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“Punk and Graffiti”: Unlock & TAG 2018, Amsterdam : Javier Abarca Interview

“Punk and Graffiti”: Unlock & TAG 2018, Amsterdam : Javier Abarca Interview

Just completed this weekend in Amsterdam, a gathering of authors, readers, publishers, academics, and fans of graffiti and urban art all gathered in Amsterdam for the newest edition of the Unlock International Graffiti Publishing Fair and the TAG Conference.

Here graffiti and street art intersects with the world of publishing, specifically with books and zines and related obscure and/or scholarly publications known to relatively few. The list of publishers participating in this genre has steadily grown in the last few years to about 50 here; heavily Eurocentric at this point from countries like Netherlands, Russia, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Czech Republic, the US and others.

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Previously hosted in Barcelona and Berlin, Unlock is coalescing around a growing interest in defining these movements from historical, artistic, and anthropological vantage points; documenting and even codifying an unruly canon of expression through discovery, sharing information, and teaching one another. Toward that end it also hosts talks, panels, and screenings – this weekend included speakers like Jens Besser, Suse Hansen, Hugo Kaagman, Carlo McCormick, and Diana Ozon,

Among the self-publishing authors represented at the fair this year are Adam Void and Chelsea Ragan, who have been operating a Graff Zine distribution / publishing house called Cut In The Fence. Mr. Void share’s with us today images of his new work, straight from the D.I.Y. / punk / cargo jumping scene that is always inter-marbled with graffiti and autonomous art making in the US, where he operates. Today we’re pleased to present a great interview with Mr. Void and Javier Abarca, the founder of Unlock, and who also is an artist, researcher, and educator.

TAG. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Ka-Tjun Hau)


Interview with Javier Abarca by Adam Void:

Adam Void: Javier, in your 12+ years as a researcher and educator of graffiti and street art, what brought you to founding the Unlock Book Fair & the Tag Conference?
Javier Abarca: There is a whole scene of independent publishers working with graffiti and related fields an there was no meeting space for it. The idea immediately caught on, which showed there was a need for it. We also use the fair platform to advance the research on neglected but fascinating topics within the field. Last year we focused on hobo graffiti, this year we are delving into punk graffiti. We gather and display rare books on the subject, program talks and screenings about it and publish a companion book with obscure documentation.

TAG. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Robin Vermeulen)

Adam Void:  How do you see the Unlock Book Fair differing from other zine fairs or celebrations of graffiti & street art?
Javier Abarca: Unlock is much like other book fairs, but it is focused on a particular field. It has little to do with other events related to graffiti and street art, which tend to focus on the production of commissioned artworks. Our job is independent research and documentation of furtive public art, mostly in the form of books and zines, but also screenings, talks, performances, etc.

Adam Void: This year’s showcase is focused on “Punk & Graffiti”, what are the core connected elements between these two cultures?
Javier Abarca: The core thread connecting punk and graffiti is of course the DIY ethics. Today graffiti has turned, to a great extent, into an act of consumption, but it used to be all about do-it-yourself. DIY is the defining quality of punk, of graffiti and of many other independent cultures.

Adam Void: Can you expand on this some? How do punk and traditional graffiti cultures exhibit the Do-It-Yourself ethos? What is the change you have seen in graffiti as of recent times?
Javier Abarca: Punk’s approach to creating music and graphic communication is of course quintessential DIY. And graffiti used to be that as well, kids had to find ways to hack the elements on hand –spraycans, markers, inks, the subway system– to create a fantastically visible city-wide graphic communications game starting from zero resources.

It is the specialized media –fanzines, then the internet– and the specialized market –with custom-made tools and materials of every kind– which have largely transformed graffiti from DIY to an act of consumption. People do not need to go out and seek the graffiti throughout the city to get inspired when a whole world of graphic references is just a few clicks away. And there is no more need to hack and customize tools –after learning how to do it from a mentor– when any specialized tool you can imagine is readily available and can be bought online.

TAG. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Robin Vermeulen)

Adam Void: Most of the publications in the showcase are centered on punk & graffiti history. What do you see as the future for this element of graffiti?
Javier Abarca: Punk graffiti is mostly a thing of the past. The focus of the two “Punk Graffiti Archives” books we have published for the fair are the punk-originated tagging scenes that thrived in Amsterdam and Madrid in the late 70’s and 80’s with barely any knowledge of what was happening in NYC. These are largely ignored cultural treasures. Both cultures disappeared when the NY tradition of graffiti took over European youth through the 80’s. Punks may still write on walls, but graffiti as a culture is dominated globally by the NY tradition.

Adam Void: Unlock has exhibitors from all over Europe (19 countries), as well as Japan & the US. What are the main similarities and differences in the publications exhibited across this wide sampling?
Javier Abarca: Each publication is a unique, fascinating world. But most publishers work from a similarly independent, even DIY position, even if they are based in different continents. This means the possibilities and limitations they face tend to be similar, which can translate into their approaches and results.

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Adam Void: Are there other continents, countries, or parts of the world that you would like to get involved with the Unlock Book Fair and the TAG Conference? If so, how should they get in touch for next year?
Javier Abarca: Both the Tag Conference and the Unlock Book Fair are meetups of the international global scenes of graffiti research and graffiti publishing. They could take place anywhere. People can get in touch via email at info@unlockfair.com, or through our Facebook and Instagram accounts @unlockfair and @thetagconference. We are in conversation with people from a number of cities in Europe and America who have expressed their interest in hosting the events.

Adam Void: Will you share an anecdote from the three-year history of the Unlock Book Fair that best exemplifies the spirit of the event?
Javier Abarca: That would be the cantina. A central feature of the fair is the cantina serving complimentary, communal meals to publishers, speakers and staff. It is run by Unlock team member Akim, the Berliner legend of graffiti, street art and underground mischief, whose cooking abilities are well known in the scene. One of the main goals of the yearly Unlock Book Fair is to be a meetup of the publishing scene, and the cantina is its social heart.

Apart from this, the hilarious and fascinating readings and performances by team member Dumar NovYork –the legendary NYC bomber– are probably the moments that best portray the spirit of the Unlock Book Fair: knowledgeable, but just as fun.

