Welcome to Sunday! This week we have a special edition of BSA Images of the Week; Dedicated to stuff on the street for last nights opening of Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art (UN).
Readers of BSA will know that we are on the curatorial board of the new museum and have worked with 8 other curators along with Director Yasha Young to bring the inaugural show that happened last night to fruition. A block buster with thousands of people coursing through the perspective-bending walkways to see the GRAFT designed interiors, it was gratifying to see the 150 pieces admired by such interest, such avid curiosity.
As part of our mission, we want to foster an ongoing dialogue between the art in the streets and the art inside the museum. As UN’s first programmatic approach to this goal, the Art Mile invites the public to see installations that are made by many of the artists/collaborators which UN has had for projects in the city and around the world during the last few years of building the museum and reaching out to the community.
So with gratitude to you and to all the creatives and their supporters who rock our world, here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1UP Crew, 2501, Anthony Lister, Berlin Kidz, Blek Le Rat, David De La Mano, Faith XLVII, Franco “Jaz” Fasoli, Hot Tea, Icy & Sot, Inka Kendzia, Isaac Cordal, James Bullough, Louis Masai, Mademoiselle Maurice, Manthe Ribane, Seth Globepainter, Tankpetrol, Zezao, and Zio Ziegler.
Blek Le Rat arrived at the Urban Nation office today with his wife Sybille after a long car ride from Paris, ready for a coffee and possibly to take a look at the wall he’ll be painting here to celebrate “UNSTOPPABLE”, the inaugural exhibition of the UN museum this weekend. The wind taunted BustArt as he attempted to lay his irreverent stencil of Mother Mary coddling Pluto Jr. and the sliced cutout cardboard bent and bowed beyond an average person’s patience while his buddy Stephan helped hold it down for spraying.
Under the elevated train a legion of police and traffic cops removed 80 or so cars so the team could begin building stages, cages, platforms, lighting, electricity – for a slew of fresh outdoor pieces which will be installed Thursday and Friday for the weekend outside component.
Who is going to be on display as part of the Art Mile? Try Pixel Pancho, Franco JAZ Fasoli, Bordalo II, Mimi S., HowNosm, Zezao, Isaac Cordal, Olek, Seth Globepainter, Blek Le Rat, Hottea, Dot Dot Dot, Borondo, Herakut, Deih XLF, Faith 47, David De La Mano, Nespoon, Tank Patrol, Lister, Cranio, Sandra Chevrier, Aaron Woes M, Yok & Sheryo, Haroshi, Don John, Ben Frost, Various & Gould, Icy & Sot, Mademoiselle Maurice, the Juxtapoz newsstand, Mark Bode, Shepard Fairey, 1 Up, James Bullough, and 2501. It’s a real cross section of styles, influences, and voice that will be engaging guests this weekend.
The Berlin police actually use a truss and truck that picks up the offending car, puts it on a flatbed. Then, believe or not, they look for an empty parking spot in the neighborhood an place the car into the new place – also signs are posted to let you know where your car was re-located to.
In New York City if you are unfortunate enough to park your car in the wrong place it is simply towed away to a massive car yard somewhere, banging into things occasionally on the way and flying through potholes – and then held for a King’s ransom. Then you have to simply guess if it was towed or stolen. No word on what the London Police do in regards to cars parked illegally.
Up on a lift for painting today also were Mademoiselle Maurice, David De La Mano, and James Bullough, and the company plastering the corner façade of the museum with pink letters. When the winds got to strong everybody was forced to bring the lifts down for an hour. Intrepid and lucky photographers like Jaime Rojo and Nika Kramer still managed to go up in the buckets to get some good shots in.
Hot Tea is spraying a big installation space with a rainbow of colors – on the walls and floors completely. People who are peeking through the plastic sheeting that protects the windows are wondering what this world of color is going to be.
Meanwhile the onslaught of arrivals continues, including hopefully we’ll see Martha Cooper and Carlo McCormick. Martha of course will be here to celebrate the beginning of the Martha Cooper Library within the museum and Carlo will be here to see the didactics and texts he wrote for the exhibition and catalogue –as well as speaking at the Unlock Book Fair. This publishing fair for graffiti, street art and related practices is a must see for those who relish the independent thinking minds who publish on paper in this scene. Other great speakers featured will be Pedro Soares, Jens Besser, Susan Phillips, Thomas Chambers, and Javier Abarca.
