Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Gonzalo Borondo “Merci” Temple des Chartrons 2. ELLE in Allentown 3. Pejac: YIN-YANG 4. “Beyond The Streets” In A New York Minute – By Chop ‘Em Down Films 5. LL Cool J – I’m Bad
BSA Special Feature: Gonzalo Borondo “Merci” Temple des Chartrons, France. 2019
Finally opened, its the spirit of man and nature working in concert in this vast emporium, a transformatorium, of images and pieces of memory from Street Artist Borondo. If you are in Paris before August 18, it is a must see.
ELLE in Allentown
Former tagger and now fulltime muralist, Elle talks about a new work in Allentown, PA, which is trying to kindle a creative arts / high tech reputation after the iron industry left. “The gist of the entire collage is that all of women are more powerful together,” says Elle.
Spanish Street Artist and studio artist Pejac is back with one of his visual aphorism that addresses climate change ironically.
“Beyond The Streets” In A New York Minute – By Chop ‘Em Down Films
Like we said earlier this week when this video debuted:
“It’s a unique talent to capture the fervor of an opening like “Beyond the Streets” in one minute. The show spreads over two floors and fifty years – the reunions alone were enough for an hour movie. But somehow Zane catches an individual, personal, flavor in a New York minute.”
LL Cool J – I’m Bad
Also, the because it’s Friday and because LL is Bad
This is the third year for Northern Norway’s UPN Festival and this year it’s on an Island called Røst and includes a collection of artists eager to do site-specific and environmental works – one evolutionary development in the mural festivals that blossom throughout the world right now. This week BSA is proud to bring you images and interviews along with Urban Nation this year at UpNorth, where the seagulls never stop calling and the sun never goes down this time of year.
We wind up the week on the island of Røst with almost a mystical sense, perhaps because of the inspirational messages we continued to see within the statements of this year’s artists. Today we see the metaphorical storytelling of Elle at war on the seas and the striking installation by Klone Yourself (or Klone) called “The Songs of the Vikings” ______________
A surrealist illustrator experimenting with different styles and mediums on Street Art pieces and murals in cities, Klone’s works on walls often feature simplified and distorted forms, figures, and creatures occupying a space that is seemingly suspended in air. An uprooted Ukrainian immigrant now from Tel Aviv, the mid-30s artist is looking at existential matters today in the way you do when you have had to adjust to a radically new environment.
One examines fundamentals and pillars of a culture, its history, norms and language – and then struggles to find a place within it. For his installation in Norway, the artist studied the location and the history of the region, combined that study with his own history, and constructed “Viking” swords for a site specific piece that takes on many shadings of significance.
“The texts on the swords are coming from various sources: Viking poetry and songs, contemporary references like music and literature we grow up on, and personal remarks and thoughts on life and daily struggles,” says Klone about his striking installation by the sea. “In a way this is a series of protective runes, planted in the ground, like after a big battle, some of the text disappearing, some still exposed. Some of the truth is always gone, and it’s all relative.
BSA:Can you talk about this striking and meaningful installation you did by the sea for UpNorth? Klone: My main goal for the UpNorth festival was to complete my installation that was planned specifically for it. The installation consists of wooden swords, cut out by me from found wood (mostly wood that was used for building houses on the island), with text written on the swords.
Later those swords got stuck into a hill structure on the island. This installation has and can have so many meanings, to both me and the random viewer, so I’ll explain some of my intention – and anyone else can take it somewhere else, as people already did while I was installing my piece and directly after it was completed.
The sword is a symbol of power through thousands of years. A wooden sword is a toy, meant to play with. In a way it is to prepare us for one day holding a real sword, real power, or at least real representation of it, no matter how prepared or not we are.
On a personal note – my name is Igor, and this is the name my mother gave me when I was born and later explained to me that she gave me a Viking name so I could grow to be a strong man. In a way I hope I did become kind of a Viking. A free man, at least as much as I’d like to think so, somewhat a pirate, and always on the move with deep respect for history and traditions as well as a love for innovation. For me this was a kind of a closure, to bring this installation to a place that felt like it’s meant to be.
