All posts tagged: Carlo McCormick

“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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Virtually Damaged : Shepard Fairey in New York to Launch VR/AR Exhibition App

Virtually Damaged : Shepard Fairey in New York to Launch VR/AR Exhibition App

“This is the first time that it is been done in alignment with what I’m truly trying to do as an artist,” Shepard Fairey says about this new venture into virtual/augmented reality being unveiled this week in New York, and on a phone near you.

Shepard Fairey. “Damaged” VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A stunning realization of the experience that a visitor would have had at his “Damaged” exhibition a year ago in his hometown of Los Angeles, the freshly released app is the product of millions of incremental images taken in 360 degrees that enable you to tour the show – even though it was dismantled a while ago.

“It was by far my biggest exhibition – bigger than “May Day” at Deitch Projects, bigger than the project I did in Dumbo and in New York with Jonathan Levine,” Fairey says of the exhaustive solo show of 230 pieces that opened to 21,000 people who had waited in 5-block long lines to get into the industrial warehouse. The new app designed by VRt Ventures captures each of those pieces in high definition of course, along with the more environmental experiential elements that the exhibition featured in the multi-faceted real life show.

Shepard Fairey. Screenview at Damaged” a VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

“I had the newsstand, billboard, murals, sculptures, the printing press, and the whole print studio,” Shepard says, “That was really probably the greatest thing about that space was that it was this hybrid – a street gallery feeling because it was this kind of industrial warehouse – and we built these white walls as well. It had all the corrugated metal and you could see all these beams and we set up this print shop in there so I feel like it really balanced the best of both worlds in terms of the presentation of the work.”

Last night in a Manhattan popup pre-opening show on the Bowery Mr. Fairey and his wife Amanda made the rounds with guests in goggles to tour the exhibition where it exists now – as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Billed as a “VR/AR immersive experience”, the open bar and crunchy hip-hop/punk medley pumping loudly across the speakers may have impaired our abilities to pan and click inside the virtual world frankly. But we could easily see how a quieter home environment, or even a subway ride, would make it easier to listen to Fairey’s narrated portions and to appreciate the navigation around the space. So we downloaded the app for phone exploration later.

Shepard Fairey. “Wrong Path”. Detail of vinyl print for Damaged a VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“The accessibility of the art is so much more in your hands and really, truly it is like being in the space,” says Ms. Fairey as she compares the new virtual experience to the original. “It was a giant warehouse and an amazing exhibition of his work – It’s like you are in it, I mean. Oh my god. It revives the moment for us.”

As an activist on the street, and later in galleries and museums, Fairey has always communicated clearly and in detail about the inspirational factors and contextual circumstances that are foundational to his work – whether in canvasses for private homes or prints for t-shirts or in the many stickers, stencils and hurried wheat pastes he’s left on walls in the middle of the night. So it’s no surprise that the works in the virtual “Damaged” are augmented with his voice describing the works and what he was thinking about when making them.

Shepard Fairey. “Bias By Numbers”. Detail of vinyl print for Damaged a VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

He imagines what it would be like for him to experience this with other artists as well.

“For me to hear Warhol giving a tour through the Factory – or any number of artists – explaining first hand rather than learning about the show through all of these people who may or may not be credible to be saying what they are saying,” he remarks. “When I think about how valuable it would’ve been for me; I like to hear things from the artist if it is possible. I did 100 minutes of narration on this. I usually write about all of the pieces that I create, about what’s happening in current events that are relevant to the work as well as the general principles of the work. So the VRt team went through all of the pieces in the show and found additional text to supplement my audio narration.”

Shepard Fairey. Screenview at Damaged” a VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

BSA: So do you think that this experience with this app and the way that people experience the exhibition when they cannot be there physically will be a good tool, not just for you but for a lot of artists to spread their message?

Shepard Fairey: Yeah I definitely do. Of course I think it’s always most important for people if they came to see the work in person. But when you think about the high percentage of people that basically are sort of scrolling through a slideshow of static images and that’s the best they’re going to get, this technology is really important for the future of art. Not just for artists but for museums that spend a huge amounts of money on an exhibition and it comes down after a finite amount of time, you can see this being more important especially as the technology improves.

To capture Damaged”, the exhibit was scanned with lasers–generating an exact replica of the exhibit.

These guys from VRt, you know they spent a lot of money to be ahead of the curve on this. Very used the highest technology to laser-map the entire space. You can go up to the pieces and see the textures. You can walk around the printing press. It’s really impressive. As this technology comes down in price it is going to democratize all kinds of experiences even more so I’m glad that maybe I can provide a little example a case study of how beautiful this technology is.

Shepard Fairey. “Wrong Path”. Detail of vinyl print for Damaged a VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Shepard Fairey. “Drink Crude Oil”. Detail of vinyl print for Damaged a VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

From left to right: Stan Sudol, Shepard Fairey, Evan Pricco, Steven P. Harrington and Carlo McCormick at the VIP launching of “Damaged” VR/AR Immersive Experience. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 


To celebrate the launch of the “DAMAGED” mobile App, VRt Ventures, Shepard Fairey, Juxtapoz Magazine and ABSTRKT NYC host a pop-up will be open to the public from 10/17 – 10/21 at 136 Bowery in New York City from 10am – 6pm where fans can come check out the experience, make sure to follow @JuxtapozMag @ObeyGiant @VRtVentures on social media for more information.

The DAMAGED mobile App is available for download via the iOS App Store and Google Play store for Android, on Oculus, Samsung Gear and Steam in VR.

For more information, please visit VRtVentures.art

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Rammellzee, Racing For Thunder, and Interview with Carlo McCormick

Rammellzee, Racing For Thunder, and Interview with Carlo McCormick

Intergalactic Godhead and one of New York’s lost sons, the multidimensional Rammellzee is here, at least his pyramidic urn is. The train writer, performance artist, plastic artist, language master, mathematics interpolator, hip-hop pioneer and one of the original “Wild Style” and “Style Wars” alumni brings the big guns to Red Bull Arts.

Rammellzee. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Rewarded the instant you enter, the flying intergalactic battleships greet you at the door, leading you into the blissful blacklit abyss below, provoking a humorous inner sense of a warring gothic future. But first you can explore the brighter white-box gallery above with a small theater behind for video and various listening stations, photography, augmented with vitrines of emphemera and original texts from the audacious imagineer.

The largest survey of its kind of work by the artist, who passed away in 2010, this is a considered collection of images, writings, sculpture and costume that give you the idea that it only approximates the vast galaxy of histories and characters that the iconoklast panzerist stored in his imagination.

Rammellzee. “Evolution Of The World 1979” Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“These costumes remind me of George Clinton,” says experimental filmmaker and writer Tessa Hughes-Freeland maker and writer at the opening Thursday night for “Racing for Thunder”. She was one of many New York royalty from the “Downtown” and graffiti scenes of 80s-90s New York who were attending the flooded opening this week, including artists like Lee Quinones, Futura, Torrick Ablack aka Toxic, and John Fekner.

“I don’t remember him wearing all of these costumes,” says painter Jane Dickson as she looks at the mythical deities glowing and raging in the smoky haze.

