La Ciutat Vella or The Old City is a district in Barcelona also known as the Gothic Quarters. Among many things it is also known as the stomping grounds for the young Pablo Picasso, who attended the Fine Arts school that once stood on Calle Avinyó.
Not to mention the impressive Gothic architecture and the first project of Famed Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi. Rambling up La Rambla is a good way to check out the parade of Barceloneons with its long walking avenue and take get great food in El Raval which is 50% populated by immigrants who come from many places including South America, Pakistan, the Phillipines, and Romania. Also, its close to the beach.
For those looking for street art this is also a remarkable point of destination. There are no big walls really but The Old City has plenty of back allies where artists find old rusty doors or windows to put up small pieces of Street Art.
Figurative, fantastical, surreal, dark pop, illustration techniques are favorites for local artiststs, who use all the compliment of modern Street Art techniques, including stencils, posters, stickers, and wheat pastes.
Our sincere thanks to photographer Lluis Olive who visited this part of the city recently and sends this dispatch of small offerings to share with BSA readers.
With a nod to La Danse by Henri Matisse and many human tribes’ rites of Spring, artist Falvita Banana creates her new “Juntes sumem” (add together) here on the façade of Cotxeres Borrell in Barcelona.
Her illustrations have been in magazines, books and on public walls, often with the most basic and courageous technique at play; the simple stroke in monochrome. Humor, absurdity, melancholy all are intertwined. Here the expansive commanding of space and convivial craze infers the spirit as well as the movement of these celebrants.
But as with many of her humorous works, she says that this new wall completed Wednesday has a sadness – the clan-like closeness on display is for safety as well as intimate sisterhood.
This is a feminist ring-around-the-rosy says the artist. “At any
time and situation, women have to be alert and united. We have to protect and
help each other; unfortunately, even when we’re having fun,” she says of the
jovial scene. “Above all, we have to remember that we are stronger together.”
Created in conjunction with the public art project Contorno Urbano in Barcelona.
This past Sunday, February 17 at La Plaza de las Tres Chimeneas ( Three Smokestacks Square) in Barcelona an international group of artists participated in the first “No Borders Festival.”
Called “Murs Contra el Murs”, which is Catalan for “Walls Against Walls”, the multi-mural festival intends to highlight the ongoing humanitarian crises of refugees and immigrants at international borders around the world.
Graffiti artists, Street Artists, painters, and illustrators came together to create new murals to speak to the issue and encourage debate and conversation. Artists included Btoy, Carles G.O’D, Dixon, Eledu, Enric Sant, Javier Arribas, Juanjo Surace, Julieta XLF, Kenor, Kram, Pincho, Roc Blackblock, Ruina, Saturno, Simón Vázquez, Tutzo, and Wati Bacán, among others.
BORDERS is a grassroots organization that was created to raise awareness about
the refugees, to demand their acceptance, and to raise funds through debates,
art and documentaries.
They say they want to raise the uncomfortable questions – which will undoubtedly lead to uncomfortable answers as well. To paraphrase the text on their website:
“Do we settle for a society that violates its moral and legal obligations to refugees? A refugee is a person who flees – Flees because he is on the losing side. Because he thinks, feels or prays differently than those who point him with their weapons.”
usual, artists are bringing these matters to the street for the vox populi to
Our sincere thanks to photographer Lluís Olive for sharing his shots of the walls with BSA readers.
For more information on the festival running through March 3rd that includes documentaries, panel discussions, workshops, and prints, please go to https://noborders.es/ and follow @nobordersrefugees on Instagram
Saturday fun today from local Barcelona graphic designer Núria Toll, who’s sort of new to the experience of doing murals and art on the street.
Translating her own history with illustration and typography, Ms. Toll finds that humor is a welcome antidote to the negativity that is produced by our invasions of animals’ natural habitats.
Here with “Veïnes” (female neighbors in Catalan), her seagulls are meant to remind us that the natural world was here first, and we should make a home for all of us. The seagulls are rather good at integrating, and Toll here is giving them their due.
Núria Toll paints here for Contorno Urbano, the first foundation in Spain dedicated to street art and graffiti.
Can you hear the heart beat? In this amphitheater in Parc del Pins you will definitely see it from every seat.
