St+Art Delhi continues apace with an ever-expanding roster of artists and financial/commercial/municipal partners five years after we first began writing about it, and photographer Martha Cooper brings us today some of the newest installations and shots that she recently discovered while there.
A mural program at heart, many of the artists invited here bring a decorative character to the districts of Shahpurjat, Khirki Village and Hauz Khas Village also have roots in illegal graffiti and Street Art back home, and during their youth.
Over the years that list has included an international and local array of artists invited to paint at Lohdi Colony from all the continents – well maybe not Antarctica. Names have included ECB, Lady Aiko, local students Avinash and Kamesh, Suiko of Japan, Reko Rennie from Australia, Lek & Sowat from France, Kureshi from India, Inkbrushnme from India, Dutch artist Niels Shoe Meulman, Swiss duo Never Crew, Tofu from Germany, Mattia from Italy, Artez from Serbia, M-City from Poland, Ano from Taiwan…
Notable here is the architectural framing convention for most of these murals- the distinctive facades of Lodhi Colony architecture that features a central archway and four windows divided by it on a semi-ornate face forward. Some of the arches begin on the ground while others have been bricked into windows. Each provides a view inside the entry or courtyard, while others are bursting out with limbs and trees that protrude through them to the street.
Originally designed by the British-born architect William Henry Medd in the late 1930s and early 1940s as part of a program to house certain populations, this unifying pattern sets the quiet neighborhood apart from others in the city.
As Chief Architect to the Government of India during that period, Mr. Medd
oversaw much of the design of the relatively new city as well as buildings like
the Cathedral Church of the Redemption and Sacred Heart Cathedral, both of which
reflect his affinity for the high arches that distinguish the period.
“It’s interesting to see how the very different artists have incorporated the arch into their murals,” says photographer Cooper. “The uniform size and shape of the walls unify the disparate collection and the arches give the whole area an exotic touch.”
As is her practice many of these images also skillfully incorporate the foot traffic and community who live here and who are beginning to associate these figurative, abstract and folk-inspired murals into their daily lives. Asking people to pose in front of the new paintings gives them context, somehow also bringing them alive in certain cases. At other times, her timing and eagle eye capture the passerby who unknowingly creates a serendipitous counterpoint to the new work.
“It’s a quiet neighborhood compared to the rest of Delhi,”
Martha says, “making it a very pleasant place for an afternoon walking tour.”
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Escif: Magic Piano 2. Adele Renault: St+Art India. Lodhi Art Festival 2019 3. Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean Museum 4. OS Gemeos: Flying Steps at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin
BSA Special Feature: Escif: Magic Piano
Spanish Street Artist Escif creates a museum installation that uses irony, sarcasm, and deep truths that we’re not always ready to see.
By hi-jacking some of the current interactive nomenclature enabled by augmented/mixed realities and the normalizing of tablet use, he alerts viewers to the connection of age-old mineral mining that is just as contemporary as the hi-tech gadgetry many have embraced.
Since you can use the device to contemplate human suffering and make music, it is an indictment of modern attitudes that dehumanize and turn real stories into a video game.
From the artist:
“Coltan is a mineral, found specially in eastern Congo, used to make cells and computer chips. Violent rebel groups are exploiting coltan mining to help finance a bloody civil war which is now in its 12th year.
The link between the bloodshed and coltan is causing alarm among high-tec manufacturers slowly they are beginning to realise that their products may contain the tainted fruits of civil war. Since the outbreak of fighting in august 1998: an estimated 5.4 million people have died; 45.000 continue to die each month; Children account for 47% of these deaths.
Magic Piano is a music installation. With the help of a tablet (that obviously contains coltan) you will be able to play the piano. Use the device to navigate on the wall. When you pass on the screen over a charater, a sound will be activated. If you push the character with your finger a sound loop will be activated. You will also activate the animation of each character.”
Adele Renault: St+Art India. Lodhi Art Festival 2019
“It lacks all the give and the breath of fresh art,” the
bespectacled art critic intones with all the weight of a final damnation.