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. Carlo McCormick was in da house. (photo © Rebecca Schaefer)

Adam Void: What have you seen at this year’s fair that brings you excitement about the current state of graffiti publishing?
Javier Abarca: The graffiti publishing scene is growing stronger and more interesting. It would be fair to say the Unlock Book Fair is playing a key role in this, in Europe in particular. A number of publishers have mentioned how this yearly meeting has become a motivation to put out more and better work, and how they leave the fair inspired by the contact with so many books and publishers. People are coming from as far as Moscow, Montreal, New York, Sydney, São Paulo or Tokyo to present their books, to talk, or simply to attend the fair and the Tag Conference.

Adam Void: What is next for you in your personal exploration in the dusty corners of graffiti culture?
Javier Abarca: Next year’s Tag Conference will again create space for the the study of barely known forms of name writing. There is a list of obscure topics we want to explore in coming installments of the Unlock Book Fair. And I am working on a new groundbreaking international project that will create more opportunities for shedding light on overlooked topics which deserve more exposure among specialized audiences. Stay tuned!

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Max van Boxel)

Cut In The Fence. Adam Void’s Misadventures and Musings. Train Brain. Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Adam Void)

Cut In The Fence. Adam Void’s Misadventures and Musings. Train Brain. Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Adam Void)

Cut In The Fence. Adam Void’s Misadventures and Musings. Raider Pack. Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Adam Void)

Cut In The Fence. Adam Void’s Misadventures and Musings. Raider Pack. Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Adam Void)

Cut In The Fence. Fishglue & MTN NGC. Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Adam Void)

Cut In The Fence. Fishglue & MTN NGC. Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Adam Void)

Cut In The Fence. Fishglue & MTN NGC. Unlock Book Fair. Amsterdam 2018. (photo © Adam Void)

 

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Wastedland 2. Andrew H. Shirley Corrals Counter-Culture in Detroit

Wastedland 2. Andrew H. Shirley Corrals Counter-Culture in Detroit

“The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.” Abbie Hoffman


 

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

PREAMBLE

At any given moment a counter-culture is developing before your eyes. Authoritarian governments know this. So do, as it turns out, lifestyle brands, sociologists, and PR firms.

Born of a genuine disaffection with the dominant culture as it steamrolls blithely forward, counter-culture has the ability to draw sharp contrasts into focus, expose secrets, challenge hypocrisies, redress inequality. It can also crack open a moribund mindset and give oxygen and sunlight and water to new ideas, new ways of being, alternate paradigms.

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UFO 907 & William Thomas Porter. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Counter-culture is essential to growth of culture, and while it can be shocking, disruptive, even painful at times, the wise know that the marginalized often lead the body politic toward a stronger equilibrium, a more perfect union.

Graffiti may not have begun as a subculture or a counter-culture, but virtually all of our recognized institutions steadfastly resisted it. Over time, they have become more open to suggestion, if with reservations and conditions. Eventually, everything is transformed by it in degrees.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

DETROIT CHARTS THE MOVEMENT

May we suggest that when it comes to the counter-cultural aspects of graffiti and Street Art, Detroit is a fine example of being in multiple stages of acceptance and denial, with examples of the counter-culture all along the continuum from rejection to absorption.

During a recent visit we saw old-school Detroit graffiti heads with their elaborate pieces next to newcomer kids from other cities bringing a raw-graff anti-style. You could also find corporate lifestyle brands polishing their art-cool bonafides while gently intermingling with grassroots community-minded mural organizing.

Further up the financial ladder you’ll witness blue-chip collector/investors getting down in a gallery culture that supports marquee art names, and major institutions courting younger “edgy” artists who started their “careers” far outside the mainstream, often outside the law.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Andrew H. Shirley steps carefully in many ways as he leads us up a cracked staircase of oil-caked concrete, piss-poor lighting and the occasional puddle of murk. Our ears are still ringing from the sounds of a busted muffler in his car and we’re mulling over the sight of his dashboard vitrine that seemed to contain bones, feathers, amulets and pop culture debris reflecting in a ochre filmed windshield.

On the way here to Lincoln Art Park, we have passed graffitied car carcasses, crumbling ex factories, and fire torched exoskeletons of houses – all which lead to this loading dock entrance of a building once owned by Ford, now run as a recycling plant and, as it turns out, an art exhibition gallery.

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Our ride to Wastedland 2. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“So there was 40 years of garbage and the whole floor was filled with it,” Andrew says, “I came in here and I had to unload all of that sh*t by myself”.

A native of the big D, the slim-framed Mr. Shirley has spent half of his 40 years outside of it; writing graffiti, pitching and creating art projects, promoting scenes, studying film making and custom bike-making… generally pushing the margins of cultural acceptability in a way that looks sketchy on a resume – but would make smart brands salivate, if they had the guts.

“This is the 20th anniversary of me leaving this town and I have been back several times with several different shows,” he says about the group exhibitions and events that feature what he calls ‘underground aesthetics’.

“This is the first big public project where I brought a lot of my friends from New York and included the artists and makers here in Detroit who I have come to know over the years – all under one roof and showcasing all of their talents.”

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Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

THE FILM

Also, a film screening.

It’s the debut of “Wastedland2” in the middle of this 7,000 square foot dark cavern with a small grouping of stolen church pews facing the screen. The original Wastedland was a smaller tale – a petri dish of ideas that expanded and took root in a showier piece of exploration and mystery with higher production values.

The seating area is orbited by mini-dioramas of characters and scenes featured in the half hour graffiti mockumentary. Here is a handmade shack by Adam Void that perhaps epitomizes a metaphorical outsider clubhouse mentality common to the graffiti game.

To stage left is a stuffed 6-foot tall Cranky Cat standing erect amid piles of spent paint cans, a fire extinguisher, and exhaust tubes leading nowhere. In the movie Cranky is a feral and grouchy/whining character who propels the drunken aerosol action forward with escapades of ex-urban painting and existential fireside conversation with Wolftits and Amoeba Man in their “Wizard of Oz”-like  pilgrimage in search of truths. There is no Dorothy and no Toto in the film, but the animal head masks are trippy and comical even in the darkest moments. Each graffiti artist, according to EKG, was asked to make a costume that mimicked their spirit-animal. Amoeba Man’s plastic-wrapped head mask is a tour-de-force.

