Artists

BSA Images Of The Week: 08.02.20

BSA Images Of The Week: 08.02.20

Welcome to BSA Images of the Week.

Happy EID Mubarek to all our Muslim brothers and sisters. Full moon will wash over our warm summer skies in Brooklyn tomorrow – hopefully you can get up on a roof to see it.

Statues are still coming down like a summer rain storm, New Yorkers are officially out of unemployment benefits and are protected from eviction until Thursday. While they pull together a new rescue plan for hurting citizens the GOP is deviously trying to chop Social Security, which is keeping your grandmother fed and housed. Meanwhile those “Party of the People” Democrats voted against cutting the Pentagon’s budget by 10% last week and this week they removed Medicare for All from the Democratic platform for 2020 – at a time when 30 million? 40 million? people have no healthcare insurance and we have a Covid-19 crises that is projected to kill 200,000 Americans by election day. 20 million (or more) are out of work, millions are poised to lose their homes, and the US saw a 32.9% decrease in gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2020. It’s the largest drop in U.S. history. But the “party of the people” doesn’t want you to have health insurance. Let that sink in.

Please tell us again about that two-party system we hear about every day. Why does it look like one party? Have you heard about this new documentary coming called “The Swamp”?

Maybe its the time in quarantine but the quality of the workspersonship on the streets these days appears to have increased overall – perhaps because artists have much more time to pour into their paste-ups, stencils, paintings.

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Amir Diop99, BK Foxx, Black Ligma, Captain Eyeliner, City Kitty, De Grupo, Downtown DaVinci, Epizod Tagg, Panam, Texas, Zuli Miau.

David F Barthold (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Black Channel Films (photo © Jaime Rojo)
BK Foxx. Detail. East Village Walls. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
BK Foxx. East Village Walls. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
New York (photo © Jaime Rojo)
New York by Epizod Tagg (photo © Jaime Rojo)
David F Barthold (photo © Jaime Rojo)
“I could stand on the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters” – Donald Trump by an unidentified artist. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
De Grupo (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Black Ligma (photo © Jaime Rojo)
De Grupo (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Captain Eyeliner (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Amir Diop99 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Zuli Miau (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Downtown DaVinci (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Texas (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Panam (photo © Jaime Rojo)
City Kitty (photo © Jaime Rojo)
#blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Untitled. SOHO, NYC (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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Borondo Stages “INSURRECTA” on 32 Billboards in Segovia

Borondo Stages “INSURRECTA” on 32 Billboards in Segovia

Gonzalo Borondo stages an insurrection against the authorities who would hope to instruct you how to think about art in the public sphere, the right of the overlord to pollute the visual landscape at will, and the limitations of our imaginations in Segovia a nine-month installation.

Borondo. Insurrecta. I Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)

A 32 billboard installation totaling 17 locations, the Spanish street artist and conceptual installation artist evokes sepia-soaked memories of history as told through the view of those recounted in a communal uprising here 500 years ago.

Extending beyond the frames with sculpture, layered textures, and projection, the post-industrial modernist documents events and takes liberties with his interpretation, a 5 chapter “INSURRECTA” that instructs and reflects with symbols and figures and open spaces. For those familiar with his vocabulary over the last decade+, it’s a fulsome maturity that commands as it expands, with poetry. Sometimes it plays with it background, other times the background has its way with the canvas.

Borondo. Insurrecta. II Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)

Paying homage to Goya, his engravings of “Los Caprichos” and “Los Desastres”, he works within a narrow palette and innovates forcefully, playing with perspective and your willingness to interpret.

In his description of the Segovian people and their fierce spirit of defiance and riotous acts in pursuit of autonomy and self-reliance, he says he is inspired by “humanity confronting nature, the discourse of the urban in the natural landscape, the effects of imposition on society, the reappropriation of spaces by different agents.”

Borondo. Insurrecta. III Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)

Leaning heavily on visual metaphor, many in the graffiti and street art communities can identify with his take on reappropriation of land, resources, and the expression of art in the public sphere. It has become commonplace to expound upon street art as an “outdoor gallery”, but this mapped and self-guided tour looks as close to a museum exhibition as we’ve seen, and it’s even walkable for many.

