All posts tagged: Colombia

BSA Film Friday: 09.21.18

BSA Film Friday: 09.21.18

bsa-film-friday-JAN-2015

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

Now screening :
1. Adele Renault Visits Tyson’s Corner in Jersey City
2. Monumenta Leipzig 2018: The Monuments-of-Many
3. Jan Kuck Kinetic Installation at Monumenta in Leipzig 2018
4. Dictador Art Masters in a Old Distillery in Colombia

bsa-film-friday-special-feature

BSA Special Feature: Adele Renault Visits Tyson’s Corner in Jersey City

In our own homemade video on the gritty streets of Tyson’s Corner in Jersey City, Street Artist Adele Renault ducks punches in traffic as she finishes her new mural of a pigeon.

Read about Adele’s new book featuring many of her bird murals and people portraits from last week on BSA here:

Adele Renault Takes Flight With a Message of “Feathers and Faces”

Monumenta Leipzig 2018: The Monuments-of-Many

A short tour of the monuments of many at this unusual exhibition in Leipzig. Read more about it HERE.

 

Jan Kuck Kinetic Installation at Monumenta in Leipzig 2018

You may need the didactic text here to appreciate the conceptual piece created by Berlin-based artists Jan Kuck at Monumenta in Leipzig, or you may simply enjoy the wax filled lamps as their light bulbs melt colored wax to drip on the pile of mirrors below. A student of law, history, and philosophy, Kuck has made a number of kinetic sculptures/installations like this through Bernheimer Contemporary at events and venues like the Venice Architecture Biennale, Art Budapest, SOFA Chicago, and the Deutches Museum Munich. We captured a bit of video with the phone while BSA was in Leipzig a couple of weeks ago to host the weekend of presentations and panel discussions.

 

Dictador Art Masters in a Old Distillery in Colombia

You may remember our coverage of this unique compound in Columbia this spring with a number of Street Artists from Poland, the UK, and Columbia. Here is a video produced by director Colin Day for the host of that event at an old distillery.

BSA in Colombia:

New Spirits in an Old Distillery : Colombia Diary. Day 1

This is How It’s Done : Colombia Diary. Day 2 – Process

Selected Scenes from the Colombia Diary. Day 3 – Moments

Blue Steel from the Streets. Colombia Diary : Day 4 / Interview with ERRE

Colombia Diary: The Completed Works, The Gold Rush, and the Jaguar in You

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Colombia Diary: The Completed Works, The Gold Rush, and the Jaguar in You

Colombia Diary: The Completed Works, The Gold Rush, and the Jaguar in You

Today a wrap up of BSA at an unusual location in Colombia to see a new initiative with Street Artists in an abandoned distillery brought back to life with their imaginations and penchant for transformation.


“Uh, yellow, black, with some white… because it’s high up,” Ben Eine says as he sketches out the four letters, G-O-L-D on a small piece of paper. He’s codifying an idea to paint the letters across the four huge storage tanks where M-City has painted a metaphorical gold-mining scene upon over the last few days. The massive piece is timely and timeless; referencing to the current informal gold rush happening here in Colombia, once again altering the physical and political landscape.


M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A rotating mist fan is slowly stirring the thick tropical air while we sit at the round wooden table in this industrial compound watching Ben with a pen as he shows M-City his idea for topping off the piece – in his own charming manner.

“Yellow, black outline, little shadow. Your shit goes like this, blah blah blah. And then white outline. Or maybe like super light blue outline so it bounces off the silver. Yeah-yeah,” says the English graffiti writer with some final certainty on his vision.

Ben Eine sketching the idea with M-City. May 2018. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

Ben Eine added GOLD to M-City ‘s piece at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

“Okay, perfect,” says the agreeable M-City, who quickly begins sourcing paint in a nearby pile of cardboard boxes. As a Street Artist who is curating this first phase of painting at this old Colombian distillery for Dictador Art Masters Foundation, he is helping others to hit their goals as much as he is directing his own creative work. Finally the collaboration is finished and it beams across the drying muddy field in the sun.