BSA:How would you describe the environment working in Røst? Klone Yourself: The Røst environment is insane. It feels like another planet over there and with the 24/7 daylight, its easy to feel so.
I think it’s amazing to experience a place so old and yet so wholesome and not destroyed by modern civilizations. Yes they have machines, Internet and restaurants, but it seems like the people just want to live their lives and are not really bothered by what’s happening around them.
BSA:How are you challenging yourself as an artist right now? Klone Yourself: I’m challenging myself as an artist on a daily basis. My practice is always on a few levels of perception, depending on the time and the place of course. As I work in drawing, painting, installation, video and mural painting, the limits are far to be seen, and there’s so much to try and learn yet.
The most appropriate personal title for the piece is – “Song of the Viking” , as a tribute to songs written by Vikings to their gods, and as a tribute to this land now and then.
The American experimentalist Elle tries anything once – including fire extinguishers, rollers, aerosol, wheatpastes, silkscreens and bus stop takeovers – legal and illegal. Her illustrative style often centers around a fantastical avatar, a heroic and sensual woman who is exploring new psychological landscapes.
Here in Røst the heroine of a shipwreck casts a wide eye at you as she climbs through a tumultuous and harrowing sea storm. The metaphors are many and so is the range of Elles ever-increasing skills.
Stickers, or slaps, are small but formidable graphic and text messages, especially when massed together on a doorway or light pole. They are also fast and surreptitiously placed, as simple as a gesture, undetectable in their ease of application.
Begun exclusively perhaps as vehicles for handwritten or hand drawn missives, usually the tag of an artist, today they are often mass produced and designed on a screen, commercially printed on stock that is weatherproof, yet crumbles into pieces when you try to remove it. Personal and political are often on display, as well as that eternal graffiti impulse to simply spread your name.
Stickers and their creation, distribution, and collection are a culture unto themselves, with fans mounting massive sticker shows and books tracing historical roots and telling stories. On the street, just one sticker can alter your day. Because you know it is made and placed by an individual and not a corporation, it feels like a personal message. Because it is small enough for you to get close to, it becomes intimate.
Here is a selection of recent images of stickers caught by our editor of photography, Jaime Rojo, for BSA readers to get up close to.
It’s been a spectacular amber and golden and green autumn week when you’re able to ride your bike around and see a lot of great new and old Street Art and not break a sweat because the air is fresh and cool and the sun is spectacular.
And the streets are alive!
We found a new REVS, a new JJ Veronis and a big full-poster Clint Mario. Given the fact that two of the pieces are beautifully crafted metal sculptures and one is an ad take over in the subway, that gives you an indication that artists are active right now – and public space is being engaged. Get on your boots and take a hike, take your imagination and a sweatshirt in case you’re in the shade, and Street Art is out there waiting for you.
So here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Bies, City Kitty, Clint Mario, Downtown DaVinci, Elle, Gaia, Hooker, InDecline, JJ Veronis, REVS, RWK, Sable Elise Smith, and Sean 9 Lugo.
Blonde Women’s Lives Matter. Make America Salem Again. I am the Law.
The Donald didn’t let us down again this week – and for those of you who think we’re being partisan, we’re not. This dork has been doing this stuff in New York since the 80s – and we are all used to his grandiose claims and mid-speech reversals. But this week the RNC looked like it was going to devolve into Lord of the Fliescrossed with the Salem Witch trials. No wonder the Street Art we keep seeing is approximately 10 to 1 against him – and still he’s like a gushing geyser of humor, comedy gold! Except for the violent parts.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Alexandre Keto, Astro, Coloquix, Cyrcle, Dee Dee, Elle, Funquest, Lapiz, Leipzig, OverUnder, Patch Whisky, Uncut Tart, and You Go Girl!.
Hillary Clinton announced in Brooklyn this week that she supports raising the minimum wage to $250,000 a speech while Bernie Sanders scoped around the showroom of a Danish furniture designer in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to order a new blond wood desk and chair for the Oval Office. The two sparred live on national TV from Brooklyn Thursday but you couldn’t tell they were in the BK because the CNN logos engulfed the screen and candidates and the actual citizens were reduced to a babbling rabble who hooted and hollered like sports fans somewhere in the dark. Wonder how long CNN intends to have their brand new warehouse-sized logo beaming across the river at Manhattan.