As ever, you decide the route.

Borondo. Insurrecta. V Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. VI Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. VII Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. VIII Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. IX Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. X Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. XI Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. XII Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. XIII Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. XIV Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. XV Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. Map. Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)
Borondo. Insurrecta. Map key. Segovia, Spain. (photo © Roberto Conte)


Gonzalo Borondo presents INSURRECTA alongside the City Council of Segovia in collaboration with Acción Cultural Española (AC/E). The project sees the Department of Culture commemorate the 500th anniversary of the communal uprising in the city.

Segovia, Spain, from 29 June 2020 to 23 April 2021

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BSA Film Friday: 07.31.20

BSA Film Friday: 07.31.20

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

Now screening :
1. disCONNECT, a “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover

BSA Special Feature: disCONNECT, a “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover

London / 24 July – 23 August 2020

Today a series of videos from the artists takeover of this London home, a testament to the fortitude of organizers and artists who didn’t accept “Lock-down” for an answer. Yes, everyone practiced social distancing, and no, a large public opening event could not take place. But this may serve as one welcome new model for art in the time of Corona.

The video series is expertly produced by Fifth Wall TV and a small consortium of commercial/cultural partners including HK Walls and Schoeni Projects. Details at the end of the video parade.

Mr Cenz / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV

David Bray / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV

Aida Wilde / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV

Alex Fakso / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV

Isaac Cordal / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV

Herakut / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV

Zoer / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV

To find more about disCONNECT A “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover / London / 24 July – 23 August 2020 click HERE

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Vlady Art: Storing “Temporary Files” Under a Stockholm Bridge

Vlady Art: Storing “Temporary Files” Under a Stockholm Bridge

Writing large messages with sticky post notes is part of the visual lengua oficina* for many whose career ladder has been in corporate offices for years, decades.

Stockholm based street artist Vlady shares with us a public application under a bridge that also triggers your memories of early pixelated video games with its digitally inspired message “temporary files”. 

Vlady. Stockholm, Sweeden. (photo © Vlady)

The meaning of the term “temporary files” is not familiar to the casual user of consumer-class computers. More likely your local IT professional can tell you dryly. As you think about it, you may see how it takes on a rather existential realm to the poet, as a temporary file is created to temporarily store information in order to free memory for other purposes. Mention “memory” and we realize that the vocabulary for man and machine are braiding together more daily before our eyes.

Here we are at the dawn of Artificial Intelligence and our memories are at full capacity, needing temporary files to store them.

Vlady. Stockholm, Sweeden. (photo © Vlady)

*a fictional term that seems appropriate

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Fintan Magee and “Nine Days” from Solitude in Sydney

Fintan Magee and “Nine Days” from Solitude in Sydney

Sydney-based social realist painter and muralist Fintan Magee has been burrowed in his studio for the last few months, wondering when he was going to be able to do some figurative painting. The plants have kept him company, and he finds it reassuring to watch them in the winter sun as he keeps himself quarantined from unnecessary contact with others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)

“Every day while in the lockdown, I photographed and painted two small plants that I had recently repotted and was keeping on my balcony,” he says as he scans over the 32 small still life works he created. It’s been a good exercise, working outside his comfort zone perhaps – not photoshoots of subjects, no imagining of them operating inside a new metaphor.

Now he shares with BSA readers what the process looks like, and picks 9 of his favorite still-lifes as a cross-section print for you to marvel. “The work documents the simple act of keeping the plants alive during the lockdown. Each work took 5-7 hours to make and allowed me to discard building concepts and focus primarily on the painting process making each work a daily meditation, allowing reflection on physical space and the passing of time while marking a day of the crisis.”

Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
Fintan Magee. Nine Days. (photo © Fintan Magee)
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“What will be your legacy?” Asks Erendaj in Penza, Russia

“What will be your legacy?” Asks Erendaj in Penza, Russia

“What will you leave after you? What will be your legacy?”

