“Connectedness facilitates a better understanding of self and others,” says Danish artist Jacoba Niepoort here in Horsens, Denmark, “and it is a tool to address current social issues”.
Her new acrylic mural is organized by the staff of the only soup kitchen in town, a tender connection that strengthens her bond to this new wall, as well as the fact that the figures celebrated are depicting her brother and sister-in-law. After 40 murals on four continents, the painter is confident in her command of the tools, and the message.
This wall, she says, is about about love, openness and connection.
“I want to interrupt the
mainstream feelings of disconnection, indifference, bias, and “-isms”, through
showing that underneath, we are alike, thus seeking to humanize that which has
become dehumanized or alienated.”
Struggling to focus your eyes on evolving mysteries of the day, you may think that the world is visible at times through mottled glass. You can make out the forms, the gestures, the motions perhaps, but the identity and character are also formed and shaped by a filter, a storied thick glass filter. It’s a biomorphic embossed way to see things, like the office door leading into the darkened lair of a private detective, his cigarette smoke billowing over the brim of his dense gray fedora.
Australia’s Fintan Magee, it’s another challenge that he admirably meets artistically,
painting the effect over two essential workers forms in this new mural. “The
Arctic glass pattern in the painting was common in middle-class Queensland
homes in the 1960s and was used in French doors and windows,” he tells us. “Some
of my earliest memories of Queensland architecture was my father’s silhouette
through the glass doors when he got home.”
Evocative of a middle-class life afforded to many rich countries in the decades following the end of World War II, those same associations are now aching reminders of how we’ve been duped – with banks and corporate captains gradually re-writing the laws to silently kill the middle class in stages, while the light keeps changing the forms behind the glass.
“The work explores the role of de-industrialization in
urban communities and on the suburban fringes of Australia. The figures in the
mural appear distant, disconnected, isolated, and breaking up,” he says. “As
middle-class homes become increasingly out of reach for working-class
Australians and lower-pay and job insecurity continues to shape how we work,
this painting explores how nostalgia shapes political views and how workers
view their communities and the outside world.”
To be absolutely timely, Magee says he is paying a tribute to those who have continued to work essential jobs, sometimes sacrificing, usually worrying, during this time of Covid-19 crisis, and both the forms here are also evoking the distances we feel from one another.
“The work specifically looks at two rail workers from the city of Ipswich. As Queensland was in lockdown, many people in management or admin roles were able to isolate, while many essential, transport, delivery, and medical staff continued working. Keeping our economy functioning and food supply moving. This painting pays tribute to these essential workers while proposing a reassessment of how they are valued in the post-COVID-19 world.”
Here’s something to look forward to! A good solid regional actual mural festival celebrating its fourth edition, and one that we are proud to support. For those not able to travel, BSA will bring you the process, the art and the flavor and color of the locals with Fer Alcala and Mira Hacia Atras gorgeous photos.
Here are JPGs of the press materials from the Parees Oviedo mural intervention festival in Spain. We’ll bring you the murals as they go up next month.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Almost Over Keep Smiling, Billy Barnacles, Gianni Lee, City Kitty, CRKSHNK, Early Riser NYC, Seven Line Arts Studio, M*Code, Ori Carino, Sticker Maul, Turtle Caps, Urban Russian Doll NYC, and You Go Girl!
“Instead of cooperation, we have divisions among countries,” reports Alaniz from here in Stornara, Italy. “There are people that still now think the virus is not real.”
Alarming and true, anti-intellectualism
has expanded to new heights during this pandemic – likely resulting in people
getting sick and/or dying who didn’t really need to. If it’s any consolation to
you, dear reader, history tells us that there were anti-mask
naysayers during other mass illnesses too – standing firmly in opposition to
public health directives because of feared encroachment on civil liberties, or simply
because Jesus told them. Ah well.