“Actually I do remember him in that one at an event,” she says motioning to an intimidating fluorescent grill-faced figure in a stylize kimono. Her husband Charlie Ahearn, who directed Rammellzee in Style Wars, was interested in creating a movie solely about the artists many characters and his fully immersive commitment to the environments he built in his loft in the 80s and 90s.

Rammellzee. “Maestro 1979“. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The crowd coursing through the exhibit listens to recordings, watches raw video, drinks champagne, and wishes for decoder rings in the vain hope of peering into the mind of this child of the Rockaways who painted the A train and recorded music that influenced musicians as diverse as the Beastie Boys and Big Audio Dynamite, who dedicated a song to him.

The extensive collection, much of it never before seen, took more than a year to assemble and curate for Chief Curator Max Wolf and cultural critic Carlo McCormick, who created the exhibition with Associate Curators Christian Omodeo, Jeff Mao, and Candice Strongwater.

Rammellzee. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We captured a few details from the show during installation which we show here to whet your appetite and spoke with McCormick, who also knew the artist personally and took decisions about the exhibit with a precise appreciation for Rammellzee’s place in the canon of graffiti, post-graffiti, hip-hop, mathematics, and performance.

BSA: Part of Rammellzee’s story lies in the environments that he created to share with artists and friends – and to use as a laboratory. How can an exhibition achieve some of that same unique atmosphere?
Carlo McCormick: The most tempting thing to do as a curator was to re-create “The Battle Station”, which was his home studio, and it was kind of a “life’s work” installation that way. But it just seemed that this was also Max Wolf’s project as well, who co-curated it, and it is also a focus to make these things be engaged and discreet.

Rammellzee. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You’ve got the whole thing: the Garbage Gods, Gassolear, and the Letter Racers. It’s kind of like his final showdown of good versus evil. But we wanted to allow it to be in a fine art space so you could register as much of “the gaze” as you could looking at any other art.

It’s still black light illuminated; Rammellzee liked to paint all of his walls black. I know he did it at Barbara Braathen and Fashion Moda. One time he did this at this one gallery – the gallery owner left him the keys to the gallery to prepare the space. She came back the next day and really what he had done was he had painted all the walls black. She’s was like, “What?”

So we didn’t do that, we tried to give it a little bit of the privilege of the white space because now he is dead and it is better to be in conversation with that whole history with Western art.

Rammellzee. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Can you talk about going through the artwork and costumes that Rammellzzee and Carmela had stored away? What kind of thoughts and feelings were you experiencing?
Carlo McCormick: Everything looked kind of squalid when it had just been pulled out of storage and from this other storage facility that Sotheby’s had.

It was sort of underwhelming because he was sort of working with bits of garbage and rags. And the costumes are really fly fashion but it’s really made on the cheap – its like “costume” instead of “clothing” right? It was all scattered about.

And there was someone who went all of the old performance photos and basically re-assembled all of these personalities – because they were not stored in a bag separated for each character. There were just racks of costumes and boxes of masks and things like that.

Rammellzee. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

They had to put all of these elements together – so that was really amazing. But once it is all put together it is so much more magical. That’s kind of the way he collaged everything – he had an amazing ability to put things together.

This is just the first show so it has that honor but it is a dubious one because it is just a start and now there is the hope that more scholarship and more curatorial work and more work all around can go into Rammellzee’s estate and his legacy.

Considering that this was all done in a year with a pretty small team here at Red Bull, its amazing the amount of resources they pulled. How cool it is to think, “There is no way we can go through all of the ephemera” and then to be able to say, “Hey get Christian Omodeo in here to do the archives for this.” So it has been a really cool thing to make all of this happen because they allow you to entertain pretty elaborate schemes.

Rammellzee. Treatise On The Luxturnomere. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Was he thinking in terms of posterity and about having a great show in the future. Did he care?
Carlo McCormick: I think, like a lot of people at that time, he had a really ambivalent relationship to ‘the market’ and ‘the art world’ and the gallery system and all that stuff for a moment there. He was very ambitious and he saw how friends of his were beginning to paint and people were paying attention and he goes, “Shit I can do that”.

So I think he didn’t always like the art world. I think he kind of really hated it in some ways but he attached himself to it for 10 years with the paintings and continued a collector base through his death in 2010. I’m sure, in his mind, he never would be forgotten. He was so important.

Rammellzee. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: The artist had such a unique fantasy world in his imagination with galactic battles and love of the letters and projections into the future. Would you say he was acting as a character – or maybe that he became that character?
Carlo McCormick: He was many characters. I think that one of the things that people are going to start paying more attention to outside of the obvious place in Hip-Hop and in graffiti art and what was going on in 1980s painting is the performance work. In that he is adopting so many fluid identities.

Also, as we were noting before when we were walking through it, he was crossing gender and doing a lot of things that are not typical for the work of that vernacular. He was doing a lot of it. With identity politics and performances now I think that a lot of people are going to look at that work with a different eye.

BSA: What influenced his mind? Why did he do what he did?
Carlo McCormick: That’s the basic thing you know. When you read that first treatise – and he kept on doing these manifesto type things – even from the first one at this really early age, he was an incredible autodidact, all self-taught. There was just massive amounts of information of all sorts of theory and math and science and military. I mean it’s all over.

He’s an autodidactic and a polymath. So I don’t really know where all of it came from. Sometimes you just have to think “maybe he watched a lot of Transformers on TV!” Who knows.

BSA: Many people will be learning about this multi-dimensional artist for the first time. What do you want them to know about him and his brilliance?
Carlo McCormick: I really hope the work can speak for itself. He was as conceptual as he was urban. I hate to poison the well. He is so open to so many readings. He is being grabbed now by other forces that are in the market and those are being brought to bear.

So for me one of the things here was to bring this from out of the community and from all of the artists he worked with and was friends with. One of the things was I didn’t want to be the only person speaking for Ram when there were all of these other people still around.

I would say “Come in with and open mind and expect it to be blown.”

Rammellzee. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder is organized by Max Wolf and Carlo McCormick, with Candice Strongwater, Jeff Mao, and Christian Omodeo.

RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder is now open to the general public. Click HERE for more details.

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BSA Film Friday: 12.01.17

BSA Film Friday: 12.01.17

bsa-film-friday-JAN-2015

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

Now screening :
1. Rough Cut of Haring on Train in Mexico City (DF)
2. Niels Shoe Meulman in Magic City
3. Carlo McCormick talks about ROA at Magic City
4. Miquel Wert / 12 + 1 Contorno Urbano
5. “Awareness, Optimism, Commitment” by GEC Art

bsa-film-friday-special-feature

BSA Special Feature: Rough Cut of Haring on Train in Mexico City (DF)

It all took us by surprise last week in Mexico City when suddenly a whole train covered on both sides with Keith Haring’s work approached while we were waiting at the platform to catch the Linea 2 of the Metro. He made his name in part by illegally doing drawings like these in NYC subways and here now they are crushing a whole train. The name of the project is “Ser Humano. Ser Urbano” or “Being Human. Being Urban” and it aims to promote human values and human rights. The pattern you see is from “Sin Titulo (Tokyo Fabric Design)” – now stretched across these whole cars, if you will.