Nikita. What kind of legacy will you leave after you? (photo © Erendaj)

For illustrator and muralist Erendaj, that is an open question to us as he reveals the skeleton beneath this soft skinned portrait based on the classical painting of the 19th century. Erendaj says that the painter Ernst Deger of the Dusseldorf School inspired him greatly, andI had a strange feeling that that very image was ideal.”

The Russian painter completed one painting directly over another here in Penza, and he slowly removed one while the camera recorded its progress. When the images are rolled together for a stop action video one gets a sense of time passing over this figure, who could be from a few different time periods. “I had to choose just an image not attached to modern time or reality,” he says.

Nikita. What kind of legacy will you leave after you? (photo © Erendaj)

Painting on the streets for over 12 years, he says, and Erendaj estimates that he has created over 100 murals in that time period. Now he is wondering about the impact that an artist can make in history – or any of us really. And he shares his manifesto here: “Many people live only for living. They leave nothing after them. What is living – if you are already dead? Other people create … they build houses, write books, draw pictures, create couples and families,” he says before his parting shot “Make history before you go.”

Nikita. What kind of legacy will you leave after you? (photo © Erendaj)
Nikita. What kind of legacy will you leave after you? (photo © Erendaj)
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John Fekner: Working for “A Change” for Fifty Years

John Fekner: Working for “A Change” for Fifty Years

Street artist and conceptual artist John Fekner participated in student demonstrations and peaceful moratoriums in New York in the 1960s, with his first outdoor work completed in 1968. When younger generations of artists are feeling inflamed about this spring and summers’ demonstrations it is helpful to remember that artists of each generation have been a crucial part of many, if not most, movements of social and political change.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

With his new mini-retrospective in a space limited by Covid-19 considerations the exhibition is available to see only by appointment in Bayside, Queens, you can see that Fekner’s dedication to drawing our attention to our behaviors as citizens, cities, politicians, and corporations lies at the root of his advocacy.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Putting your mark on society is an ironic way of describing the literal act artists and vandals engage in when putting their work on the streets. While “getting up” for many is an act of self-promotion or marking of territory, Fekner has often used his spray paint and stencils to critique, to call-out the failure of societies to care or take responsibility for their actions or inactions, and may trigger you to bear witness.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Spraying “DECAY” on a rusting hunk of detritus breaks through the psychological defense systems you may array against “seeing” history and outcome. A blunt aesthetic written in a large format makes an impression – the simple act of tagging objects and surfaces of industrial and urban neglect is radical, a defiant gesture that calls the state and the citizen to account. By drawing attention, even cryptically, you may cause one to question – or even to regard these layers of debris as violence toward others, toward the natural world.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

For A CHANGE, the show takes his 1981 painting and applies it broadly to the running narrative throughout his work, as a proponent of self-reflection and advocate of positive change.

“The economic imbalance, the energy crisis, health insurance, pollution, and global warming increase exponentially every day,” Fekner says in an overview of the exhibition, “all compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of our issues boil below the surface, making it convenient to turn a blind eye.”

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Meticulously curated, the exhibition is showcasing a selection of Fekner’s paintings, mixed media sculpture, and ephemera as well as a “sampling of art objects, photographs, books, and a glimpse into Fekner’s personal archive spanning a fifty-year timeline,” viewers can get a broader overview of the artists’ sincere belief that his art in the streets has the power to affect the world. “Although some of the work is decades old, their relevance resonates today, maybe with even greater urgency,” says his description.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA had the opportunity to ask Mr. Fekner about his work and worldview as we appear at a nexus of profound change.


Brooklyn Street Art: Looking back on the issues you contemplated fifty years ago, we can’t deny that things have indeed changed – but we are also discovering that things really didn’t change, especially when it pertains to race and poverty. How do you, as an artist confront this reality? Are you despondent? 

John Fekner: The greatest ferment of change, I believe, is the risks that people are willing to take in the face of tremendous setbacks. This has been true throughout history whether it’s the storming of the Bastille to the toppling of Confederate monuments. I’m heartened by the courage I see today and despondent art doesn’t help.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA: What do you think about the concept of “voluntary human extinction”. Is it possible to just simply stop making more humans to save the earth?

