All posts tagged: Finland

Isaac Cordal: Startling Figures Mid-Motion in Finnish Forest

Isaac Cordal: Startling Figures Mid-Motion in Finnish Forest

When your furtive and preoccupied sculptures are placed on ledges and moldings above harried pedestrian traffic in the city, we call it Street Art. When they are mounted in the soil in the woods amid deer and moose traffic we call it Land Art. Perhaps there are more erudite and academic descriptions of those distinctions available in a white paper somewhere.

Here in Lanpinjarvi, Finland where the days are short this time of year and even the marshy lands can be frozen solid, Spanish Street Artist Isaac Cordal is instead expansive, bringing a new trio of sculptures to the wild, and the difference between his urban and rural art is remarkable.

Isaac Cordal. Landart Lanpinjarvi in Finland. November 2018. (photo courtesy of Isaac Cordal)

“Logistically, the project was very complex as we had to deal with situations where the temperature was below freezing (the clay was freezing while we worked on it),” he says. “The days were also very short (at 3:00 pm it was night time), the distance we had to transport the material was very long.”

It is as if Cordal had been storing this energy in his work, unready to expand the spaces in between matter. His figures here have great ease, a whirring together of atomic energies that capture the action between actions.

Isaac Cordal. Landart Lanpinjarvi in Finland. November 2018. (photo courtesy of Isaac Cordal)

What are we, but earth and time – our elements are drawn from its elements, no more, no less? Here in the wooded area, Cordal stages a midstage, all of it amid life, ready to take it on.

Those miniature concrete businessmen that have made Cordal known in city streets, their faces and suits rough-hewn and rumpled and frozen in their existential mire, are reflected here in these life-size figures as well, but somehow these become accountable, relatable. Previously mournful, his new figures appear contemplative and rather at ease, not in need of a chiropractor – just a limb here and there.

Isaac Cordal. Landart Lanpinjarvi in Finland. November 2018. (photo courtesy of Isaac Cordal)

Isaac Cordal. Landart Lanpinjarvi in Finland. November 2018. (photo courtesy of Isaac Cordal)

Isaac Cordal. Landart Lanpinjarvi in Finland. November 2018. (photo courtesy of Isaac Cordal)

Isaac Cordal. Landart Lanpinjarvi in Finland. November 2018. (photo courtesy of Isaac Cordal)

Isaac Cordal. Landart Lanpinjarvi in Finland. November 2018. (photo courtesy of Isaac Cordal)


This project was carried out for Landart Lanpinjarvi, and Isaac would like to extend his thanks to Antonio Arosa, Pete Rantapää, Henrik Lund, David Eirin and Marit Hohtokari and all the people involved in the project for making it possible.


 

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UPEA Finland 2018, A Cross Country Installation of Quality Murals

UPEA Finland 2018, A Cross Country Installation of Quality Murals

UPEART 2018 in Finland took place during the month of September including 20 international and local artists in 12 different cities across the country.

Case Maclaim. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Today we give you a recap of some favorite scenes from the festival across many cities of Finland thanks to the vision and organizing of Jorgos Fanaris and his team who collectively direct the festival from their headquarters in a post-industrial neighborhood of Helsinki. While there is a proud graff scene and history here, and the city has areas like the Pasila Street Art District, the capital is usually known as a sparkling international city of islands and a peninsula by the Gulf of Finland facing Tallinn, Estonia across the bay.

Proudly humble, elegant and rationally romantic, the city is flanked on all sides by arts and culture, low and high, with historical art institutions like the National Museum as well as the more contemporary Kiasma and cross disciplinary Kunsthalle Helsinki. A deeper rooted cultural history is also apparent in the traditional wooden architecture, the influence of its neighbors Sweden and Russia, and its ability even today to evolve with the most modern of global design practice.

Case Maclaim. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For urban explorers like ourselves who wander the margins and explore the forgotten, neglected parts of the metropolis, it was a bit of a shock to see 8 charming Finnish cities and towns in only a few days – interspersed with millions of birch tree forests and sweeping vistas of farmland, with Russia visible at one point just across a canal.

We drove from uncongested towns surrounded by woodlands like Joensuu and Hyvinkää to midsized cities like Tampere and Espoo, using a stick shift Volkswagen and minding the speed cameras on a smooth and well maintained system of roads and highways. Usually we’re looking out for rats and broken glass and homeless drug users, not slow-moving farming tractors and wily-eyed moose who may cross your path.

Case Maclaim. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

But the murals! Choosing from among some of the most accomplished painters and planners of design in the current international scene, Fanaris relies on his own history with graffiti, hip hop, and perhaps the Finnish National Opera when selecting participants to invite.