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Standing silently in the center of the floor behind the seating area in the exhibit is the massive tentacled steam-punked multi-eyed orb made of wood and steel that gives physical presence to the elusive anonymous graffiti crew called UFO 907. He also is the films’ diety and the holder of the aforementioned elusive truths.

Behind him on the wall is another slatted and animated version of UFO – perhaps more similar to the wiggly UFO 907 character sprayed across hundreds of walls in NYC. This animated sculpture version has a reservoir of black ink that drips on the floor.

Wastedland 2 is a road trip without road, a therapeutic buddy film without saccharine, staged in a post apocalyptic terrain that is revealed as graffiti oasis. The hapless beer- and weed-fueled journey is pure youthful angst suspended in chemicals and many in the audience laughed in recognition at the head-banging frustration voiced about fundamental life questions by these furry characters.

Despite the obvious obstacles posed by frozen facial expressions, there is a warmth in the interactions. Of note particularly is the party scene of mixed genders and the stumbling awkwardness of Wolftits with a potential lady friend; this will be the first time you’ve seen the mating game portrayed quite like this.

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“Cranky Cat’s Hovel” with Cranky Cat. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“This piece played the character of God in the film,” Andrew says, pointing to the all-seeing sculpture. “You may have seen that it was actually in a field in upstate New York.”

Yes, we made the trip to the rolling hills of cow-country to see it twice in a field of gently waving weeds. Previously we saw it in the lobby of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Previous to that we saw it being carved, soldiered, and under construction in UFO’s studio in Brooklyn. Truthfully, it does seem rather god-like.

Andrew says he transported the hulking orb by truck from rural New York to post-industrial Detroit, which must have taken 9 or 10 hours if he crossed into Canada and squeezed between the Great Lakes of Ontario and Erie.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This old factory has definitely not been refurbished into a “white box” gallery space, and there are no guards. There may be a guard dog. The floors are occasionally flooded by a leak from a source that is hard to pinpoint, the lighting is so irregular as to appear incidental, and visitors should be careful not to bang their head on the soot-covered sculptures of clouds by artist DarkClouds that are affixed slightly above with stalactite-like ebony drips that could be solid or liquid.

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Dark Clouds. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you parse the floors and avoid the paint-peeling columns Mr. Shirley is narrating just ahead of you with an earnest voice that weaves in and out of range, dashing off to find an extension chord perhaps, or a ladder, or to find someone to come explain the muscular graffiti pieces on display in the adjoining passage.

 

GANGSTERS AND WHITE KIDS

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BRZM ISH/ SYW. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Presently a twenty-something guy named Zak Warman appears and walks us past 10 or so freshly wild and layered graffiti pieces each displayed in their own bay, each representing important players from the last couple of decades in the Detroit graffiti scene. Zak tells us says that the Motor City scene is characterized by two distinct styles and constituencies at the moment, and this show combines both.

“I guess like the ‘gangster graffiti’ and the ‘white kid graffiti’ would be the best way to put it,” he explains while surveying the lineup and glancing at the rest of the show. “You know, the people who were like born in the gutter here and the people who came here in their teen years who moved here and such.”

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YOGURT / DFW. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“There’s people here who would never have painted together but maybe it was just the way that I showed them or my proposal. I was like ‘let’s just set everything aside that’s happened over the years – this is about us it is not about you. This is about everybody not just about our own f**king personal graff beef.’ ”

“It’s like the first time that everyone has come together into one big family.”

Mr. Shirley jumps in to further describe the nature of the work and the creators. “It is very important in Detroit to be able to ‘piece’, ” he says of the verb ‘piece’ that describes the noun ‘piece’ – a large, complex, and labor-intensive graffiti painting.

“In some places having a good tag is that first staple and then you move up from that tag,” he explains. “But here, because of the amount of time and space that you have to develop your craft all of these dudes really regard piecing above everything else.”

He walks down to the end of the line to point at a painted work. “These guys at the end – PERU and ARMY – they were doing 10-color pieces on the streets, as was SEKT – before anyone else. These guys represent a span of time from the early and mid 90s into the 2000s.”  In most cities you don’t have that luxury of time to develop an illegal piece, but Detroit has a number of stories like this.

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PERU ARMY. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A common story around Detroit is that, due to de-industrialization, the collapsing economy and the shrinking municipal budgets in the 1990s and 00s, the police were only arresting people for felonies. Since graffiti was not a felony, the police would simply drive by while aerosol was being sprayed.

“It’s not a myth,” says Andrew. “I painted a water tower one time – it’s still here today.” He recounts a story where one cop sat vigil on a rooftop for hours watching him paint on the water tower, only to be replaced by another until finally the painting was done. “I think he was just making sure that I didn’t get hurt and that I was okay,” he says with a sense of wonder.

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SEKT EBC / DFW. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

PARTING FOG

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EKG Labs . Drake. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It’s time to depart the Wastedland 2 exhibition and go to the streets in this run-down part of Detroit, where the art on the walls is roughly the same as the stuff we’ve just come to see.

It is unclear if this underground is simply about aesthetics, or if there is a deeper message. Maybe this is not a counter-culture after all, but a subculture.

As we stand by the elevated installation by artist EKG, dry-ice smoke billows out of a fully formed madman’s laboratory behind black curtains. Amid the visual field of blinkering orange light tubes and smoke that harken back to 1950s Sci-Fi movies, you see another character from the movie; the film’s box-headed admin assistant who robotically types out reams of black scrolls full of orange symbols to decode at a pivotal moment. This is an apt skillset to possess in an underground scene that is heavily coded and rife with implied and layered messages. A simple man of few words, EKG dubbed his character The Cyber Spirit Stenographer in The Court of The Overlord.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We consider the amorphous steam from the Cyber Spirit and wonder how porous the veil is between the mainstream and the outsider artists who fuel this scene. When does counter-culture become culture? We can’t say for sure.

“Detroit is a pretty good example of counter-culture becoming culture, actually,” replies Andrew H. Shirley to our inquiry. “There is this corporatization that happens and there are culture vultures on the corners and in the nooks and crannies in underground scenes of America and they are exploiting it for monetary gain.”  True. But there is also word-of-mouth that spreads the news and the willing, thrilling adoption of techniques and languages by the naturally inquisitive types whose brain synapses are electrified by discovery.  With shows like this does Mr. Shirley feel like he is aiding and abetting the mainstreaming of a subculture like graffiti and its D.I.Y tributaries?