In a multicultural city like Barcelona, where it’s estimated that there are people from 114 nationalities, Santa Coloma de Gramenet Town Hall has commissioned artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada to find a unifying vision.
Indeed with his new ground mural completed over 10 days with 3 assistants, Rodríguez-Gerada goes to the CŎRE of the matter. Probably the work was good for their hearts, maybe not for their knees.
Curated by Anja Mila and Arcadi Poch this public work aims to encompass metaphorically the history of the city as well as the lifeblood that courses through its veins today.
The results are impressive, and you’ll probably be able to see it on Google maps. Not yet though. We just checked.
Part of the experience of making art in the street is the interaction with people passing by. Other times it’s about being out with your mates or peers, hitting up walls that are near each other – sharing opinions, jokes, paint. Of course when you are in your own creative zone you also may be able to block out everything; people and sounds and smells. You escape into the paint, the movement, the physicality, the shapes and colors.
This month Musa71 and Siro hit a tunnel together in in Rafael Casanova in Barcelona, each painting their own piece. They say they liked it and today we have pictures from their dual project – which turned into a friendly competition.
Writing graffiti since ’89, Barcelona local Musa71 says she’sa self-taught artist who is passionate about the letterform and exploring a number of styles just to get an appreciation for ways to manipulate them while keeping them legible.
Galicia born Siro studied fine arts over the last four years here in Barcelona and he says that he spends a lot of time painting and tattooing.
“After 10 years of painting, I think I have already turned this habit of painting into my little shelter, into an escape route from all the rest,” he says in a press release. He wouldn’t be the first to admit to developing an addiction to graffiti and mural making – we’ve met many.
It’s good to see how these two artists work have some overlap – at least
here in this tunnel in Barcelona.
Talented urban planning that has sufficient vision for the future will anticipate the needs and behaviors of a city, looking forward to its growth and reconfigurations over time. In L’Hospitalet, Spain the Street Artist Ampparito gathered plenty of evidence that sometimes old solutions in the built environment have to be destroyed in order for the new needs of an evolving city.
The resulting new mural is a humorous merging of digital and mortar, a conceptual piece that imagines the erasing of walls of an urban design/engineering mess in the way a Photoshop designer may do it – without heavy equipment, traffic disruption and no environmentally toxic by-products.
Esteban Marin tells us of the 10 day residency that the Spanish urban interventionist took part in with Contorno Urbano to study the mural site, work with neighbors and students from the area to discuss the needs of the people, and the bold outcome that Marin ironically calls “ground-breaking.”
The meeting place of a rail line and a road that once served the communities that grew up around it, everyone agrees that it now divides it and impedes a freeflow of traffic and people. It is something that a practitioner of Chinese medicine or its various healing modalities (acupuncture, Qigong, Tai Chi) may describe as an interruption of energetic pathways, a blockage of Qi energy. In the parlance of urban designers and civil engineers it would be similar; rebalancing urban mobility.
“The wall must be destroyed and rail tracks moved underground to facilitate the flow between districts,” says Marin. “Right now the road where the wall is cuts the city in two, same as the rail track. This is a crossroad point on the city with a lot of obstacles for the people living nearby to move around freely.”
“The spot where I had to work was a concrete wall that works as a base for the railway,” explains Ampparito. “Sometime ago this track was perpendicularly crossed by other trains. At some point this old transport disappeared and a road was built in order to connect the two main parts of Hospitalet. It is poetic how this tracks and roads split the village in several parts, making hard to connect two adjoining places.”
Although he may have liked to create an image that provided an emotional healing or comfort, the artist says that a decorative or aesthetically pleasing design wouldn’t have answered the calls from the community.
“I didn’t want to sweeten this place,” he says, remarking that most people simply drive past it. “It’s so hard to appreciate anything in this non place,” he says. “No one stops here. “Cars go through quite fast and there is no way to hang out here.”
Why not simply select your Photoshop tool from the toolbox and erase the obstruction? That’s what students helped Amparitto decide during his workshops with them to study the issue and devise solutions. An ingenious solution that speaks to the difference between digital work and actual labor, it also may not translate as clearly to older generations or those not familiar with design software, but it packs a visual punch that makes you crack a smile regardless.
“While you stand there in between cars going fast so close,” says Ampparito, “it all will make a bit of sense.”