The Argentinian born nomadic painter Alaniz says that his new figurative mural with his “new family” in Stonara is a collaboration with his love Federica – and it took 10 days to complete. It features a beleaguered turning figure wearing a facemask, but its final face is macabre, frightening. The presentation is confused, perhaps because of the sun-drenched and cheerfully eye-popping palette.
Overhead is a dove flying with a hypodermic need in its beak, perhaps the elusive vaccine meant to inoculate people against Covid-19. Or, possibly it is carrying a 5G microchip shot from the Bill Gates foundation that will communicate your thoughts to any nearby Alexa speaker. Hard to tell.
“After 10 days of work we present this wall as a representation of the mixed feelings that this lockdown generated in most of us,” says Alanis. “This has been a unique situation that has affected everybody’s lives and that has shown the failures of our actual society.”
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. From the Archives: Keith Haring 2. Friday Night, August 14th – From Funkadelic 3. One Thousand Stories / The Making of a Mural / A Project by JR
BSA Special Feature: From the Archives: Keith Haring
Why are we thinking about street artist Keith Haring so often right now? Possibly because we are remembering how he used his art practice to talk about crisis on his doorstep, and took risks to get his work out, and we are seeing more artists stepping up to that challenge on the street today.
When we think about this pandemic and the ways in which the artistic community has swiftly and forcefully responded to illustrate with their art the general mood, the ethos, the official response from our political leaders, the health providers unequivocal rush to action to save lives, the scientific community pushing to guide us during this still ongoing crisis, the dissemination of information and misinformation on social media, and the decisive actions from the mainstream media to educate the public on the pandemic one New York City artist comes to mind.
Keith Haring. He used his art to talk about Apartheid in South Africa, the crack epidemic, and the scourge of AIDS, a disease that took his life in 1990. We wonder what he will be doing on the streets if he were still alive. He’d be 62 now, still an age where he’d have the creative energy imbued with wisdom and experience. Below we share with you a vintage reel of him getting up on the NYC Subway.
As you watch this video for a mass TV audience under the guise of kooky kuriosity, it also crosses your mind that the police handle him with kid gloves – they don’t tackle him and slam him on the ground. Would his fate have been the same if he were black? And the reporter follows him around like a curious puppy, in awe of his escapades, intoning that vandalism is cute when its done by white guys from Pennsylvania who sell canvasses in Soho. There is so much we can learn from archived footage like this.
So you know what tonight is, right?
One Thousand Stories / The Making of a Mural / A Project by JR
Belgium’s ROA, whom we have featured in perhaps 30+ articles, put out his “CODEX” monograph this spring, and while sitting inside your lockdown we thought you would enjoy freeing your mind to travel the world with him.
A gypsy by nature, a naturalist by practice, he has investigated and heralded the animal world, complete with its heartless savagery. Accurately depicting many of the most marginalized and endangered specimens, this uncanny portraitist spooks you with the scale of his animals, draws you in to their presentation without guile.
Willing to let his work do the talking, ROA is still anonymous after more than a decade on the global street art stage. Following his own path, we recognize his achievements here, and wish him good travels wherever he goes.
Back in June, BSA published the first article on disCONNECT, a project created in London during the lockdown due to Covid-19. A collaboration between Schoeni Projects and HK Walls, disCONNECT involves the take over of a period building by 10 artists from different countries.
Disconnect “reflects on the creative and physical constraints of the current global crisis, exploring psychological and political reactions to the crisis, as well as the role of technology as conduit between the two.”
We’re pleased to bring you our final article on the project with images of the works of all 10 participating artists. For our previous coverage click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Free Tickets for disCONNECT are now available. 24 July – 24 August, Wednesdays – Sundays. Hourly slots starting from 11am to 5pm, with a maximum of 8 people per slot. Please book below, we can’t wait to share this journey with you!