“We need haters out there. They are affirmations that we’re doing something right,” says the streetwise pop star with clever sunnies and sans big hat.
Taking a break from the Banksy beat, Doug appears to put forth that supposition that Jeff Koons is proving once again that as long as you are a white guy and you reference European art history you are 80% on your way as an artist whose work will be collected and exhibited.
OS Gemeos: Flying Steps at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin
A splendid hybrid that sends heartbeats racing, even
involuntarily, here is a trailer for Flying Steps and Os Gemeos as they interpret
“Pictures at an Exhibition”, the famous piano composition that has become a
showpiece for virtuoso pianists. Good to see museums of contemporary art truly
stretching, redefining the street and Street Art.
Belgian Street Artist Adele winged it over to New Delhi last week to bring one of her multi-feathered friends to this new wall in the Lodhi Colony.
With her mother as assistant (and photographer) the intensely detailed and passionate aerosolist hardly stopped while a steady parade of people and animals interrupted their daily travels to gander at the huge bird taking form in front of them.
January is the only cold month in Delhi, she tells us, so she felt quite lucky to be able to paint during a period of relative comfort. “I was greeted by stray dogs every morning,” she says.
“And I was fueled by fresh coconut water, chai, and amazing lunch boxes! It was so nice being in the trees with the birds and monkeys, and all school kids and rickshaw drivers stopping by all day long.”
Adele says she was thankful for a rare opportunity to spend quality time together with her mom Veronique and says they plan to continue their trip through India. We’re pleased to share her photos exclusively for BSA readers today.
As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2018 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s a box of treats to surprise you with every day – and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2019. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to you for inspiring us throughout the year.
Today’s special guest:
Adele Renault, the Belgian Street Artist, muralist, and painter of realistic portraits of pigeons and people.
I’ve been feathering many nests this year but this pile of containers best represents the piles of feathers I’ve been producing.
It was also the first time for me to be invited to paint in my home country Belgium. A home coming!
2018 has been a good year, I had promised myself to have a book out by the time I reach 30 and I did 🙂
Here it is! Photographer Jaime Rojo of BSA selects a handful of his favorite images from his travels through 9 countries and around New York this year to present our 2018 BSA Images of the Year.
Seeing the vast expressions of aesthetics and anti-aesthetic behavior has been a unique experience for us. We’re thankful to all of the artists and co-conspirators for their boundless ideas and energy, perspectives and personas.
Once you accept that much of the world is in a semi-permanent chaos you can embrace it, find order in the disorder, love inside the anger, a rhythm to every street.
And yes, beauty. Hope you enjoy BSA Images of the Year 2018.
Here’s a list of the artists featured in the video. Help us out if we missed someone, or if we misspelled someones nom de plume.
1Up Crew, Abe Lincoln Jr., Adam Fujita, Adele Renault, Adrian Wilson, Alex Sena, Arkane, Banksy, Ben Eine, BKFoxx, Bond Truluv, Bordalo II, Bravin Lee, C215, Cane Morto, Charles Williams, Cranio, Crash, Dee Dee, D*Face, Disordered, Egle Zvirblyte, Ernest Zacharevic, Erre, Faith LXVII, Faust, Geronimo, Gloss Black, Guillermo S. Quintana, Ichibantei, InDecline, Indie 184, Invader, Isaac Cordal, Jayson Naylor JR, Kaos, KNS, Lena McCarthy, Caleb Neelon, LET, Anthony Lister, Naomi Rag, Okuda, Os Gemeos, Owen Dippie, Pejac, Pixel Pancho, Pork, Raf Urban, Resistance is Female, Sainer, Senor Schnu, Skewville, Slinkachu, Solus, Squid Licker, Stinkfish, Strayones, Subway Doodle, The Rus Crew, Tristan Eaton, Vegan Flava, Vhils, Viktor Freso, Vinie, Waone, Winston Tseng, Zola
2018 has been a good year for Street Art books, and your interest in the ones we have highlighted continues to assure us that “Print” is not dead. There is no better way to document a moment in this evolving scene for posterity than with the bound volume, and sometimes there is no better way to appreciate an artists work than to sit by a lamp or window with a book on your lap.