“I’d like to pull back the curtains and give a little peek of it but I’m not trying to shine too many flashlights or provide too much of a narrative into the ‘hows’ and ‘whats’ and ‘whys’. I think it’s important for the common man to see that there is an alternative perspective because too often they are just inundated by the media that is controlled by the corporations – who are telling them what to wear, how to think, how to act, what to pray to, what to feel and how to live their life.”

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

SOME LAST WORDS ON FESTIVALS

He does have a little beef with mural festivals though.

He thinks his Wastedland 2 show deals a fairer hand to local artist communities. “This is kind of in contrast to what seems to be an international phenomenon of bringing muralists, many of them the same muralists, from city to city – developing a ‘look’ that is kind of becoming a blanketed look,” he says.

“Detroit has so many f**king artists and part of the problem for me is that there are a lot of these mural festivals that are two thirds or 75% or 90% international artists and 10% or 20% local artists. It doesn’t allow for the city to see what is really happening here. I wanted to have a show where the background and the forefront of the show was about what was happening here.”

“While I do think the mural festival is very important in bringing in outside influence and outside interest into the city, for me it is just as important, or more important, to really praise and understand the origins of these movements in Detroit. That’s why I have reached out and had the help of friends to get these artists into the show.”

That said, we’ll say that the Wastedland 2 event was heavily promoted by the folks at the recent Murals In The Market Festival and many of the international artists who participated in the mural festival were also in attendance at the Shirley curated show, the bonfires, and music events at the sculpture park – as well as the screening of the movie.

Of course we also saw Gen Y and even Gen Z there with backpacks full of paint, dangling their legs off the retaining wall that overlooked the huge bonfire — who seemed to disappear when the freight train that ran along the lots’ perimeter came to a halt. There was also a guy from the Detroit Institute of Arts and a local plumber who talked to us about building a tree house in his front yard. Maybe it is harder to define culture than we thought.

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Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amy Smalls . George Vidas. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amy Smalls . George Vidas . GEN2. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amanda Wong . Andrew H. Shirley. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dark Clouds. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Wolftits popcorn making machine. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Adam Void. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Greg Henderson. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Participating artists at Detroit Wastedland2, curated by Andrew H. Shirley include ARMY, BRZM, DRAKE, DONT, DYKE, ELMER, FOUR EYES, LIGER, MINCE, PERU, PORAB, REVEREND, SECT, SKWAT, TOUCH, TURDL, YOGRT and others from Detroit and also artists Adam Void, Amanda Wong,  Amy Smalls and George Vidas , Ben Wolf,  DARKCLOUDS,  EKG,  Greg Henderson,  Hugo Domecq,  RAMBO,  Ryan C. Doyle,  UFO 907,  William Thomas Porter,  WOLFTITS, among others.

Performers included The Unstoppable Death Machines, DJ Ihatejail.com (Crazy Jim from Wolf Eyes), Ishtar, Lt. Dan, and Dj’s Abacus, Prismviews, Black Noi$e, Abby and 100% Halal Meat


This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Next stop on the film’s multi-city launch: Richmond,Virginia on November 4.

Wastedland 2” and the accompanying show will feature new artwork from:  Adam Void, Amanda Wong, Amy Smalls and George Vidas, Andrew H. Shirley, Conrad Carlson, DARKCLOUDS, EKG, Greg Henderson, NOXER, RAMBO, Russell Murphy, Ryan C. Doyle, UFO 907, William Thomas Porter, WOLFTITS, and live performances from The Unstoppable Death Machines and Richmond’s DUMB WAITER and TOWARD SPACE. There will also be graffiti installations from local Richmond vandals and the 907 crew.

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Sneak Peek “Concrete to Data” at Steinberg Museum

Sneak Peek “Concrete to Data” at Steinberg Museum

Curator and artist Ryan Seslow has pulled off an overview of art on the streets and the practices employed, minus the drama. So much discussion of graffiti, Street Art, and public art practice can concentrate on lore and turf war, intersections with illegality, the nature of the “scene”, shades of xenophobia and class structures; all crucial for one’s understanding from a sociological/anthropological perspective.

“Concrete to Data”, opening this week at the Steinberg Museum of Art on Long Island, gives more of the spotlight to the historical methods and media that are used to disseminate a message, attempting to forecast about future ways of communicating that may effectively bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual.

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Joe Iurato. Detail. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Seslow has assembled an impressive cross section of artists, practitioners, photographers, academics, theorists, and street culture observers over a five-decade span. Rather than overreaching to exhaustion, it can give a representative overview of how each are adding to this conversation, quickly presenting this genre’s complexity by primarily discussing its methods alone.

Here is a sneak peek of the the concrete (now transmitted digitally); a few of the pieces for the group exhibition that have gone up in the last week in the museum as the show is being installed.

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Chris Stain. Detail. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Cake. Detail. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Lady Pink at work on her mural. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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John Fekner. Detail of his stencils in place and ready to be sprayed on. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Henry Chalfant. Detail. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Billy Mode. Detail. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Oyama Enrico. Detail. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Col Wallnuts. Detail. Concrete To Data. Steinberg Museum of Art. LIU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

CONCRETE to DATA will be exhibited at the Steinberg Museum of Art, Brookville, NY January 26th 2015 – March 21st 2015.

Opening Reception – Friday, February 6th  2015 6PM -9 PM 

Follow the news and events via – http://concretetodata.com

Follow @concretetodata on Instagram – #concretetodata

Curated by Ryan Seslow@ryanseslow

Museum Director – Barbara Appelgate

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GIFFITTI and the Eye Popping Animations of Ryan Seslow

GIFFITTI and the Eye Popping Animations of Ryan Seslow

You think that maybe the animated GIF is the equivalent of graffiti on the digital wall?

Artist Ryan Seslow has been experimenting for a little while with that hyper eye-blitzing looping tag called the animated GIF – and today you’re getting splendid platter of GIFs like holiday cookies glistening before you. With bright visual references to graffiti history, culture and art, Seslow manages to simplify the vernacular in a poppy way that pushes the work into a playful cartoon realm – like the stuff on subway cars in the 70s. If the connection to Street Art isn’t clear, he has also been doing artful collaborations with a number of figures you may have seen on the street and in subway stations.

