All posts tagged: Dan Witz

Clubhouse Chemistry in a Warehouse : BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 4

Clubhouse Chemistry in a Warehouse : BSA x UN BERLIN ART BASEL 2016: Dispatch 4

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One of the fantastic parts of Miami’s Art Basel / Wynwood craziness, aside from the colorful drinks and hair sculptures and accidental tripping over almost every Street Artist you have heard of (and many whom you haven’t) is the sheer amount of madhouse chemistry that explodes in your face because of new partnerships and events – like the Juxtapoz Clubhouse in Wynwood opening today.

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Olek. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The premier contemporaty and underground magazine and cultural stew from the west coast teams up with New Jersey’s Mana Urban Arts and others this year to take over one of those previously run-down and neglected parts of the neighborhood to create an “immersive retreat”.

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Denis McNett. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We got a behind-the-scenes peek at the installations and artworks in advance of today’s opening and were pleased to see that the quality is slammin’ –with sufficiently large installations to create an environment and to stand on their own as fully realized concepts.

So many of these artists can work larger, and many have: Dennis McNett stages fully performances and parades of characters pounding like warriors through streets, for example. Dude, the energy is good.

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Denis McNett. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The mix of producers/collaborators at the Clubhouse is contemporary, theatrical, and somehow darkly comic –Jonathan Levine Gallery, Chandran Gallery, MILK Studios, ThinkSpace, and the 1xRun crew – a smartly flipped trip of heavy hitters that relies on the strangely symbiotic and the serendipitous to succeed.

Check out some of the work here and if you are in Miami go to 2400 NW 5th Avenue from December 1-4.

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Laurence Vallieres. Detail. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ever at work on his installation. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ever. Detail. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fintan Magee. Detail. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Cern at work on his painting. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Cinta Vidal. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Zio Ziegler. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Scott Campbell. This is is an interactive piece which will involve the public. Mr. Campbell is a tattoo artist and through a raffle willing participants will have the opportunity to have their arm tattooed but they will not know what the tattoo will be until completed. The participants will stick his or her arm, trough the hole in the middle of the installation and Mr. Campbell will be unseen, working on the tattoo on the other side of the wall. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Low Bros. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. Detail of her installation. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon. Detail of her installation. Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Adam Wallacavage. Jonathan LeVine Gallery x Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz. Jonathan LeVine Gallery x Juxtapoz Club House x Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Shepard Fairey. Mana Urban Arts Projects/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Louis Masai. The Art of Beeing. Mana Urban Arts Projects x The Bushwick Collective/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Louis Masai. The Art of Beeing. Mana Urban Arts Projects x The Bushwick Collective/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Case Maclaim sketching his wall for Wynwood Walls/Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Please Do! Artist Unknown. Art Basel 2016. Wynwood, Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BSA Images Of The Week: 11.20.16

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.20.16

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New York is bracing, as is the rest of the country, for the fallout of the election.

We’ve seen an uptick in anti-semitic graffiti on the street, but not a great deal of other stuff aside from acidic disgust toward Trump – but that was true before the election. The governor and the mayor are warning the new administration that no discrimination or hate will be welcomed in the State or City. Most of the time the president elect is still hanging out at his towers in Manhattan choosing rich, connected, white men to fill all his cabinet posts. Almost every one those choices have people up in arms.

Meanwhile, the autumn has been spectacular and we’re all reminding ourselves and each other that we have a lot to be thankful for, and to fight for – for all of us across the country in every city, town, suburb, and rural home.  It looks like winter is coming, so gather wood for the fire.

It’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Aaron Ki, C-3, Dan Witz, Ganzeer, Individualactivist, Livio Ninni, Mark Bode, Mr. Fijodor, ODeith, Ouizi, Qi Xinghau, Raphael Federici, Roteo, SpY, and Voxx Romana.

Our top photo: Raphael Federici #parissketchculture (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ouizi (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Invididualactivist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Aaron Kai (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Voxx (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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LOVE indeed. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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C_3 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ganzeer at Magic City Life. Dresden, Germany. November 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SpY (Andy K and Jens Besser on the bottom) at Magic City Life. Dresden, Germany. November 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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This 3-D effect totally works by the way. Odeith at Magic City Life. Dresden, Germany. November 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz at Magic City Life. Dresden, Germany. November 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Qi Xinghua at Magic City Life. Dresden, Germany. November 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mark Bode at Magic City Life. Dresden, Germany. November 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mr. Fijodor somewhere in Italy. (photo © Livio Ninni)

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Mr. Fijodor somewhere in Italy. (photo © Livio Ninni)

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Roteo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Men’s bathroom talk… (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The former Pearl Paint store on Canal in Manhattan where so many students and Street Artists and artists of all kinds used to congregate. Still looking good, now festooned with big bubble tags. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. Manhattan. Fall 2016 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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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Dan Witz’s “Breathing Room” Installs Meditating Figures in 10 London Phone Booths

Dan Witz’s “Breathing Room” Installs Meditating Figures in 10 London Phone Booths

“It was an insane install,” says Dan Witz of his London phone booth, “probably one of the most challenging of my career.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

The New York Street Artist who began working anonymously putting art on the streets in the late 1970s is sometimes given to hyperbole, but when you see the map of the ground he covered in the city in search of the right homes for his “Breathing Room” guerilla installations, you think he may be hewing to the truth. He’s also got the timing and delivery of a Catskills comedian when describing his efforts to put up these new people deep inside a spiritual practice.