Okay that’s your update for today. See you on the streets tomorrow.
Welcome to Sunday! This week we have a special edition of BSA Images of the Week; Dedicated to “No Limit” in Boras 2017.
Begun on the initiative of Street Artist Shai Dahan, the No Limit festival in Borås Sweden is a nice respite in a quiet, somewhat conservative town of pleasant people where all the shops close by six and the streets are empty by ten. With the initiative and vision of Dahan, three editions of “No Limit” have brought a varied roster of more than 30 Street Artists and muralists and installation artists into the downtown area and thrilled the tour groups and looky-loos who follow the trail discovering new artworks.
Playing toward the center and knowingly delighting the audience, the full collection also boasts a few great eclectic names and actual forward-looking leaders on the Street Art/ Contemporary Art continuum. Thanks to Dahan’s sharp eye and knowledge of who to bring, it is a well-rounded collection that compliments the city and yet represents the independent-thinking iconoclastic nature of today’s art on the streets.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Anonymouse, Bordalo II, Christina Angelina, Fintan Magee, Gemma O’Brien, Hot Tea, JM Rizzi, Lakwena, Lonac, Nespoon, and Telmo & Miel.
Unveiled as the sun was seting in the Swedish sky, the separate bundles of rayon strips freed one-by-one beneath their gridded wire superstructure, this hovering mass of radiance is enlivened by the slightest breezes rippling through the glowing neon soft cloud, not quite a rectangle, not at all expected.
Here on the property of a religious and historical institution, one is tempted to say he captures the spirit of its higher aspirations and holds it aloft as a reminder. He also just completed this summer an enormous record-breaking installation in the Mall of America, a holy temple of commerce and consumerism, so we may have mistakenly imbued this project with something mystical because we were transported from the slippery bricked streets of Boras upon its discovery.
Either way, Boras tour groups applaud. We keep seeing it wherever we go – the appreciation of the new works literally makes people burst into applause, as they did when Hot Tea was on his lift yesterday, as they did for TelmoMiel as they were in their separate baskets 3 stories above in the drizzle, and from 200 meters away on the other side of the street looking up a hill watching Bordalo II as he installed his white wolf, half dripping white, half Technicolor consumer items. As they did when Jim Rizzi turned around almost on cue to face a dozen seniors who were staring at him across the river while he was painting. For those street artists and graffiti artists who have been hunted down by the Vandal Squad or its equivalent over the years, this outpouring of appreciation for your work feels and sounds surreal, perhaps leading you to be philosophical, or bitterererer-er.
“Those are the original drawings for the cartoon that we used to watch,” says Dutchman Miel as he takes a break down on the pavement to look up at the animated scene looming above and his art partner Telmo in a cherry picker gazing into the mouth of a fox. The guys are creating a sophisticated tableau incorporating the 2-D cartoon stills of a famous children’s animation and overlaying incredibly realistic 3-D versions of the same.
“We used to watch it when we were little – it’s a very old Swedish book and it has been animated by the Dutch and I think the Japanese and it is one of my favorite shows,” he says as we learn about Nils Holgersson and the likelihood that most Swedes will be instantly familiar with this small boy riding on the back of a goose who flies him around the world.
“We like combining the realism with the flat stuff right now,” Miel says of this digital shattering, a hi-jacked visual collage.
BSA:And you have these atmospheric washes…the realism, almost surrealism. Miel: Those are cut-outs because it’s like a two layer thing. We erase one layer and we always end up having strokes and bits – which makes it kind of more abstract, and we like that aspect so we just leave it. By abstractifying realism, we create surrealism.
A similar split between real and surreal exists in the sculptural installation of Bordalo II on the side of the Boras tourist center. Collaged together refuse from the never-ending garbage/recycling stream we are creating, the Lisbon artist has an uncanny ability to evoke the likeness of an animal that is often familiar to a locality. Here the street audience is also witnessing the transition of an artist’s style, displayed mid-evolution.
Whereas Bordalo II’s well-known and celebrated sculptures until this summer had always been finished with paint to complete their transformation, the artist has grown tired of the technique and is moving toward a body of work that uses only the colors present in the recycled items – a much more demanding and challenging technique for the artist, and a visual shift from his typically realized works.
We talk about the new direction as we’re looking at the piece nearly finished on the wall and he contrasts his relationship with the “old” right side of the animal with the “new” left side technique.