The quality is high in many instances throughout the mural program and municipalities are gifted with some works may prove timeless – until they fade. Perhaps more decorative than transgressive as a whole, these are public works made in collaboration with local tastes. Some meanings are buried beneath layers, others more obvious and on the surface. An unrealized irony of many “legit” mural programs like this one is many of these artists used to do the illegal stuff too.

As UPEART travels and evolves it will be interesting to see how it changes. Fanaris tells us that the future will include installations, sculpture, even performance as the festival becomes more integrated with communities. With a solid foundation of curation on a massive country-wide scale in these first three years, we look forward to see where UPEART moves next.

Mantra. UPEArt Finland 2018. Hyvinkää, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When I was a child I was not curious about painting,” Mantra says, “I was more curious about what I could find in the garden so that’s why I spent a lot of time studying these insects and these animals.” Later he shows us images of butterflies and other winged creatures rendered in high fidelity inside decaying factory rooms, including a large dead bird lying on its side. “I painted this because I had seen a dead bird in the garden only a week before.”

Read more: Mantra in Hyvinkää for UPEART Festival 2018 Finland – Dispatch 5

Mantra. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Hyvinkää, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Mantra)

Mantra. UPEArt Finland 2018. Hyvinkää, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Mantra)

Sainer. UPEArt Finland 2018. Helsinki, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I think my work is changing recently,” he says. “I have liked to do plainer paintings – like small landscapes . I’m not really into the characters that much in the same way that I was. When I do paint characters they are in the shadow. I like the idea of making portraits where the portrait is not the most important part of the painting.”

BSA: That’s so anti-intuitive – because normally that would be the center focal point, right?

Sainer: Yes – even here the portrait is central but I am trying to play all around it just to hide it. It’s just one of the ideas that I am trying to work with these days.

Read more from our interview with Sainer here.

Sainer. UPEArt Finland 2018. Helsinki, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Waone. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Kotka, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ukrainian artist Waone, of Interesni Kazki titled his mural “Spirit of Antique Book”.

“Reading the real book in the age of technology and internet may look rare and a kind of old fashioned, but not for me,” he says. “This mural ‘Spirit of Antique Book’ I dedicated to all book lovers. It represents the wonderful way to escape from ordinary life to extraordinary worlds, and depicts that magic moment when you read the book and lose yourself between the pages.”

BSA: Does it concern you that school children today are becoming unfamiliar with reading traditional books on paper?

Waone: Hmm I didn’t think about books in schools, in Ukraine we still use “normal” books… But I’m sure normal books will become more and more rare. I don’t judge it and I’m not saying that’s good or bad. I just love the book esthetic, a strong symbol of knowledge.”

Waone. UPEArt Finland 2018. Kotka, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Natalia Rak. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Joensuu, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Natalia Rak. UPEArt Finland 2018. Joensuu, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sepe. UPEArt Finland 2018. Jyväskylä, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

David De La Mano. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Jyväskylä, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

David De La Mano. UPEArt Finland 2018. Jyväskylä, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

David De La Mano. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Jyväskylä, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Helen Bur. UPEArt Finland 2018. Kotka, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Eero Lampinen. Work in progress. UPEArt Finland 2018. Helsinki, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of his own work, he says, “It’s like a mix of fantasy with contemporary and realistic elements – kind of magic realism. I like to play around with fashion different types of characters.”

The characters are here in the evolving mural – three figures who are working the runways of the street in distinctly different styles.

“There is a night demon, a rubber-outfit person, and then an older character,” he says, “They are all walking separate ways in the streets – and it plays around with this street.”

Read more with Eero Lampinen here.

Eero Lampinen. UPEArt Finland 2018. Helsinki, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Eero Lampinen)

Pertti Jarla. UPEArt Finland 2018. Tampere, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fabio Petani. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Salo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fabio Petani. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Salo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fabio Petani. UPEArt Finland 2018. Salo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

How & Nosm. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Lisalmi, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

How & Nosm. UPEArt Finland 2018. Lisalmi, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Leon Keer. UPEArt Finland 2018. Salo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Leon Keer. UPEArt Finland 2018. Salo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Robert Proch. Detail. UPEArt Finland 2018. Joensuu, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Robert Proch. UPEArt Finland 2018. Joensuu, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Isaac Cordal. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Isaac Cordal made a number of interesting installations in Karakallio in Espoo, including a haunting series of small buildings attached on trees throughout the forest.

Read more about Isaac Cordal at UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 3

Isaac Cordal. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Isaac Cordal. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Isaac Cordal. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Isaac Cordal. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Isaac Cordal. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Isaac Cordal. UPEArt Finland 2018. Espoo, Finland. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

NOTE: No trees were damaged by installing the birdhouse sculptures on them.


All the participating artists on UPEArt 2018 are: Andrew Hem, Case Maclaim, David De La Mano, Eero Lampinen, Fabio Petani, Gummy Gue, Helen Bur, How & Nosm, Isaac Cordal, Jussi Twoseven, Kenor, Leon Keer, Mantra, Natalia Rak, Pertti Jarla, Robert Proch, Sainer, Sepe, Silja Selonen and Waone.