The train itself is inexplicably having brake troubles, so we get some jerky spur-of-the-moment footage but all week on Instagram and Facebook we’ve received tons of comments from people reacting to this little bit of Keith video by Jaime Rojo on BSA.

 

 

Niels Shoe Meulman in Magic City – The Art Of The Street :

Niels Shoe Meulman spent some nights in a Munich jail thirty years ago for mucking about on the walls. This year he was paid to do it in Munich for Magic City, the travelling morphing exhibition (now in Stockholm) where Street Art is celebrated along with all its tributaries – including a film program and a number of photographs by your friends here at BSA.

Born, raised and based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Shoe shares here his new improvisational piece and some of his reflections on his process and his evolution from being in advertising as an art/creative director and reclaiming his soul as a graffiti/Street Art/fine artist. As ever, Martha is in the frame, putting him in the frame.

 

Carlo McCormick talks about ROA at Magic City – The Art Of The Street / Dresden-Munich-Stockholm

The urban naturalist ROA gets the Carlo McCormick treatment here as the chief curator of Magic City does the talking for the anonymous Ghent-based artist who has globe-trotted for almost a decade with his marginalized animal parade in monochrome. Here you get to see the inside/outside of his practice, a genuine master as work – with the delicious insight of Carlo to guide your appreciation.

 

Miquel Wert / 12 + 1 Contorno Urbano

In studio with Miguel Wert we get to see him sifting through a pile of black and white photos, assessing the scene, the sitters, the psychological-emotional dynamics of families, lovers, haters.

“In most family photos the interpersonal dynamics are more subtle,” we wrote when the wall was first unveiled in Barcelona, “but a close reading of posture, body language, and facial expressions all give unconsciously a lot of information about the true nature of the relationships officially on display.”

See more in “Miquel Wert Brings Awkward Family Dynamics From the Shadows in Barcelona”

“Awareness, Optimism, Commitment” by GEC Art

Young gymnast takes the opportunity to practice and perform for a moment atop this traffic barrier in Torino.

And why not?

 

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“Magic City” in Dresden : Exhibition of Street Artists and City as Muse

“Magic City” in Dresden : Exhibition of Street Artists and City as Muse

An unusual amalgam of the interactivity of the street combined with the formality of a gallery environment, Magic City opened this fall in a converted factory in Dresden, Germany with an eclectic selection of 40+ artists spanning the current and past practices of art in the street.

brooklyn-street-art-skewville-jaime-rojo-magic-city-dresden-11-2016-web-3

Skewville. Children enjoying Skewville’s “tete-a-tete” shopping cart. Ernest Zacharevic’s mobile in the background. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With revered culture critic and curator Carlo McCormick at the helm alongside curator Ethel Seno, the richly marbled show runs a gamut from 70’s subway train writers and photographers like Americans Daze, Henry Chalfant, and Martha Cooper to the Egyptian activist Ganzeer, Italian interventionist Biancoshock, popagandist Ron English, and the eye-tricking anamorphic artist from the Netherlands, Leon Keer.

Veering from the hedonistic to the satiric to head-scratching illusions, the collection allows you to go as deep into your education about this multifaceted practice of intervening public space as you like, including just staying on the surface.

brooklyn-street-art-ernest-zacharevic-jaime-rojo-magic-city-dresden-11-2016-web

Ernest Zacharevic mobile with a “listening station” on the left. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It’s not an easy balance to strike – some of these artists have heavy hearts and withering critiques of human behaviors and institutional hypocrisies ranging from 1st World treatment of refugees to celebrity culture to encroaching surveillance on individual rights, government oppression, and urban blight.

Magic City doesn’t try to shield you from the difficult topics, but the exhibition also contains enough mystery, fanboy cheer, eye candy and child-like delight that the kids still have plenty of fun discoveries to take selfies with. We also saw a few kissing couples, so apparently there is room for some romance as well.

brooklyn-street-art-jaime-rojo-magic-city-dresden-11-2016-web

 A visitor to Magic City enjoys a “listening station”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“We believe that even the typical city is uncommon, and that the idiosyncrasies that make each city unique are collectively something they all have in common,” says McCormick in his text describing the exhibition. “This is then a celebration of the universal character of cities as well as a love letter to their infinite diversity. The special magic that comes from our cities is germinated in the mad sum of their improbable juxtapositions and impossible contradictions.”

Of particular note is the sound design throughout the exhibition by Sebastian Purfürst and Hendrick Neumerkel of LEM Studios that frequently evokes an experiential atmosphere of incidental city sounds like sirens, rumbling trains, snatches of conversations and musical interludes. Played at varying volumes, locations, and textures throughout the exhibition, the evocative city soundscape all adds to a feeling of unexpected possibilities and an increased probability for new discovery.

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Olek’s carousel from above. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Obviously this Magic City cannot be all things to all people, and some will criticize the crisp presentation of a notably gritty series of subcultures, or perhaps the omission of one genre or technique or important artist. It’s not meant to be encyclopedic, rather a series of insights into a grassroots art and activism practice that continues to evolve in cities before our eyes.

For full disclosure, we curated the accompanying BSA Film Program for Magic City by 12 artists and collectives which runs at one end of the vast hall – and Mr. Rojo is on the artist roster with 15 photographs of his throughout the exhibition, so our view of this show is somewhat skewed.

Here we share photographs from the exhibition taken recently inside the exhibition for you to have a look for yourself.

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Olek (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ron English (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A MadC installation made with thousands of spray can caps. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Belgian urban naturalist ROA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Skewville . ROA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Skewville (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Daze (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Martha Cooper at the gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Henry Chalfant at the gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Bordalo II (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Andy K. detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Isaac Cordal. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Isaac Cordal (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Anders Gjennestad AKA Strok (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Icy & Sot with Asbestos on the left. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Replete (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Truly (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Leon Keer (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jaime Rojo. A young visitor enjoying the Kids Trail through a peephole with Jaime’s photos inside an “electrical box”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jaime Rojo. The Kids Trail wasn’t only for kids it seems. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tristan Eaton on the right. Olek on the left. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Aiko at the Red Light District. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The Yok & Sheryo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Herakut. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Herakut (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Full list of participating artists:

Aiko, AKRylonumérik, Andy K, Asbestos, Benus, Jens Besser, Biancoshock, Mark Bode, Bordalo II, Ori Carino & Benjamin Armas, Henry Chalfant, Martha Cooper, Isaac Cordal, Daze, Brad Downey, Tristan Eaton, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Fino’91, Ganzeer, Anders Gjennestad, Ben Heine, Herakut, Icy & Sot, Leon Keer, Loomit, MadC, OakOak, Odeith, Olek, Qi Xinghua, Replete, Roa, Jaime Rojo, Skewville, SpY, Truly, Juandres Vera, WENU, Dan Witz, Yok & Sheryo, Ernest Zacharevic.

 

Visit MAGIC CITY DRESDEN for more details, news, videos and the blog.