“It has been great fun so far working with Cake and Jilly Ballistic and we are making more!” says Seslow of this collaborative approach to GIF making. “I wanted to work with them both because they have great contrasting work that translates well on the street, subway tunnels and as digital images online.”

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Ryan Seslow (gif © Ryan Seslow)

So far Seslow has been “trickling out the gifs one at a time” on his blog and as a project with RJ Rushmore of the blog Vandalog. They will be exhibiting their project entitled “Encrypted Fills” at the end of January for Concrete to Data in the Steinberg Museum of Art.  Seslow’s GIF animations will include a host of other graffiti and Street Artists including Stinkfish,  Broken Fingaz,  General Howe,  Caroline Caldwell,  Abe Lincoln Jr.,  Gaia,  Enzo & Nio,  John Fekner,  Olek,  Ryan Seslow,  Swampy,  Peter Drew,  Adam VOID,  Rone,  Enzo Sarto, and Leon Reid IV.

In the meantime all these jolting lights may make you think of the first night of Hannukah (tonight) as well as all the Christmas lights that are blinking from apartment windows overhead wherever you go on the street. Enjoy!

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Ryan Seslow (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow in collaboration with CAKE. (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow in collaboration with CAKE. (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow in collaboration with Jilly Ballistic. (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow in collaboration with Jilly Ballistic. (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow in collaboration with Jilly Ballistic. (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow in collaboration with Jilly Ballistic. (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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Ryan Seslow in collaboration with Jilly Ballistic. (gif © Ryan Seslow)

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BSA Film Friday 09.19.14

BSA Film Friday 09.19.14

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

Now screening :

1. Shepard Fairey’s Wall in Little Italy
2. ARYZ  for CityLeaks
3. Robots Spraying Out the Window – Jeff Soto
4. Robo-Rainbow
5. NO AD: NYC
6. Edoardi Tresoldi “Pensieri” For street art festival “OLTRE IL MURO” in Sapri, Italy
7. Ryan Seslow / Adam Void * Handstyles

BSA Special Feature:
Shepard Fairey’s Wall in Little Italy

Produced by Element Tree, this is the video by Serringe that just came out a couple of days ago of Shepard Fairey’s recent installation in New York.

 

ARYZ  for CityLeaks

From the CityLeaks Urban Arts Feastival in Cologne, Germany, here is ARYZ speaking about the largest skeleton he’s every painted.

Robots Spraying Out the Window – Jeff Soto

This car manufacturer placed robots in a car to spray the walls to give their product some street cred. While they are busy patting themselves on the back we’re reminded of many street art autonomous innovators who have done this kind of work on the streets before, like Mudlevel, who created the Robo-Rainbow three years ago (below). Self-funded experimenters have jerry-rigged bikes, scooters, contraptions, machines, even drones to spray paint onto walls over the last decade so this brand hasn’t pioneered anything new necessarily. Possibly they just saw the Alexander McQueen robots spraying a dress in 1999.

Cool project nonetheless and props to artist Jeff Soto for his continued good work.

Robo-Rainbow

A splendid look at street ingenuity and over-thinking the simplest job. Clap your hands for MUDLEVEL.

NO AD: NYC

Augmented reality continues to grow into the consumer world and this app will help you to replace those pesky print messages foisted into the public space with, oh, art.

Perhaps soon when you scan one of those hideous new all-car subway advertising campaigns it will trigger a full car piece by Lee Quinones! Now that’s an idea worth pursuing!

Edoardi Tresoldi “Pensieri” For street art festival “OLTRE IL MURO” in Sapri, Italy

A permanent installation of electro-welded net for Oltre il Muro festival, in Sapri, Italy, bends perception depending on the angle it is seen from, especially when shot by drone.

 

Grafideo = Graffiti + Video * Ryan Seslow / Adam Void * Handstyles

In their second collaboration, this Street Art and graffiti duo offer up their latest experiment combining their interests and skills and feeding them through a series of texturing. “This is what happens when new-school meets old-school, when technology collides with the primal. Real life distortion of spray tags & letter styles merged with animated gifs & overlay filters.”

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Adam Void, Graffiti, a Decade, and 1000 Polaroids

Adam Void, Graffiti, a Decade, and 1000 Polaroids

“This is why we can’t have pretty things.” That’s the thought that runs through your head walking through your average punk rock squat, with all its scattered art installations (including on the ceiling), hand made concert posters, curious clumps of clothes on the floor, a cigarette butt smashed into a beer cap on the windowsill, left over signs of impromptu all-nighters, ever shifting sleeping arrangements, and one creaky cracked bottom refrigerator drawer that is stuck and nobody can open it and probably they shouldn’t.

Adam Void probably has a poloroid of that. In fact during his 20s he spent lots of time ambling between his home state of North Carolina and points west and north, hopping freight trains, hitch hiking, sleeping in briar patches, pissing downhill, investigating the underside and inside and backside and countryside and cityside – and happily documenting with a poloroid camera that now feels as outdated as a cassette tape.

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An installation by Judith Supine shot by Adam Void (Polaroid photo © Adam Void)

Hard to comprehend in the age of everybody-everywhere-everyminute cell phones, but a bad shot in this case is deleted by physically placing it in an actual garbage can. However Mr Void probably kept it anyway, such a fan of the blurry and splattered and textural is he. Cool thing is, you don’t have to apply a “poloroid” filter to the image.

The expanse of 1000+ shots he collected over eleven years is a good diary of liberty in the 2000s at a time when the hysteria of war had mind-locked the middle; polarizing and frightening and deliberately muddling the perceptions of the everyday. While people were alertly seeing things and saying things and buying duct tape, Void was blithely walking through their back yard taking shots and committing them to imperfectly perfect film.

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UFO by Adam Void (Polaroid photo © Adam Void)

It’s also a visual diary of a young man looking at the detritus, flipping things over and inspecting the belly, testing the limits, and reveling in the process of discovery. “These photographs serve as documents of the beginnings of the Carolina’s graffiti scene, 2006-10 era Brooklyn Street Art/Weirdo Graffiti underground, Baltimore and Philly’s warehouse squat culture of the early 2010’s, and hundreds of pictures from America’s back roads,” says Mr. Void.