 

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BSA Images Of The Week: 09.30.18 – UPEA Special

BSA Images Of The Week: 09.30.18 – UPEA Special

BSA-Images-Week-Jan2015

This week we have a selection of the UPEART festivals’ two previous editions of murals – which we were lucky to see this week after driving across the country in an old VW Bora. We hit 8 cities and drove along the border with Russia through some of the most picturesque forests and farmlands that you’ll likely see just to collect images of the murals that this Finnish mural festival has produced with close consultation with Fins in these neighborhoods. A logistical challenge to accomplish, we marvel at how this widespread program is achieved – undoubtedly due to the passion of director Jorgos Fanaris and his insatiable curiosity for discovering talents and giving them a platform for expression.

So here is a sample from what we found from UPEART’s two previous iterations before the recently completed UPEART 2018.

So here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Apolo Torres, Artz, Dulk, Espoo, Fintan Magee, Guido Van Helten, Pat Perry, Smug, Teemu Maenpaa, Tellas, and Telmo & Miel.

Top Image: Millo. UPEA 2017. Jyväskylä, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA 2017. Joensuu, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA 2017. Joensuu, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

SMUG. UPEA 2017. Kotka, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SMUG. UPEA 2017. Kotka, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

 

Guido van Helten. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Guido van Helten. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pat Perry. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pat Perry. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Teemu Mäenpää. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Dulk. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Apolo Torres. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Apolo Torres. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Artez. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tellas. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mantra in Hyvinkää for UPEART Festival 2018 Finland – Dispatch 5

Mantra in Hyvinkää for UPEART Festival 2018 Finland – Dispatch 5


BSA is in Finland this week to see firsthand the work of UPEART, an expansive mural art festival in its third iteration. Unique for its geographical breadth as well as it’s curatorial depth, UPEART has quietly revealed its amazing strengths without being self-aggrandizing or showy, slowly transforming cities and towns across the entire country with consultation of the locals and an eye toward the incredible international. Come with us this week as we traverse the country with you.


French entomologist, former graffiti writer, and muralist Mantra grew up in the country surrounded by nature – much like the rolling grassy hills and forests and farmland that we have been driving through this week in Finland. Naturally, when he moved to the city to do graffiti in the margins of the neglected sector of the modern metropolis he also brought his scientific/artistic studies of animals, insects and nature.

Mantra. Work in progress in Hyvinkää. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

On a cold and damp September day here in Hyvinkää, about 50 kilometers north of Helsinki, for the UPEART 2018 mural festival, we find Mantra high atop a cherry picker finishing the antennae of a butterfly and the shadow of a moth’s wing. He uses aerosol cans, rollers, and brushes to accurately represent a winged fivesome on the side of a residential apartment building.

As we gaze at the nearly-finished mural from across the katu on a slippery, grassy knoll that is littered with yellow leaves we see an oversized yet  realistic display box. To the right and see a man in his t-shirt pulling aside a curtain and looking out his window at the wall where Mantra had stood only a moment before – his wife coming behind him in her house dress to see what he is trying to peer at.

Mantra. Work in progress in Hyvinkää. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When I was a child I was not curious about painting,” Mantra says, “I was more curious about what I could find in the garden so that’s why I spent a lot of time studying these insects and these animals.” Later he shows us images of butterflies and other winged creatures rendered in high fidelity inside decaying factory rooms, including a large dead bird lying on its side. “I painted this because I had seen a dead bird in the garden only a week before.”

Recent years have brought some adamant critique to the Street Art world from so-called academics and thinkers due to commercial festivals that bring murals that lack social or political critique or have little sense of context with their surroundings; simply attractive and pleasant eye candy. While most people will like the image of a butterfly, Mantra’s wants to be clear that his interest is as an entomologist, not simply decorative.

Mantra. Work in progress in Hyvinkää. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“For me it makes sense to paint them scientifically the way a scientist would see them and not like a decorative motif for an illustration or an interpretation of them.”
He has often done extensive research to select the appropriate butterflies, even consulting experts to make sure he has chosen the correct ones – like the research he just did to prepare for a wall he will paint in Chile. “I recently traveled to Paris to meet two entomologists who are quite senior to this study – they are working with the Paris Museumand many other museums across the world,” he says.

Mantra. Work in progress in Hyvinkää. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

So are these new insects in Hyvinkää relevant to this region?

“These five species are living here in Finland or are migratory so that is why I have selected these five for this wall,” he says. “All of these you can find in Russia or Finland or Sweden…There’s not one that is endemic to this region because we are not really a butterfly paradise here because of the climate.”

And how did he make the mural work so well with the location and the building?