“All 10 of the pieces are up and scattered nicely around greater London,” he says wide-eyed and nearly out of breath as if he had just finished running an interventionist art marathon. “Greater is the word. That place is huge. Vast. Endless. And it seems like I’ve seen every scruffy inch of it now.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

“Take my wife, please!” He didn’t actually say that one. Besides, Dan’s wife Tiffaney is the linchpin who helped him realize this project, putting together the video and Kickstarter page that raised money to bring him from New York to glue these paintings to the iconic red phone booths.

As it turns out, these quietly meditating illusionistic figures were measured and created for a size of booth that has fallen into disuse – a fact that he may have liked to know before painted these in his Brooklyn studio. There are two sizes of phone booths in London, Dan tells us; the K2 and the K6.

“The one that I measured for, the K2, is the older, rare and widely dispersed one. Apparently there are only a couple of hundred of them in use at remote and largely undisclosed locations. But, through the deep research skills of Mark Clack of Wood Street Walls  and my ever intrepid wife Tiffaney, we were able to locate enough K2’s for me to put my paintings on.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

Witz’s newest work is meant as a response to the terrorist attacks in many cities that have hurt many people psychologically and stirred an atmosphere of fear – now he hopes to encourage a place for people to create “breathing room” for reflection. He has dealt directly with darker issues before, particularly a well-documented street art campaign a couple of years ago in Frankfurt, Germany, of figures caught just behind dark windows and metal grates. It is a guerrilla style he has honed over years to subtly draw attention and unnerve a passerby, perhaps into action.

For that campaign a nearby QR code could be scanned and followed to the Amnesty International campaign in support of political prisoners. Here he hopes to spark individual acts of hope, with these serene images radiating an optimism and focus on more peaceful matters.

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

Mr. Witz says that the whole experience tracking down and installing in London phonebooths was challenging, and fun and rewarding as well. “Fortunately I had the foresight to rent a motorcycle and I figured out how to mount my phone with Google maps on the handlebars,” he says.

“I’m not sure how I would have done any of this without that. But don’t even get me started on how crazy it was to drive on the left side of the road for the first time in my life,” then adds somewhat conspiratorially, “Don’t tell Tiffaney but there were some close calls.”

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

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Dan Witz. “Breathing Room” London, July 2016. (photo © Dan Witz)

 

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BSA Film Friday: 06.10.16

BSA Film Friday: 06.10.16

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

Now screening :

1. The Restoration of Blu / Street Art Banksy & Co
2. Fintan Magee in Puerto Rico for Santurce Es Ley by Tost Films
3. HK Walls 2016
4. ONO’U 2015 by Selina Miles
5. DAN WITZ: “BREATHING ROOM” Kickstarter

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BSA Special Feature: The Restoration of Blu for “Street Art Banksy & Co”

Part II of a behind the scenes look by Good Guy Boris at the controversial show in Bologna that features art works by BLU and others that were originally not intended to appear in a museum, like most things in museums.

Here we learn about less sexy topics like copyright law and one lawyers interpretation of the realistic expectations of artists when painting illegally and legally as it applies to copyright in Italy and France. We also receive a quick education about traditional and modern techniques for the restoration of works for archival purposes, which is why people will be looking at these things long after you and we are gone.

 

Fintan Magee in Puerto Rico for Santurce Es Ley by Tost Films

You may recall our article on this piece in February with Mr. Magee:

Fintan Magee, Puerto Rico, and Rising Sea Levels

 

HK Walls 2016

A quick wrap of Hong Kong Walls 2016, which included a rather diverse group of artists including Above, Alana Tsui, Caratoes, Clogtwo, Colasa, DILK, Dmojo, Egg Fiasco, Essahqinoirs, Exld, Faust, Gas, Gan, Gr1, Keflione, Kenji Chai, KristopherH, Mooncasket, Mysterious Al, Okudart, Paola Delfin, Parent’s Parents, Peeta, Phron, Roids, Ryck, Satr, Sars, Senk, Stern Rockwell, Suiko, Vhils, Volre, Whyyy, and Zids.

 

ONO’U 2015 by Selina Miles

A round up of last years’ ONO’U festival that combines murals by Street Artists and graffiti writers – and injects an element of competition judged by people with credible familiarity and knowledge. More importantly, the artists are well cared for, there is a sense of cultural exchange, and the public is left with artworks that are significant or meaningful to them. ONO’U has the stage at the moment when it comes to public/commercial festivals in the Street Art realm.