 


This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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“Magic City” Premieres in Dresden : Seno and McCormick as Alchemists

“Magic City” Premieres in Dresden : Seno and McCormick as Alchemists

40 Artists Up Along Main Street, 12 More in the BSA Film Program

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Curators Ethel Seno and Carlo McCormick in front of a new mural by German duo Herakut announcing the premiere of Magic City in Dresden. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)


 

“Nature is a petrified magic city.” – Novalis

Curator Carlo McCormick quotes Novalis by way of describing this new exhibit of an eclectic blend of terrific troublemakers, pop-culture hijackers, and show-stopping crowd pleasers drawn from cities all around the Street Art/ graffiti /urban art scene today – and forty years ago. This is a welcoming walk of unexpected intersections that only McCormick and co-curator Ethel Seno could imagine – and pull together as a panoply of street wizardry that acknowledges activism, artistry, anarchy, and aesthetics with a sincere respect for all. It will be interesting to see how this show is viewed by people who follow the chaotic street scene today in the context of its evolution and how they read the street signs in this city.

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Curator Ethel Seno with Managing Director Dieter Semmelmann and exhibition Designer Tobias Kunz cutting the ribbon at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

McCormick, in his customary self-effacing humor, expects there to be some shit flying – as anyone who is involved in this scene expects from the hard-scrabble rebellious margins and subcultures that this art-making interventionist practice rises from. There also are a growing and coalescing mini-legion of scholars and academics who are currently grappling with the nature and characteristics of this self-directed art-making practice rooted often in discontent – now organized inside an exhibition that is ticketed and sold as a family friendly show.

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Street Artist and pop mashup painter Tristan Eaton in front of his new mural wall at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

In his descriptions of the public sphere, the writer, historian, author, and cultural critic McCormick often refers to graffiti and street artists messing with “contested space”. It’s an apt description whether we are talking about the public space in high-density gleaming metropolises or the bombed-out grid-less and polluted quagmires of human fallibility and urban un-planning that dot our globe; all public space its nature is contested.

Here is a place used by many artists to protest, agitate, advocate, or deliver critique – and many of the artists in this exhibition have done exactly this in their street practice, often pushing limits and defining new ones. Dig a little into many of the individual story lines at play here and you’ll see that the vibrant roots of social revolution are pushing up from the streets through the clouds of propaganda and advertising, often mocking them and revealing them in the process.

Ultimately, this Magic City experience is an elixir for contemplating the lifelong romance we have with our cities and with these artists who cavort with us within them. “Our Magic City is a place and a non-place,” McCormick says in a position statement on the exhibit. “It is not the physical city of brick and mortar but rather the urban space of internalized meanings. It is the city as subject and canvas, neither theme park nor stage set, but an exhibition showcasing some of the most original and celebrated artists working on and in the city today.”

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Mixed media Street Artist Asbestos from Dublin, graffiti master/ painter Chris “Daze” Ellis from NYC, and Tristan Eaton from Los Angeles at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Curator Carlo McCormick with New York billboard/culture jammer and artist Ron English in front of his new wall mural at premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Dutch anamorphic art master Leon Keer with Polish crochet transformer/Street Artist Olek at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

BSA curated the film program for Magic City with a dynamic array of some of the best Street Art related films today presented together in a relaxed environment. In this video hosted by Andreas Schanzenbach you get a taste of the works that are showing that we draw from our weekly surveys on BSA Film Friday. Over the last few years we have had the honor of presenting live in-person to students and scholars and fans an ever-evolving collection of videos that speak to the spirit experimentation, discovery and culture-jamming outrageousness of urban interventions, graffiti and Street Art.  The BSA Film Program at Magic City presents a survey of some of the very best that we have seen recently.

Magic City artists include:
Akrylonumerik, Andy K, Asbestos, Ben Heine, Benuz, Biancoshock, Bordalo II, Brad, Downey, Dan Witz, Daze, Ernest Zacharevic, Ganzeer, Henry Chalfant, HERAKUT, Icy & Sot, Isaac Cordal, Jaime Rojo, Jens Besser, Juandres Vera, Lady Aiko, Leon Keer, Loomit, MAD C, Mark Bode, Martha Cooper, Oakoak, Odeith, Olek, Ori Carin / Benjamin Armas, Qi Xinghua, Replete, ROA, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Skewville, SpY, Tristan Eaton, Truly, WENU Crew, Yok & Sheryo

The BSA Film Program for Magic City includes the following artists:
Borondo, Brad Downey & Akay, Ella + Pitr, Faile, Farewell, Maxwell Rushton, Narcelio Grud, Plotbot Ken, Sofles, Vegan Flava, Vermibus

Some behind the scenes shots days before the Premiere

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Popagandist Ron English preparing his Temper Tot at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Popagandist Ron English preparing his Temper Tot at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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DAZE reviewing his work at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Urban naturalist ROA at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Sheryo strikes a pose while the guys build the installation she did with The Yok at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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BSA Images Of The Week: 07.31.16

BSA Images Of The Week: 07.31.16

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This week we bring you fresh stuff from Berlin where the final Project M/10 was debuted with a collection of artists curated by Instagrafite and we had an opportunity to ride the streets looking for interesting art, to avoid getting swept away by a sudden massive flood, and to visit Urban Spree for some great prints and paintings, and even to hang out in a boxing club for days with a cluster of curators.

Our special thanks to Yasha Young and the entire UN Team for their UNflagging support as we collectively are bringing a new institution that recognizes a wide swath of history and influences forward. More to come…

Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring A Squid Called Sebastian, Anarkia, Axel Void, Hop Louie, JAZ, Marshal Arts, Mindaugas Bonanu, Nafir, Olek, Panmela Castro, RoboSexi, Roxi, Speto, Uriginal, and Various & Gould.

Our top image: Panmela Castro AKA Anarkia. Detail. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Panmela Castro AKA Anarkia. Detail. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Panmela Castro AKA Anarkia. Detail. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Panmela Castro AKA Anarkia. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Various & Gould. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Olek in collaboration with Robosexi. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

New interventional pieces of objects in clear resin from the Polish duo Robosexi in collaboration with Polish/Brooklyner artist OLEK placed IN the streets of Berlin this week. An anagram of their first names Roxi and Sebo, the duo say their “Time Capsules” are an effort to freeze the truth about this time and people today. They say that they also do performances and video art in addition to these installations, but this week they are in town with OLEK for PM/10 at Urban Nation.

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Olek in collaboration with Robosexi. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Olek in collaboration with Robosexi. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Olek in collaboration with Robosexi. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Olek in collaboration with Robosexi. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A selfie gun from Hamburg based stencillist Marshal Arts. Berlin, Germany. One source tells us the title is “How to Take a Great Selfie.” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Uriginal in conjunction with Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nafir is having some rather explosive ideas lately. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A Squid Called Sebastian in conjunction with Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A Squid Called Sebastian in conjunction with Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A Squid Called Sebastian in conjunction with Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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An unidentified artist’s painting of these two amorous lovers appears under the train tracks that lead across Oberbaum Bridge (German: Oberbaumbrücke), a double-deck bridge crossing Berlin’s River Spree. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Axel Void. Detail. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A new sculpture by Franco JAZ Fasoli commands the center exhibition space at Project M/10, which opened last evening in Berlin. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Curated by Instagrafite.(photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Beards and man buns are the default fashion accessory for men who would like to give an air of hipness at this moment. Arguably however, they are probably considered mainstream. Hop Louie. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Speto. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Roxi. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Project M/10. Curated by Instagrafite. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-sreet-art-jaime-rojo-berlin-07-31-16-webAlleged ties between US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimer Putin made it to the street via Lithuanian artist Mindaugas Bonanu and this week on the cover of Frankfurter Allgemeine. Although the German newspaper doesn’t credit the creator of this image (which happens a LOT with street art), we can tell you that the significance of the image is directly tied to Berlin Wall art history. As writer and art critic Carlo McCormick notes in a recent PAPER magazine portfolio of Trump-related art, this piece refers to ” a famous fraternal kiss in 1979 between Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev and his East German counterpart Erich Honecker that gained fame as a painting by Dmitri Vrubel on the Berlin Wall.”