Meanwhile, on the streets here it is pretty evident who many New Yorkers favor and the majority of new Street Art pieces and graffiti pieces are feeling the Bern. It’s true, we tend to hang out with artists, creatives, punks, hippies, and assorted wild-eyed weirdos – so its not exactly a true cross-section, but Clinton fans are not making much art on the streets. Possibly that is because level-headed reasonable people don’t feel the need to express their support for her so loudly and visibly. It will be interesting to see if Big Media predictions of a 17% Clinton lead are true by Wednesday morning. The Wall Street Journal seems to be banking on it.
The city of Oostende began its great reforms in 1883. King Leopold II earned the nickname the “constructor” for his contribution to public works. These reforms were possible thanks to the large profits that were made from the king’s colony, an area sixty times larger than Belguim: the Congo. In the Congo, rubber was a resource that became precious because of its use in the automotive and bicycle industries. The king imposed high quotas on rubber production in the Congo and forced the indigenous population to comply using coercive methods and extreme violence. It is estimated that during Leopold’s years of domination about ten million natives were killed in the Congo.
“Homage to the Past and Future” is a work that talks about the heavy legacy of the past, about how societies live with the consequences of those that came before and how they build their current reality to be better. The mural is located at the urban entrance to the city, a work that perhaps Leopoldo II had not imagined at the gates of the resort town. Today, the reality is different; diversity flourishes in the city and the image is of a resident of Oostende. Humans learn from their mistakes and the future will always be better if our present remembers and pays homage to the real heroes.”
New murals today in London in conjunction with the Olly Walker curated “XX: A Moment in Time” show at Saatchi Gallery, which is now running until March 6. The all-female show highlights the depth of field that has emerged during these last few years with formally trained artists of many disciplines explanding the definitions of contemporary art and Street Art.
A mix of emerging and established, the show brings in an international selection of artists, including: Aiko (Japan/USA), Alice Pasquini (Italy), Caratoes (Belgium/Hong Kong), Crajes (Spain), Elle (USA), Faith47 (South Africa), Handiedan (Netherlands), Hera (Germany), Hueman (USA), Lora Zombie (Russia), Madamoiselle Maurice (France), Marina Zumi (Argentina), Martha Cooper (USA), Mimi S (Germany), Miss Van (France), Olek (Poland), Sandra Chevrier (Canada), Vexta (Australia) and Zabou (France).
Here we see new walls by Elle, Zabou, Marina Zumi, Himbad, and Alice Pasquini.
“XX: A Moment in Time” is curated by Olly Walker of Ollystudio and is supported by Yasha Young. The exhibition is on view in the Prints & Originals Gallery at the Saatchi Gallery from until March 6. Please check the Saatchi Gallery homepage for some closure days in February and see the additional pieces available online.
A spotlight today on a new grassroots publishing project by artists for artists called SOLD. The product of three editors, two of whom are Street Artists, the paper/magazine debuted last Thursday at a raucous and fun-filled party and art show at 17 Frost gallery space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
“I’ve always wanted to make a street art magazine that’s given away for free to expose the unknown artists to the street art neighborhoods of New York,’ says JPO in the opening letter from himself, BD White, and Greg Frederick. The cover story is on Elle and Gilf!, with features and studio visits with artists London Kaye, Jenna Morello, Mishab & Hiss, each talking about their practice in the studio and on the street. The issue also includes a selection of photos from Miami’s Art Basel, cartoons, and a map of where to find street art in Williamsburg.
Funded by the donations of money, art, and time from artists and street art fans, SOLD is a proud achievement that speaks to the vision of its editors and a community. We are well acquainted with the number of hours and effort it takes to produce such a labor of love and we’re proud to recommend that BSA readers check out SOLD.