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. The Yok & Sheryo in Sri Lanka
2. “Perpetual Flow” by Jorge Gerada in Morocco
3. Etnik in Barcelona with Contorno Urbano Foundation
4. Haroshi at his studio in Tokyo
BSA Special Feature: The Yok & Sheryo in Sri Lanka
Always a feeling of non-linear tropical adventure awaiting when you pop open a new spraycation video from the Street Art duo Yok & Sheryo, who would be just as happy to learn a local craft in your town as to paint a wall. Here they are painting and riding tuk tuks and running with a pack of wild dogs, as you do.
“Perpetual Flow” by Jorge Gerada in Morocco
Land artist Jorge Gerada mounts a large project in Ouarzazate, Morocco that extends over 37,500 meters in this commissioned job for a coffee brand calendar. Using rakes, stones, dark gravel, and vegetable oil, a scene of two hands under running water is created.
Etnik in Barcelona with Contorno Urbano Foundation
“Born in Stockholm and living in Torino, Etnik feels right at home on the street of many cities and the dense, designed, deliberate defining of the man-made environment,” we write in yesterdays posting on BSA. “What is new here is the inclusion of a leaf motif, imperfectly biomorphic, a visual paean to the natural world that precedes us and will outlast every cityscape we devise.”
Haroshi at his studio in Tokyo
“Calling Haroshi a sculptor seems too simple, because he is a collector, architect, painter and industrial designer, as well,” says Evan Pricco in the intro and interview he does on Juxtapoz with the Tokyo based artist. “What he has done throughout his career is take recycled skateboard decks, transforming and crafting them into sculptures that range from classic graphics, pop iconography, installations, and the present, where he currently recreates Japanese toys, including those from childhood.” See the new video by Chop Em Down and read the full piece here.
Etnik continues his deconstructivist investigations, drawing upon his history as a graffiti writer and a student of architecture, on this new wall in Barcelona. An illustrator and toy designer in addition to graffiti writer and muralist, you can see his appreciation for letter writing and the dimensional forms of geometry in almost all his work. He says that he is always searching for new ways to push the limits of classical graffiti to a higher level.
Born in Stockholm and living in Torino, Etnik feels right at home on the street of many cities and the dense, designed, deliberate defining of the man-made environment. What is new here is the inclusion of a leaf motif, imperfectly biomorphic, a visual paean to the natural world that precedes us and will outlast every cityscape we devise.
‘The wall is a colored series of Acanto leaves combined with some geometric architectonic elements in white,” he says. “The composition is a dualism between natural energies. The acanto leaf represents nature and its also a symbol you’ll frequently see in painting and classical architecture throughout the history of art.”
You got furious at us sometimes this year. Or rather, you were mad at artists whose work pissed you off. Thanks for the emails though bro. We still love you of course sister.
Without a doubt the polarized atmosphere in social/economic/geopolitical matters worldwide in 2018 was increasingly reflected in the graffiti and Street Art pieces and projects that we wrote stories about. Loving it or hating it, often BSA readers were motivated to share the story on social media for discussion and to write directly to us to take issue, or even to chide us for “being political”.
Let’s be clear. Art has always been and will always be “political”. We tend to think that the artwork that we agree with is not political because it is expressing our values, opinions, and worldview.
So that’s why you propelled stories about a clandestine Trump cemetery installation by InDecline onto the list this year. That’s why Winston Tseng’s inflammatory campaign against a certain kind of Trump supporter on NYC trashcans proved to be so provocative and offensive to so many people, while others crowed support.
The topic of free speech under fire also attracted high interest for Fer Acala’s story of artists and rappers who took over a Spanish former prison to protest restrictive recent federal laws aimed at protest in that country.
But BSA readers also love the spectacle, the vast animated murals, the scintillating stories behind the art and the artist; the connection that communities and festivals create with art in the public sphere – or in abandoned factories, as it were. The biggest splash this year was the over-the-top creation of and the fiery destruction of an art sculpture at the Falles de València celebration in Spain by Street Artist Okuda. You loved the tantalizing images by Martha Cooper, and somehow everyone relishes the idea of building and constructing a large, colorful, inspiring piece of art and then lighting it on fire in the public square – propelling that story to the top of the BSA list in Top Stories in 2018
Box trucks are a favorite canvas for many graffiti writers in big cities and have become a right of passage for new artists who want the experience of painting on a smooth rectangular surface that becomes a rolling billboard through the streets advertising your name, making you truly “All City”.