Untitled. Berlin, Germany. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ganzeer’s Graphic Novel Imagines a “Solar Grid”

Ganzeer’s Graphic Novel Imagines a “Solar Grid”

The Solar Grid is a serialized sci-fi graphic novel in 9 parts by Ganzeer, the Egyptian Street Artist whose work on the streets during the Arab Spring caused him to fear for his safety, escaping to the US and in the process garnering press.

His work as an artist or course continues and this summer he is promoting his illustrated vision of a future based on his observations of the present wholesale consolidation and hoarding of planetary resources and the accompanying interruptions in our fundamental natural systems.

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Ganzeer. The Solar Grid. Photo still from the video.

“The concept of the Aswan dam is controlling a central natural resource. I figured if I was to apply it to the whole planet, that resource is obviously the sun. That’s what we see in the future with the two kids. As the sun sets, the solar grid automatically turns on and turns off as soon as the sun rises again,” he tells David Batty in The Guardian, as he describes the story that unfolds in chapters.

The next chapter is released in August, which is also when the list of artists participating in Magic City in Dresden will be released. We can happily tell you the Ganzeer is one of the them.

Learn more about The Solar Grid HERE.

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Ganzeer. The Solar Grid. Photo still from the video.

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Ganzeer. The Solar Grid. Photo still from the video.

Ganzeer: The Solar Grid. Trailer

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“The Art Of The Mural: Volume 01” Captures a Moment

“The Art Of The Mural: Volume 01” Captures a Moment

Murals hold their own place onstage in public space today for a variety of reasons that we discuss regularly on BSA. From grassroots and public, to private and corporate, we have watched the genre professionalize as Street Art festivals and other initiatives are often coupling artists with brands and are selling canvasses through the organizers galleries. Today we have the first of a promised four-part book series by Art Whino gallerist and organizer of the Richmond Mural Project in Virginia, Shane Pomajambo, that features many artists he has worked with in the brand new “The Art of the Mural”.

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Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

Featuring more than fifty current graffiti/Street Artists, the survey pays special attention to the show-stopping eye candy that commands attention for these nomadic painters who are developing their craft before an ever larger and more appreciative international audience.

Culture critic and curator Carlo McCormick, who writes the introduction to the Schiffer published hardcover, notes that this mural renaissance is quite unlike the US government funded New Deal era mural programs that produced “hundreds of thousands of murals for schools, hospitals, post offices, housing projects, and various government facilities”. And he’s right, these are emanating from a different place entirely.

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Antony Lister. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

The world-traveling media-soaked artists, of which this collection is subset, have had vastly more exposure to corporations and branding perhaps than, say, arts institutions, and a sophisticated self-handling is often on display with artists ever more savvy in their choices of style and content.

A greater percentage are now entering into private collections, galleries, and museums thanks to unprecedented platforms for huge exposure on the Internet, and their public works are adding rich character and dialogue to our neighborhoods and public spaces.

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Curiot. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

With academia, art critics, and auction houses all grappling with the rightful place of these artists in contemporary art and society at large it will be instructive to know the history and their lineage, content, context, and patronage. One has to agree when McCormick says that all of these “are helpful for us to consider in looking at and understanding the artists’ walls of today.”

This collection of talent is strong, with many of the mid-large names that are at play in this generation of painters whom are primarily born in the 1970s and 80s. In their work is a cultural appreciation for modern graffiti history as they now channel it along with formal training, art history, advertising, and a multitude of media. With few exceptions, it’s a tight list of artists, the images are riveting (though uncredited to their photographers), and the brief introductions by Pomajambo contain just enough biographical information and artist’ quotes to ground the story and give it context.

“As with everything I do,” says the Queens, New York native Pomajambo, “I always question and observe, and as we reach critical mass with murals I felt compelled to create this project and capture a moment in time.”

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Evoca 1. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

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Fintan Magee. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

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Miss Van. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

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MOMO. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

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Onur & Wes 21. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

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Telmo & Miel. Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

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Tone (Robert Proch). Shane Pomajambo The Art of The Mural Volume 01 Foreword by Carlo McCormick. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

 

All photos of the spreads by Jaime Rojo

 

The Art of The Mural: Contemporary International Urban Art. Volume 01 by Shaen Pomajambo. Schiffer Publishing. Atglen, PA. USA.

Participating Artists
Amose, Arraiano, Augustine Kofie, Axel Void, Bezt (Etam Crew), Chazme 718, Chor boogie, Clog Two, Curiot, Cyrcle, DALeast, Decertor, Dface, ETNIK, Faith47, Fintan Magee, Hense, INTI, Jade, Jaz, JR, Kenor, Lister, Logan Hicks, Low Bros, Meggs, Miss Van, Momo, Mr Thoms, Muro, Natalia Rak, Nosego, Onur, Pener, Reka, Robert “Tone” Proch,Ron English, Rone, Sainer (Etam Crew), SATONE, SEACREATIVE, Sepe, Smithone, Sten Lex, Stormie Mills, Telmo Miel, Tristan Eaton, TWOONE HIROYASU, Vhils, Wes21 and Zed 1

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Carlo McCormick, Lenin and Darth Vader : 15 For 2015

Carlo McCormick, Lenin and Darth Vader : 15 For 2015

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What are you celebrating this season? We’re celebrating BSA readers and fans with a holiday assorted chocolate box of 15 of the smartest and tastiest people we know. Each day until the new year we ask a guest to take a moment to reflect on 2015 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for him or her. It’s our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and saying ‘thank you’ for inspiring us throughout the year.

New York art juggernaut Carlo McCormick is a culture critic and curator at large, angling through the streets, galleries, museums, studios and vapor-filled back rooms of Gotham. He is the author of numerous books, monographs and catalogues on contemporary art and artists, and lectures and teaches at art symposia, festivals, universities and colleges. His writing has appeared in Effects : Magazine for New Art Theory, Aperture, Art in America, Art News, Artforum, Camera Austria, High Times, Spin , Tokion, Vice and other magazines. McCormick is Senior Editor of Paper magazine. He also is a cranky sage-like charmer whom we love and value for his insights and tirades.


Odessa, Ukraine
October 2015
Artist Oleksandr Milov
Photograph credit Dumskaya.net

As a culture of amnesiacs and liars we are always rewriting history to suit the present. This sculpture, by Oleksandr Milov, seems to capture the perversity and violence by which the past is continuously undone.