“Because of the architecture of the wall, because of the shape in the format I always have to compose. So in this case because it was very vertical I have not many options. I also use the window frames in the architecture as inspiration to create a frame of the same color.”

Because he insists on scientific accuracy, even the relative size of the moth and butterflies are appropriate. “I always paint them in the same proportion that they would be to one another in reality so we have four butterflies and I saved the middle for the moth. The moth is much larger in reality then the butterflies so for the composition it feels right.”

Mantra. Work in progress in Hyvinkää. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Mantra. Work in progress in Hyvinkää. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mantra. Work in progress in Hyvinkää. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Isaac Cordal at UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 3

Isaac Cordal at UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 3

BSA is in Finland this week to see firsthand the work of UPEART, an expansive mural art festival in its third iteration. Unique for its geographical breadth as well as it’s curatorial depth, UPEART has quietly revealed its amazing strengths without being self-aggrandizing or showy, slowly transforming cities and towns across the entire country with consultation of the locals and an eye toward the incredible international. Come with us this week as we traverse the country with you.


The petite businessman looks up blankly from wiring money to the arms dealer over the phone and stares blankly at you, through you. He’s made his deal and his cut is secure. Now if only he can buy back his soul.

The philosopher/comedian/social critic Isaac Cordal has brought his guilt-ridden, depressed businessmen to transform the public space of Karakallio, and we have caught his first installation.

Isaac Cordal. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Climbing the ladder and pressing his handmade cement figure at the nexus of exterior panels in this residential community in Espoo, Finland, Cordal once again transforms a large space into an imaginary stage, an unsuspecting environment, for the drama that plays out in the minds of adults and children who pass it by.

This is the stunning simplicity of surreality that the Spanish Street Artist has been bringing to cities across the globe, one mournful soul at a time.

Isaac Cordal. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A first installation for him here, and a first for this community, where BSA and UPEART founder Jorgos Fanaris have begun preliminary planning for the inaugural events of the Karakallio Collective, a new initiative that looks to involve multidisciplinary artists in this suburban neighborhood outside of Helsinki. It’s an exciting time to engage in public space in new ways, and UPEART is laying plans long term here and in communities across the country.

We’re just excited to see Isaac again and see what new adventure his “cement elipses” take on.

Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo of BSA with Jorgos Fanaris, UPEA’s curator and Isaac Cordal discuss current and future projects within the community of Karakallio on the outskirts of Helsinki. (photo courtesy of UPEA Art)


 

UPEA Art and BSA will be closely working with #karakalliocreative to bring a wide variety of art initiatives in the neighborhood…

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Eero Lampinen at UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 2

Eero Lampinen at UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 2

BSA is in Finland this week to see firsthand the work of UPEART, an expansive mural art festival in its third iteration. Unique for its geographical breadth as well as it’s curatorial depth, UPEART has quietly revealed its amazing strengths without being self-aggrandizing or showy, slowly transforming cities and towns across the entire country with consultation of the locals and an eye toward the incredible international. Come with us this week as we traverse the country with you.


“The street has kind of a bad reputation in Helsinki and has a long history of illegal alcohol trade and strip clubs and sex shops and bars,” says Eero Lampinen, the young illustrator now working on his second large scale mural ever here for UPEART.

His characterization rings true as you stand with him on the sidewalk next to a sandwich board advertising scantily clad ladies in elegant, and difficult, poses. Across the street from this busy doorway is the multi-story mural that he is working on, heavily flanked and intersected by scaffolding that you can climb with him after donning a hard hat.

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A Helsinki native, the graphic design and illustration student designed for school books, festival posters, and various editorial jobs while in training. Now on his own professionally, his magic realist illustrative style has earned him a number of awards, including at the Mikkeli Fiction Exhibition and the Grape’s Year Peaks competition – and his figurative fantasies have made their way into a number of prestigious publications.

Eero says he loves the work of filmmaker David Lynch, and for illustration he really loves the work of Winsor McCay, the American cartoonist and animator know for his comic strip Little Nemo.

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of his own work, he says, “It’s like a mix of fantasy with contemporary and realistic elements – kind of magic realism. I like to play around with fashion different types of characters.”

The characters are here in the evolving mural – three figures who are working the runways of the street in distinctly different styles.

“There is a night demon, a rubber-outfit person, and then an older character,” he says, “They are all walking separate ways in the streets – and it plays around with this street.”

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As with all the murals in this nationwide festival of UPEART, the community plays an important role in the decision when creating the scene. As a result, the spirit of the street is somehow reflected in the new works on walls.

“We thought about it with the people living in the neighborhood. I proposed three different sketches for them to choose from and then we worked on the idea together,” he says. “They wanted to have like the spirit of the street somehow in the drawings so in that way it’s like a reference to the community and the life here.”