 

DAN WITZ: “BREATHING ROOM”

“After the terror attacks in Europe this past year, it became necessary to abandon the dark imagery of my past work and take a new approach,” says veteran Street Artist Dan Witz as he describes the dozen or so pieces he plans to install in London this summer. Please consider supporting his Kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1335802971/breathing-room-a-street-art-project-by-dan-witz

 

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“Young New Yorkers” Auction to Feature Jaime Rojo and 100 More

“Young New Yorkers” Auction to Feature Jaime Rojo and 100 More

BSA has been supporting and donating to the organization Young New Yorkers and many of the participating artists who are in tonight’s auction for a long time through our work for a number of years. This year BSA Co-founder and editor of photography Jaime Rojo is also donating something else – his own photography.

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Jaime Rojo. Untitled. Tawana and Miriam. Brooklyn, NY. August 31, 2003 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

YNY provides 16 and 17 year old people in New York State who have had the unfortunate occurrence of being arrested an opportunity to re-see themselves and society through an art-based program. The state has the unfortunate distinction of being particularly harsh with our youth, treating them as adults in some circumstances where other perspectives can and should come into play. It’s a mature and nuanced position that great societies can muster when we dig deep and we’re proud of the staff and volunteers who put in the huge amounts of effort to make YNY successful.

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Shepard Fairey. Natural Springs. Print. (photo courtesy of YNY)

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Joe Russo. Shepard Fairey, NYC 2010. Print. (photo courtesy of YNY)

This program is an opportunity to short-circuit a potentially harmful cycle of crime and incarceration because it recognizes the whole young person, not just a narrow aspect. If they qualify and graduate from the court-appointed program, graduates’ cases are dismissed and sealed, leaving them free of the collateral consequences of an adult criminal record.

Not surprisingly, graffitti and Street Artists and others familiar with the scene recognize the value of this kind of work and have given great pieces to the auction. Please consider the works here and go online to bid and attend the public auction in New York tonight!

 

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Daniel Albanese. Larry The Bird Man. Print. (photo courtesy of YNY)

“I wholeheartedly support Young New Yorkers; not only as an art program and constructive alternative to teens being incarcerated, but it is also highly therapeutic. It builds problem solving skills that can boost self confidence and allow participants to feel more empowered to pursue their dreams as well as deal with their realities.”—Shepard Fairey

Fairey has generously donated a number of prints for tonight along with works by an array of artists you’ll recognize such as Ben Eine, Swoon, Cern, Pure Evil, Icy & Sot, Robert Janz, Know Hope, Daniel Albanese, Hellbent, Greg LaMarche, Joe Russo, LMNOPI, Li Hill, Dan Witz and many others for tonights’ event. Your support will actually help keep our young people out of jail and contributing in a positive way.

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Swoon. Haiti Sketch (Older Man Collar). (photo courtesy of YNY)

This year’s YNY benefit auction show is curated by Lunar New Year, Ann Lewis, and Maya Levin.

Here is a small sample of the works being offered up for auction. To see the whole collection, bid and for more details on the actual works of art please go to: Paddle8 Young New Yorkers benefit auction.

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Ben Eine. See No Evil. Print. (photo courtesy of YNY)

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Brittany Williams. Blooming Mind. Painting. (photo courtesy of YNY)

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Li-Hill. Dive. Work on paper. (photo courtesy of YNY)

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QRST. In The House Of The Coyote. Work on paper. (photo courtesy of YNY)

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Dan Witz. Container Study (Green). Mixed Media. (photo courtesy of YNY)

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Jetsonorama. Stephanie on JR ‘s House. Print. (photo courtesy of YNY)

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Mataruda. Verso, Perla, Pluma y, Flor. Giclee Print. (photo courtesy of the artist)

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BSA Galavanting, The New Year and You

BSA Galavanting, The New Year and You

BSA galavanted through the streets last year and here we re-paste our recent newsletter to BSA readers. Sign up for it if you like. Here’s the original.

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Happy New Year from BSA!

From Berlin to Norway to Rochester and Mexico, Faile to Swoon to Ron English to Dan Witz and Gilf!, BSA was in museums, galleries, artists studios, at festivals, on panel discussions, on stages, on TV, radio, in theaters, and of course in the street.

Here are some highlights of the some of the amazing things BSA did with you in 2015. We sincerely thank you for your support and send love to you and yours in the new year!

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In ’15 BSA Created “Persons of Interest” with UN in Berlin
Brought 12 Brooklyn Street Artists to Berlin with “Persons of Interest” show for Urban Nation Museum (UN)/ProjectM7

Reviews in:
Juxtapoz, VNA, Hi-Fructose, Huffington Post, Butterfly

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The (almost) complete “Persons of Interest” crew courtesy ©Sandra Butterfly

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BSA Presented “On the Radar” in Coney Island
With Jeffrey Dietch’s Coney Art Walls program at Coney Island Museum for Coney Art Walls, we presented 12 artist to watch who are on our radar.