I don’t know much about this artist except that he does stuff that people who go to Burning Man think looks cool, and I have no idea who took the photographs, it was just one of those things that briefly became a  meme in that screen of perpetual distraction we call the news. Though no doubt an intervention it would be hard to call this street art for it is really public sculpture- a radical defacement legitimized by the passing of a law in April by the Ukrainian Parliament banning Communist propaganda and symbols.

 

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This becomes a rather ambitious and expensive program for a country that has already been looted by thugs and is currently fighting a war against Russian aggressions, especially considering that most things there are still named after some Soviet tyrant and most every public space seemingly has its own Lenin statue. Activists there have been addressing this unwanted Lenin population already, toppling statues, repainting them in the national colors of the Ukraine, and even covering them in a vyshyvanka, the traditional Ukrainian shirt.

Milov’s transformation however, a transference from one oppressor to another, merely trades one set of lies for another, those of the great American myth factory. Each is equally virulent, both before and after here are personifications of evil where their malevolent force must be measured not simply by might but by culture’s willingness to fully believe in their falsehood.

As the worst kind of public art we need to understand what monuments are: a kind of memorial, a way of representing memory in perpetuity. As we tend to this spectacle of public memory, Milov touches upon a rare strain that runs through this mundane legacy of forgotten heroes, a way of remembering the worst without the sentimentality of the lost (as in those monuments to wars and natural disasters) but with the epic monumentality of posterity by which the rich and powerful seek the eternal through bronze.

This past summer I came across a truly wonderful monument in Denmark put up in 1664 to a national traitor named Corfitz. It was a quite ugly large stone with the most remarkable inscription “To His Eternal Shame, Disgrace and Infamy.” This to me offers a viable path away from the morbid mediocrity of insipid monuments to historical irrelevance that seemingly choke town squares and parks around the world, a way to register our place on this planet as a kind of Monumental Shame.

~ Carlo McCormick

 

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Nuart Festival 2014 Artists and Guests Announced (VIDEO)

Nuart Festival 2014 Artists and Guests Announced (VIDEO)

The 2014 Edition of Nuart and Nuart PLUS Brooklyn-Street-Art-Nuart-2014

NUART is one of the first Street Art festivals and has remained a jewel. While we declared it an important part of the first decade of the modern Street Art explosion, we’re happy to say that it remains focused on a spinning a colorful balance of international artists, stunning placement in public, a very cool indoor gallery show, side projects, community engagement, smart-aleck critics, and sulking teens with no good on their minds. We’re also pleased to participate in person this year alongside folks like Carlo McCormick, RJ Rushmore, Evan Pricco, Natalie Hegert, and Peter Bengtsen.

Nuart founder Martyn Reed and his crack team keep expanding and evolving the programming of this festival that has focused exclusively on Street Art since ’06 and this year promises a few cool surprises like John Fekner as artist and lecturer, M-City knocking out an entire ship, and Iran’s brother duo Icy & Sot in one of their first international trips from their new hometow of Brooklyn who will be painting a wall and teaching kids how to cut stencils. And of course the OS Gemeos movie and BSA Film Friday LIVE!

Organized by EIRIK SJÅHOLM KNUDSEN this years Nuart PLUS is examining in detail two themes that are really topical at the moment – the rise of festivals and legal/ commercial murals and the relative importance and occurence of activism and illegal work on the Street Art scene in general. We’re looking forward to participating on panels, doing a couple of presentations, meeting folks who live in the Stavanger community, and of course seeing the great pieces that the invited artists will be doing live.

And now, we proudly unveil this year’s line-up for 2014:

Andreco (IT), Borondo (ES), Dotdotdot (NO), Etam Cru (PL), Fra.Biancoshock (IT), Icy & Sot (IR), John Fekner (US), Leval (FR), M-City (PL), Martin Whatson (NO), Mathieu Tremblin (FR), SPY (ES), Strøk (NO), Tilt (FR), ± Maismenos ± (PT)

 

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Here are all the details directly from the NUART PR team:

The ARTISTS

ANDRECO

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Andreco. Belluno, Italy. (photo © Andreco)

Andreco is a multi-talented artist/scientist blend who splits his time between Bologna and New York City. His work brings an authenticity due to his Post. Doc research on green technologies for urban sustainability, where he collaborated with the School of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Bologna and the Columbia University of New York City. Andreco is an environmental engineer with a PHD specializing in sustainability which he uses in his murals describing the relationship between humans and nature as well as between the built environment and the natural landscape. Andreco varies his research between anatomy, urbanism, environmental sustainability, ecology and symbolism; At the base of this research he has begun exploring and creating new symbols in his work. Andeco’s art/science juxtapositions appear as many techniques from public installations to videos, to wallpaintings or drawings and he has been exhibited in numerous international museums, galleries, and festivals.

BORONDO

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Borondo (photo Courtesy NUART)

Borondos’ stunning realistic paintings stems from his academic training from the Beaux-Artes. The young Italian artist is a master of a multitude of techniques to let the audience interact with his pieces, one favorite being where he scratches paint off of glass to let the light shine through. This gives his pieces an integrating effect that gives viewers a glimpse of what’s hidden on the inside of the work by looking at (and through) any given piece from the outside. He has a special fondness for utilizing empty   store windows in this way as they are inherintly interesting ‘canvases’ for this technique.

FRA.BIANCOSHOCK

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Fra.Biancoshock. Milan, Italy. (photo © Fra.Biancoshock)

Fra.Biancoshock, the father and creator of ’emphemeralism’, lives and works in Milan, Italy. For years he worked, never questioning his motives or purpose in his creations or describing himself as an artist. As he began to dig deeper into the nature of his work it became clear that there was no perfect genre for his pieces to fit into – he uses both urban inclination, which is typical street art and a expressive process, which draws inspiration from the classical conceptual and perfomative arts. This is why he invented ephemeralism – for the purpose of producing works of art that must exist briefly in space but endlessly through photography, video, and media. Since the beginning of his journey Fra.Biancoshock has realized more than 450 works in the streets of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Malaysia and Singapore.

MARTIN WHATSON

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Martin Whatson. Nuart 2013. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Norwegian born and based stencil artist Martin Whatson studied Art and Graphic Design at Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo. It was here he discovered stencils and the sprawling urban art scene. Being previously interested in graffiti and the development of street art he started his own production in 2004. In his work Martin Whatson searches for beauty in the easily dismissed, things that are commonly thought of as ugly, out of style or left behind. He has an interest for decay that manifests itself as inspiration from landscapes, older buildings, or soon to be demolished compounds. In this combination of contemporary versus decrepit he develops a unique style in creating either unity or conflict between materials and motives – like a wrinkled old lady on a shiny plate of aluminum. In the beginning he found inspiration from political backdrops, inspired by DOLK and Banksy, but since has found a more aesthetic and subtle taste.

MATHIEU TREMBLIN

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Mathieu Tremblin (photo Courtesy NUART)

Mathieu Tremblin has a conceptual yet playful expression to his works. The French artist works under his concept of “Tag Clouds” where Tremblin re-makes tagged walls and areas by redesigning the names into fonts that are easily lebigle for the average viewer. His work mimics watermarks, that is, graphics to prevent image counterfeiting, by painting his fonts onto walls that are already tagged. By doing this he balances preserving the artist’s original intent, which is getting your mark out there, and cultivating it by forming a new aesthetic and quick to understand graphic representation.