“It’s different at least,” he says. “I was getting bored of the old way on the right side – it’s always the same.”
And the multi-color eye-popping left? “This is the side that excites me. It’s fun because you can recognize a lot of the items and there is a lot of detail with all of the colors. You’re not playing with tones. You’re playing with colors and you have to give the idea of the shape of the outlines all with just the choice of different colors. I’m not using much black or white – for example the only place where there is black is in the eye. It’s important to use black only in the few places where you really need it then you can just play with the colors and make perspective.”
Just across a footbridge into the city’s old commercial district you round a bricked corner and find Nespoon riding up and down a two story wall beside a tavern. The organically decorative lace pattern pops out from the surface, slightly undulating like the long leafed aquatic plants in the Viskan river only 15 meters from her paintbrush.
“I draw the lace by hand, scan it, print it on large paper and hand cut all the pieces before I stencil them.” It’s a laborious process admittedly, but one that allows a feeling of full authorship and an organic relationship with the materials and final product. The Polish artist is making great progress and now is filling the background with a rusted red root timbre, just picking up the autumnal highlights in leaves on trees nearby.
As this Swedish town nearly marches ever closer to fall, the electricity of “No Limits” is bringing one last surge of summer and a real appreciation of the work of Street Artists as well.
This week BSA is in Borås, a municipality in south-western Sweden for the 3rd edition of No Limit, a mural arts festival that brings Street Artists from around the world to create new works on walls of the city, in the process enlivening public space and creating new ways for this historic textile merchant town to engage passersby with their city.
A small surprise guest appeared in Boras Thursday overnight and was sort of discovered by people on their way to work in the neighborhood. And when we say small, consider that a thimble is playing the role of a lampshade in one of these set scenes.
The miniature movement has been important in the last 10 years particularly in Street Art, with ever small pieces popping up – a bit of escapist fun for kids and those adults who also would like to disappear themselves for a moment into a tiny fantasy world. The Swedish installation artists Anonymouse have appeared on the streets of Malmö with a logo that smacks of Disney, Ronald McDonald and that Occupy mask of Guy Fawkes. But this is just a little mouse world for you to live in, provided you can get on your belly and stare closely.
Aside from that new bit, we found the artists happier with the weather, spirits lifted, and walls going up! Here are some of the images we caught on tour through the city which really has embraced the influx of international artists in a way that few do.
“It’s great how many business owners have been supportive to us over the years,” says artist and “No Limit” organizer Shai Dahan. We’re standing with structural engineer and commercial real estate property manager Erik Williamson in front of the new wall by TelmoMiel that features a goose and a fox from a well known Swedish fable by Nils Holgerssons.
Williamson has donated buildings and gallery space over the last three editions of the festival, virtually goosing the interest of the rest of the city. Now Shai receives calls from local businesses asking for artists to paint their walls almost daily.
“We love it!” says Mr. Williamson, “I’m a bird watcher, so this one is fun for me. It’s good for the city and the town. I think this year there will be many more people.” Does he think that these new works around town are like graffiti and does he have negative connotations about them? “I do not think of graffiti, I think it more of art. I think it does us good to walk around the city and to see street art and sculptures and it is good for the people in the city, I think.”
Abstract artist JM Rizzi is feeling good about his progress as the sun is coming out and his long wall is finally filling with color thanks to late days and helps from local volunteers. It’s appropriate that his work is here by the river, as he speaks of fluidity when describing the gestural abstract style that he has become known for.
Influenced as a student in college nearly two decades ago by artists like Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, Rizzi says he’s heartened by the idea that his early graffiti influences are now matured and embedded with his love of writing, and the simplicity of the line.
“The person who really turned the light on for me was Franz Klein – his drawing, his black ink, his gestures, his letterforms,” says Rizzi. In fact, he says the essence of a JM Rizzi piece is always “about the linework.” He also speaks of music. Tracing the wall with his finger in the air he talks about the rhythm of the piece and says he can hear a soundtrack of percussion and horns; the yellow is a horn, the grey is a bass.
Ultimately, he says, “It’s about the dialogue of art, and what I am adding to that dialogue.”
As we speak we see well-known local tour guide Bjorn Linder is bringing a group of mature adults up the banks of the river across from Rizzi’s new wall. When it comes to putting your art out to be seen by the public, that’s where the dialogue continues.