We know that you appreciate our daily analysis and efforts to elucidate and illustrate a fluid global Street Art/ graffiti / urban art scene here in digital, but we’re thrilled to give you solid options in book form as well. If you’re looking for a good quality art book to give this year, consider one of these hits from 2018. Enjoy!
“Certainties, simple explanations, last hopes, magic thoughts and fears. All of them confronted by what is evident.”
Thus describes the figure slung with bullets, holding a necklace with a cross and delicately balancing a small green apple on his index finger on a larger than life mural in Santiago, Chili. The visual language of this graffiti/Street Artist and muralist named Inti is his to wield, a cosmic folk expression that glows with celestial waves surrounding an other-worldly race of characters.
INTI. Éditions Albin Michel, 2017. Paris, France. Click HERE for more about this book.
Such is the splendid stuff of dreams and discovery for Bordalo II, the Lisbon-based Street Artist and maker of garbage relief animal portraits in cities across the world.
These are the things that when arranged on shelves and placed in relation to a floor plan, within parameters and boundaries of our mundanity, will comprise a perfect environment of domesticity; full of memory, associative emotion, symmetry. Objects, materials melted and poured, carved and plain, screwed and snapped, polished and sprayed, emulsified, inset, extruded, coiled, soldiered, plated, woven. These dimensional collections of matter matter to us. Metal alloy. Plastic polymer. Blown glass. Rubber, copper, steel, bakelite, particle board, glue.
Disarrange. You create chaos, disruption, disunity, discontent. Arrange again and create a muskrat, a buck deer, a petulant parakeet, an undulant octopus.
Bordalo II 2011 – 2017. Editor & Publisher Bordalo II. In conjunction with ATTERO and exhibition by Bordalo II held in Lisbon. November, 2017. Lisbon, Portugal. Click HERE for more about this book.
“The constant imposition of advertising in front of our eyes is an oppressive, dictatorial and violent act,” posits the artist, activist, and author Hogre in this new collection of works and words called Subvertising : The Piracy of Outdoor Advertising.
It sounds rather extreme when put this way, but perhaps that is the dulling power of advertising’s omnipresence in public space year after year. Each of us can certainly recall a time when there seemed like there was more open public space and fewer images and graphics and text telling us what to do, what to buy, who to hate, how to behave. Artists like Hogre are sounding the warning on our ability to recognize its power over our perceptions.
HOGRE. Subvertising: The Piracy Of Outdoor Advertising. Dog Section Press. London, 2017. Click HERE for more about this book.
Via his own pop-culture interpretation of the interlocking curvilinear, geometric and graphic motifs, the Portuguese artist is firing new pieces daily in the kiln of his studio in Cascais. For a decade or so his interpretations of the tin-glazed ceramic tilework have been appearing on inordinate secondary city skins in the paths of pedestrians: visual illusions meant to appear as layers of urban bark peeling back from surfaces you take for granted to reveal heritage, history, artisanship.
While the interiors and exteriors of churches, palaces, schools and subway stations are covered with azulejos in Lisbon, thanks to Add Fuel (Diogo Machado) they have travelled to other cities and cultures as well. Each time he is attracted to the tile-making traditions locally, and he often incorporates his study of these new histories as well.
Add / Fuel – 1 – Monograph. Published by Diogo Machado. Portugal 2018. Click HERE for more about this book.
A serendipitous meeting somewhere in Berlin set this project in motion, and the results unveil an adrenaline fueled ride that always pushes, often exceeds the boundaries of physical safety and social acceptance while simultaneously thrilling graffiti fans and pissing off some public officials and property owners.
A new book captures the nature of the actions and adds to our conversations about art, vandalism, branding, public/personal space and its radical visual disruption. It’s a story made all the more remarkable during an increasing level of surveillance in a city that has basically embraced the bohemian and rebellious types who have transformed large parts of its cityscape, making Berlin a de facto capital of subculture, especially among the young.