STRØK

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Strøk (photo Courtesy NUART)

Strøk is a Norwegian stencil artist that works dualistically under his own name, Anders Gjennestad, for studio work and Strøk for street work. He was born in Arendal in 1980 and currently splits his time between Oslo and Berlin. His stencils have incredible detail and through the multiple layers achieve a photorealistic representation that questions both our perception and perspective concurrently; His figures float across the walls  in a world where time is standing still. Strøk’s characters are often at play with the environment in which they are placed, carefully hung along rusted metal and decimated plaster or the decaying ruins of factory walls – He obviously has a love of tactile material. There is a sensation that his figures are in mid-movement, caught in a timeless moment between actions, and the tension this creates to the viewer creates an intimate experience not often found in the vast world of street art today.

JOHN FEKNER

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John Fekner (photo Courtesy NUART)

John Fekner was ‘anonymously known’ in the 1970s for several hundred environmentally conceptual works consisting of words, symbols, and dates spray painted throughout the five boroughs of New York. These “Warning Signs” pointed out hazards and dangerous conditions that overtook New York City and its environment in the 70s. The project expanded into 1977 where Fekner created “Word-Signs”. Through hand cut cardboard stencils and spray paint he began a crusade that was tirelessly concerned with environmental and social issues. In the industrial streets of Queens and the East River bridges he began and continued to the South Bronx as late as 1980. His “messages” brought awareness to areas that were in desperate need of attention, whether through demolition or repairs. His labelization of these structures brought emphasis to the problems, where the objective was a shout to the authorities, agencies, and local communities to, above all, take action.

DOTDOTDOT

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Dot Dot Dot (photo Courtesy NUART)

Dot Dot Dot is a pseudonym for an anonymous stencil artist from Norway. Following in the footsteps of Banksy and those before him, Dot Dot Dot prefers to remain anonymous. This is possibly due to both his long career in graffiti as well as the allure of mystery. What we do understand is that his prolific career started in 1997 in Oslo, where he was born. He has since operated under many pseudonyms but settled on Dot Dot Dot after succesfully shifting to a more conceptual and figurative style. He began focusing primarily on stencil work in 2007 and has gained notoriety in Norway for being one of the country’s leading street artists.

ETAM CRU

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Etam Cru (photo Courtesy NUART)

Etam Cru is the polish artistic duo of Sainer and Bezt working together, equally, on everything from street art murals to more classical fine art oil paintings on canvas. They both graduated from the Fine Arts in Lodz and have since worked succesfully both separately and as a crew. Their phenomenal, illustrative large-scale murals can be seen all around the world.

ICY & SOT

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Icy & Sot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Icy and Sot are two brother stencil artists from Tabriz Iran who currently reside in Brooklyn, NY. Since 2006 they have continued on their mission to break down pre-conceived notions of a fleeting Iranian tradition through their striking stencil artwork.  They have made awe-inspiring headway creating international buzz by any means necessary, both as skaters and artists, highlighting peace, war, society issues and human rights. The duo has done outdoor pieces in the streets of Iran, Turkey, Paris, San Francisco, New York and more as well as several exhibitions.

LEVALET

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Levalet (photo Courtesy NUART)

French artist Levalet is best known for his life-sized ink drawings of human figures displayed around urban spaces which often utilize real objects such as books, umbrellas, cloth and, of course, natural objects from the chosen site for that particular piece. The French artist drafts and completes them first in his studio before heading to paste them onto walls strewn across the urban landscape.

SPY

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Spy (photo Courtesy NUART)

Spy is a modern day surrealist who intervenes in urban environments. The Spanish artist transforms our perspetive of the everyday by replacing objects found in the public space. He does this by, for example, rearranging the existing layout of a site and swapping objects that do and don’t belong, and therefore challenges us to rearrange our own definition of normality and make us aware of how our perception defines our world. Through context, or lack of, he suggests new perspectives.

TILT

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Tilt (photo Courtesy NUART)

Tilt, originally from Toulouse in South France, is an internationally recognized traditional graffiti artist. From a young age he learned his trade on the streets and on the trains. It was during this time he did his first tags on skateboards ramps in 1988 and has since come to define himself as a ‘graffiti fetishist’. The career that followed has been nourished by extensive travel. His inspirational journeys have seen Tilt leave his mark, whether through exhibitions or street pieces, as far and wide as the U.S.A,  Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Thailand, Australia, India, New Zealand, Laos, Taiwan, China, Canada, Phillipines, Indonesia, and more than 12 countries in Europe alone.

M-CITY

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M-City (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City, otherwise known as Mariusz Waras, is a Polish artist revered for his industrial, large-scale murals. M-City has worked on walls all around the world, including several trips to Nuart’s previous events and projects. One of Poland’s best known artists, his work involves hundreds of preciously cut stencils being pieced together to create an imagined cityscape filled to the brim with mechanical and industrial objects. His work is motivated by industrial areas and their surroundings where he takes inspiration from the factories, chimneys, cranes, hydroelectric plants, and other mechanized beasts that dominated his native town and childhood. His work is known to scale up to 85 meters long.

MAISMENOS

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Maismenos (photo Courtesy NUART)

Viral, direct, incisive. ± (2005) is a unique project that intervenes in current social structures by reflecting on models of politics as well as social and economical organizations that dictate life. It begs us to question, above anything else, the social implications and consequences resulting from these structures, displaying programmatic expression streamlined to an equation of simplicity and opposites: black/white, positive/negative, more/less.

NUART FESTIVAL 2014

Opening date:
06.09 at 19:00

Exhibition period, Tou Scene:
07.09 – 10.12

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Friday 12.00 to 17.00
Saturdays and Sundays from 11.00 to 16.00
Closed Monday and Tuesday

NUART PLUS 2014 – PROGRAM

This year’s Nuart Plus program will tackle the two ends of the street art-continuum, namely “safe murals” on the one hand and street art and activism on the other. While activism was an essential part of the early street art scene, we have over the last decade or so seen a gradual gravitation towards council- and sponsor approved safe murals as the dominant form of street art.  Is this a development we should embrace as a natural development of the scene, or should it be vigorously contested? Do artists approach street art differently if they are doing legal, versus illegal work? Do artworks that are perceived as unsanctioned engage the viewer in a different way than art that are perceived as sanctioned? Are safe-murals and activist street art complements where the development of one reinforce the other, or are they substitutes that repress one another?

Over three days, the Nuart Plus-program will dig into these- and other exiting questions related to muralism, activism, and the tension between the two. By doing so, we hope to stimulate both audience and participants to reflect around which end of the continuum we believe street art should gravitate towards in the future, or if the scene really need to gravitate anywhere at all.