John Fekner: I believe that optimism and the survival of the human race are hard-wired into our nature.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA: Rich countries are on a heavy diet of “consumerism” fueled by the endless appetite of tech giants for quarterly profits to appease shareholders. People spend money they don’t have. Most people don’t have savings and live paycheck to paycheck. What went wrong?  

John Fekner: This is nothing new. The exploitation of the poor by the rich is the perennial struggle of humanity and will probably always be. There is no reason to stop fighting. We should never lose our courage and vigilance.

BSA: On Wednesday the CEO’s of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will testify before Congress. If you were the one asking the questions what would you ask them?  

John Fekner: The greatest safeguard of capitalism in our country has always been the resistance to monopolies. My question would be: ‘What are you going to do to insure that your companies don’t monopolize and dominate every market?’

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA: Can we still have hope? Is there still time to change course to save our communities?

John Fekner: If I didn’t have hope, I would stop making art.


Mr. Fekner asks us to “remind everyone they have to REGISTER in order to VOTE. Do It. Make A Change.”

  https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote   https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Due to the pandemic, both the exhibition and talk will be by appointment only. Please email contact@garageartcenter.org to schedule.

The Garage Art Center, Inc.
26-01 Corporal Kennedy Street Bayside, NY 11360


Gallery Hours
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm
(Opens during the exhibition only.)

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BSA Images Of The Week: 07.26.20

BSA Images Of The Week: 07.26.20

Welcome to BSA Images of the Week.

A painted portrait of Emmett Till, who would have turned 79 yesterday, leads the collection of images this week. A 14 year old sweet faced boy who was brutally mutilated and killed in Mississippi by white men in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman. He was a year younger than representative John Lewis, who was eulogized rest yesterday in Alabama and will lay in state at the Capitol this week. Our legacy of racism haunts us just as abhorrently this summer as it did sixty-five years ago, two hundred years ago…

But in many ways, you have to suspect that these raucous cries are the dying wheezing of racists who have lost the argument and frankly demographics, and it frightens them. They know that the new generations don’t support them, actually resist against them, are determined to light a new path toward reconciliation and healing and equality.

Covid-19 is out of control in the United States thanks to the utter mis-management and lack of leadership in the country. Yesterday, “150 medical experts, scientists and other health professionals signed a letter organized by a prominent consumer group and delivered to government leaders Thursday calling for new shutdowns to bring case counts down and ‘hit the reset button’ to implement a more effective response.” They forecast that we are going to hit 200,000 deaths by November 1.”

Conversely, and indicative of how well Europe has been handling this virus, this week a Berlin court rules BDSM parlours can open as long as everyone wear masks.

As that showtune-singing satirist Randy Rainbow belted out this week, “We’re in Hell, We’re in Hell, We’re in Hell Hell Hell”.

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Almost Over Keep Smiling, Billy Barnacles, Catt Caulley, Dyne Elis, Knor, Koffee Creative, Liza and the Clouds, Lorena Tabba, Maya Hayuk, Oliver Rios, One Rad Latina, Ron Haywood Jones, Siva Stardust, Snoe, and Zalv.

Liza And The Clouds, Catt Caulley #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist. #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Maya Hayuk, Snoe. #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Oliver Rios (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Siva Stardust (photo © Jaime Rojo)
#blacktranslivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Almost Over Keep Smiling (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist on the left. #blacklivesmatter Poem on the right by Dyme Elis (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Is anyone else thinking about Pink Floyd right now? Lorena Tabba (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Koffee Creative (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Zalv (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ron Haywood Jones brings his
American Urbanite to the street. #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Billy Barnacle (photo © Jaime Rojo)
One Rad Latina (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Knor. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Knor (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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AKUT Remembers With Two Portraits in Mannheim: “Lest We Forget”

AKUT Remembers With Two Portraits in Mannheim: “Lest We Forget”

“I felt uncomfortable while confronting myself with the reports about the incidents every person has experienced,” says AKUT in his blog about the research he did into the Holocaust for his new project here.

“It’s unbelievable how one can ever cope with it – and it’s completely unacceptable that there are right-wing populists still gaining more support worldwide. One would think that we have learned from history, but present events prove us wrong regularly.”