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 1 – Sainer

UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 1 – Sainer

BSA is in Finland this week to see firsthand the work of UPEART, an expansive mural art festival in its third iteration. Unique for its geographical breadth as well as it’s curatorial depth, UPEART has quietly revealed its amazing strengths without being self-aggrandizing or showy, slowly transforming cities and towns across the entire country with consultation of the locals and an eye toward the incredible international. Come with us this week as we traverse the country with you.


On a wall facing one of Helsinki’s traditional wood house style buildings in ochre you find a woman in shadow – soaring multiple stories above the street. She has significance surely, but Street Artist Sainer is allowing you to tell this story.

Here at UPEART 2018, the Polish artist is playing more with forms and shape and color than the typical centerpiece of portrait; the subject. He also likes the wood building that obscures the figure for many blocks before you are upon the new woman of mystery.

Sainer. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I really like the idea that when you’re driving on this road the tower of this whole building covers the face so at some point you can only see the flat color of the painting in the background.” One half of the Etam Cru with Bezt, Sainer says that he is exploring less figurative aspects of painting these days on his own, despite the fact that during the last half-dozen years the duo made their name on the street with some of the most imaginative characters and scenarios suddenly sparking conversations in cities across the world .

While the late summer sun keeps him warm in the cherry picker basket above the street, the thirty year old blends the patches and plains of the sitters’ environs with a roller and paint. Sometimes he revises the color choice or timber, always absorbing the geometry and palette of his immediate environment. He lowers himself and steps out of the basket onto the driveway pavement to look at the deep green grapevines with plump blue fruits hanging on the chain-link  fence and squints up at the evolving mural against the saturated blue sky.

“I think my work is changing recently,” he says. “I have liked to do plainer paintings – like small landscapes . I’m not really into the characters that much in the same way that I was. When I do paint characters they are in the shadow. I like the idea of making portraits where the portrait is not the most important part of the painting.”

BSA: That’s so anti-intuitive – because normally that would be the center focal point, right?

Sainer: Yes – even here the portrait is central but I am trying to play all around it just to hide it. It’s just one of the ideas that I am trying to work with these days.

Sainer. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Etam Cru guys met in design school in Lodz as students even while working on class projects they quickly became known for their work on the Street Art seen at home and in many cities around the globe, their studio work garnering attention from gallerists and collectors as well. With many requests to paint large walls and with personal and family commitments to coordinate with, the professional duo found it was actually getting sort of hard to work together so they have loosened the arrangement for the immediate term, while their friendship and working relationship is as strong as ever.

“I’m trying to make life simpler these days – trying to focus more on the studio a lot more.”

And for larger commitments like this wall, he says that he values the project development when there is a feeling of spontaneity and discovery.

“I don’t prepare a final sketch for the wall. For me it’s always a sort of process. I am searching for the right ideas,” he says. “Sometimes when you have a small sketch you can put it on the wall but it doesn’t work – the sizes, shapes, colors, the elements. Anyway, if you have a final sketch before you start what’s the point of painting it? There’s no surprise, you are just repeating yourself.”

That said, since he isn’t leaving town till tomorrow, we’ll have to wait for the surprise of the finished wall. Meanwhile, we’ll take special note of the background, and keep looking into the eyes of the mystery woman in the middle.

Sainer. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BSA + UPEA in Finland

BSA + UPEA in Finland

BSA is excited to bringing you new works from Finland next week as we explore Helsinki and nearby cities that are part of the UPEA 2018 Festival. A unique model of mural festival that invites international and local artists to paint across the entire country, UPEART has quietly entered the global Street Art and graffiti stage without entering the fray: providing top caliber artists with uncommon opportunities to create works in cities for a handful of years now.

Waone Interesni Kazki at UPEART (image © the artist)

The full line up for this year’s stellar UPEART edition is:

Andrew Hem, Case Maclaim, David de la Mano, Eero Lampinen, Fabio Petani, Gummy Gue, Helen Bur, How & Nosm, Isaac Cordal, Jussi TwoSeven, Kenor, Leon Keer, Mantra, Natalia Rak, Pertti Jarla, Robert Proch, Sainer, Sepeusz, Silja Selonen and Waone Interesni Kazki, who poses here yesterday with the mural he’s been working on for 10 days


To keep on top of the action on the ground and up on the lifts click on UPEA’s FB link below:

https://www.facebook.com/upeart/

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Murals Across Finland: UPEA ’17 Sweeps More Cities

Murals Across Finland: UPEA ’17 Sweeps More Cities

From the country with the highest standard of living comes a country-wide mural festival called UPEA for 2017! Only in their second year, they are going big here at home.