Ben Eine added GOLD to M-City ‘s piece at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

It’s this kind of collaborative camaraderie that often characterizes the Street Art scene across the world and one that sets this project apart from many “festivals”. For one thing, this project is private and small and away from the roaring crowd that can often accompany street works, and developing your idea as an artist can be done with minimal interruption.

The smaller artist roster also means that many of these creators have an opportunity to get to know one another better, to seek feedback, to formulate, to share perspectives. The old distillery setting itself is a highly unusual gallery environment that perpetuates the feeling of an extended studio.

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“We are completely amazed by all the stuff here on every level. All the objects, the whole factory,” says Jan, one half of the Polish duo Monstfur as he surveys a rounded tank that they are spraying layers of grey, black, and white to form a  stenciled cranium that also matches the one tattooed on his arm.

“Feeling the textures, seeing the patterns. Everything is so full of inspiration for us,” he beams. Placed in this laboratory of ideas, the guys seem right at home with their layers of decay and their Frankenstonian mythmaking – including their collective name that combines the English and Polish word for monster.

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you climb rusty ladders and duck under cobwebs or the occasional silently swooping bat, you see the possibilities for childlike ideation, opportunities to launch imaginary tales and adventures, directing energy and stirring alchemy.

Toxicomano takes the journey even further.

“Have you heard of Yage?” he asks, eager to share stories of a hallucinogenic plant that people who live in wooded, mountainous regions have used for years to transcend this reality. “It’s a strong beverage in the Amazonian,” he says. “When you drink it you are stoned.”

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fair enough, but how does that relate to the 4-story high yellow and black jaguar with nice hair that is staring at you like a feline Mona Lisa? You’ve seen him going up and down the cherry-picker carefully laying out and spraying the stencils here for days and this intense model has unveiled, then commanded, this brick wall.

“All persons have a jaguar that is inside,” he explains with a sincere stare into your eyes. You reflexively make a quick internal inventory of yourself to see if it is possible to confirm the veracity of that statement. Well, maaaaaayyyyyybeeeeeee, now that you mention it.

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When you drink this yage you can begin to think differently about your place in the world, your people, your environment,” he says. “The jaguar is the tiger of South America. From Mexico to Argentina we have the same jaguar. I think they are really pretty. I think in this area it is possible to find jaguars as well,” he says, which seems to indicate an excellent opportunity to scan the adjacent field of tall grass.

What does this Colombian Street Artist’s jaguar want to do? “I think my jaguar wants to communicate to the others and tell people that everyone has a jaguar inside.”

M-City at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City adds a NYC touch on a conduit at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

A great note to end this hot and sticky week in the farmlands and mountains of Northern Colombia. Mixed with the sun and the mud it has also seemed like a possibly mystical place that once housed the precise and time-honored industry of distilling. Now enlivened with the new works of English, Polish, and Colombian graffiti writers and Street Artists, it becomes an installation in an unusual location full of possibility – and we are curious to see where the next phase of this adventure leads.

Artists include: D*Face, Ben Eine, M-City, Monstfur, Toxicomano, Stinkfish, and Erre.

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

D*Face at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano at the old distillery Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Stinkfish at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish and Toxicomano at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erre at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Filmmaker Collin Day at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martha Cooper and Steven P. Harrington at the old distillery in Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 


This event has been made possible by Dictador Art Masters Foundation. To learn more about the foundation click here.


Thank you to Martha Cooper for sharing her exclusive images with BSA readers.

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BSA Images Of The Week: 05.20.18 / Colombia Special

BSA Images Of The Week: 05.20.18 / Colombia Special

BSA-Images-Week-Jan2015

You guys watch the royal wedding yesterday? We got the highlights, enough to make us cry. Not everyone is happy about these things, but then they see the hats and feathers and let it all go.

Of course we wish the very best to the beautiful couple.

Great week in Colombia this week as we had the pleasure of hanging with the likes of Ben Eine and D*Face, even if we couldn’t keep up with the drinking games and late night graffiti runs. Someone has to be responsible! From Cartagena to Valledupar to Bogotá, the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the country are stupendous. And we need more time in Bogotá because that Street Art scene is crazy!