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

And here now we have two people whose photorealistic eyes we can look into. One is Horst Sommerfeld, a Polish national who lived in hiding in Berlin for two years before he and his whole family were caught and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was the only family member to live after being liberated by the US army in 1945.

Nonetheless, Mr. Sommerfeld reported, “I have always lived in fear,” before his death in 2019.

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

The other portrait is of Bella Shirin, a Lithuanian whose parents were survivors of the concentration camps of Dachau and Stutthof. While she is determined to live in the present, her own past is deeply impacted by her mother’s suicide in 1977 that occurred as a result of her experiences in the camps.

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

LEST WE FORGET is a multi-media project by the German-Italian photographer and filmmaker Luigi Toscano, who has met Holocaust survivors around the world including in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Belarus, Ukraine, Israel and Russia since the early 2010s. This month a new mural by street artist/fine artist AKUT (Falk Lehmann) pays tribute to two persons directly and deeply affected by the events of the Holocaust.

Rising six stories in Mannheim, Germany, this is the 35th mural since 2013 as part of a program to convert underutilized walls into artworks, the first freely accessible museum for mural art in all of Baden-Württemberg.

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)
Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

“This expresses the different ways of dealing with their fates, which is certainly also directly connected to their respective personal stories,” says AKUT. “Horst was traumatized directly, whereas Bella has indirectly experienced trauma from her parents’ experiences.”

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)
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BSA Film Friday 07.24.20

BSA Film Friday 07.24.20

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

Now screening :
1. BustArt Says Goodbye to Berlin-Tegel
2. Transform the Tram Wait by MurOne in Barcelona

BSA Special Feature: BustArt Says Goodbye to Berlin-Tegel

A museum curating in public space is not necessarily new. Many eyes are watching with great interest as this museum in Berlin begins an academic approach toward selecting artists and artworks in public space in Berlin as Urban Nation Museum grounds its projects in its community and local history. The new work by street artist and graffiti writer Bustart is a direct reference to the nearby Berlin-Tegel airport, which will be decommissioned later this year.

Part of the inspiration is from Otto Lilienthal, the German pioneer of aviation who became known as the “flying man”, now cast through a 1960s comic strip version of the modern hero gazing upward to witness the post-war middle class flying the friendly skies. In a twist of irony, most people in this neighborhood will probably enjoy their daily lives more now that the airport won’t be filling the air with the sound of roaring planes overhead, allowing them to listen instead to birds in the trees.

Art al TRAM by MurOne

“Cities have these rough and rigid spaces whose only purpose is to walk through,” says Marc Garcia, founder and director of Rebobinart, a Barcelona organization that brings artists to the urban environment – developing projects with social and cultural context considerations in public space.

MurOne’s new mural takes on the space where people wait for the tram – a nondescript netherworld, a metropolitan purgatory where you are nowhere, only between. The Cornellà Centre TRAM stop is transformed by the Spanish artist (Iker Muro) who has been making murals for almost two decades, combining figurative and abstract, fiction, oblique narrative and vivid color. It’s the city, and its yours while you wait to go to your next destination

Iker Muro is a Spanish artist and graphic designer who has been making murals in Spain and abroad since 2002. His work combines figurative and abstract art, conveying both tangible and fictional elements through vivid colours and figures influenced by the visual imagery in the cities where the artist paints.

“I believe that arriving in a place like this and finding a kind of art gallery is a reason for attraction,” says MurOne, “I feel motivated by these kinds of actions.”

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Josep Fernandez Margalef x Rice Create Connection: “Esperança” (Hope) in Barcelona

Josep Fernandez Margalef x Rice Create Connection: “Esperança” (Hope) in Barcelona

Today we go to Barcelona in Spain, where the country held a memorial ceremony July 16 to honor more than 28,000 people who have died there from COVID-19. This new mural contemplates what it means to be connected, and considers what it takes to have hope.

Utilizing the architectural barriers as metaphor for the obstacles to connection, artists Josep Fernandez Margalef and Rice created ‘Esperança’ (Hope) in the Granollers area of Barcelona.