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BSA Presented Faile at the Brooklyn Museum
A beautiful experience to be a part of the FAILE exhibition from its earliest planning stages to its full summer run at Brooklyn Museum, the cherry on top was to host an in-depth presentation and conversation with Faile’s Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeil and BKM curator Sharon Matt Atkins in front of an enthusiastic Brooklyn audience.

Aside from The Pope landing in New York at the exact time people were traveling to the show and some microphone difficulties at the beginning of the show, it was a complete and total thrill for us. See the full video on LiveStream here.

What Happened with BSA + FAILE at the Brooklyn Museum?

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Steven P. Harrington, Patrick Miller of Faile (top), Sharon Matt Atkins, Patrick McNeil, and Jaime Rojo (image © by and courtesy of The Dusty Rebel) (@DustyRebel on Instagram)

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BSA Joined Swoon to Inaugurate Her New Heliotrope Foundation
The tenacious and visionary Street Artist grounded her dreams in a formal foundation in 2015, allowing her to pursue even greater reach in her growing projects in New Orleans, Haiti, and Braddock, PA. We were honored to interview her and to help celebrate the official beginning of The Heliotrope Foundation with the help of special guest and board member Kaseem Dean aka Swizz Beatz.

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Callie Curry (aka Swoon), Kasseem Dean (aka Swizz Beatz), Jaime Rojo, Steven P. Harrington inaugurate The Heliotrope Foundation

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photo ©Daniel Feral

BSA Hosted Martha Cooper, Bortusk Leer, and Herman De Hoop at Nuart Plus
For presentations from each of the guests and panel discussion on the intersection of “Play” and public space at NUART 2015 in Stavanger, Norway.

Read our published essay for the academic conference at Nuart: “TECHNOLOGY, FESTIVALS AND MURALS AS NUART TURNS 15

NUART 2015 Roundup: A Laboratory on the Street

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Jaime Rojo, Harmen De Hoop, Martha Cooper, Bortusk Leer, Steven P. Harrington at Nuart Plus (©MZM Projects)

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Banksy Does New York Took Us to Theaters Around the World
Good News: The movie got on NetFlix, iTunes, in festivals, and in theaters in cities around the globe
Bad News: People think we have a museum

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We Flew Over World’s Largest Mural
Flew by helicopter above the world’s largest mural by Ella and Pitr in Stavanger, Norway with two of our most admired photographers; Martha Cooper and Ian Cox. Thanks Nuart!

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Ella & Pitr © Jaime Rojo

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Ian Cox, Martha Cooper, Jaime Rojo getting ready to fly over Ella & Pitr in Norway (photo selfie ©Ian Cox)

We presented BSA Film Friday Live at MAG Gallery
Under the direction of Jonathan Binstock at University of Rochester Museum the MAG Gallery hosted us during the Wall\Therapy festival.

This is the grassroots sort of festival that rings true to us these days and the down-to-earth volunteers and organizers of this event, along with those of our associates at Urban Nation (UN), made this a highlight of the summer.

WALL\THERAPY 2015 : Surrealism and The Fantastic

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Steven P. Harrington at MAG Gallery for Wall\Therapy (photo ©Jason Wilder)

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BSA moderated 1st panel for 1st event of 1st edition of LoMan Festival
“OMG Is this Street Art?” was the name of our panel with guest panelists Ron English, Gilf!, Dan Witz, and Jonathan Levine.

LoMan Art Festival Launches Its First Blast in NYC

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Ron English, Ann J Lewis, Dan Witz, Jonathan LeVine, and Steven P. Harrington for first LoMan festival event in August (photo ©Rodrigo Valles‎).

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BSA in Berlin Radio Interview with Vantage Point
We talked about Jay-Z, Bowie, Bushwick, the democratization of Street Art, cultural imperialism, the UN and what it is like to bust out a blog seven days a week and still keep your mind and heart open to discovery.
Listen to it here on Vantage Point and Soundcloud:

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BSA completed its fifth year in partnership with The Huffington Post in June 2015 (225+ articles) and was translated in Spanish on El Huffington Post, in French on Le Huffington Post, in Italian on L’Huffington Post, in Korean on Huff Post Korea, in Portuguese on Brasil Post, and in Greek for Huffington Post Greece.
BSA posted every single day and did 23 interviews and studio visits and published articles about street art in 103 cities
BSA was reference or appeared in the media in The New York Times, The Today Show, Le Monde, Agence France Press, German Rbb Tv, Borås Tidning, El Diario, El Heraldo, ArtNet News, Juxtapoz, VNA, Hi-Fructose, and others.
BSA’s Director of Photography Jaime Rojo took more than 10,000 images and we picked 143 as BSA 2015 Images of the Year.
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Special thank you to photographer Martha Cooper and Nuart Festival director Martyn Reed for the banner image from this years festival.