Urban Nation (UN) and Iceland Airwaves Festival Create Mural Program
Sound and vision are inextricably bound in the modern music canon, with inspired visuals leading our auditory imaginations at least since Toulouse-Lautrec’s depictions of Moulin Rouge orchestral and singing talents. Later illustrators were important for ushering us into the jazz era with snappy collage and geometrics for album covers and the birth of rock and roll expanded and shaped popular album-oriented daydreams. With every subsequent genre and subgenre of music from pop to rap to metal to disco and EDM, static and video artists continue to visually augment, interpret, define, and expand upon the music that we listen to.
This autumn in Iceland an equally inspired program pairing of 10 Street Artists with 10 musicians for the Airwaves music festival brought Reykjavik new murals from a mix of local and international artists. Since Iceland is the new Brooklyn, you’ll like to see how Berlin’s Urban Nation (UN) is precisely on top of something hot and icy with these eye-popping murals inspired by pace-setting modern sounds.
“I love music,” says UN Director Yasha Young as she describes the process that she and Iceland Airwaves’ Grímur Atlason and Henny Frímannsdottír went through to select music for their 1st edition of Wall Poetry. “We started to play our favorite bands from the lineup to each other, researched their album art, read their lyrics in great depth and watched all the video footage we could find,” she explains. “After that we decided who we thought would be interesting to approach for such a creative adventure. I know the artists I work with very well so it was more about listening to them and defining in more detail what the their individual ideas were for this project. The main goal for me was to pair them with the right collaborative partner musically and visually.”
“With paintings in and around Reykjavik the artists had time to complete their walls in time for the 10 day music festival in November, drawing the attention of fans and locals who were interested in the artwork that is impacting their daily experience of the city. The musicians were asked to provide the street artists with a song, lyrics or poetry especially chosen or written for this project,” says curator Frímannsdottír on the site. “The visual artists were provided a city wall as surface for the large scale work.”
Artist and musician collaborations for Wall Poetry include:
We spoke to Yasha Young about the first year of Wall Poetry and the challenges of mounting a project like this:
Brooklyn Street Art:How important is the visual aspect of music to you? Many people may not always make that connection. Yasha Young: To me it is so very important. I am a visual person to begin with but I think that it is vital as an individual who works with and for artists to work across genres and with as many different creative aspects as possible to be able to create one lasting and meaningful overall experience.
I remember buying LP’s for their cover art and the stickers and zines that came with them. I remember Buzzocks’s and The Ramones buttons and the silk printed posters by the Sex Pistols that came with the LP if memory serves me correctly. I think about The Rolling Stones “Some Girls” sliding cover and the art for Pink Floyds ‘The Wall’ and the “Led Zeppelin III” album with its rotating cover art that you could interact with.
And of course music videos became huge productions; actually they are little films that often connect with you on an even deeper level and enhance your experience of the music. Videos were launch pads for creative careers and massive innovations; for example Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’, ‘Cry’ by Godley and Crème, Gorillaz’ ‘Clint Eastwood’, Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’, and my all-time favorite song and visuals combination was Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’. Of course as we speak I’m thinking also about Iceland’s Björk and her video for ‘ Human Behaviour” and John Grant and Tate Shots collaboration… I could go on and on.
(Young, continued) In my career I’ve had the great pleasure to be part of making album art happen for bands, such as KORN’s ‘Untitled’ for example. I worked with many bands on that creative level and it only deepened my connection and convictions when it came to art and music. Today we have a one-click behavior for experiencing streaming music that almost reminds me a little of when video killed the radio star. There is an essential part of the experience that is fading and we feed it with the “instant buy”.
I believe that we are losing more than ‘just’ the record store and the poster art or album cover. We are losing an essential and lasting connection that came with the purchase of the record or CD but was established long before; the multi-faceted creation of the entire visual aspect. You became part of a creative baseline and connected to the music through the visual work. Reading the lyrics as audio poetry on the back sleeve or the LP or interacting with the music and the art made it a much more lasting and impressive experience in my view. This is just the surface of what I think and would like to explore even further and on a deeper level next year when we return for the 2nd edition of Wall Poetry.
Brooklyn Street Art:What inspired you to start the project? Yasha Young: I am always inspired by new opportunities to bring together different artistic genres and unusual or challenging – but always exciting – new venues. I had been visiting Iceland Airwaves for many years and finally decided last year to find walls and spaces and to connect with the Iceland Airwaves crew.