Messy Desk. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Markus Hänninen)

Okay, the murals are not in every city of this Scandinavian country, but if lead curator and visionary (and former graffiti writer) Jorgos Fanaris realizes his vision, there will be even more than the 40 or so murals the festival has already put up over the last two years in cities like Helsinki, Riihimäki, Kemi, Kotka, Espoo, Turku, and Hyvinkää.

Yes, some of the current international circuit of mural stars are here. So are a stunning selection of Finnish talents and less recognizeable names, making this a conscientious formulation that respects the culture and highlights the global movement simultaneously.

 

Guido Van Helten. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Erho Aalto)

Like many of today’s mural festivals and far from their illegal Street Art/graffitti roots, many of UPEA 17 are mega-murals; multi-story and sophisticated images borrowing from many strains of art history and popular culture – even conceptual art – as much as anything else.

These and other signs of curatorial/organization maturity are not typically hallmarks of two year old festivals, and we could provide a list of rookie mistakes that have plagued others we’ve covered over the last decade. This is probably because UPEA 17 is the result of many years of on-the-ground organizing experience and street culture knowledge – and multiple false starts and obstacles that blocked organizers in the years leading up to last years inaugural outdoor exhibition. People on the ground will tell you that logistics and costs and bureaucracy and local politics are always factors to pull off a festival well. In our experience, so is time.

 

Teemu Mäenpää. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

We were lucky to have an extensive interview with Jorgos Fanaris about this years successes, the challenges along the way, and his roots in the scene.

Brooklyn Street Art: How is UPEA 2017 different from the first edition?
Jorgos Fanaris: Compared to UPEA16, UPEA17 was of course much bigger. More artists and more projects, but also bigger projects. The first edition was more of testing the concept and feeling around what we could do. The second edition was really about making an impact, letting everyone know about UPEA as an event that creates notable art in public spaces, that we are serious and we are here to stay.

Millo. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (Photo © John Blåfield)

Brooklyn Street Art: You had an incredibly wide variety of artists painting: From large scale realist portraiture, to surrealism to cartoons, landscape etc…is there a specific style that resonates better with the public?
Jorgos Fanaris: The amount of talented artists that have already participated in UPEA in the first two years, is humbling to say the least. We are very privileged and honored to have had them.

If I evaluate the response the artworks have received from the public, I think raising a specific style in a position that it somehow communicates more with the audience wouldn’t be right. For example if we think realistic portraiture and classic style of Guido van Helten, its easy for anyone to understand that this is technically really difficult to execute in this scale. This year in Hämeenlinna we did the 56m high silos, which of course by the sheer size is something that makes people go “Whooaaaa, how can he do that? We must go and see”.

 

Dulk. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

The project gathered and still gathers spectators in huge numbers. During the project there were traffic jams in the area on Sundays. On the other hand in Lahti, the artist named Messy Desks did the crazy cartoon style piece that has million things happening. It created a huge buzz and received a lot of response from people. She was getting gifts from people from the area and was taken out for formal dinners after for appreciation and show of gratitude. Kids are ecstatic about it, knocking on the “doors” and “windows” trying to get someone to open.

At the same time, the second wall we did in Lahti with Roberto Ciredz, a surrealistic piece with total harmony, which by no accident is totally different from Messy Desks wall, was voted as people’s favorite of the two in local newspaper. There are so many things that contribute the overall feedback. I think every style and approach has its place and purpose.

Brooklyn Street Art: Murals become part of a neighborhood, part of the storytelling and lifetime benchmark associations and memories people have – as well as part of the fabric and character of a city. How has the festival been received by the people whose daily lives will be impacted with the presence of the murals?
Jorgos Fanaris: The artworks created a lot of excitement and grassroots movement in their own areas and communities. In Kontula Helsinki, the triple walls by Fintan Magee, Apolo Torres and Pat Perry encouraged the residents to do a “night of arts” event for the unveiling of the artworks. They had food, live music, fire performance and other artistic activities. Over 1500 people attended and possibly the event will continue next year.

 

Eero Lampinen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © Henrik Dagnevall)

In Espoo Matinkylä, where Artez did a great piece, the residents organized an celebration event with huge number of activities, dozens of performances and speakers, about thousand people attending the event. In Kotka, where Smug did the amazing wall right in the city centre, the city made an official unveiling for the wall by closing the street and having a horn orchestra perform. Hundreds of people attended even though it was on a Friday during the work hours.

These are just few examples. We saw a lot of these type of things grow from the artworks we did this year.. We see that street art gets reactions from people who might not be too involved with art in general, like going to the galleries for example. The artworks are a refreshing injection into the community and it’s super exiting for us to see things starting grow from them.

Onur. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © John Blåfield-Valmis)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you get support from community and city officials for the festival?
Jorgos Fanaris: Yes, we are working with the officials in every city we are in. The support has been great, possibly due to the fact that we have been able to create an event this size with fairly limited organization and funding.