When in French Polynesia a few weeks ago with the ONO’U festival, a number of artists were given the significant gift of a large truck or school/commuter bus on which to create a mural, a message, a bubble tag.
Together on the islands of Raiatea and Bora Bora there were about 10 of these long and low autobuses that became sudden celebrities in the sparsely travelled streets, debuted as some of them were in Raitea, when painted live at an all night party for the public.
The Painted Buses of Raiatea and Bora Bora. Continue reading HERE
Ajo Samaritans describe themselves and their mission on their website like this; “Samaritans are people of faith and conscience who are responding directly, practically, and passionately to the crisis at the US/ Mexico border. We are a diverse group of volunteers around Ajo that are united in our desire to relieve suffering among our brothers and sisters and to honor human dignity. Prompted by the mounting deaths among border crossers, we came together to provide food and water, and emergency medical assistance to people crossing the Sonoran Desert.”
Destroying Desert Water Bottles; Chip Thomas New Work in AJO, Arizona. Continue reading HERE
A current survey today from the streets in Copenhagen thanks to a couple of BSA fans and friends who share with readers their recent finds in one of the world’s happiest places, according to the 2018 World Happiness Report. Apparently it is also a good place for gay birds to come out of the closet.
With a storied history of graffiti bombing of the red trains that goes back many years, possibly generations, Copenhagen has long been a treasured destination for graffiti writers.
Now you will also find murals and installations illegally and legally by local and international Street artists – and the iconic full sides of buildings here are subtly transforming the public face of the city.
Copenhagen Diary: A Street Surevey of The Moment. Continue reading HERE
So INDECLINE picked a swell morning to debut their long-planned and complicated site-specific installation at this golf-course in New Jersey.
“INDECLINE felt is necessary to commemorate some of the victims,” they say. “The dates on the headstones correspond to some of the highlights of Trump’s first year in office.” You may remember some of these milestones on the tombstones, you may have to Google others.
The saddest death for us all year has been the civility and respect of Americans toward one another – as those hard working families who are just scraping by are being skillfully manipulated through sophisticated PR / media campaigns into thinking that they are the only real uber-patriots and to hate the wrong people. Most importantly they are fighting and voting against themselves without realizing it.
“Grave New World” Trump Cemetery. Continue reading HERE
Borondo. Utsira. Utsira, Norway. Summer 2018. (photo courtesy of the organizers)
Today we revisit Utsira, the tiny island in Norway that has hosted a few Street Artists over the last couple of years, like Ella & Pitr and Icy & Sot. This year the fine artist and Street Artist Gonzalo Borondo blended into the hills and the forest and the lapping waves, making his spirit dissipate into the community and into a boat.
“There’s a strong sense of community,” he says as he reflects on the metaphor he has chosen to represent his time here on an island of only 420 people, “There is a mutual support among citizens and a common feeling of enjoying the same unique condition.”
Borondo Finds Community on The Island of Utsira in Norway. Continue reading HERE
Equally gifted in the heavier handmade artisanal crafts of porcelain and ceramic as she is with aerosol, Nespoon did installations of both this month during the Emergence Festival in Sicily (Valverde + Catania. The seventh year of this international festival for public art, Nespoon shared the roster with American Gaia and Sicilian Ligama from March 10-26 creating works related to the city and its stories. In many respects these new works appear integral, interventions that belong there, may have been there a long time without you noticing; a sort of netting that holds the skin of the city together.
Nespoon Casts a Lace Net Across a Sicilian Wall. Continue reading HERE
One of the direct actions organized by the platform for fighting against Partido Popular’s civil rights oppression was to film a video clip featuring some of the most renowned lyricists on the scene as Frank T, Elphomega, Los Chikos del Maíz, La Ira, Rapsusklei, and César Strawberry, among others, at the old La Modelo prison. The location is an accurate metaphorical scenario when you are seeing that your liberty is being cut off thanks to laws like ‘Ley Mordaza’.