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BSA “Images of the Year” for 2015 : New Video

BSA “Images of the Year” for 2015 : New Video

Was 2015 the “Year of the Mural”?

A lot of people thought so, and the rise of commercial festivals and commissioned public/private mural programs probably brought more artists to more walls than in recent history. Judging from the In Box, 2016 is going to break more records. Enormous, polished, fully realized and presented, murals can hold a special role in a community and transform a neighborhood, even a city.

But they are not the “organic” Street Art that draws us into the dark in-between places in a city, or at its margins.

We keep our eyes open for the small, one-off, idiosyncratic, uncommissioned, weirdo work as well, as it can carry clues about the culture and reveal a sage or silly solo voice.  It also just reinforces the feeling that the street is still home to an autonomous free-for-all of ideas and opinions and wandering passions. For us it is still fascinating to seek out and discover the one-of-a-kind small wheatpastes, stencils, sculptures, ad takeovers, collages, and aerosol sprayed pieces alongside the enormous and detailed paintings that take days to complete.

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The main image above is from a vinyl subway advertisement that was high-jacked and we published it in February of this year on our Images of the Week posting. It’s small, personal, and very effective as you can see someone suspiciously similar to Batman is jumping out of the mouth of someone looking awfully similar to Hedwig of “Angry Inch” fame.

Of the 10,000 or so images photographer Jaime Rojo took in 2015, here are a selection 140+ of the best images from his travels through streets looking for unpermissioned and sanctioned art.

Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo

 

Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo includes the following artists;

365xlos43, Amanda Marie, Andreas Englund, Augustine Kofie, Bisser, Boijeot, Renauld, Bordaloli, Brittany, BunnyM, Case Maclaim, Casg, Cash4, CDRE, Clet, Cost, Curve, Dain, Dal East, Dan Budnik, Dan Witz, David Walker, DeeDee, Dennis McNett, Don Rimx, Ricardo Cabret, LNY, Alex Seel, Mata Ruda, Don’t Fret, Dot Dot Dot, ECB, El Mac, El Sol25, Ella & Pitr, Eric Simmons, Enest Zacharevic, Martha Cooper, Martin Whatson, Ever, Faile, Faith47, Findac, Futura, Gaia, Gilf!, Hanksy, Hellbent, Hot Tea, How & Nosm, Icy and Sot, Inti, Invader, Isaac Cordal, James Bullough, Janet Dickson, Jef Aerosol, Jilly Ballistic, Joe Iurato, John Fekner, Le Diamantaire, Li Hill, LMNOPI, London Kaye, Low Brow, Marina Capdevilla, Miss Van, Mr. Prvrt, Mr. Toll, Myth, Nafir, Nemos, Never Crew, Nick Walker, Nina Pandolofo, Old Broads, Oldy, Ollio, Os Gemeos, Owen Dippie, Paper Skaters, Pet Bird, Kashink, Smells, Cash4, PichiAvo, Pixel Pancho, QRST, ROA, Ron English, Rubin415, Saner, Sean 9 Lugo, Shai Dahan, Shepard Fairey, Sheryo & The Yok, Sinned, Sipros, Skewville, Slikor, Smells, Sweet Toof, Snowden, Edward Snowden, Andrew Tider, Jeff Greenspan, Specter, Stray Ones, Sweet Toof, Swil, Willow, Swoon, The Outings Project, Toney De Pew, Tristan Eaton, Various & Gould, Vermibus, Wane, Wk Interact

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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BSA Images Of The Week: 12.06.15

BSA Images Of The Week: 12.06.15

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A wild week in world geopolitics, terror, social crisis – interpret them as you may through the prism of art collecting and fandom – as Miami Art Basel and the Wynwood District were bursting with high prices, high emotions, high celebrity-counts, and people who appeared to be high almost all the time. There were also heavy rains, big name music performances, custom designed cocktails, luxury brands, brand fusions, and sponsored walls and events everywhere. Also a stabbing.

Once we can sort through the best photos we’ll definitely share some of the great work with you this week.

Meanwhile, Street Artists continue to create in cities elsewhere and while Miami is celebrating brands, logos and luxury, on the other side of the ocean Brandalism completed a 600 kiosk takeover in Paris this week skewering all of the above and the undue influence corporations are having in writing environmental/trade laws. On the aesthetic tip we’ve recently made a mental note that photo-realism is now reaching a critical mass. So there you are.

Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring A Pill NYC, Bifido, Buff Monster, Cash4, Dan Witz, Fuzeillear, Invader, Jordan Seiler, Knarf, LikMi, Luca Ladda, Østrem, Otto Schade, Persue, Pøbel, Rahmi Rajah, Sean9Lugo, Sipros, and Skount.