Luckily we were back in NYC just in time for the big Spanish speaking/singing block party outside of the apartment of racist lawyer Aaron Schlossberg, who made headlines this week for being a jackass and intimidating people with less power with his big white-man blabbering about Spanish speaking employees at a fast food restaurant, even threatening to call Immigration authorities.

Not only is he insulting himself and all New Yorkers (and the spirit of the USA), he may be indicating that he doesn’t get outside very much. If he did, he would realize that “while there is no precise count, some experts believe New York is home to as many as 800 languages — far more than the 176 spoken by students in the city’s public schools,” according to a 2010 article in the New York Times. Our favorite video this week is the one of him running from reporters while the Benny Hill theme song plays along. Bienvenidos a su ciudad Señor Schlossberg !

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring APC Crew, Ben Eine, Chinz, Collin Day, D*Face, ERRE, Monstfur, Stinkfish, 6ryzor and Toxicomano.

Top Image: Ben Eine for Dictador Art Masters Foundation. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ben Eine for Dictador Art Masters Foundation. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

APC Crew. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

APC Crew. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A motley crew at the old distillery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A little free-wheeling graffiti from M-City . 6ryzor . Chinz . Eine . Toxicomano . El Chopo . Erre.  Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City . 6ryzor . Chinz . Eine . Toxicomano . El Chopo . Erre.  Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

6ryzor. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Chinz. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Eine. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxic El Chopo. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ERRE. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur at the old distillery. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur for Dictador Art Masrters Foundation. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face at the old distillery. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Chinz at the old distillery. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish. Valledepur, Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano at the old distillery. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Untitled. Director and handsome hatter Collin Day at the old distillery. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Blue Steel from the Streets. Colombia Diary : Day 4 / Interview with ERRE

Blue Steel from the Streets. Colombia Diary : Day 4 / Interview with ERRE

Colombian Street Artist Erre began her career on the street in her home city of Zipaquirá as a teen but moved an hour’s drive south to the capital city Bogotá a few years ago to attend university and dive into the explosively growing scene on the streets there.

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With nightly outings in the larger metropolis, she and some mates have used political themes of their punk-inspired graphic works to push social attitudes about corruption, hypocrisy, race and gender equality.

With strong female figures that shout confidence and rock and roll, you can see the ERRE is helping define the kind of heroines she admires who take and active role in making change.

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

After assisting Toxicomano to complete his large mural for this project, Erre had some free time to hit up some prime spots of her own in this distillery. Sometimes she worked freehand, and other times she dug into the stencils that she typically leaves on the walls in Bogotá.

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We asked her a few questions about her work.

Brooklyn Street Art: “Unete Al Disorden”. What does that mean?
Erre: “Join the chaos” – or something similar. I am inviting people to join in.

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: When did you begin making art for the street?
ERRE: My first stencil was about 10 years ago and I have done many stencils in my home city Zipaquirá.

About five years ago I decided I would begin painting for a living and I have dedicated myself to this work.

BSA: Do you always use stencils?
ERRE: I always paint with stencils but sometimes I make an exception and do a piece by hand

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Can you talk about the stencil that you made here which appears to be a message of empowerment for women and girls?
ERRE: Yes for women in Colombia there is a big problem – really in all of Latin America – with the rights of women. They do not receive equal pay for equal work, they do not get enough respect. There is a strong culture of “machismo” that exists with the men all of the time. So a lot of my work is intended to empower women.

BSA: Where do you get inspiration for your style?
ERRE: I think I draw a lot of inspiration from cartoons and illustrations like that. I draw all of the designs in a smaller size with the computer I enlarge them for this work

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: You often have skulls in your pieces. Can you talk about the symbolism of using skulls for you?
ERRE: Yes I use the skulls as an human symbol because everyone has a skull inside you know? It’s a way for me to represent humans and people generally without referring to their race whether they are black, brown, yellow or white. It is sort of a universal symbol.