Martha Cooper & Ninja K. One Week With 1UP. (photo courtesy of the team) Click HERE for more about this book.
A steel-wheeled graffiti train with Roger Gastman at the controls roars into LA’s Chinatown for a two-month stay at this station, a 40,000 square foot warehouse that houses “Beyond the Streets.” Originating at the streets and train yards of the 1960s and 70s, this express survey carries with it 100 or so artists and writers from across the last five decades as practitioners of graffiti, Street Art, and mural painting. Somehow, everyone gets represented.
It sounds the same on the street as it does in the gallery space, and for Norwegian Street Artist Anders Gjennestad the two appear nearly identical, aside from context.
Whether he is discovering the neglected urban factory door long after the spirit of industry has roared its last turbine and reaching toward his backpack for a spray can, or he is hoisting a piece out from the pile of collected iron-bound wooded slabs in his Berlin studio, functionally each of these doors is a canvas.
Every urban explorer sees the potential of walls that are long abandoned and spoiled with rot and piss and pushed open by weeds, worn away by rain. The world is a temporary place anyway. I am only here temporarily.
Anders Gjennestad. “Canvas”. Published by Galerie Friedmann – Hahn. Berlin 2018. Click HERE for more about this book.
As you look through this new slim volume about the Street Artist/fine artist FKDL it may strike you how much autobiography is the determinant of an artist’s path as well. It’s the tale of a teenager finding himself, finding his vocation, and eventually finding his voice on the street. When you reach the end you see that it takes a number of years and a lot of experimentation, this journey.
FKDL. Galiote Prenant. Choisy-le-Roi, France. 2017. Click HERE for more about this book.
“These are artists who are thus not slavishly reproducing their exterior practice within an interior realm but who are, rather, taking the essence of graffiti – its visual principles, its spatial structures, its technical methods, its entrenched ethics – and reinterpreting them with the studio domain,” says author Rafael Schacter in his introductory exposition for his book Street to Studio where he offers a unique assessment derived from his 10 years of researching the foundational, conceptual, methodological, and ethical considerations that impact the original graffiti/Street Art scene as well as where it is going.
Rafael Schacter. Street To Studio. Lund Humphries Publishers. London, 2018. Click HERE for more about this book.
Street Artist/fine artist Adele Renault understands our interdependence with the birds and with each other perhaps better than many, and “Feathers and Faces” carries the message powerfully by delivering these works she has done on city streets and galleries in New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Singapore, Burkina Faso, Helsinki, Moscow…
We share this city with pigeons. We look to the same environment to supply us with what we need, including food, water, shelter – depending on physical factors like as soil, air, a temperate climate, other organisms. Adele studies our feathered friends and brings them full force to the streets, and we know that here only the scrappiest survive and get to display their colors.
Feathers And Faces by Adele Renault was published in 2018 and is distributed in the United States and Canada by SCB Distributors. Click HERE for more about this book.
Prayers of supplication and longing, racing teams of stallions and master felines of fury, the exhausted figure of a dream barely still illuminated, a wistful stage in the plundered urban landscape, or a plundered life.
This is what she does to you. As Faith IXVII leaves her stolen stanza, her massive mural in washed hues, her tributes to a moment lost in a city that would leave you to die if it had its way, she makes you make poetry.
Faith XLVII. “EX ANIMO’ THE WORK OF FAITH FORTY SEVEN/ 2010-2018. Drago Publishing. Rome, Italy, 2018. Click HERE for more about this book.
And el Seed is the first to tell you that in this deeply personal account of his art project across fifty buildings in Mashiyat Naser, a neighborhood of Cairo over two years ago. Born of his personal need to challenge himself and to add more to his career as a respected muralist, his original concept of working in this neighborhood of 70,000 recyclers was informed by his own assumptions, perhaps of helping a community known in the city as Zabbaleen, or “garbage people”.