Still the way we execute different projects really varies. Regardless of how much the city is involved, the permits, which are always a big thing in Finland, are handled by their own unit inside the city. In some cases the city assists us in the permit process and it can be very helpful. But also in many cases we handle the whole process completely. From searching locations and handling all the permits and other things all the way to executing the artwork. The range is very wide on different projects. Still, the city is involved and even if we are doing permits and related responsibilities ourselves, it helps that they are officially supporting the project in the background. Everyone has a common goal to make the project happen and in a positive spirit they work towards that goal together.

Onur. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © John Blåfield-Valmis)

Brooklyn Street Art: What drives you to make this festival happen? What is the motivation? The incentive?
Jorgos Fanaris: Upeart is a collective of people from various backgrounds; from graffiti, city development to event organizing and more. I think the motivation varies depending on who you ask. But in general, it’s about interest in the possibilities art has in public spaces. The vision to push for ambitious ideas, pushing limits further and willingness to take chances.

I personally, have a graffiti background from late 80’s to beginning of the new millennium. When I painted myself, I was mainly, especially in the later years, interested in graffiti as a tool in getting reactions from ordinary people by using public space or things that move in that space. At some point, I moved away from actively painting and started working in music projects, doing shows and stuff like that.

During those years, Finland gradually started to dismantle the very strict zero tolerance on graffiti and street art they had imposed in the country for years. Many youth and grassroot organizations worked years relentlessly on it and it started finally to show some results around 2008. At some point, I thought the time would be right to start something like this. Do it seriously and professionally. We actually tried to start an ambitious project like UPEA for few years, but it was difficult. We had of course no money at all and with that also no guarantees about anything.

 

Ricky Lee-Gordon. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Rikupekka Lappalainen)

Then we tried to get a group of people together with the same goal to work on the project. With 3-4 people each contributing a little, combined, it creates an effort big enough to start an interesting thing – on paper at least. It proved to be very difficult. We had actually two tries that failed to make any progress.

We came together with a couple of people, agreed about the goal and how we should work towards it. But when it came down to doing real work for it – nothing much occurred. To me it was really strange. I feel that we wasted a lot of time and energy of course, and it was really frustrating. But eventually, probably after three years or something from the original idea, Upeart started to come together and this time with people who have the drive and are actually willing to work for it. So finally, the organization and the event UPEA was born on the third try.

Brooklyn Street Art: This is a very young festival, only two editions. Did you look at other festivals as an inspiration for UPEA?
Jorgos Fanaris: Yes, of course. You look around other festivals and different things that people do everywhere for ideas. I personally think that there are a lot of new and exciting things happening in several places around the globe. That’s why keeping your eyes open and trying to learn from everything is important. You see things and think, wow that’s so cool, could we do something like that? You add your own ideas in to it and it changes to something else.

Wasp Elder. UPEA Festival  2017. Finland. (photo © Matti Nurmi)

It’s a notable fact that UPEA is so young, like a little baby. We are not there yet and have huge task ahead of us on refining the concept. Already this year we wanted to do several other things besides murals, but we just didn’t have the resources to execute. But its ok, things always need time. The organization needs to grow, the concept needs to be refined and we need to build up our personal networks and several other things. In this process of maturing and finding the way for you, it helps if you see what else is going on around the world.

Brooklyn Street Art: What distinguishes UPEA from other European Street Art Festivals?
Jorgos Fanaris: I guess one obvious thing compared to many others, is that UPEA is a multicity event held all over the country. Finland is a small country, only 5 million people and the biggest city the capitol Helsinki, has only 1 million. When we thought about the concept, we really had to think about what will happen when we do a large number of big artworks and how it progresses when we do this year after year. We thought we would need serious space to execute on the level that we want year after year.

Apolo Torres. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © Anna Vlasoff)

One thing of course also is that we have seriously big projects, especially on the second edition this year.

Considering we had the 56m high silos, triple side by side 8 story buildings, a complete house on all four sides and several single big 6-8 story buildings and so on, the sizes of the projects were huge. However now that we are looking forward at upcoming years, I think UPEA will become more and more original and mature to something very unique. Also one thing is, that several artists have told me, UPEA is one of the best organized events they have participated in. True or not (I think they are nice and say that in every event), I think this a proper note to end an interview!

Telmo & Miel. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Antti Ryynänen)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Antti Ryynänen)

Rustam Qbic. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Rustam Qbic. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Artez. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Kaukolehto)

Andrea Wan. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Jorma Simonen)

Smug. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tommi Mattila)

Vesod. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Vesod. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Roberto Ciredz. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Markus Hänninen)

Jussi27. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Pat Perry. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Fintan Magee. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Jani Leinonen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Logos or graffiti tags? Jani Leinonen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

 

 

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Finland’s Formidable Multi-City “UPEA” Mural Festival

Finland’s Formidable Multi-City “UPEA” Mural Festival

Finland joined the mural festival fray with some astounding and complex murals for UPEA this autumn. Created simultaneously in different cities, the festival soars with a large scale and with big international talents.