4th of July weekend here in New York so we are headed to a barbecue and a frisbee game. Maybe to the Jersey shore for some sun. Happy 4th ya’ll! Looks like the country needs to take itself back from the corporate overlords – if we want to declare the US to be independent ever again. Right now we’re in trouble, gurl – and everyone knows it!
So here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Banksy, Clint Mario, Crash, El Sol 25, Felipe Pantone, FinDAC, Hopare, Hot Tea, Invader, John Ahearn, Logan Hicks, Mark Jenkins, Resistance is Female, SaxSix, and Sonny Sundancer.
The Artmossphere Biennale jump-starts the debate for many about how to best present the work of Street Artists and organizers here in Moscow chose a broad selection of curators from across a spectrum of private, commercial, academic and civically-inspired perspectives to present a solid range of artists from the graffiti and Street Art world inside a formal hall.
To be clear, unless it is illegal and on the street, it is not graffiti nor Street Art. That is the prevailing opinion about these terms among experts and scholars of various stripes and it is one we’re comfortable with. But then there are the commercial and cultural influences of the art world and the design industries, with their power to reshape and loosen terms from their moorings. Probably because these associated art movements are happening and taking shape before our eyes and not ensconced in centuries of scholarship we can expect that we will continue to witness the morphing our language and terminologies, sometimes changing things in translation.
Definitions aside, when you think of more organic Street Art scenes which are always re-generating themselves in the run-down abandoned sectors of cities like Sao Paulo, New York, Melbourne, Paris, Mexico City, London, and Berlin, it is interesting to consider that this event takes place nearly on the grounds of the Kremlin under museum like security.
An international capital that ensures cleanly buffed walls within hours of the appearance of any unapproved Street Art or graffiti, Moscow also boasts a growing contingent of art collectors who are young enough to appreciate the cultural currency of this continuously mutating hybrid of graffiti, hip hop, DIY, muralism, and art-school headiness. The night clubs and fashionable kids here are fans of events like hip-hop and graffiti jams, sometimes presented as theater and other times as “learning workshops” and the like.
Plugging into this idea of street and youth culture is not a singular fascination – there is perhaps an association with the rebellious anti-authoritarian nature of unregulated art in the streets that fuels the interest of many. With graffiti and hip-hop culture adoption as a template, newer expressions of Street Art culture are attractive as well with high profile artists with rebel reputations are as familiar in name here as in many cities. New festivals and events sometimes leverage this renegade free-spirit currency for selling tourism and brands and real estate, but here there also appears to be an acute appreciation for its fine art expression – urban contemporary art.
MOSCOW’S MANEGE AND “DEGENERATE ART”
So ardent is the support for Artmossphere here that a combination of public and private endorsements and financial backing have brought it to be showcased in a place associated with high-culture and counter-culture known as the Moscow Manege (Мане́ж). The location somehow fits the rebellious spirit that launched these artists even if its appearance wouldn’t lead you to think that.
The 19th century neo-classical exhibition hall stands grandly adjacent to Red Square and was built as an indoor riding school large enough to house a battalion of 2,000 soldiers during the 1800s. It later became host to many art exhibitions in the 20th century including a famous avant-garde show in 1962 that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev famously derided as displaying ‘degenerate’ art.
One of the artists whose work was criticized, painter and sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, challenged the label defiantly and won accolades afterward during his five decade career that followed, including receiving many awards and his work being collected worldwide by museums. Russian President Vladimir Putin is quoted as calling him “a recognised master and one of the best contemporary sculptors”. In January of this year at the age of 90, Neizvestny’s return to Menage featured an extensive exhibition. He passed away August 9th (The Moscow Times), only weeks before Artmossphere opened.
In some kindred spirit many of these artists at Artmossphere have done actual illegal work on the streets around the world during their respective creative evolutions, and graffiti and Street Art as a practice have both at various times been demonized, derided, dismissed and labeled by critics in terms synonymous with “degenerate”.
A CLEAN CITY
“Moscow is mostly very clean,” says Artmossphere co-founder and Creative Director Sabine Chagina, who walks with guests during a sunny afternoon in a busy downtown area just after the opening. “But we do have some good graffiti crews,” she says as we round the corner from the famous Bolshoi Theater and soon pass Givenchy and Chanel and high-end luxury fashion stores. Shortly we see a mural nearby by French artist Nelio, who painted a lateral abstracted geometric, possibly cubist, piece on the side of a building here in 2013 as part of the LGZ Festival.