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ERRE. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 


This event has been made possible by Dictador Art Masters Foundation. To learn more about the foundation click here.

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This is How It’s Done : Colombia Diary. Day 2 – Process

This is How It’s Done : Colombia Diary. Day 2 – Process

This week BSA is in an unusual location in Colombia by invitation to see a new initiative with Street Artists in an abandoned distillery now being brought back to life with their imaginations and penchant for transformation. Come along with us for a few days to see what we discover.


In factories and in art-making, process is crucial to success.

Back at this Colombian factory site for a second day of work, the artists are climbing ladders, tracing out shapes, stepping back to check perspective, and lunging forward for the first genuine phase of painting. The brand new initiative on this industrial site sparks your mind with ideas – nothing seems impossible, actually. The future is unwritten.

Ben Eine and Connor. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

So it seems especially appropriately audacious when you see Ben Eine and his son Collin rolling by you on a massive lift that holds them aloft overhead with cans in hand. You deftly dart out of the way so you are not smushed underneath the massive rubber tires that roll toward you, carefully ducking the occasional leafy limb that is snapped off the tree they are grazing in their metal bucket as they paint, now wrapping to another side of the building.

Ben Eine. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

They are spraying out a series of Eine’s iconic lettering across the top floor of one of the compound’s brick facades, and suddenly you may have the feeling that this is the first page of a new book being written. We may not yet know what it will say, but you can appreciate the process, two guys from different generations extending their arms toward the wall, can in hand, propelling clouds of aerosol forward, writing a common missive.

Ben Eine. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Scattered through these rusty dusty caverns and crooks there are Street Artists at work; with birds and bats and beats filling the air. A new of industry at work, one can  appreciate now how the image is built. It’s a mysterious and sometimes spell-binding unveiling, carefully considered.

With no specific aesthetic guidelines from their hosts and no review of sketches, we are privileged to see these self-driven murals disclosed in real time without prejudice on walls of the artists choosing.

Stinkfish. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

There are myriad processes at play. Placed in the hands of artists who can appreciate the opportunity to create quality works , there is attention to detail and context. Whether it is D*Face’s ironic reappropriation of symbols/text and dramatically tragic heroes – or the pop culture humor of Toxicomano’s leopard queen, or the golden disk framing Stinkfish’s neo Colombian intergalactican icon, its a studied process that makes it happen.

Stinkfish. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City drips with rivers of sweat in the merciless humidity while peeling away one more panel of his four pillar stencil opus called “Goldmine”, his paint encrusted hand dropping another wet cutout with a deft gesture – leaving it to drift in the heavy breeze 3 stories beneath him to the ground.

The Monstfur duo carefully balance on ladders to reach and hold stencils, spraying out each textured layer of industrially inspired grayness, careful to align the successive hand-cuts that they are gridding across a tank that previously carried toxic fluids.

Stinkfish. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As this projects’ character is taking shape while we are watching, you see that these artists are pouring themselves into the act properly, giving top flight performances.

It’s part of the process.

D*Face. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stephen Thompson of D*Face tam. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face, Louis and Stephen. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City with Martha. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M-City. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monstfur. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stinkfish . Ben Eine. Colombia. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 


This event has been made possible by Dictador Art Masters Foundation. To learn more about the foundation click here.

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New Spirits in an Old Distillery : Colombia Diary. Day 1

New Spirits in an Old Distillery : Colombia Diary. Day 1

This week BSA is in an unusual location in Colombia by invitation to see a new initiative with Street Artists in an abandoned distillery now being brought back to life with their imaginations and penchant for transformation. Come along with us for a few days to see what we discover.


The fantasies of graffiti writers and Street Artists are myriad but a few rise to the top; the abandoned factory is like a fever dream for a certain passionate class of urban explorers who crawl through holes in fences and slide through broken windows just to discover what lies inside these neglected hulks of industry – and to leave their mark.