“Even at a distance, hope acts as a power that can bring us closer to each other, helping us to  reach tomorrow. We honor connections, longing, and a feeling greater than ourselves when we are alone; love, friendship, and care all belong in this realm of being,” say the artists.

Josep Fernandez Margalef x Rice, ‘Esperança’. Barcelona, Spain. (photo © Josep Fernandez Margalef)
Josep Fernandez Margalef x Rice, ‘Esperança’. Barcelona, Spain. (photo © Josep Fernandez Margalef)
Josep Fernandez Margalef x Rice, ‘Esperança’. Barcelona, Spain. (photo © Josep Fernandez Margalef)
Josep Fernandez Margalef x Rice, ‘Esperança’. Barcelona, Spain. (photo © Josep Fernandez Margalef)
Josep Fernandez Margalef x Rice, ‘Esperança’. Barcelona, Spain. (photo © Josep Fernandez Margalef)
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disCONNECT: Aida Wilde

disCONNECT: Aida Wilde

You have been seeing a number of rooms in this old Victorian home regaled and reimagined by a number of artists over the past few weeks as we have featured the installations for a unique exhibition called disConnect. Today we have artist Aida Wilde who speaks extensively here about every aspect of her installation and world view and how she created her work for this project .

“The inaugural exhibition at Schoeni Projects’ London space, a Victorian townhouse in South West London, the exhibition, Titled disCONNECT, transforms the period building – currently under renovation – with new site-specific works from ten urban artists working across seven countries.”

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

BSA: First tell us which room(s) were designated to you?

Aida Wilde: We were sent very concise floor plans and video of the house as were initially asked to state out preferences to which rooms we would like to take over.

From the off-set, I was drawn to the most unusual and challenging spots in the house, like the walk in master cupboard which was a little narrow with mirrors along it and a window at the end of the little annex ….I also liked the wallpaper in the library but again, that was a pretty conventional room- I’m not a big fan of the 4 walls/ window/box formula in spaces that I show art work in.

I like working with a space that can interact and speak with the work… also sometimes I find that a space can enhance and influence the kind of work being made…. They should go hand in hand for me, especially when it comes to this kind of installation- in a house….& if it doesn’t, it can shift context/perception and only be seen as decoration. 

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

There was conversations about stair cases and toilets which I have been know to have been drawn to in the past so Nicole had suggested the downstairs loo (That she had previously dubbed as the Nanny Loo) and it’s surrounding area which I was very open to- so I began work based on the photos and videos I had been send. It wasn’t until the very socially distanced site visit to the space that I knew we had made the right decision. Everything clicked and was perfect for me. 

BSA: Were the spaces intimidating, challenging, hunting or a walk in the park?

Aida Wilde: The spaces weren’t intimidating….I was more concerned about trying to execute the ideas that I had in a middle of a global pandemic, with a lot of the resources that I needed were either closed or operating on a skeleton capacity. There are still a couple things I could fabricate just because what I need was closed.

Fortunately for me, I have a fully self-contained print studio to work from so I at least I knew that I would be able to make most of the work here.

BSA: What first came to mind when you saw the space? Did you change your approach to the space a number of times?

Aida Wilde: I was very excited by the space, in particular the fixings and fixtures that were already there….. I had initially completely dismissed the small cupboard under the stairs, until the site visit and where I saw the big heavy safe inside. I don’t know a lot of houses/people who have a safe like that inside their house, so that sparked a lot of ideas about what I could put inside. I started playing with the idea of being safe/locked in/out, and that is when I came up with the idea of the “Pandemik Panik Room”. A contradiction in itself…. Where you would let out all your fears whilst still locked in inside…. But also, a place for safety, hiding and taking refuge inside of it, under the stairs. Made me chuckle.

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

It was always my intention from the beginning, that I would be doing asking people to be involved with the installation, initially via my social media platforms but later as lock down started to ease in the UK, I was able to run a Panik & Fear poster workshop for my neighbours. I live in a pretty sheltered artist warehouse complex, so I spread the word, put some posters up and people turned up outside my place on the day to get involved and make me posters to go inside the “Panik Room”. It was a beautiful sunny day, we shared, talked, created, laughed and got a little emotional, a very rewarding day.  I love the fact that it is not only my voice in the house.   