My idea was to visually prolong the reach of the music and bring it onto the walls through well-conceptualized and executed art pieces. In a way I wanted to re-connect two entities that have always been vital and necessary for each other in a public space, with music and art spilling out of the concert venues onto the streets and into the lives of people.
It was almost like we were going to extend the music, with the core idea being “We paint the music you love to hear”. Once that was established as the core of the project I very quickly had an idea of which visual artists would be not only be a great fit for the city and the project but also who would be able to work in rather unusual and unknown conditions – namely, the Icelandic weather, and I say this with great fondness for those wild and unpredictable skies.
Brooklyn Street Art:How did you choose the lyrics? Was it a difficult process? Yasha Young: Actually I only picked the bands and visual artists. It was more about creating and encouraging the connection between both of these groups to get their beautiful creative minds talking together. Once connected they picked songs and talked about their choices in depth. I was a bystander, a very curious fly on the wall and following the process was simply amazing. To read the exchanges and feel the moment the spark ignited – that moment to me is, and will always be, what marks true curatorial success and is key to all collaborative creative projects.
Brooklyn Street Art:Were there any challenges along the way? Specifically regarding logistics.. Yasha Young: ( laughs ) Yes! Many many many – but less in the actual execution of the vision and more in the daily production. For example the wind picks up and the mechanical lifts start swaying in the wind like a leaf. It was “Safety first” of course so we had to stop working immediately. Often the rain can be surprising and torrential and water runs down the walls like little waterfalls washing all the hard work from the night before off the wall again. But these artists are professionals and in my job the goal is to work as innovatively as possible – always finding or inventing new methods and finding other options.
It’s part of the journey and it can actually be fun. For my stubborn mind the only factor that will always be in way is time – we have not found a way to stop it or make more of it.
Lithuania’s Ernest Zacharevic transformed the shadow of an earlier building into a personal photo book.
“It’s inspired by the song ‘I Miss You’ by Dikta,” says Ernest. “The image has the same sadness and nostalgia in the photographs that I felt in the piano track song. The work is my imagining of all the past scenarios that could have happened in this old heritage house, physically and emotionally being taken down and rebuilt.
It’s more about memory because after I spoke to a lot of locals they were very nostalgic about how Reykjavik used to be, not so keen on how modernized it has become.”
Urban Nation in Berlin has just completed a new series of walls, window displayed artworks, and a gallery show for the eighth edition of Project M (PM/8) in conjunction with StolenSpace Gallery in London.
The show is called “Freedom” and features a few of the better known names in the Street Art / Urban Art game along with other emerging artists in the Stolen Space stable. In addition to the opportunity to see new work being created live and meeting many of the artists, this version of Project M also included a roundtable discussion hosted by Very Nearly Almost (VNA) editor Roland Henry and featuring a conversation with D*Face, Shepard Fairey, and UN Director Yasha Young.
Project M is taking it to the street, into a gallery/museum-like setting, and into the community with various educational projects like these. We’re looking forward to seeing the nascent Martha Cooper library project as it continues to grow as well as seeing more panels, discussions, scholarly examinations, and interactive community programming in the future as the UN evolves.
Project M is meant as a lead-up to the opening of Urban Nation, currently slated for 2016, and many of the window works made here will become part of the future institutions permanent collection. The full PM/8 roster continued to shape-shift as additional artists were painting walls as well but we think we have it right when we say it includes Cyrcle, D*Face, Evoca1, Miss Van, Herakut, The London Police, Shepard Fairey, Snik, Word to Mother, Maya Hayuk, Cyrcle, Case M’Claim, Elle, and Lora Zombie, with many of artists in attendance, and one giving tattoos (see below).
Maya Hayuk took on the large task of the UN façade while Shepard and D*Face knocked out a slim set of tall twin walls and Cyrcle knocked out a modern text balanced graphic piece.
Our very special thanks to Nika Kramer, who shares her exclusive photographs of some of the artists and action at PM/8 here with BSA readers.
Happy New Year to All! Thank you for inspiring us to do our best and to those of you who continue to support our personal art project / cultural examination, we extend our gratitude more than ever.