Stinkfish. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“So when I began painting in Colombia and mainly in Bogotá I would take a photograph of someone in Bogotá and paint it. When I started to travel and I began to take people from one place to another so for example I took people from Colombia to Mexico. I took a lot of photographs in Mexico and took those images with me to Europe. I enjoyed bringing Mexican and Colombian people to Europe. So of course when I was in Europe I took pictures of this girl who was in the subway in Paris – and I brought her back to Colombia,” says Stinkfish.


In the imagination of many aerosol-armed archaeologists is a vision full of heavy pipes, deep coal ovens, chicken-wired windows, soaring steel silos and rusted rotund tanks, puffy clouds of steam wafting about, electrical boxes with color-coded diagrams, and an endless array of iron walkways and ladders that criss-cross at tight angles and climb higher toward the promising future of the Industrial Revolution.

Imagine what it would be like to have one of these places all to yourself and your friends and instead of fearing the security guard, he is there to protect you.

M-City. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This is precisely the project we have walked into – thanks to an invitation from Polish Street Artist and professor M-City, who has convened with Dictador Art Masters Foundation to invite an intimately eclectic mix of European and South American Street Artists to create new pieces inside the hidden compound nestled in leafy palm oil plantations and more than an hour from the nearest city.

M.City. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Closed for decades, the former distillery still contains all its necessary armature of equipment and its ovens and tanks and charcoal barrels – along with tall grasses, a murky stream, many centipedes, some blue spotted wood lizards, black iguanas, and the occasional leopard Gecko.

BSA is here in Colombia for the next few days with M-City, D*Face, Stinkfish, Toxicomano, Ben Eine, and Monstfur along with some other special guests. Today we’ll just show you the work of the “advance crew” of M-City and the Colombian Street Artists Stinkfish and Toxicomano who checked out the place a few months ago and tested walls with some work examples just to see if it would be as divertido as they thought it would be to explore the old factory.

It is.

M-City. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“This was just for fun it’s sort of an abandoned submarine which I also did it on a canvas,” says M-City. It is also on the wall at Urban Spree in Berlin.”

What appeals most to him about this project? “It’s exciting because it’s very far from my home in Poland and if you look around you see that there’s nothing around here. It is in the middle of nowhere. We just have the palm trees around and the distillery is in the middle. So we do not have a “public” here. The artists are completely free to do what they want and there are not many people around taking pictures – it’s even kind of secret. So it’s private and it is protected. Nobody can just drop in you know?”

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Colombian Street Artist Toxicomano took us on a tour of a number of stencil based pieces he put up in advance of this weeks events, explaining that he likes to reclaim symbols and use them for his own meanings. One Smurf we found on a concrete-splattered tiled basewall says “Fuck Racism”.

“I like to use these images because people have in their minds some common association with it and they remember something about it from when they were a child. Now they can  start to think about it differently.”

“In Colombia we have a mixture of races we have black people we have indigenous people we have roots from Spanish people and now we have American and European influences it’s a lot. We mix a lot of things like a soup like a Latin Americans Full of ingredients and we have a special flavor. Also I think a lot of people think of Smurfs as blue but they don’t know that the first Smurf comic was actually a black Smurf and in that particular story the blue Smurfs have a problem with the black Smurf.”

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“This stencil got me in a lot of trouble on Instagram,” he says the stencil that says “Las mujeres son la verga” (roughly “Women are the dick”) – mostly because it is a slang that is interpreted differently across Latin America and Spain – including within his own native Colombia. Some thought it insulted women, others thought it empowers them. He says he really enjoyed seeing the differences of opinion  but regretted that some of the comments got into personal attacks. “I preferred to not comment and to observe,” he says.

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Our friends the lovely iguanas at the distillery in Codazzi, Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Toxicomano. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sunset at the distillery. Colombia. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 


This event has been made possible by Dictador Art Masters Foundation. To learn more about the foundation click here.