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Guido Van Helten from Australia painting in Helsinki. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

Wisely, they included Finnish artists who are prominent on the local Street Art scene as well and carefully curated the murals to have longevity.

For being their first edition, UPEA16 already claims that it is the biggest street art event in Finland. Of course, they mean “mural event” as true Street Art does not seek permission and is not commissioned, rather it is done illegally. But we know what they meant.

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Guido Van Helten from Australia. Helsinki. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

UPEA16 artists and cities featured are Italian Tellas (in Helsinki), Swedish duo Graffitisthlm (in Helsinki), Australian artist Guido van Helten (in Helsinki), Bulgarian duo Arsek & Erase (in Turku), Swedish artist Ola Kalnins (in Riihimäki), Indonesian artist WD (in Kemi), U.S. artist Andrew Hem (in Vaasa) and Finnish artists Kim Somervuori and Teemu Mäenpää (in Hyvinkää and Hämeenlinna).

Learn more about UPEA by clicking here.

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Wild Drawing from Indonesia painting in Kemi. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Wild Drawing from Indonesia painting in Kemi. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Wild Drawing from Indonesia in Kemi. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Tellas from Italy painting in Helsinki. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Tellas from Italy in Helsinki. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Arsek & Erase from Bulgaria painting in Turku. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Arsek & Erase from Bulgaria painting in Turku. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Teemu Maenpaa & Kim Somervuori from Finland painting in Hyvinkää and Hämeenlinna. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Teemu Maenpaa & Kim Somervuori from Finland in Hyvinkää and Hämeenlinna. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Teemu Maenpaa & Kim Somervuori from Finland in Hyvinkää and Hämeenlinna. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Graffitisthlm a duo from Sweden painting in Helsinki. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Graffitisthlm a duo from Sweden in Helsinki. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Andrew Hem from USA painting in Vaasa. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Andrew Hem from USA painting in Vaasa. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Andrew Hem from USA in Vaasa. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

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Ola Kalnins from Sweden painting in Riihimäki. UPEA Festival 2016. Finland. (photo © courtesy of UPEA)

 

 

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BSA Images Of The Week: 08.28.16

BSA Images Of The Week: 08.28.16

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“Back in the USSR” comes to mind as we touched down in Moscow yesterday to see and speak with the 60+ Street Artists who are creating this impressive 2nd Street Art biennale “Artmossphere” just a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin, Red Square and The International Military Music Festival that runs all week as well. We’ll be bringing you new stuff all week as part of our partnership with Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN), investigating the creative process with artists, curators, and the organizing force behind all of this event.

In the mean time, we bring you work from New York and elsewhere in this week’s fine edition of BSA Images of the Week.

So, here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Aduk, Buff Monster, Crisp, Hiss, Lena Shu, Logan Hicks, Olek, and Wolfe Work.

Above: Logan Hicks. Detail of his mural “Story of My Life” on the Houston/Bowery wall,  which pays tribute to the personal and professional friends and family who have helped him in the last 10 years in NYC. New York City. August 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Logan Hicks at work on his Houston Wall mural. New York City. August 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Logan Hicks. Detail. Houston Wall. New York City. August 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Logan Hicks. Houston Wall. New York City. August 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Olek Our Pink House for Kerava Art Museum. Finland. August 2016. (photo © Olek)

Our Pink House is a new crocheted covering for a house (the second) by Street Artist OLEK – this one associated with Kerava Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition Yarn Visions, which will place the spotlight on knitted, crocheted, tufted and embroidered works.

Drawing an analogy of protection and safety in these pink crocheting patterns that stretch from the top of the chimney to the foundation of stone, this building in Kereva in southern Finland, where many bombs fell during The Winter War of 1939-40. Olek says she is concerned about the 21 million people worldwide who lost their homes due to war and conflicts in 2015 and she wants to create community based projects like this one to draw attention to the topic, and to provide some healing as well.

This particular project enlisted the help of a large group of volunteers, immigrants and women from a reception centre for asylum seekers who she brought together to crochet this covering. “Our Pink House” is about the journey, not just about the artwork itself.  It’s about us coming together as a community.  It’s about helping each other. We can show everybody that women can build houses, women can make homes,”she says. – OLEK

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Nailed it! Hiss is caught up in the Pokemon Go craze that has captured the attention of children, teens, and a certain photographer we know who is a perennial child at heart. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Buff Monster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Buff Monster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Buff Monster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Wolfe Work (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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CRISP (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ADUK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Lena Shu in progress for Artmossphere – Moscow International Biennale of Street Art 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Unintended collaboration on the streets of Moscow.  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. Moscow, Russia. August 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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