Top Image: Sipros for The Bushwick Collective. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Sipros for The Bushwick Collective (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A portrait of Biggie Smalls. This was probably ripped from the ad campaign and affixed to this phone box. We call this re-porpoising and we consider it to be Street Art. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pøbel . Østrem for NUART in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

These two pieces are part of the NUART collection of murals painted for previous editions of the festival. They are not freshly painted but we wanted to publish them as they are calling our attention to a topic that is current and urgent and addressed by world leaders in Paris for the COP21 Climate Summit 2015 as well as dozens of Street Artists with the #brandalism campaign.

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Pøbel . Østrem for NUART in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A Pill NYC (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jordan Seiler ad take over in the NYC Subway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Luca Ledda for Festival Concreto in Fortaleza, Brazil. (photo © Luca Ledda)

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Luca Ledda for Festival Concreto in Fortaleza, Brazil. (photo © Luca Ledda)

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Dan Witz. Natural History series. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz. Natural History series. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Cash4 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Bifido in Napoli, Italy. (photo © Bifido)

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Sean9Lugo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Buff Monster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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One cool thing about this piece: The plaid pattern was done by hand with gaffers’ tape – it isn’t freehand painted or stenciled or printed. It’s a 3D piece, including the silvery collar portion. There was a tag and a code at the collar but it was too faded for us to read. From what we could read the tag is #IywIkr (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Space Invader. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Otto Schade AKA OSCH in London. (photo © Rahmi Rajah)

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Persue (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Knarf in Miami. (photo © Knarf)

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Skount surprised us with this abstract piece in Gold Coast, Australia – not the style he typically does. (photo © Skount)

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Skount and Fuzeillear at Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast, Australia. (photo © Skount)

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LikMi (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. Staten Island – NYC Harbor. November 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

 

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Boo! Halloween Street Art from Your Ghoulish Friends at BSA

Boo! Halloween Street Art from Your Ghoulish Friends at BSA

Happy Halloween everybody! It’s a scary time on the streets and artists are always giving us disturbing and comical reasons to be frightened – it’s like we need some catharsis to help us process personal and world events. Whether it is Freddy Krueger or just a classic old bobbing skull, the specter of our fears and fantasies is alive and well just around the corner.

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JPS in Stavanger (or should we say Stabbinger?), Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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JPS in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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JPS in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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JPS in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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EDMX is catching death with this skinny skater dude (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Steiner sees you (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Steiner (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Artist Unknown (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Candy (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Artist Unknown (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz scares the bejesus out of passersby in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Isaac Cordal and one of his scary corporate death men in Boras, Sweeden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ollio in Sweeden. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A tribute on the street to Jack Nicholson from The Shining. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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TAK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Artist Unknown (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Left Handed Wave (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Norm Kirby (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pyramid Oracle (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Times Square. Midnight Moment. photo © Jaime Rojo

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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Technology, Festivals, and Murals: 15 Years on the Street Art Scene

Technology, Festivals, and Murals: 15 Years on the Street Art Scene

It’s good to be asked to write an essay once in a while as it makes us take a step back and more fully examine a topic and appreciate it. On the occasion of Nuart’s 15th anniversary and it’s accompanying print publication last week Martyn Reed asked us to look at the street art / urban art / graffiti scene and to give an analysis about how it has changed in the time that the festival has been running. The essay is a long one, so grab a cup of joe and we hope you enjoy. Included are a number of images in and around Stavanger from Jaime Rojo, not all of them part of the festival, including legal and illegal work.

Technology, Festivals, and Murals as Nuart Turns 15

Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo

Nuart is turning 15 this year and like most brilliant teenagers it is alternately asking you challenging questions, finding you somewhat uncool, or is on your tablet ordering a new skateboard with your credit card. Nuart started with mainly music and is now mainly murals; an internationally well-regarded venue for thoughtfully curated urban art programs and erudite academic examination – with an undercurrent of troublemaking at all times. Today Nuart can be relied upon to initiate new conversations that you weren’t expecting and set a standard for thoughtful analysis of Street Art and its discontents.

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Pøbel (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We are in the thick of it, as it were, this great expansion of a first global grassroots people’s art movement. Give it any title you like, the flood of art in the streets that knocks on BSA’s door daily is unabated. We admit that we often get caught up in the moment and forget to study our forebears, Street Art’s progenitors and contributors – and that we sometimes are unable to appreciate the significance of this incredible time. So we are happy when the Nuart team asked us to take a long view of the last fifteen years and to tell them what we see.

As we mark Nuart’s milestone, we see three important developments on the Street Art scene while it evolves: Technology, Festivals, and Murals.

And just before we discuss these three developments in Street Art we emphasize what has stayed the same; our own sense of wonder and thrill at the creative spirit, however it is expressed; we marvel to see how it can seize someone and flow amidst their innermost, take hold of them, convulse through them, rip them apart and occasionally make them whole.