Over the course of the project he and his team describe through interviews and with his own diary style how their own eyes were opened. It is an incremental revelatory experience that paralleled the quote that he stylized throughout the pattern of his piece, “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eyes first,” from the writings of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a fourth century Coptic Bishop.
El Seed PERCEPTION Published by Point à la Ligne. Milan, Italy. 2018. Click HERE for more about this book.
One thing that some Street Artists do when their work enters the white cube is drop the “street” from their official moniker, instead preferring to be known simply as an “artist”. The decision is possibly to rid themselves of any subtle class distinctions or otherwise negative connotations that a potential collector or curator may have with the “street artist” label.
Other artists formerly known as “Street Artists” feel limited by the title because it doesn’t include all of their new interests and their complete practice – or because the term itself has evolved in their mind and the mind of the public to mean something unfavorable that they do not like to be associated with.
When it comes to the internationally renowned Street Artist Invader, its not a consideration – the street is in his DNA. His cryptic tile-made street practice is so proliferate across the world and so much a part of the metropolis like in his hometown of Paris that his art is literally and psychically fused with the city.
Invasion Los Angeles 2.1 / Updated Edition 1999 – 2018. A Book By Invader. Published by Control P. Editions. France 2018. Click HERE for more about this book.
“Russian Urban Art: History and Conflicts”, Igor Ponosov.
An academically sourced opinion-based essay in book form that looks to art, social, economic, and geopolitical movements during the start of the 20th century to better understand the evolution of Urban Art in post-Soviet Russia, Igor Ponosov delivers a welcome reconstruction of the timeline and movements that bring urban art to this day.
With the renewed interest in public art and muralism that has erupted over the last decade in many so-called Western cities it is good to learn how the public space in Russia has been catalyzed not-only by Hip Hop and new graffiti forms from Europe but also the history of Avant-garde art movements and Soviet Muralism in Russian Urban Art: History and Conflicts.
Igor Ponosov. Russian Urban Art: History And Conflicts. Moscow 2018. Published in collaboration with Street Art Museum, St Petersburg, Russia. Click HERE for more about this book.
Biggie Smalls and Alfred Hitchcock open Autumn Equinox for BSA this week and we can’t help but think of that movie “The Birds” by the English film director where nature turns against man. Kiwi Street Artist Owen Dippie painted the mural in Brooklyn at the end of the summer and the mashup of references between the Brooklyn rapper and the dark cinematic thrillmaster in black and white may frighten you if you imagine those birds balanced at the end of their cigars began to peck their eyes out.
Friday night marked a new milestone for Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin there was a preview of the newly completed and opened artists’ residencies put on display. We were treated to the creative environments of 11 of the residencies with the first group of artists in attendance including NeSpoon, Herakut, Li-Hill, Snik, Ludo, Mia Florentine Weiss, Quintessenz, Sellfable, Dot Dot Dot, Louis Masai, Wes 21 and Onur. The museum will open its doors again for the museum’s second exhibition titled “The Power of Art as a Social Architect” this Thursday. Check it out if you are in Berlin.
So here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1UPCrew, Adele Renault, AKUT, Berlin Kidz, BustArt, Dina Saadi, Exit Art, L.E.T., M-City, Mehsos, Owen Dippie, Snik, and Vegan Flava.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Adele Renault Visits Tyson’s Corner in Jersey City
2. Monumenta Leipzig 2018: The Monuments-of-Many
3. Jan Kuck Kinetic Installation at Monumenta in Leipzig 2018
4. Dictador Art Masters in a Old Distillery in Colombia
BSA Special Feature: Adele Renault Visits Tyson’s Corner in Jersey City
In our own homemade video on the gritty streets of Tyson’s Corner in Jersey City, Street Artist Adele Renault ducks punches in traffic as she finishes her new mural of a pigeon.
Read about Adele’s new book featuring many of her bird murals and people portraits from last week on BSA here:
A short tour of the monuments of many at this unusual exhibition in Leipzig. Read more about it HERE.