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

BSA: How did you arrive at the final concept?

Aida Wilde: In all honesty, it was very quick and organic. After initial conversations and half jokingly coming up with names like Nanny Loo and Granny Alley, these things already sparked off a lot of ideas. Dissecting the space into “Zones” / areas also helped with creating a pandemic narrative. I wanted each zone to represent a different idea and feeling that most of us might have gone through during our time in lock-down. There are several personal and emotional elements in the narrative like the Red flower/text pieces transcending up the stairs towards the light from the big window. Those pieces are my exploration of my thoughts about life, love and hope, mixed in with verses from the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi. I guess, it’s all about observation, silence, stillness and contemplation (which came with being in lockdown)

The Staying Alert serigraphs were mostly sparked off by what I read and saw in the news… I call these your infomercial doctor/school, you know the ones you may see in a waiting room….warning you against the perils. 

Also, I had started to pick up a lot of discarded objects and materials that people were leaving out on the street during the “Lockdown Spring Clean”. I know the thought of bringing something inside your house left outside in a pandemic is absurd, but it was good stuff and I had a little ritual where I would obviously pick them up with gloves, bag them then disinfect immediately once I got them home. A lot of the things I found also determined what I made them into and how I used them in the installation.

I was going to print some of my wallpaper poems to act like banners in the house on paper but I found a big bag of beautiful white lace curtains one day… so this idea evolved and I finally wrote them on the curtains which look so beautiful and haunting on the lace with the light shining through them- They are like ghosts, so I called them “Notes From A Phantom”

I think the curtains are a great example of how ideas grew and evolved just by the substrate and I love what they symbolise & the initial function of what curtains are supposed to do…. So many correlations between lockdown and the outside world and taking these curtains and placing them somewhere where they are completely dysfunctional yet representing an ideology.

BSA: The wall papers are all so ornate…until you look closer…then all sinks in. Who would have thought terror could look so decorative. Like candy in a Florida motel. Did you have fun designing the wall papers?

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

Aida Wilde: I tend to have a lot of hidden sinister meanings behind most of my work- My fine art editions have undertone references to class, colonialism and the taboo. I also like to dissect things within my work. I want to make people stop and look a little bit harder. You know, we’re so used to everything being fast, especially visually; scrolling/swiping etc….. but this has been the perfect time for everyone to slow down and take in the things that we may have dismissed a million times before….so it’s a little bit about discovery and a surprise in the everyday. I wanted to capture this idea in the install. LOOK HARDER.

And I guess when you’re making work about a deadly invisible killer, you can’t instill any more fear and hysteria into people can you! I’m always striving to find a balance between creating something to communicate as well as making it desirable enough for you to want. I want my work to communicate in the most digestible, relatable and clearest way as possible. Art needn’t come with an instruction manual for you to understand it and feel it.

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

The “Pink Pop Spots” as I call them have been with me for almost 15 years, they’re kinda my calling card on the street as I don’t sign any of my work that’s put out, but people generally recognise its me through them, and it was totally serendipitous that they resembled the Covid-19 virus cells, and this is how we turned them into these little mutating playful things. Forever involving.  

With the emoji “Pandemik Mausoleum” wallpaper, I wanted to make something that was a nod to the houses past and complemented the original wallpapers that were already within it, but take it into 2020 obviously.  As mentioned before, I really like the damask wallpaper in the library, so that sparked the idea of designing something based on the traditional damask design. Fortunately for me, my degree was in Printed Surface Design where I specialised in pattern for textiles and wallpaper, so again, this was a very comfortable and organic process for me.

I have been using Instagram and emoji subtly through out some of my street work for a few years now- For me, they are the ultimate universal world language to communicate through. From young to old, even my mother sends me an array of emoji based text messages. I had a terrible vision that what if the human population got wiped out because of Covid and a small section of my wallpaper was found some years later…. What would they be able to decipher from it?