Today he shares with BSA readers a handful of favorites and a couple of shots of his new installation of 800 in Asheville, NC entitled “Adam Void / Instant Photography: 2003-2014”

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Faile by Adam Void (Polaroid photo © Adam Void)

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Adam Void / Instant Photography: 2003-2014 ( photo © Castell Photography)

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Adam Void / Instant Photography: 2003-2014 ( photo © Castell Photography)

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Adam Void / Instant Photography: 2003-2014 ( photo © Castell Photography)

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Adam Void / Instant Photography: 2003-2014 ( photo © Castell Photography)

 

“Adam Void / Instant Photography: 2003-2014” is currently open to the general public at Castell Photography located at 2C Wilson Alley in Asheville, NC.

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BSA Film Friday: 03.21.14

BSA Film Friday: 03.21.14

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

Now screening :

1. Miss Van in Wynwood, Miami
2. Cane Morto + Ema Jons
3. Virtuous Reality * Adam Void and Ryan Seslow
4. In Memory of Shawn Whisenant by Spencer Keeton Cunningham

BSA Special Feature: Miss Van in Wynwood, Miami

In this gentle meditation by Edition Slurp we find Miss Van painting and langorously stroking the canvas with brush while she was at Wynwood Walls in December. Read more about the event Women Rock Wynwood Walls at Miami Art Basel 2013

 

Cane Morto + Ema Jons

A night time escape captured by El Pacino and Tanguy Bombonera appears to accompany Italian bruta expressionistas Cane Morta in a large scale night time collabo with Ema Jons while traffic whizzes by obliviously.

 

Virtuous Reality * Adam Void and Ryan Seslow

To file under experimental: a collaboration by practitioners of art in the street that merges the styles of both Adam VOID and Ryan Seslow. Sound and vision chops together a pastiche of images to lull you to sleep and to jolt you awake you from your hypnotic solid state dream life.

 

In Memory of Shawn Whisenant by Spencer Keeton Cunningham

“You can grab your skateboard and your camera and go outside, and the world is yours,” says Whisenant to the camera as he describes one of the perfect days in the street.

A fine and poignant tribute to artist, skater, photographer and friend to many on San Francisco’s streets, Shawn passed away earlier this month.  The stills, music clips, interviews and commentary give a sense of the open approach he had to creativity, to art making, to others – and here these reminders of him are pulled together in an endearing and regardful way. Our thoughts go out to Shawn’s family and friends during this time.

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“Vagrants” at The Tender Trap. A Group Show. (Brooklyn, NYC)

Vagrants
Thursday, April 4th @ Tender Trap
245 South 1st St.
Brooklyn, NY

We are pleased to announce the first VAGRANT SPACE group show.”Vagrants” is a curated collection of work from each of our Vagrant Space artists. This collection highlights the contemporary outsider art that our gallery represents. Please join us on our pop gallery debut of Vagrant Space.

ART FROM: Adam Void, Peter Dear, George Charles Bates, Andrew H. Shirley, Jefferson Mayday Mayday, Chelsea Ragan, Craig Mammano, Jeffrey Vincent, Dylan Thadani, Edwards Harper, Margaret Rogers, Emily Campbell, Misha Capecchi, and Safwat Riad.

https://www.facebook.com/events/120759044780742/

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Making Deals Zine and Trumbull Studio Present: RELIEF: Silent Art Auction & Raffle Benefit. (Brooklyn, NYC)

Relief

Making Deals Zine and Trumbull Studio presents:RELIEF: Silent Art Auction & Raffle Benefit to support New York Residents Affected by Tropical Storm SandyFriday, November 9th, 2012

Silent Auction & Raffle begins at 6 pm – Final Drawing at 9:30 pm
@ Trumbull Studio, 143 Roebling St, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn, NYA huge group of established and emerging urban artists will have work for sale, and all proceeds will support LOCAL charities. Our goal is to help our fellow New Yorkers who have been hardest hit from areas like Far Rockaway, Staten Island, Breezy Point, and Red Hook. This is going to be a great event and all proceeds from the sale of your donation will go to our designated charities for the victims of Hurricane Sandy: New York Cares (nycares.org), Red Hook Initiative (rhicenter.org) and the Red Cross (redcross.org).Artists who have generously donating work for sale include (list is not yet final):

Abe Lincoln Jr.
Adam Lawrence
Adam VOID
Aimee Lusty
Alexander Heir
Alexander Richter
Anthony Sneed
Beater
Baser
Borf
ButtsUp
Brandon Haynes
Carnage
Cash For Your Warhol (The Collection of Brooklyn Street Art)
CRASTY
Daniel Feral
DB for Stuck-Up
EKG
Emma D.
Gloomer KTS
Goons
Herm
Howard Shindler
Ian (Pop Mortem) McGillivray
Isabel LaSala
JAMES
James Ivan Bailey
Jason Mamarella
Jon Bocksel
Jon Handel
Jowy Romano (Subway Art Blog)
Julian Gilbert
Kevin Foxworth
KOSBE
Lily Staley
Matt Dobbs
Matthew Hoffman
Martha Cooper
Mike Ion
Miss Night Catcher
MRS
Overunder
Pawn Works
RAE
Ribo 22KIDS
Roycer
RUSK
Scott Meyers

This is Awkward / Russell Lee
Tuse
Vickipages
Wisher914
Zato One
and more…

 

KosbeThere are several ways to donate at the event:
– An art raffle will be held where patrons have a chance to win artwork of their choice for as little as a $5 donation! The drawing is scheduled to be held at 9:30 pm and winners can take home their new artwork the same night.
– Select artwork will be up for silent auction. Bidding is scheduled to end at 9:30 pm.
-Blind monetary donations and credit cards will also be accepted.
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“Brooklyn Shelf Life” and the Showpaper Installation at BAM

Paper boxes are an important vehicle for communications on the street , even as the City has tried to consolidate them into elaborate ‘street furniture’ schemes that often leave out independent voices. Showpaper, a free print publication has been churning out issues for five  years to give exposure to events and D.I.Y. culture around New York. It usually dedicates a large portion of print space and ink to an original artwork by an artist, and its listings provide an important exposure for artists and performers who haven’t yet been “discovered” by the larger media outlets.