Jan Kuck Kinetic Installation at Monumenta in Leipzig 2018
You may need the didactic text here to appreciate the conceptual piece created by Berlin-based artists Jan Kuck at Monumenta in Leipzig, or you may simply enjoy the wax filled lamps as their light bulbs melt colored wax to drip on the pile of mirrors below. A student of law, history, and philosophy, Kuck has made a number of kinetic sculptures/installations like this through Bernheimer Contemporary at events and venues like the Venice Architecture Biennale, Art Budapest, SOFA Chicago, and the Deutches Museum Munich. We captured a bit of video with the phone while BSA was in Leipzig a couple of weeks ago to host the weekend of presentations and panel discussions.
Dictador Art Masters in a Old Distillery in Colombia
You may remember our coverage of this unique compound in Columbia this spring with a number of Street Artists from Poland, the UK, and Columbia. Here is a video produced by director Colin Day for the host of that event at an old distillery.
Welcome to the beginning of fall in New York, hopefully not the Fall of New York – although you can never tell when monetary policy is incredibly loose and we’re living in an “everything bubble” about to burst. Here in NYC people used to say the major industries were FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) and it is probably still true to a large extent. You could add Casinos to the acronym today because the this falsely high-flying and treacherous economy feels like a giant windowless drunken room full of sparkly lights, laughter and speculative plays. CAFIRE! Totally made that up. Might stick.
So here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1312, 1UP Crew, Adele Renault, Adopt, Bailon, Ben Slow, Daze2, Dede, El Sol 25, Jonathan Allen, Marshal Arts, Mr. Joul, Nick Flatt, Nitzan Mintz, Not Pinky, Paul Punk, and Sandra Chevrier.
It’s been a packed couple of weeks between traveling to Moscow for the Artmossphere Biennale 2018 and immediately hopping to Leipzig, Germany for the magnificent Monumenta opening. Our heads are full of stories and conversations and images in two distinctly different scenes that somehow are still completely connected. Can’t tell if its euphoria or relief or jetlag but this Sunday is a dizzying day of taking account and being really thankful to be involved with an astounding amount of talent and camaraderie in the Graffiti/Street Art/Urban Art community that is connecting people around the world.
Here are our images of the week this time around; some selections from the Thursday night Artmossphere Biennale 2018 in Moscow, featuring 108, 1UP, Adele Renault, Bill Posters, BLOT, Canemorto, CT, the DOMA Collective, Egs, Faith XLVII, Faust, Finsta, Hyland Mather, LOT, Lucy McLauchlan, Lyall Sprong, Martha Cooper, Pablo Harymbat, and Pink Power.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Martha Cooper and Adele Renault at Artmossphere Biennale 2018
2. Canemorto at Artmossphere Biennale 2018
3. Pablo Harymbat at Artmossphere Biennale 2018
4. Hyland Mather at Artmossphere Biennale 2018
BSA Special Feature: 4 BSA Homemade Videos From This Week in Moscow for Artmossphere
There is a certain glory to all of this; 50 or so artists from around the world who started in Street Art and graffiti now making art that cannot be easily classified as such. After a handful of international curators sifted through 350 applications this represents a moment, possibly one flashpoint in the movement between the street and the contemporary art scene and academia and the public.
For a capital city in Russia to be a facilitator of this conversation is unique because the modern stories we tell each other about this public art practice have rarely centered here. But Moscow has its own towering splendor and is taking a leadership role in helping us tell the history and possibly helping to form the future of this scene. Thursday night the legion of guests trolling the arched halls of the wine cellar could not have been more engaged, more full of question, more willing to consider that the minds and craft of these artists, at least in some cases, are apt reflections of our society, provide insight and critique.
Enjoy these small videos made by photographer Jaime Rojo on his phone this week as we surveyed some of the artists preparing their work for Artmossphere 2018.
Process at Artmossphere Biennale 2018: Martha Cooper and Adele Renault
Process at Artmossphere Biennale 2018: Canemorto
Process at Artmossphere Biennale 2018: Pablo Harymbat
Process at Artmossphere Biennale 2018: Hyland Mather
MONUMENTA / LEIPZIG
Next Stop – LEIPZIG for an audacious new festival that celebrates the flattening of the hierchies and the Intelligence of Many.