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Bogotá : A Liberal Approach To Art Creates Exceptional Street Culture

Bogotá : A Liberal Approach To Art Creates Exceptional Street Culture

Thanks to a globalism of culture, many cities around the world have sprouted vibrant Street Art scenes – including today’s focus, Bogotá, Columbia. Far more open to expression than many cities, Bogotá has become a tolerant and welcoming place for artists on public walls, with the mayor actually agreeing and decreeing that graffiti and street art are a form of valued artistic expression, as long as you lay off the statues and City Hall. The government even gives grants for some painting, and political and social protest on walls goes a little further than you might expect. As part of a personal tour of Columbia in the last couple of months, occasional BSA contributor Yoav Litvin travelled to Bogotá and met a couple of artists who told him about the scene there.
 
 
by Yoav Litvin

We arrived at the Bogotá airport in the evening. For convenience sake, we took a cab from the airport to our accommodation in the heart of La Candelaria, an area of town known for its museums, beautiful architecture and street art. I knew Bogotá was going to be as special as far as its street art scene. I just did not know yet how incredible it was going to be.

My introduction to Bogotá street art and graffiti was the highway from the airport into town, aka Calle 26—it was completely BOMBED. When I say bombed I mean there was not a single space free of art on the walls or tunnels of the highway for miles on end. The beautiful graffiti and street art along with countless tags adorning the walls made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Immediately I knew Bogotá was going to be special, a heaven for street art and graffiti.

brooklyn-street-art-stinkfish-yoav-litvin-bogota-colombia-01-15-web-1

Stink Fish. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

During my visit I was fortunate to meet two very active local artists: DJ LU (aka Juegasiempre), otherwise known as the “Bogotá Banksy” and CRISP, an Aussie transplant that has made the city his home. They were courteous and answered some of my questions.

Yoav Litvin: What makes the street art and graffiti scene so unique in Bogotá? Please discuss the political background in Bogotá in particular and Colombia in general and some policies (legality etc.) that influence the great diversity of work on the streets. What’s special here?
DJ LU: Bogotá’s treasure is its diversity, in every sense. It has very eclectic architecture, interesting places, and is extremely multiracial. Urban expressions are not the exception; here you can find murals, tagging, hip hop graffiti, paste ups, stickers, characters, lettering and stencil work among others. Bogotá is an ideal playground for public expression. First of all, its urban structure is patchy making it ideally suited as far as context; there are many residual spaces, remnants of highway constructions, parking lots and abandoned structures.

Second, the legislation is tolerant, so unless you are engaged in a very clear act of vandalism you won’t have a problem with the law. Residents are also becoming familiar with the practice so there is tolerance from the local population.

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Toxicomano . Unknown .  DJ LU .  Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

CRISP: Bogotá is one of the most exciting, underrated and prolific urban art scenes on the planet. This is due to a combination of several factors, which have created a melting pot of creativity and expression. Firstly, there is a long history of civil unrest, inequality and injustices in Colombia that make street art and graffiti a potent form of expression and protest for the people.

It actually has the longest running civil war in the world, over half a century of bloodshed!

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Toxicomano . DJ LU . Lesivo . Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Secondly, it has a very tolerant legal approach to urban art compared to most other cities in the world. It’s not technically illegal but “prohibited”, which provides a unique situation where grafiteros can take their time and paint in broad daylight. That said, an artist still needs to be cautious of police depending on the type of street art you are doing and due to police history of brutality.

Thirdly, Colombia has a rich resource of inspiration: its people, music, food, indigenous cultures, animals and plants from the Pacific, Andes, Amazon and Caribbean! This complex mix of factors makes Bogotá’s urban art scene truly unique.

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DJ LU Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Yoav Litvin: What motivates you in your work? Please discuss how your work is an expression of your development within the scene in Bogota.
DJ LU: My work is motivated by reality. I’m interested in making people aware–through art–of lots of situations that affect us as a society. The first project I started with on the street is the Pictogram project. It is based on semiotics and sign language. As it proposes very simple designs it is intended to relay a message immediately. In this project I have designed more than 60 pictograms that I have put up all over Bogotá and many other cities around the world in stencil form, stickers and paste ups.