The song ‘Los Borbones son unos ladrones’, which alludes directly to the Spanish monarchy, includes some excerpts from some of the songs created by rappers serving a prison sentence. The video clip for the song, which you can watch at the end of this article, has become viral and almost all media outlets in the country are speaking about this big shout-out in the name of freedom.
No Callarem. La Modelo Prision. Barcelona. Continue reading HERE
Highlighting collective efforts that advance events during war and the tales of heroism, butchery, resistance, intrigue, and subterfuge that are braided into historical retelling, three Italian Street Artists commemorated citizen resistance and a Nazi massacre in a lengthy mural for the Penneli Ribelli Festival this month in Bologna.
At the center of the story is the resistance by everyday Italians of various ages, genders, and social classes, a movement known as the Italian resistance and the Italian Partisans, or Partigiani. The icon of the festival is a wolf in honor of the Partisan who led the group, Mario Musolesi, whose nickname was “Lupo”, or “Wolf”.
NemO’s, Ericailcane and Andrea Casciu Ride a Tandem Resistance. Continue reading HERE
We knew that these two talented and powerful personalities would compliment each other stunningly and that’s why we encouraged them two years ago to do a doc. A short term one was the original plan. But the two hit it off so well and when you are looking at a five decade career like Ms. Cooper’s and you have the dogged determination to do her story justice, Ms. Miles tells us that even an hour and a half film feels like its just getting started.
Now “Martha” the movie is at a unique juncture in the project and YOU may be able to participate; Selina and the team are looking for any original footage you may want to show them – and it may be used in the documentary.
“Martha” The Movie. Selina Miles Most Ambitious Project To Date. Continue reading HERE
After 25 years writing graffiti, DavidL has found his own way of working. It’s funny because one of the inherent issues about graffiti and street art is visibility. All the trains, the bombing, the tagging…it’s all about being noticed, being every f-ing where. It has been like this since day one (Taki 183, Terror161, 1UP…you know how it works).
But for David it’s not like that anymore.
Maybe it’s a sign of the days that we are living with social media, communication 2.0, etcetera. It’s obvious that if you have certain skills managing all this and a little bit of talent, plus a pinch of good taste, you can reach a global audience and show your work to the entire world even when you are concentrating the majority of your creations in a secret location.
DavidL, Through The Lens of Fer Alcala. Continue reading HERE
This week we have a selection of the UPEART festivals’ two previous editions of murals – which we were lucky to see this week after driving across the country in an old VW Bora.
We hit 8 cities and drove along the border with Russia through some of the most picturesque forests and farmlands that you’ll likely see just to collect images of the murals that this Finnish mural festival has produced with close consultation with Fins in these neighborhoods. A logistical challenge to accomplish, we marvel at how this widespread program is achieved – undoubtedly due to the passion of director Jorgos Fanaris and his insatiable curiosity for discovering talents and giving them a platform for expression.
When I was asked how to name the exhibition few weeks ago, I merged the words “vandalism“ and “Wandel“ (the German word for “Change“). That’s how Wandelism (or Changeism) was born and how it started transforming itself into an exhibition, which is truly accepting, embracing and living CHANGE.
On the grounds of a former car repair shop that is soon to be demolished, one can literally feel the constant movement and transformation of the urban fabric we all live in. Everything changes. Constantly. Change is evolution. Change is progress. Change is also the DNA of the art represented in the Wandelism show.
“Wandelism” Brings Wild Change For One Week in Berlin. Continue reading HERE
With a goal of 20 new murals by ’21 (20x21EUG), the city began in 2016 to invite a slew of international Street Artists, some locally known ones, and a famous graffiti/Street Art photographer to participate in their ongoing visual festival.
A lively city that is bustling with the newly blooming marijuana industry and finding an endless array of ways to celebrate it, Eugene has been so welcoming that many artists will report that feeling quite at home painting in this permissively bohemian and chill atmosphere.
“At the end of the day when one is towing the line of being provocative, you may cross that line in some people’s mind but I think if one is not trying to find that line then the work is not going to make any impact”.
Winston Tseng has probably been crossing that line, pissing off some people and making others laugh for a few years now. He appears to consider it an honor, and possibly a responsibility. Relatively new on the Street Art scene the commercial artist and art director has also created his 2-D characters on canvasses and skate decks that depict the abridged characteristics of a typecast to play with the emotions and opinions of passersby.