BSA is in Moscow as curators of 50+ international artists in the Artmossphere Biennale 2018 for its 3rd edition called Street Art Wave. Till the end of the month we’ll working with a stellar cross section of people involved with Urban Art/Street Art/Graffiti at curious and fascinating intersections. We’re meeting with Street Artists, academics, collectors, gallerists, museum curators, organizers, and thoughtful pontificators of all sorts in studio, on the street, behind the scenes, and on display. Come with us!
As curators we were asked to write a text about Martha Cooper and Adele Renault and their collaborative project for the Artmossphere Biennale 2018 in Moscow. We think it is equally appropriate for the work in process photos here and the interviews BSA had with both:
“A perfectly paired duo of artist and photographer who each engage with Street Art from two distinctly different perspectives, this collaborative project puts the focus on a shared interest.
Adele Renault grew up in the Belgian Ardennes and at a very early age began traveling the world; sometimes solo, quickly developing an adept eye at studying places and people. A classically trained painter with a realistic style, she focuses her camera and her brushes on smaller details that may sometimes be overlooked but which add texture and rich interest to the mundane or unrecognized. With her beautifully realized portraits she is able to capture the depths of her subjects by the expression in their eyes, the details of lines on their face, and the candid innocent smile that flashes quickly.
However her love is with pigeons. Her pigeon paintings and murals give the oft-derided birds their rightful place in our cities where they are often considered pests that are equal to rats.
Teaming up with famed photographer Martha Cooper is a pure coup d’état. Ms. Cooper’s fame within the graffiti and Street Art community is legendary but her photographic interests are many. A documentarian and ethnographer, she grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, a US city that is famous for its once-thriving community of pigeon fanciers – and their elaborate coops. For Ms. Cooper the intersection of pigeons and their fanciers presents a fascinating and educational opportunity to capture with her lens the relationship between humans and their aviary friends in their habitats…the coops.
Ms. Cooper has been photographing pigeon coops in Baltimore and in New York where she currently lives – and in many other cities that she visits every year. For Artmossphere both Ms. Renault and Ms. Cooper have found a shared passion that drives them both even harder to create. Designing a site-specific environment and using locally found materials; both artists have trained their attention to the Russian tradition of painting pigeon coops. They hope that their installation respectfully represents the local culture and history while combining Adele’s paintings of pigeons and Martha’s photographs of the pigeon’s coops.”
Pigeons were the original Internet, email, messenger. As carriers they were the quickest and most efficient way for people across cultures to communicate. Cooper and Renault have created the ultimate exhibit that ties together the themes of OFFLINE in a very local and global way. With Martha’s photographs of pigeons from over forty years and Adele’s uncanny ability to faithfully create the plumage and character of the bird over the last decade on city walls everywhere, the original message carriers are more than getting their due in Moscow.
BSA:Yesterday at the round table discussion someone made the connection between this show being “Offline” and pigeons carrying messages. Can you talk about that a bit? Martha: That was a brilliant connection because neither of us had thought about it. Yes there were lots of pigeons that used to carry messages, specially during wartime. The messages were secret and written in code stuffed in little capsules and attached to the pigeon’s legs. The pigeons were able to fly across enemy lines. So here we have the Internet and the name of this exhibition is “Offline” so what can be more offline than a pigeon carrying a message.
BSA:About this project in Moscow. What was the most surprising element? Adele: When I travel I try not to have expectations but for this project the most surprising thing was the location. The space is so beautiful and it’s inspiring being here. And the people of course. Sabina, I knew she was going to be nice because Martha has been telling me great things about her but she and her team are wonderful. It is very nice to work with nice people. The most important thing is the people.
BSA:Where were the photos being shown here taken? Martha: Africa, Asia, North America and Europe.