What has changed is that the practice and acceptance of Street Art, the collecting of the work, it’s move into contemporary art, have each evolved our perceptions of this free-range autonomous descendant of the graffiti practice that took hold of imaginations in the 2000s. At the least it hasn’t stopped gaining converts. At this arbitrary precipice on the timeline we look back and forward to identify three impactful themes that drive what we are seeing today and that will continue to evolve our experience with this shape-shifting public art practice.

 

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Ben Eine (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Technology

Hands down, a primary genesis for the far flung modern embrace of Street Art/Urban Art/Graffiti/public art lies in the booster rocket that propelled it into nearly everyone’s hands; digital communication and all its sundry technologies. From the early Internet websites and chat rooms accessed from your desktop to digital cameras and photo sharing platforms like Flickr in the early-mid 2000s to ever more sophisticated search technology and its accompanying algorithms, to blogs, micro blogs, and social media platforms, to the first generations of laptops and tablets, iPhones and Android devices; the amazing and democratizing advance of these communicative technologies have allowed more of us to access and share images, videos, experiences and opinion on a scale never before imagined – entirely altering the practice of art in the streets.

Where once there had been insular localized clans of aerosol graffiti writers who followed arcane codes of behavior and physical territoriality known primarily to only them in cities around the world, now new tribes coalesced around hubs of digital image sharing, enabling new shared experiences, sets of rules, and hierarchies of influence – while completely dissolving others.

 

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Tilt (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As old guards re-invented a place for themselves or disappeared altogether, a new order was being remixed in front our eyes. There were a lot of strangers in the room – but somehow we got used to it. Rather than making street art pieces for your local peers, artists began making new compositions for somebody’s phone screen in London or Honolulu or Shanghai.

Cut free from soil and social station, now garden variety hoodlums and brilliant aesthetes were commingling with opportuning art collectors, curious gallerists, unctuous opinionators, punctilious photographers and fans… along with product makers, promoters, art-school students, trend watchers, brand managers, lifestyle marketers, criminologists, sociologists, journalists, muckrakers, academics, philosophers, housewives, and makers of public policy. By virtue of climbing onto the Net everyone was caught in it, now experiencing the great leveling forces of early era digital communications that decimated old systems of privilege and gate keeping or demarcations of geography.

Looking forward we are about to be shaken again by technology that makes life even weirder in the Internet of Everything. Drone cams capture art and create art, body cams will surveil our activity and interactions, and augmented reality is merging with GPS location mapping. You may expect new forms of anonymous art bombing done from your basement, guerilla image projecting, electronic sign jamming, and perhaps you’ll be attending virtual reality tours of street art with 30 other people who are also sitting on their couches with Oculus Rifts on. Just watch.

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Swoon and David Choe (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Festivals

Thanks to the success of festivals like Nuart, myriad imitators and approximaters have mushroomed in cities everywhere. Conceived of philosophically as a series of stages for the exhibition of artistic chops with the proviso that a cultural dialogue is enriched and moved forward, not all festivals reach those goals.

In fact, we have no reason to expect that there is one set of goals whatsoever and the results are predictably variable; ranging from focused, coherent and resonant contributions to a city to dispersed, unmanageable parades of muddy mediocrity slammed with corporate logos and problematic patronage.

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MCity (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Some festivals are truly grassroots and managed by volunteers like Living Walls in Atlanta or MAUI in Fanzara, Spain. Others are privately funded by real estate interests like Miami’s Wynwood Walls or business improvement district initiatives like the L.I.S.A. Project and LoMan Festival in Manhattan, or are the vision of one man who has an interest in Street Artists, like the now-discontinued FAME festival in the small town of Grottaglie, Italy and the 140 artist takeover of a town in Tunisia called Djerbahood that is organized by an art dealer.

In some ways these examples are supplanting the work of public art committees and city planners who historically determined what kind of art would be beneficial to community and a public space. Detractors advance an opinion that festivals and personal initiatives like this are clever ways of circumventing the vox populi or that they are the deliberate/ accidental tools of gentrification.

We’ve written previously about the charges of cultural imperialism that these festivals sometimes bring as well where a presumed gratitude for new works by international painting superstars actually devolves into charges of hubris and disconnection with the local population who will live with the artwork for months and years after the artist catches a plane home.

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Dotmasters (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Nonetheless, far from Street Arts transgressive and vandalous roots, the sheer number of Street Art/Urban Art/Mural Art festivals that have popped up – either freestanding or as adjuncts to multi-discipline “arts” festivals – is having the effect of creating a wider dialogue for art in the public sphere.

As artists are invited and hosted and scissor lifts are rented and art-making materials are purchased, one quickly realizes that there are real costs associated with these big shows and the need for funding is equally genuine. Depending on the festival this funding may be private, public, institutional, corporate, or an equation that includes them all.