Winston Tseng: Street Provocatour Brings “Trash” Campaing to NYC. Continue reading HERE
Yes, Street Art is ephemeral, but OKUDA San Miguel just set it on fire!
During the annual Falles de València celebration, it’s normal for artworks to be destroyed publicly in about 500 locations throughout the city and in surrounding towns. Part of a spring tradition for València, Spain monuments (falles) are burned in a celebration that includes parades, brass bands, costumes, dinners, and the traditional paella dish.
This year the first Street Artist to make a sculpture in the traditional commemoration of Saint Joseph is the un-traditional OKUDA, creating his multi-color multi-planed optic centerpiece.
Okuda Sculpture Engulfed in Flames in Valéncia. Continue reading HERE
We wish to express our most heartfelt gratitude to the writers and photographers who contributed to BSA and collaborated with us throughout the year. We are most grateful for your trust in us and for your continued support.
When the Street Artist is not taking over bus shelters and reconfiguring fashion ads into grotesque critiques of beauty culture, he has also been learning about analogic photography at Nau Bostik. The Barcelona-based cultural space has phenomenal education programs for artists to develop their skills with facilities equipped with one of the best photography laboratories in Spain.
But learning how to create a photographic print there kicked Vermibus’ butt – making him nearly quit in his pursuit to get it right.
“One by one, the artist carefully applied liquid emulsion on sheets of 100% cotton paper of the highest quality. By contrast, the developer was applied with an expressive brush stroke, which makes each one of the pieces different and special,” says the official press release for the new print he created, called “Katherine.” It doesn’t say that he failed multiple times before he discovered that technique.
His perseverance is documented here on BSA today as photographer and cultural documenter Fer Alcala interviews Vermibus about his residency and the challenges he faced learning how to create this work.
Fer Alcala:So, you spent some weeks as a resident artist at Nau Bostik working on the Katherine print. At the same time, you were doing a workshop with some school students about adbusting, contrapublicity… Which came 1st: the creative process of the print, or having to do the workshop, where you ended up with the idea of developing Katherine at Bostik? Vermibus: The print and the workshop were two completely different projects that took place at the same time. I was invited by Xavier Ballaz, from Difusorbcn, to give a two month workshop in Barcelona about counter-advertising from the feminism and gender theories perspective.
The challenge was to find a place where to live and work during this time in Barcelona, that’s how the art residency at Nau Bostik came across.
I was supposed to have a room and a studio there but, because of the characteristics of my materials (the solvents) we couldn’t figure out where to install it. So, I had to approach the residency in a different way.
Fortunately, Nau Bostik has an important relation with analog photography and also they have one of the biggest photo-laboratories from the country “La Perversa”. It was impossible not to feel inspired by this place.
Adapting my needs to the situation I end up develop my last print there.
Fer Alcala:If I’m not wrong, you’ve launched 3 prints to date, using a different technique in every one of them. Could you tell us a little bit about all this and how you have chosen each process? Is it kind of a challenge for you? Is it a matter of not repeating yourself?
Vermibus: After trying them, I think other artists can profit more from techniques like giclée and screenprinting than I.
When I’m creating, I like to have an experience and I want this one to be reflected in the final work. At the same time, I’m interested in the investigation and the developing of techniques that break boundaries and open new or forgotten paths.
Fer Alcala:I had the chance of spending some time with you at the laboratory witnessing the developing of Katherine. I have to say that it was a very delicate, technical and magical process. Did you have to learn this technique from zero? What was the most stressful part of it? Did any ideas about quitting the project come to your mind?
Vermibus: I knew the very basics of analog photography and I knew what I wanted to do but I had to learn how to do it, almost from zero.
Of course, I had all the problems someone could have in a laboratory, literally every single one of them.
To be in a dark-room for long periods of time, when things are not going good can be devastating. The idea of quitting came to my mind many times.
But from my experience, when nothing is working and you are close to let it go is when magic happens. During the last week of the art-residency I found out that the main problem was the composition of the paper, so I decided to give a last push and I got a beautiful top quality paper that was decisive in the production of the print.
In the end, I could have everything ready on time with the results I wanted from the beginning.