BSA: Adele, what’s your fascination with pigeons? Was it from childhood? Adele: No, I grew up on a farm but we had more chickens than pigeons. The first time I saw a lot of pigeons was in Venice in the Piazza San Marco. My parents had a hard time pulling me away from them. I just wanted to stay with the pigeons. The fascination is mostly that they are everywhere, in every city and they look the same everywhere and I never run out of subjects. They are like a metaphor for people. In 2007 or 2008 I painted the first oil close-up painting of a pigeon and my first mural of a pigeon was in 2010.
BSA:You found an Icon at the flea market in Moscow. Martha: We did! And it has a pigeon painted on it.
BSA:So was the found icon the inspiration to make the display wall in the shape of an icon? Adele: No it was the other way around. I knew that in Russia there are a lot of religious triptychs with Madonna and other religious imagery in gold leaf and inside the churches. When we came in and saw the exhibition space with all of these arches we thought that we wanted to have an arch and actually paint the arch directly on the wall but because the building is a landmark we were not permitted to paint directly on it.
So we asked if the temporary wall could be a triptych instead of a simple long panel. So then at the flea market we found the triptych with the Madonna and two pigeons painted on it. So everything about this installation makes so much sense and the process has been entirely organic. We also wanted to have real pigeons inside the coop but we found that that wasn’t permitted. So we then thought about having a porcelain pigeon or something like that inside the coop. Today a Russian girl who I gave a book to a couple of days ago came back to visit and told me that she had a present for me; a souvenir from Russia and she proceeds to pull out this porcelain pigeon!
BSA:What was the genesis of this collaboration with Martha? Adele: Every time we see each other we talk about our attraction to pigeons and she tells me that she has been taking photos of pigeons for a long time. We were together in Los Angeles for “Beyond The Streets” and she mentioned to me the Moscow Biennale and how in Moscow artists paint the pigeon’s coops on the outside. So she encouraged me to send an application for us to participate in this year’s biennale in collaboration and I did.
BSA:Can you tell us about the small pigeon on the front of the pigeon coop? Adele: The small one on the front is the last passenger pigeon who died in 1914. The original passenger pigeons are extinct. And this pigeon’s name was ironically Martha – and it resides in taxidermy in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. So we named this coop “Coop’s Coop” because Martha’s friends call her Coop. So it really is Martha Cooper’s coop. But passenger pigeons were used in the two big wars to bring messages in code and they were rewarded with medals for their service.
BSA:So what about the old, paint peeling off frames you are using to display the photos? Martha: When we first thought about putting photos up we wanted rough looking frames and I had this idea, based on my previous visits to Moscow and the flea market that we would be able to find them at the flea market and we found tons of frames actually. We got them cheaply and it was a lot of fun going around collecting them.
BSA: Martha our eyes gravitated to the B & W photo of the boy holding two pigeons. What’s his name and who is he? Martha: His name is Edwin but his writer’s name is HE3 and he introduced me to Dondi. I was working on a project on the Lower East Side and I was interested in his pigeons and he asked me why didn’t I take pictures of graffiti and proceeded to show me his notebook with his drawings in it.
He said “I can introduce you to a King”. And the King was Dondi. So I said “OK let’s go”. We drove to East New York in my car and directed me to Dondi’s house.
We knock on his door and Dondi was there. He recognized my name because when he opened his black book on the first page he had a clipping from The New York Post with a photo of a very simple throw up and I was amazed that anybody would identify it and it said CIA, Crazy Inside Artists. That was his crew and I didn’t know anything about crews. When he saw me he knew I wasn’t a cop but instead he saw me as someone that could help him get fame. Boom!
BSA:So the B & W photo above is 40 years old? Martha: Yes
BSA:Can you talk about the large painting of the pigeon in the center of the triptych? Martha: This is a painting of a pigeon that we actually met in Moscow in a pigeon coop. One of the pigeon fanciers showed this magnificent pigeon and Adele took a photo of it with her phone so this is the portrait of the pigeon and I took a photo of Adele taking a photo of the pigeon and that photo is included in this exhibition.