phase of this adventure leads.
Artists include: D*Face, Ben Eine, M-City, Monstfur, Toxicomano, Stinkfish, and Erre.
A unique duo of autonomous Street Artists from different backgrounds and paths somehow have melded themselves into a traveling tornado of tags, throw ups, and theatrics in a style that is theirs alone. The Yok and Sheryo (Perth and Singapore) continue to compliment, push, and pull against and with each other stylistically with a healthy dose of competiveness, inquisition, mutual respect and love for the fantastic and funny. If you take yourself too seriously with this pair, you lose baby, and no fools are suffered. This is badass, serious fun and when combined with lust and wanderlust, it takes you around the world.
We didn’t invent the word “spraycation” (we think) but we first started using it in earnest years ago when showing their videos to audiences in auditoriums and theaters because adventure, graffiti, work, painting, surfing, and motor biking were always competing with each other – along with monsters, devils, pizza, and sexy ladies. Now back in the US after a 10 month tour, lets see some of the new installations and walls that Sheryo and Yok made in their travels around Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, China, Berlin, and Indonesia.
Varuna’s vessel (India)
We worked with some rad Bollywood set builders and a local fisherman who donated his boat for the installation. We created the installation based off a local folklore story called “Varuna & Makara” about a Sea God riding a sea creature.
“We spent about 20 days hanging out with an amazing group of friends painting laughing and riding motorbikes in Cambodia for @paintphnompenh, says Sheryo. “After the after after party we managed to get this wall painted – Cambodian Paradise.”
A long, multi-character monocromatic wall really shows off the energy and regenerative imagination that Y&S can pull off on a mural for friends with a surf/yoga camp. “Loved spending a month cruising around Sri Lanka in a tuk tuk looking for waves,” says The Yok, ” and finding elephants, monkeys, turtles, lizards, dodging manic bus drivers, paying off cops. Amazing people, delicious food and a secret pirate village.”
“After some Piña coladas and falling into waves kook-slams stylez, we went onwards to the big/small smoke of Singapore to paint a wall for the Art Science Museum about a post-apocalyptic material world,” says Sheyro. The full artist list also included artist like Remi Rough, M-City, Eko Nugroho, Tarek Benaoum, Zevs, Speak Cryptic, and YZ.
“A 35 metre seadragon mural has been completed on the side of huge grain silos at Albany’s historic waterfront,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald, of the project featuring Phlegm, HENSE, and Amok Island creating new works along a trail near the coast. To be clear, it is a “ruby sea dragon”.
Community murals give opportunities to young and old to try their hand at self expression and go big on a wall. Here in this municipality in Catalonia, the duo called Pouvelle say, “We like to think of art as a way of expression that brings out the child we carry inside, letting ourselves be guided by the pleasure of applying shapes and colors and feeling its materiality.”
With professional skills that include art direction, graphic design, illustration, the two use a back and forth sharing of the creation, with each completing what the other has begun. “Our way to form the composition is similar to the assembling of a puzzle, in this way each one continues the forms that the other begins,” they say, “superimposing and introducing new ones until a balance is found.”
You guys watch the royal wedding yesterday? We got the highlights, enough to make us cry. Not everyone is happy about these things, but then they see the hats and feathers and let it all go.
Of course we wish the very best to the beautiful couple.
Great week in Colombia this week as we had the pleasure of hanging with the likes of Ben Eine and D*Face, even if we couldn’t keep up with the drinking games and late night graffiti runs. Someone has to be responsible! From Cartagena to Valledupar to Bogotá, the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the country are stupendous. And we need more time in Bogotá because that Street Art scene is crazy!
Not only is he insulting himself and all New Yorkers (and the spirit of the USA), he may be indicating that he doesn’t get outside very much. If he did, he would realize that “while there is no precise count, some experts believe New York is home to as many as 800 languages — far more than the 176 spoken by students in the city’s public schools,” according to a 2010 article in the New York Times. Our favorite video this week is the one of him running from reporters while the Benny Hill theme song plays along. Bienvenidos a su ciudad Señor Schlossberg !
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring APC Crew, Ben Eine, Chinz, Collin Day, D*Face, ERRE, Monstfur, Stinkfish, 6ryzor and Toxicomano.