A bit like the hieroglyphics you know, what information could you extract, so that was what was going through my mind when I was making it. It was very challenging to get the initial shape and repeat to the way that I wanted it. It did take weeks to complete but I had so many laughs along the way, the mere fact that I was sitting there making an emoji based design with a yellow man clutching a loo roll and Poo’s coming out of a toilet being showered was just ridiculous and surreal, I laughed a lot, still am.  One of the hardest challenges was that I wanted to include so much more of the emojis that I really love, but I had to be very brutal and concise with the story that I wanted to tell, it was hard to strip it way back to what it is now.  I am happy with it… it seems balanced.

Inequalities and systematic racism have been brought to the forefront causing further questioning of our institutions and causing rifts between friends and even family members. The global balance is definitely shifting with internal instability on the rise.  With the usual deterrents of conflict on the decline, a possible uprising could take place globally… so warfare indeed.

BSA: How can you explain that a Pandemic can devolve into political warfare? Shouldn’t it all be left to the scientists and the doctors?

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

AW: This is a very thought provoking question so thank you for asking this as I haven’t talked about the piece of work in the installation that you are referencing.

Seemingly a very accessible and disposable substrate, but a t-shirt has a multi-faceted role which can bring forth and highlight personal or political ideals… even becoming a walking billboard in the communication of subcultures and beliefs etc…  I always say, “never underestimate the political power of a T-shirt.” Obviously, how you present the said T-shirt as part of an installation is another matter- In this case, I have displayed it in a zip lock Vacuum Seal bag which is supposed to encase and preserve it in a  “germ and dust free” environment.

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

The original design referring to ‘Germ Warfare’  was made by Keith Haring in 1987 in reference to the AIDS epidemic and we even had to consult Annelise Ream the director of collections at the Haring Foundation to clarify the origins etc… as I could not find any information during my research into the t-shirt. It really spoke to me and I was very clear that I needed to adapt this design and bring it into 2020. There were just too many similarities and circumstances between the epidemic and the virus that struck an unnerving chord. Shivers…. It was very emotional.

Regarding the scientists… we are at the mercy of them and on our leaders. Yes, we are in a race, the race for a vaccine and a cure. We really don’t know the atmosphere and tension that’s going on behind those secure lab doors but what I feel is that imagining once a vaccine is discovered! The first question is going to be “who” & “Where”. The next thing is going to be, will they share this finding freely, and at what cost? Is it going to become about POWER & control, commodity and ownership? It’s a bit like someone knowing how to make gold! The power is going to lie with the people/country, which will discover the vaccine first.

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

I really don’t want to think about the worse case scenario & which country finds it first- because if it is the US and if in particular still under it’s current leadership- WE ARE ALL FUCKED.

Perhaps not a germ warfare but a political one for sure, especially in regards to disparity, who and what is effected and deaths. We need to consider the demographics too…. Those living in poverty, women, the youth & the displaced like the refugees all come into mind. 

With this great power, conflict may arise- we have already witnessed what took place in our shops & the carnage of empty shelves, the fights, the diversion and looting of PPE/Masks from airports etc… so imagine what conflicts can arise from someone finding a vaccine. 

If things like democracy and economic independence have been keeping the peace thus far, the global recession and depression caused by the virus; these degradations could shift the economic balance within many countries, affecting trade and peace within nations. Especially with the fall of trade, Trump has already waged trade wars as we speak with reconfiguring the US  supply chains from China and defunding WHO and widening the economic inequalities, which are a direct consequence of the pandemic.   

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

BSA: How best would you describe your installation besides the obvious messages?

Aida Wilde: I would like it to be seen as a narrative. It’s a time capsule that captures a moment, thoughts, emotions, loneliness, pain, love and politics. It’s about collaboration, community and the voice of the many. The work will speak and shout…. And I really hope it stands the test of time. I tried my best to present a sympathetic and mindful view of what many of us have experienced during these unsettling and unpredictable time in our history. Our individual experiences, memories and traumas have been so varied, so I hope there is something in there that people can relate to individually. I also hope that I have brought some light & humour into the installation- We need to remember how to feel laughter again. 

Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)
Aida Wilde. disCONNECT Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)
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