Fun summer shots at Welling Court in Queens today as two big names from the New York graffiti scene, Daze and BG183 (TATS Cru) collaborated on a piece. The symbols they use meld together some of the favorite New York iconography – fire hydrants, subway trains, high-rises and family. Call it a dream sequence born in the hot sun, a reminder that Covid 19 may be gripping our minds right now, but some things like your love for New York never changes. Big up to Alison C. Wallis for hosting Welling Court 2020.
An outstanding and unprecedented cohesion of many communities has been on display in cities across the United States this spring and summer as “Black Lives Matter” is painted across the streets in expansive letters. In New York City, where the marches are wide, the speeches are forceful, and the conversations go deep – this panoply of painted colors and patterns is no joke.
The slogan, a rallying cry that is objectionable to some and painfully, obviously necessary to others has been painted in myriad styles across city streets in 8 prominent locations; Brooklyn (2), Staten Island, Harlem, Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan (2) – making it a mural program that is truly All-City, as the graffiti writers used to say in the 1970s and 80s.
On a serious and joyful day in July, we donned our masks and met up with photographer Martha Cooper to safely shoot and talk with members of the Tats Cru, and a number of other artists, activists, community members, media, and elected leaders along Center Street and Foley Square in the City Hall section of downtown Manhattan to see the installation of one of Manhattan’s two BLM street murals. (The second one is on 5th Avenue in front of Trump “Tower” – a soaring glitzy paean to shallow values and a deep disdain for civic ones, but that is a well-worn critique we’re all tired of). This site is only yards away, a five-minute walk, really, from “a graveyard where historians estimate there may have been as many as 10,000–20,000 burials in what was called the “Negroes Burial Ground” in the 1700s.”
As you scan through these photos taken by Martha we notice the determination in the body language of those involved. The weight of the moment escapes no one this time as police and state violence seem to have tipped the scale this spring and summer in the US. It is as if everyone is awash with layers of history – drawing direct connections to the present in this, a society whose very foundations are built upon enslavement.
Intertwined is a celebration of the struggle, and of the colors that artists can facilitate to help us tell our individual and communal stories as the city proclaims something that wouldn’t be necessary if it were obvious in all our actions and across our societal systems.
“I’m very, very supportive of the arts and I think that the Black Lives Matter movement needs to incorporate the arts, whether it is murals on plywood, or poetry, or prose, or music, or this amazing outdoors public art on the street. People relate to the arts, they can express themselves in a much more dramatic way,” said Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President.
We wish to thank Martha for sharing her photos with us for this article.
Additional Information and Resources:
The mural was conceived in a partnership with Black Lives Matter of Greater NY and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. Spearheaded by WXY Studio, the project was supported by a group of architects and allies. Artists installed the mural July 1-3, 2020.
If you are not seeing opinions and theories being expressed on social media or raging cable, you can always go to the streets today, as the voice of the people is marching out to grab a soap box and yell their opinion. Faced with a daily firehose of government neglect and corporate disinformation, you and your neighbors are either being tricked into hating each other of divining the truth.
You may not agree with the sentiment of the street artists who are going out right now to paint or wheatpaste their art and perspectives, but somehow you have more empathy and trust for them than the millionaires behind microphones on screens wherever you look.
Shout out this week to a new kid on the block, an artist named Stickermaul who puts out a smart array of messages using collage, hand written text, pasted text, photos, and USPS stickers to convey a number of quick socio/political messages in Manhattan. The new voices right now are informing us of the evolutions/revolutions that are taking place.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Bella Phame, Coby Kennedy, Elle, Live Thoughfully, Lust Sick Puppy, Mad Artist, and Rono.
Muralist Inti finished a metaphorical mastery in Grenoble, France last month that helps us to put ourselves in perspective, remembering that in the system of planets we reside in, the earth is just one minor player. This rising giant, perhaps goddess in a hand-tied apron and silenced by a flower, holds the globe in her hand.
Quoting the astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, Carl Sagan, Inti imparts an observation he is contemplating; “…Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” (Carl Sagan)