Afterwards came the Street Pride project in which I took photographs of anonymous people whose appearance I found aesthetically interesting and who were interacting with the public space and I used them as models for my work. I believe that advertisements and the media in general are fabricating idols for the people to follow and to speed up consumerism. I want to make the invisible visible, to bring attention to anonymous people who construct our street culture.

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 Crisp. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

CRISP: I’ve always expressed myself through art from a very young age. In terms of street art I was a late bloomer. Despite an interest and curiosity in urban art, It was only when I came to Bogota that I truly became a street artist! I met grafitero friends here who encouraged me to put my artwork up in the street. Street art has shown me that it’s important that our public spaces aren’t controlled and dictated solely by councils, corporations, marketing companies, and formal art institutes.

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Toxicomano. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Yoav Litvin:  How do you see the future of street art and graffiti in Bogota?
DJ LU: I believe that the progress of street art and graffiti is determined by a lot of factors: legal issues, trends, politics and economics. Graffiti and street art are trendy now in Bogotá, and this will most likely decrease. At that point only the ones that are doing it for real will keep working outside.

CRISP: The huge changes I’ve witnessed since 2001 through 2008 until the present are phenomenal. Bogota’s urban art has exploded in terms of quality and quantity. Everywhere you look, walk and drive, you see some form of creativity and expression on nearly every block in the city!

Mostly it is grass roots, passion-driven and totally devoid of the more corporate, council and gallery-organized and funded “street art” you see in many other cities in the world. In the near future I see many talented Colombian artists finally getting the recognition, support and ability to share their work with a wider international audience they deserve. Ironically this point isn’t important to many grafiteros here.

It’s the way of life, the friends, the culture, pure expression, fun, connecting with the public and the happiness this connection with the street brings that’s most important! In the future Bogota will be known as an urban art mecca but for all the right reasons!

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Lesivo. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Guache. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Stinkfish. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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APC . Stinkfish . FCO . Temor. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Praxis. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Frank Salvador . Sur Beat. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Bastardilla wheatpaste afloat beneath a handful of dripping tags. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Bastardilla. Detail. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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El Pez. Bogota, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

 

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Community Murals and the Violent History of Comuna 13 in Medellin

Community Murals and the Violent History of Comuna 13 in Medellin

Despite the rise of the so-called Street Art scene of the last couple of decades, the more familiar form of this kind of expression for most people is the community mural. This outward expression of a neighborhood or cities aspirations and history can have an important impact on the residents, fostering a sense of shared culture and values and, in the case of memorial walls, grief. This winter author, street art fan, and occasional BSA contributor Yoav Litvin travelled to Medellin, Colombia, where he toured a neighborhood traumatized by crime and saw how murals by local artists and government-sponsored paint can affect every day life in a community.
 
by Yoav Litvin

San Javier, aka “Comuna 13”, is considered the most dangerous, crime-ridden district in Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia. It has been plagued by violence at the hands of drug cartels, local gangs, guerillas and paramilitary groups all of whom seek control of its strategic location as a crossroads of illegal goods coming into and out of Medellín, and thus Colombia as a whole. In 2010, the neighborhood saw 162 murders for every 100,000 people, an astonishing 10 percent of all homicides in the city.

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Comuna 13. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

Traveling through Medellín, I was intrigued to hear from a local art lover of a street art and graffiti project at Comuna 13 aimed at bringing art, education and peace to this embattled community. Using art as an instrument for the promotion of peace has a bloody history in Comuna 13, where 10 hip-hop artists were murdered as they tried to endorse an end to violence.

Determined to see the project for myself, I sought a local guide who would agree to take me there. I was surprised to discover that there was a company that organizes tours of Comuna 13 and the next morning at 10 a.m. I met Juan Manuel, a friendly local resident who is bilingual and co-founder of “Discover Medellín”.

For a couple of hours we walked together through the streets of Comuna 13, taking in all the beautiful art that is part of the “Medellín is painted for life” project. Throughout the tour the very knowledgeable Juan educated me on the local government’s efforts to revitalize the community at San Javier, including the installation of an escalator system aimed at helping residents get to and from work, free house paint for residents in a variety of colors and investment in the construction of nearby libraries that would cater to the communities largely younger population, steering them away from crime. According to Juan, these investments have led to a dramatic reduction in violence and a transformation of Comuna 13.