Yesterday’s interview with UFO907 and W. Thomas Porter showed the amount of work and inspiration that went into their entry in the Showpaper show “Brooklyn Shelf Life” curated by Andrew H. Shirley at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  5 pairs of artists affiliated with the New York street art scene were chosen to created new paper kiosks for the street. BSA was there in the BAM lobby to witness the installation of the sculptural pieces for Tuesday’s reception, and bring you the work of the other artists who prepared these pieces specifically for the show and to be placed on the streets of New York to distribute Showpaper.

The artists include Adam Void & Gaia, Cassius Fouler & Faust, Leon Reid IV & Noah Sparkes, Ryan C. Doyle & Swoon, and UFO 907 & W. Thomas Porter.

Leon Reid IV and Noah Sparkes (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Leon Reid IV and Noah Sparkes (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Leon Reid IV and Noah Sparkes (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Leon Reid IV and Noah Sparkes. A stack of Showpapers in a compartment behind the ear. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Cassius Fouler and Faust (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Cassius Fouler and Faust (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Cassius Fouler and Faust (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Cassius Fouler and Faust. A stack of showpapers. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swoon and Ryan Doyle (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swoon and Ryan Doyle (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swoon and Ryan Doyle (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swoon and Ryan Doyle (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swoon and Ryan Doyle. A stack of Showpapers inside the beehive. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gaia and Adam Void (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gaia and Adam Void (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gaia and Adam Void (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

General View of the Exhibition (photo © Jaime Rojo)

General View of the Exhibition (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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UFO Crashes at Brooklyn Academy of Music

UFO 907 & W. Thomas Porter Unveil Giant Wood / Metal Sculpture With 34 Eyes

“I think this is the kind of art work that people can step up to and they won’t say “Why the f*ck am I looking at this? I could do this – my kid could do this! I wanna blow people’s minds. I want people to be awestruck by it,” W. Thomas Porter exclaims in a burst of unhinged bravado that a master metal worker and inventor can claim after 3 consecutive weeks of custom cutting, bending, molding, and welding a crash-landing space ship, a 3-D realization of the UFO 907 graffiti moniker on it’s head.

 

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With the graffiti guy known on the street as UFO 907 as his master woodworking partner, Porter has crawled like a monkey inside, around, and on top of every inch of this metal-skinned vessel with 34 rotating smooth wooden eyes.  Standing inside a Brooklyn studio staring up at this audacious labor intensive sculptural blast-off of inspiration and technical handy-work, you can’t believe that this is the same UFO who jumped roofs and trains for years spraying a rapid flat version of this ubiquitous alien vessel.

907 Crew fans may also experience a mind-melt when hearing first hand the soaring descriptive narrative UFO lets loose about this brand new street piece, “It’s a symphony between wood and metal. Seeing the wood next to the metals – it’s almost like jewelry work, it’s like it’s growing up out of the earth like a flower. It’s totally looking like this flower that is blooming, this metal is blooming out of all of this wood. It’s fun, man.” A tough NYC street graffiti writer who sometimes get’s dragged into the uncomfortable position of being called a Street Artist?  Nah, UFO is just an artist now, and the usually shy guy is so ripped about this project he frankly doesn’t care about the label. It’s about the work.

 

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Introduced last night at a reception hosted by The Brooklyn Academy of Music, this UFO will house a stash of copies of Showpaper, a free print publication that lists and promotes events and DIY culture all around New York. Commissioned with funding from BAMart: Public, the “Brooklyn Shelf Life Project” is Showpaper’s hand picked selection of Street Art affliated artists collaborating as pairs to create innovative new versions of the traditional street kiosk. Curated by Andrew H Shirley, the eclectic collection of street explorers also includes Adam Void & Gaia, Cassius Fouler & Faust, Leon Reid IV & Noah Sparkes, and Ryan C. Doyle & Swoon.

 

A sketch to the side of this preliminary mockup shows the full scale of the piece by UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A carpenter by trade, UFO 907 has been at it for 16 years but he didn’t try his hand at exploring his own graffiti tag in 3D till a few years ago. “It only made sense – I mean after over a decade drawing that stupid guy on the wall I began to wonder what he looked like in 3 dimensions…now I’m starting to wonder what the dude looks like in 5D!”

Porter says he started his path to metal work as a boy, tearing up old houses and rebuilding them with his father. “I’ve been making sculptures since I was 14, had no idea there was an art world then,” he says. Now that he is newly situated in his own Brooklyn studio, he’ll definitely be making more of his custom bike configurations (see his “F*ck Bike”) among other metal bending discoveries, “I’ve always been into material mashups,” he explains, “I started welding at 16, and metal became a gateway drug to all sorts of new possibilities.”

 

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

While touring through their respective studios, BSA had the opportunity to see the entire process of making the new sculpture for BAM, entitled “The End If the Beginning”. It was also good to talk with UFO 907 and W. Thomas Porter about how they teamed up, who the UFO character symbolizes, and what they’ll think if the sculpture gets vandalized on the street.

Brooklyn Street Art: When people think of UFO 907 on the streets, it’s a quick tag with not much detail. Don’t you think they would be pretty shocked to know how much time you put into a sculptural piece like this?
UFO 907:
I guess so. If there’s one thing I’ve learned all these years in the graffiti game is you never know what your going to get when you uncover the man behind the moniker.

I’ve always felt a kind of separation between my vandalism tendencies and my artistic urges. Sure my tags and retarded throwups can look artistic but it’s just a quick elementary thoughtless expression. I’m doing the macho getting up sh*t, pissing like a dog. But with my studio work I slow down to a f*cking snails pace, considering every detail, knowing each line of the brush/pen, each turn of the jigsaw, each stroke with the sander is injecting so much f*cking feeling and energy and power into the piece. So, if ya didn’t know, now ya know.

 

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: What part of this new piece are you most proud of?
UFO 907: I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to work to such a large scale. I also always had a desire to fabricate a larger-than-life UFO piece and just love the idea of using metal. And of course I’m totally stoked to have the opportunity to be collaborating on such an intense piece with an artist and craftsmen I hold in high regard, W.Thomas Porter.

Brooklyn Street Art: The first time we saw a sculptural UFO it was with Ad Hoc Projects for a group show in Miami. The piece was called “Williamsburg Guy”. Was that the first time you did something like that?
UFO 907:
No, I have built a few smaller wooden UFO pieces before the “Williamsburg Guy” piece, and over the years I have messed around with some other materials to find the form I’m looking for.