 

Thursday  4th of September

21.00  FIGHT CLUB A.K.A. THE PUB DEBATE: Muralism vs. Activism: A Tag Team Battle

Team Captains, Evan Pricco (Juxtapoz Magazine) arguing on behalf of the contemporary mural art movement and writer Carlo McCormick, accusing in the name of activist art, will battle to inebriation as to which is the more valid public art form. Team Pricco will argue that the contemporary mural movement will undoubtedly have support from corporate interests because art is at its most popular, and that certain financial support is not a bad thing. Team McCormick will fight on behalf of the activist art, that the true nature of activist muralism is without corporate or institutional interest.

It may not be pretty, and it may not even make much sense, but in the end it will settle, once and for all, who indeed creates the true people’s art- those who make great paintings that edify the masses, or those who prefer to prod and provoke them to awareness.

In the spirit of collaboration, and the bloodlust of competition, Pricco and McCormick will assemble consensus-opinion based teams made up of artists, fellow critics, the citizens of Stavanger, or just people in the bar drunk enough to have already made up their minds. This pub debate promises to be the most uncompromising of all culture wars.

Friday 5th of September

12.15-15.30  SEMINAR DAY 1: MURALISM

12.15-12.20 Welcome and Introduction

12.20-13.00 Andreco: Artist Presentation

13.15-13.50 Peter Bengtsen: “Street art, murals and public space as a site of exploration

13.55-14.30 RJ Rushmore: “Art Ignites Change: Infiltrating the System to Promote Social Justice”

14.45-15.30 Panel
Moderator: Evan Pricco
Panelists: Andreco, Peter Bengtsen, RJ Rushmore, Jaime Rojo

 

16.00   FILM SCREENING:  CIDADE CINZA
The Scandinavian premiere of “Cidade Cinza”.                                                       

Synopsis: A new way of painting graffiti was born in Sao Paulo. Hip hop was replaced by Brazilian regional culture and OsGemeos’ crew works were spread to galleries around the world. However, a new visual pollution combat act made the City Hall cover their paintings in grey in their hometown.

 

19.00 BSA Film Friday LIVE

Short form video as a medium for storytelling is becoming more prevalent and important across all media and digital platforms today and BSA celebrates it every Friday with Street Art and graffit-inspired videos from many angles and many countries. Join Steve and Jaime from BSA and special guest RJ Rushmore from Vandalog as we explore some of the major themes that are being addressed today, some of most popular videos and our personal picks in this entertaining and educational show.

Saturday 6th of September

12.15-15.30 SEMINAR DAY 2: STREET ART AND ACTIVISM

12.15-12.20 Welcome and Introduction

12.20-12.55 John Fekner: “Being There There Being”

13.00-13.20 Maismenos: Artist Presentation

13.30-14.05 Carlo McCormick : “The Torn-Off Head Stuck in the Hatch of a Sewer Drain, or the Occupation and Negation of Public Space”

14.10-14.45 Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo : “#activism on the Street Now”

Taking a cue from the techniques of the earlier generations of subverters and culture jammers, many of today’s Street Artists are combining the language and techniques of advertising and media to effectively advocate for a cause.  Others are doing it one small handmade piece at a time. Personal or global, activism and Street Art are alive and well and Harrington and Rojo give a multimedia sampling of the opinions being expressed.

15.00-15.45 Panel
Moderator: RJ Rushmore
Panelists:  Maismenos, Steven P. Harrington, Carlo McCormick, Mathieu Tremblin

 

12.00-15.00 WORKSHOP WITH ICY AND SOT

The two Iranian brothers Icy and Sot is invited to join Nuart Festival this year to make an artwork, but this Saturday they’re taking some hours off to teach children of all ages how to make a stencil piece from scratch.

 

15.45-17.00 STREET ART TOUR (meeting spot: Rogaland Kunstsenter)

Our talented Nuart guides talk about the artists, the ideas behind the artworks and other fun facts from the festival and working with street art. Displays artworks so fresh that the paint is hardly dry. Let’s just hope they’re done… Come join us and be the first to see what new artworks Stavanger has received in 2014!

16.oo FILM SCREENING:  CIDADE CINZA
Synopsis: A new way of painting graffiti was born in Sao Paulo. Hip hop was replaced by Brazilian regional culture and OsGemeos’ crew works were spread to galleries around the world. However, a new visual pollution combat act made the City Hall cover their paintings in grey in their hometown.

19.00 NUART-EXHIBITION OPENING (venue: Tou Scene)

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“The City As Canvas” Opens with the Collection of Martin Wong

“The City As Canvas” Opens with the Collection of Martin Wong

Last night the graffiti and early Street Art history from New York’s 1970s and 80s was celebrated by the City of New York – at least in its museum. Criminals and outlaws then, art stars and legends today, many of the aerosol actors and their documentarians were on display and discussed over white wine under warm, forgiving, indirect lighting.

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DAZE in the background sliced by a wall of cans at the opening of “The City As Canvas” (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

“City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti From the Martin Wong Collection” is an exhibition as well as a book released last fall written by Carlo McCormick and Sean Corcoran, with contributions by Lee Quinones, Sacha Jenkins and Christopher Daze Ellis, and all the aforementioned were in attendance. Also spotted were artists, photographers, curators, writers (both kinds), art dealers, historians, family, friends, peers and loyal fans – naturally most fell into a few of these categories at the same time.

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“The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York welcome text with pieces by Futura 2000 and Zephyr to the right. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

“City as Canvas” is possible thanks to the foresight, eye, and wallet of collector Martin Wong, an openly gay Chinese-American artist transplanted to New York from San Francisco, which is remarkable not only because of the rampant homophobia and near hysterical AIDS phobia at the time he was collecting but because the graffiti / Street Art scene even today throws the term “fag” around pretty easily. A trained ceramacist and painter whose professional work has gained in recognition since his death of AIDS related complications in 1999, Wong is said to have met and befriended a great number of New York graffiti artists like Lady Pink, LEE, DAZE and Futura 2000, who were picking up art supplies where he worked at the Pearl Paint store – a four story holy place on Canal Street that thrived at that time.

 Brooklyn-Street-Art-Sharp-Paints-a-Picture-copyright-Martin_WongThe show contains black books full of tags and drawings as well as canvasses and mixed media Wong purchased, commissioned, and painted, including a portrait of graffiti artist Sharp wearing a respirator and standing before a canvas he’s working on entitled Sharp Paints a Picture (1997-98).

The mood at the museum was celebratory as guests looked at the 140+ works from Wong’s collection; a cross between an art opening and a graffiti trade show, with enthusiastic peers and fans waiting patiently to speak with, pose for pictures with, and gain autographs or tags in their black books from artists in attendance. The only officers that could be seen were holding back the line of guests to make sure there was no overcrowding of the exhibit.

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The famous Martha Cooper photograph of Dondi in action in the train yards. “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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A Keith Haring and LA2 collaboration at “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

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Artist LA2 with Ramona “The City As Canvas” (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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Keith Haring (Smiling Face) from 1982 at “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

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Lee Quiñones speaking with a never ending stream of fans before his canvas Howard the Duck, 1988, at “The City As Canvas” (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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Digital prints of images shot by photographer Henry Chalfant brought the trains alive. On top is an image of a train with Sharp/Delta 2 from 1981 and below is “Stop the Bomb” by LEE (Quiñones), 1979 at “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

 

 

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