Fer Alcala: Once Katherine was produced, you showed it in the exhibition context during Moniker Art Fair London. After all the hard work, were you happy with the results and the feedback you got from attendants, collectors, other artists? Vermibus: The moment of showing your work is when all the pain has passed and you can enjoy. I really believe Brutally Human is the best collection of works I have done until now. The feedback was great, so it seems like the people enjoyed it too.
Fer Alcala:Is there any way to still get it? Vermibus: I think Moniker Art Fair still have some prints left.
Fer Alcala: I would like to ask you a couple of things apart from the creative process of Katherine. I think that, while you were doing the workshop at the school, working on issues as beauty, the role of women in advertisement, gender… the La Manada rape media coverage was at its height. Did it influence the way you approached the work with the students? Vermibus: Working with kids is something that I didn’t do before, so my approach towards the students, the profession and of course it was taken with massive respect.
I was preparing the lessons with a lot of care but adapting myself and the content to the needs of each moment So, what happened during that time with La Manada was the worst that could have happened to the girl, to her family and to womens rights in general but perfect to make young people understand the importance of respect and empathy.
Fer Alcala:You are developing your own solvent, which I think is great. Could you explain to us why you have decided to do it and give us some tips about the technical side of it? Vermibus: Together with Elena Gayo, a renowned conservator and restorer from Spain, I’ve been developing my own solvent.
The idea had different goals: reducing toxicity, gaining molecular stability and understanding better my technique to be able develop it.
After months of work and infinite setbacks (similar to the process of the print) I found the correct proportion of “ingredients” to create my own solvent.
Visually speaking it leaves the painting slightly smoother than the old solvent and the molecular structure is much more stable because I control the ingredients. Also, I can modify the mix because I understand what each of the solvents does individually and all together.
But the most important is that we could reduce the toxicity drastically, from a commercial solvent that was carcinogenic, neurotoxic, mutagenic and reproduction-impairing to a solvent that produces no irritation through skin contact and inhalation. And that’s a big deal.
Fer Alcala:Is it something that you are doing for yourself or are you planning to produce it and sell it at a larger scale? Vermibus: The solvent is absolutely adapted to my needs but who knows, maybe one day…
Fer Alcala:Tell us about your plans for 2019 Vermibus: 2018 has been a very decisive year. I spent most of my time reflecting on what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, but specially with who I’m working with and with who I’m not.
I have learned a lot this year and 2019 will be the moment when all what was learned will start to materialize. That’s all I can say for now.
‘The Gag Law made me do it!,” says Street Art activist and social commentator Bill Posters as he talks about his new kiosk takeovers in Placa Espanya, Barcelona. The large black and white photographs are of two free speech advocates arrested for offending ‘Ley Mordaza’ in Spain – a curious concoction of restrictions passed as law 3 years ago that most people would tell you are clearly repressive and are frankly difficult to believe would last for long in a European country.
Article 578, known as ‘Ley Mordaza’ (the ‘gag law’) has been condemned by Amnesty International and is symbolized in these Street Art pieces by the piece of red tape that goes across the subjects’ mouths. Mr. Posters tells us he intends it to be an interactive piece that the public can remove the tape themselves, symbolically allowing the subject to speak. This act of de-censorship is a novel idea and in fact someone recently did that and photographed it (below).
The artist tells us more details about the two subjects, who he says are, “taken hostage by the Spanish state’s legal apparatus that is increasingly designed to silence both political and cultural dissent.”
Anna Gabriel: “After the holding in 2017 of the Catalan independence referendum, called by the Generalitat de Catalunya, and declared illegal by the Constitutional Court of Spain – the former spokesperson for the Catalan pro-Independence campaign, was called to appear in front of the Spanish Supreme Court to give evidence about her participation in those events. On February 20th, 2018, she stated in an interview to Le Temps that she would not show up for her court hearing, while in a self imposed exile in Switzerland.”
Bill Posters. Portrait in Exile 1 – Valtònyc. ‘Lay Mordaza Me Obliga’ / ‘The Gag Law Made Me Do It’. Intervention in Placa Espanya. Barcelona, Spain. October 2018 (Screen grab from the video)
Valtònyc: “A vocal pro-independence rapper from Catalonia was sentenced to 3 years in prison in March 2018 for lyrics that contained (alleged) glorification of terrorism, slander, ‘lèse-majesté’ (defamation against the crown), and threats.”