Funny story about the first time we showed “Williamsburg Guy”;

The night we finished the piece I slapped together a crate and Doyle and myself threw the piece underneath the Chinatown bus, and took it down to Richmond Virginia for a group show we were involved in. If you know the size and weight of the piece that’s a pretty impressive feat. But it was free shipping! Go Chinatown Bus!

 

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © UFO)

UFO and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Since this is a vessel of sorts, and you have said your UFO tag is almost a self portrait, do you imagine yourself inside this sculpture looking out windows and swinging your 34 eyes in all directions looking at people?
UFO 907:
Not necessarily but I love that idea! At this point it seems less like being inside the sculpture – but more so I continue to see the UFO as an embodiment of my being. I have always seen the UFO as my self portrait, yes, but not in the sense of a photograph or painting of myself. It’s more like a window to my spirit energy and soul. The form, energy and idea behind UFO has continuously been evolving, morphing, and growing over the years. If it wasn’t it would be dead, right?

So, yes, I’m guessing at some point you might just find me sitting inside the mothership staring at ya’ll, plotting my next move. Ha ha HA!

Brooklyn Street Art: When you are making such labor-intensive carefully considered work and putting it out into the street, do you ever worry about it being vandalized?
UFO 907: Naw… that’s what happens to sh*t on the streets! I kind of secretly have a fantasy about a car running up the sidewalk and crashing into the piece. That would be pretty cool, as long as I get a nice photo of the piece pinned between the car and a brick wall!

Brooklyn Street Art: What has working with Thomas brought to your process?
UFO 907: I have been a fan of his work and his great craftsmen ship since I met him. I think I first met him the night me and Doyle were cramming to get “Williamsburg Guy” completed. Dude came through and he quietly handled shit, helping us get the piece done. Aces!

When I first heard that Andrew Shirley was curating this project, I told him I had to be on board and wanted Tom Porter as my partner. Tom has brought amazing metal work, which is not my craft but a material I love all the same, and he is a champ with the kinetics/mechanics helping us both bring our visions to life and adding many levels to the piece. As well Tom Porter is a perfect match with me with his boundless energy, obsessive attention to detail, grand positive visions, eternal positivity directed towards the project at hand. What a dude!!

 

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter. Inside view of the structure. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Yeah, your skills seem really well suited for collaboration.
UFO 907:
Yup we both have brought what we do best to the table and all thing immediately fell into place, leading to a seemingly effortless symphony of materials and ideas.

Brooklyn Street Art: Thomas, when you think of the sense of balance this piece has to have, do you rely on lessons learned from building other projects?
W. Thomas Porter :
We set out on this project without any concept of limitations. We just decided what we wanted to get out of it and said, “F*ck it, it’s on”. I think that confidence comes from having been a builder and a bizarre mind forever. Everything I’ve done leads me to this moment. We have to come correct.

Brooklyn Street Art: Is it difficult to carry a demanding project like this across the finish line? Do you get tired of the detail work?
W. Thomas Porter:
I don’t think it’s easy to get anything actually “finished”. Starting things is easy but getting there can be war. We are up against a tough deadline, a limited budget, working for money, UFO and I both just started new studios…it’s been hectic. As for the details, I’m with the devil. Every detail is an example or the bigger picture; it’s the fabric, and the pattern, the feel and what you see.

Brooklyn Street Art: This is a collaborative piece using the skills of a metal worker and a wood worker. How did you achieve an organic feeling with such rigid and sturdy materials?
W. Thomas Porter:
It’s amazing to work with someone like UFO; Half man, half beast and all gusto. We both came to a similar place by working with our hands while our brains are off in the universe. It’s only a matter of time before that all explodes into space! I always loved wood and metal together, flesh and bone. In this case, I had to make steel feel like skin, and without a single straight line anywhere – it’s a challenge. I was blessed to have a dedicated assistant like Dagga to help plow through the process. Out of extremely limited means we came up with something greater than the sum of its parts.

 

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © UFO)

 

UFO 907 in the wild. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 in the wild. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter. The sculpture arrived to BAM in parts. Here is one half. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter. Inside view of the armature. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

UFO 907 and William Thomas Porter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“The Beginning if the End”, 2012, by UFO 907 and W. Thomas Porter

Materials: Yellow Pine, Walnut, Plywood, Epoxy, Cold Rolled Steel, Hot Rolled Steel, Bearings, Ball Joints, Hardware, Wax
 

Assistants: Dagga Gaines, Kelsey Womack, Jumbo, Diego Guzman, Sadue 907, and Hest One

“Brooklyn Shelf Life” is Presented by SHOWPAPER and curated by Andrew H. Shirley. Newsboxes commissioned by BAM for BAMart: Public.

Go to http://brooklynshelflife.org/ to learn more about this project. Joe Ahearn, Managing Director

Go to BAMart: Public to learn more about this program.

Stay tuned to BSA as tomorrow we’ll feature the rest of the sculptures of “Brooklyn Shelf Life” by Leon Reid IV + Noah Sparkles, Cassius Fouler + Faust, Swoon + Ryan Doyle and Gaia + Adam Void.  Also you can visit the Showpaper Tumblr http://showpaper.tumblr.com/ for more images.

 This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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BAMart Presents: Public (Brooklyn, NY)

BAMart: Public

BAMart: Public

June 2012—May 2013

Selected Artists:

Glen Baldridge
Timothy Hull & Future Expansion Architecture
Ed Purver
Showpaper
featuring Adam Void & Gaia, Cassius Fouler & Faust, Leon Reid IV & Noah Sparkes, Ryan C. Doyle & Swoon, UFO 907 & William Thomas Porter

BAMart: Public’s inaugural year presents four proposals for temporary art projects or interventions that enliven BAM’s campus and the surrounding BAM Cultural District. Selected through a juried open call, the participants’ works will transform underutilized spaces that serve as ideal platforms for creative expression within the distric using a variety of media and generating new and exciting ideas about ways to introduce art and culture into urban public space.

Opening reception
Tue, Jun 19, 6—8pm
Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayatte Ave, Brooklyn

Free

Leadership support for BAMart provided by Agnes Gund, Toby Devan Lewis, and Donald R. Mullen, Jr., with additional support provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.

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