Begun as an enthusiastic discovery of what was happening in a few neighborhoods in New York, we continued to expand our view into more cities around the world last year and into the history and future of the scene. We also aimed to provide you with a critical platform for examination of the street art/ graffiti / public art/ contemporary art continuum with interviews with artists, curators, collectors, organizers, observers and thinkers in the street, studio, gallery, and museum – trouble makers and taste makers alike.
In the end, it’s your observations and the conversations on the street that are most important. As we begin the year with over 300K fans, friends, and followers on social media platforms and 225 articles on the Huffington Post (thanks HuffPost team!), we feel like we get a valuable good survey of current opinions heading our way daily.
With in-depth interviews, investigative articles, opinion infused examinations, plain celebratory reverie, occasionally silly non-sequitors, and public appearances where we get to meet you, we get a good analytical look at an ever-evolving movement, glittery polish and warts and all.
As the new year begins we take a look back at the top stories chosen by BSA Readers in the last 12 months. Among them are two takeover pop-up shows in soon-to-be demolished buildings, a story about commercial abuse of artist copyrights and the effort to fight back, a street art community’s response to the sudden death of an activist street artist, a Street Art tourist trip, and a few inspirational women, men, and Mexican muralists. Even though we published at least once a day for the last 365 days, these are the most popular pieces, as chosen by you, Dear BSA Reader.
Urban Exchange: Crossing Over 2014 is a brand new street art festival in George Town, Penang in Malaysia. In November they hosted 16 artists to paint walls throughout this city of two and a half million on the Strait of Malacca.
It is not a city that has hosted Street Art traditionally and one that frowns strongly on graffiti, but ever since Lithuanian Street Artist Ernest Zacharevic did some very successful installations here in 2012 which drew crowds and cameras, the citizenry and elected officials have become very hospitable to the idea — and have even enacted a formalized process for approving public art.
Today we travel to Penang to see the brand new pieces for this first-year show, co-curated by Gabija Grusaite and Eeyan Chuah, who run Hin Bus Depot Art Centre, a creative space in the ruins of a bus depot that hosted a corollary gallery show. Alongside Berlin based Urban Nation’s director and curator, Yasha Young, the two invited a mixture of local and international artists to complete murals and to host some community workshops.
“There’s never a dull moment at Urban Nation’s exchange program,” says Young, “after a year in the planning we were excited to finally make the journey.”
Among the various murals you’ll see a selection of figurative, realistic, and illustration styles that carefully walk a community moderated fine line, hoping to bring locals to be more actively engaged in the program. As a novelty outlier, you’ll also see Brooklyn’s Mr. Toll installing his colorful hand formed clay sculptures in unusual spots if you keep your head up.
In an interview with Malay Mail Online, Ms. Grusaite says, “We want to create an artistic international cultural exchange so that local artists can learn from international artists who will be here for the project while the international artists will get exposure to the local culture and art scene.”
As is the case more often, with Urban Exchange we are again seeing a new model of public art developing where at the forefront are artists who have laid their groundwork in graffiti rather than university exclusively. We’ve been using a term we’re calling the “New Muralism” to indicate the grassroots nature and populist generation of these works and we still think its definition is evolving. Not quite community murals in the strictest sense, and not seeking the approval of gate-keeping institutions either, these artists are looking for and finding new ways to challenge themselves creatively in the public sphere while being responsive to needs of the public. Huh!
Included in the Urban Exchange project are Antanas Dubra (Lithuania), Bibichun (Malaysia), Don John (Denmark), Donald Abraham (Malaysia), Elle (United States), Ernest Zacharevic (Lithuania), Fauzan Faud (Malaysia), Karl Addison (Germany), Kenji Chai (Malaysia), Rone (Australia), Sk10 (Singapore), TankPetrol (United Kingdom), Black Fritilldea (Malaysia), 4Some (a crew from Kuala Lumpur consisting of Donald, Black, Fauzan and Jojo), Mr Toll (New York) and Vexta (New York)
Our heartfelt thank you to Henrik Haven, who took a trip from Copenhagen which took 31 hours (and four different flights) for sharing his excellent photographs here with BSA readers.