Here at BSA we don’t pretend to know all of the history or innerworkings of Spain and Catalonia – or Brooklyn for that matter – but we do worry seriously when we hear about artists being silenced and jailed for speech – and you should too.
Through a third party BSA was able to send a few interview questions to the twenty-four year old Catalonian rapper Valtònyc, who is featured in one of these Street Art pieces and who Belgium recently refused to extradite. With a number of “western” societies going in a hard-right direction politically, we wanted to understand how a country like Spain could have passed these recent laws and how they are affecting artists – those weirdos who usually are the first to test the limits of free speech.
Edited for clarity and brevity, these are the answers we received back:
BSA:Democracy returned to Spain in 1977, yet 41 years later you were convicted by the Supreme Court of Spain for exercising your rights to express your opinions not only as a citizen but as an artist. How is it possible that a member state of the EU, one that bills itself as a democratic state, can rescind freedom of speech among its citizens? Valtònyc: Being condemned for a song lyric is not the most serious thing that happens in Spain. Since the beginning of the supposed “democracy”, Spain has the only general secretary of a communist party in prison under a life sentence. Now he is also joined by the president of ERC and the ministers of Catalonia without trial and with accusations of up to 30 years for rebellion.
In Spain, multiple daily newspapers, websites and illegal political parties have also been closed. All this while Europe watches. We are not a bourgeois democracy like other countries in Europe, we are a fascist state and it is demonstrable.
The above photo of the installation shown without the red tape was sent to Valtonyc (the Catalonian rapper in exile) which shows his portrait with the red tape removed. “Someone, an unknown member of the public transgressed the boundary from observer to participant which is what the project intended!” Bill Posters
BSA:What about democracy? What’s happened to the Spanish Institutions that were created after the dictatorship to protect the rights of its citizens? Valtònyc: In a democracy, institutions are there to serve citizens. In Spain they only serve to condemn them. There are 20,000 people affected by the ‘gag law’. When there is a wave of organization and demonstrations, they respond with repression.
It is curious that they never condemn fascists or Nazis and that the accused are always communists and anarchists. The constitutional court does not respond to violations of the constitution, such as my sentence and that of the remaining 15 rappers. Is not freedom of expression a constitutional right?
BSA:Do you think the current state of Spain is a direct consequence of corruption? Valtònyc: Brussels recently has shown that Spain is the most corrupt country in Europe. Of 1400 corrupt politicians, only 70 have entered prison and none of them has served their sentence in full. Worst of all is corruption within justice – how judges paralyze investigations of political parties or destroy evidence of illegal financing. It’s a disaster.
BSA:Do you see other young people like yourself being aware of the social issues and the struggles facing Spain now? How are they getting involved to help create a better country? Valtònyc: Every day people are more aware of what is happening in the Spanish state and are organized or mobilized. There are never enough, but as in France, we in Spain also have examples of organization and struggles that have ended in victory. There are the examples of Gamonal, the train of Murcia, or the miners of Asturias. It shows that the people united and on the street, not only on the Internet, can preserve all the rights they try to take away from us. History proves this as a fact and it has never changed.
BSA:Do you think most young people in Spain view the Spain of Franco as something in the distant past and see no connection between his 35 years in power and the concerns of contemporary Spain? Valtònyc: I believe that many people are aware of the rise of the extreme right throughout Europe; how the extreme right takes advantage of the weaknesses of the popular classes in their speeches and thus wins their sympathy. The problem is that we do not organize ourselves to stop fascism and then we are surprised that in the elections they win so many votes. Fascism advances if it is not fought and it is a pity that people do not understand that this is more than a simple slogan.
BSA:Do you think artists must take a position with their art to lead a revolution for change? What is the part that art plays during times of social unrest and injustice? Valtònyc: I believe that art has to be a tool for social transformation; a hammer to shape reality. All art is political, many people think not, but that’s the way it is. Your art can serve the oppressor or the oppressed class, but it is impossible to stay out of politics. Now in the HipHop scene the Trap sound abounds and the political rap is not so notorious, but we still remain combative rappers in the trenches – especially in South America and in France.