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Faith47 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you may expect, the encroachment of commercial interests is nearly exhaustive in some of these newer festivals, so eager are the merchants to harvest a scene they had little or no hand in planting. Conceived of as vehicles for corporate messaging, they custom-build responsive websites, interactive Apps, clouds of clever #hashtags, company logos, Instagram handles, branded events and viral lifestyle videos with logos sprinkled throughout the “content”.

You may recognize these to be the leeching from an organic subculture, but in the case of this amorphous and still growing “Street Art Scene” no one yet knows what lasting scars this lifestyle packaging will leave on the Body Artistic, let alone civic life.

 

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Icy & Sot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stylistically these festivals can be a grab bag as well with curatorial rigor often taking a back seat to availability, accessibility, and the number of interested parties making nominations. While some festivals are clearly leaning toward more traditional graffiti schools, others are a hodgepodge of every discernable style from the past fifty years, sometimes producing an unpleasant sense of nausea or even tears over regrettable missed opportunity.

Clearly the quality is often uneven but, at the danger of sounding flip or callous, it’s nothing that is not easily remedied by a few coats of paint in the months afterward, and you’ll see plenty of that. Most art critics understand that the metrics used for measuring festival art are not meant to be the same as for a gallery or museum show. Perhaps because of the entirely un-curated nature of the organic Street Art scene from which these festivals evolved in some part, where no one asks for permission (and none is actually granted), we are at ease with a sense of happenstance and an uneven or lackluster presentation but are thrilled when concept, composition, and execution are seated firmly in a brilliant context.

 

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TUK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Murals

Finally, murals have become big not just in size but popularity. Every week a street artist is exclaiming that this mural is the biggest they have every made. It is a newfound love, a heady honeymoon, a true resurgence of muralism. Even though you can’t rightly call this legal and sanctioned work true Street Art, many former and current Street Artists are making murals.

Un-civically minded urban art rebels have inferred that Street Art has softened, perhaps capitulated to more mainstream tastes. As Dan Witz recently observed, “Murals are not a schism with Street Art as much as a natural outgrowth from it.” We agree and add that these cheek-by-jowl displays of one mural after another are emulating the graffiti jams that have been taking place for years in large cities both organic and organized.

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JPS . Mizo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

From illustration to abstraction to figurative to surreal and even letter-based, this eclectic injection of styles won’t bring to mind what one may typically associate with the homegrown community mural. Aside from the aforementioned festivals that are festooning neighborhoods, the growth in mural-making may be attributable to a trend of appreciation for Do It Yourself ( D.I.Y.) approaches and the ‘makers’ movements, or a desire to add a personal aspect to an urban environment that feels unresponsive and disconnected.

Philadelphia has dedicated 30 years to their Mural Arts Program and relies on a time-tested method of community involvement for finalization of designs and most municipal murals have a certain tameness that pleases so many constituencies that no one particularly cares for them.

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Herakut (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The New Muralism, as we have been calling it, that is popping up is often more autonomous and spirited in nature than community mural initiatives of the past with their ties to the socio-political or to historical figures and events. Here there are few middlemen and fewer debates. Artists and their advocates approach building owners directly, a conversation happens, and a mural goes up.

In the case of upstart community programs like the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, one trusted local person is ambassador to a neighborhood, insuring that community norms about nudity or politics are respected but otherwise acts purely as facilitator and remains hands-off about the content.

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JPS (photo © Jaime Rojo)

On that topic, effectively a form of censoring often takes place with murals – another distinguishing characteristic from Street Art. Given the opportunity to fully realize an elaborate composition, normally wild-eyed and ornery aerosol rebels bend their vision to not offend. Sometimes an artist can have more latitude and you may find a mural may clearly advocate a political or social point of view, as in recent murals addressing police brutality, racism, and inequality in many US cities, anti-corruption sentiments in Mexico, and pro-marriage equality in France and Ireland.

This new romance with the mural is undoubtedly helping artists who would like to further explore their abilities in more labor-intensive, time absorbing works without having to look over their shoulder for an approaching officer of the law. It is a given that what they gain in polished presentation they may sacrifice as confrontational, radical, contraventional, even experimental. The resulting images are at times stunning and even revelatory, consistent with the work of highly skilled visionaries, as if a new generation of painters is maturing before our eyes in public space where we are all witness.

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Artist Unknown (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Moving Forward

Despite the rise in festivals and mural programs and the growing volume and sophistication of technology for sharing of the images, Street Art is still found in unexpected places and the decay of neglected spaces. As before and well into the future these self ordained ministers of mayhem will be showing their stuff in the margins, sometimes identified, sometimes anonymous, communicating with the individual who just happens to walk by and witness the work. The works will impart political or social messages, other times a simple declaration that says, “I’m here.”

Whatever its form, we will be looking for it.

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Isaac Cordal (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Niels Show Meulman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nafir (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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John Fekner (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Blek le Rat (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Site of an old piece by BLU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dieche (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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HUSH (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dolk (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Strok (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The remnants of a Phlegm piece from a previous edition of Nuart. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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