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Chota. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

I had the opportunity to ask Juan Manuel about these changes at Comuna 13 with a focus on the role of street art:

YL: What is the role of art in Comuna 13?
JM: Art serves multiple purposes. It allows local artists to share their passion for art with the local community. It’s a positive influence for younger troubled kids who have limited opportunities in Colombia. Many are discriminated against solely because of the notorious barrio they live in. The public art also serves as a historical record with many of the murals documenting Medellín’s violent past. Recently, several home-owners along the tour have approached me with an invitation to paint a mural on their walls to help improve the reputation of their community.

YL: How has the government promoted the art and artists in Medellín?
JM: The local government has been actively involved in the recruitment of artists to paint murals in Comuna 13 as well as various other locations across the city. The legal walls have been a big hit with local artists who are eager to create and share their passion with the rest of the city. The local government continues to actively search for new areas throughout the city for displaying public art. In addition, the local government has sponsored artists by providing them with the monetary funds to complete various projects throughout the city.

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Artist Unknon. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

YL: Do you believe the art has a positive role in affecting crime levels in Medellín? How?
JM: Yes. Walking tours like this would not be possible without the drastic changes in the community.  A few years ago, violence was a daily occurrence in the community. But after the local government invested millions of dollars in paint for local residents and allowed local artists to paint murals throughout Comuna 13, safety in the area has greatly improved. These acts have given many long-term residents faith in local politicians who risked political backlash. Locals now see more and more interest in their community from the government, businesses, residents from other parts of Medellín and a few foreigners like you who are eager to explore the transformation of Comuna 13.

YL: What are your plans for the future?
JM: Together with my partner Arthur, we are currently in the process of securing funding for an art project in Comuna 13. The goal is to invite artists from around the world to paint inspirational art projects aimed at promoting the community.

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Paola Delfin. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

After our tour I returned to my hostel and told my hostess of my experience. She was horrified to learn that I visited Comuna 13 and told me that the only reason I was left unharmed was because I had the obvious look of a foreigner: “Me and my friends never go there. If you look local or Latino in general, you are stopped, questioned, or worse… They are always suspicious of young men who may be from a rival gang.” she said.

Most of the street art and graffiti in Comuna 13 was made by kids or young people that received graffiti classes in Casa Kolacho or Casa Morada, by social entities which work with young people in some parts of this big infamously violent community.

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Senor OK . Grena Cru. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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REK. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Bomba . Kone. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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El Pole. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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DEXS. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Javid Jah. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

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Kone . AXND. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Yoav Litvin)

 

Our thanks to Yoav for his contribution and for sharing his trip and observations with BSA readers.

 

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Spaik in Medellin, Colombia for “Pictopia”

Spaik in Medellin, Colombia for “Pictopia”

The third edition of the Street Art and graffiti festival called Pictopia is taking place in Colombia right now and through November 19th in four cities; Cali, Medellín, Manizales, and Copacabana. Begun in April of 2011 as principally a graffiti exhibiton with 50 graffiti artist, the project has opened itself to Street Art and mural artists, hosted a variety of participants as it continues to define itself.

Today we get an electrifying look at the piece by Mexican painter Spaik as he finished “Rebirth”, his contribution in Medellín on the backside of what appears to be (or have been) a church. Perhaps the title refers to the religious conversation one is said to experience in the Christian faith, and it may refer to the country of Colombia itself in some ways.

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Spaik. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Anck/Spaik)

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Spaik. Detail. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Anck/Spaik)

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Spaik. Detail. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Anck/Spaik)

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Spaik. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Anck/Spaik)

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Spaik. Medellin, Colombia. (photo © Anck/Spaik)

EDITORS’ NOTE: After publishing this piece we were notified that for copyright reasons the festival has changed the name from “PICTOPIA’ to “STREET SKILLS”

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