If there was graffiti here in Moscow, it was not on full display very readily in this part of town. In driving tours, rides on the extensive metro train system, and in street hikes across the city a visitor may find that much of the illegal street art and graffiti common to other global capitals is illusive due to a general distaste for it and a dedicated adherence to buffing it out quickly.
For a pedestrian tourist Moscow appears in many ways as fully contemporary and architecturally rich as any international world-class metropolis. One of the cleanest places you’ll visit, the metro is almost museum-like in some instances; the historic districts spotless, public fountains, famed statues of important historical figures. All is efficiently ordered and – a welcome surprise – most public space is free of advertisements interrupting your view and your thoughts.
Come to think of it, the sense of commercial-celebrity media saturation that is present in other cities doesn’t appear to permeate the artists psyche here at the Biennale – so there’s not much of the ironic Disney-Marilyn-supermodel-Kardashian-skewering of consumerism and shallowness in this exhibition that you may find in other Urban Art events.
Also, unlike a Street Art-splattered show in London for example that may rudely mock Queen Elizabeth or art in New York streets that present Donald Trump styled as a pile of poo and Hillary Clinton as Heath Ledger’s Joker, we didn’t see over-the-top Putin satires either. So personality politics don’t seem directly addressed in this milieu. According to some residents there was an outcropping of huge festival murals by Street Artists here just a few years ago but more recently they have been painted over with patriotic or other inspiring murals, while others have been claimed for commercial interests.
Starved for some gritty street scenes, it is all the more interesting to see the one live mural painting that we were able to catch – a 6-story red-lined op-art tag by the French graffiti writer L’Atlas. Far from Manege, placed opposite a cineplex in what appears to be a shopping mall situated far from the city’s historical and modern centers, our guide tells us half-jokingly that he is not sure that we are still in Moscow.
Here L’Atlas says that he has painted his bar-code-like and cryptic nom-de-plume with an assistant on a cherry picker for a few days and he says that no one has stopped to ask him about it, neither to comment or criticize. Actually one man early one morning returning home from a disco did engage him briefly, but it was difficult to tell what he was talking about as he may have had a few drinks.
This lack of public commentary is mainly notable because in other cities the comments from passersby can be so ubiquitous that artists deliberately wear stereo headphones to prevent interruption and to be more productive. Sometimes the headphones are not actually playing music.
This Street Art Biennale nonetheless is gaining a higher profile among Urban Art collectors and its associated art dealers and the opening and later auction reaches directly to this audience. Included this year with the primary “Invisible Walls” exhibition are satellite events in association with local RuArts Gallery, Tsekh Belogo at Winzavod, and the Optika Pavilion (No. 64) at VDNKh.
The opening night event itself is wide and welcoming, a mostly youthful and populist affair with celebratory speeches and loosely organized group photos and an open bar. Added together with a press conference, a live DJ, virtual reality headsets, interactive artworks, major private business sponsors, government grants, ministers of culture, gallerists, and quirkily fashionable art fans, this is a polished presentation of a global culture that is filtered through the wide lense of the street.
Perhaps because the exhibition hall is a cavernous rectangle with exposed beams on the ceiling and many of the constructed white walls that mimic vendor booths, it has the air of an art fair. There are thankfully no salespeople pacing back and forth watching your level of interest. People tend to cluster before installations and talk, laugh, share a story, pose for a selfie.
The theme seems very appropriately topical as geopolitical, trade-related, social, digital, and actual walls appear to be falling down rapidly today while the foundations of new ones are taking shape. Catalyzed perhaps by the concept and practices of so-called “globalization” – with its easy flow of capital and restricted flow of humans, we are all examining the walls that are shaping our lives.
With 60+ international artists working simultaneously throughout this massive hall, newly built walls are the imperative for displaying art, supporting it, dividing it. These are the visible ones. With so many players and countries represented here, one can only imagine that there are a number of invisible walls present as well.
The theme has opened countless interpretations in flat and sculptural ways, often expressed in the vernacular of fine art with arguable nods to mid-20th century modernists, folk art, fantasy, representational art, abstract, conceptual, computer/digital art, and good old traditional graffiti tagging. Effectively it appears that when Street Art and graffiti artists pass the precipice into a multi-disciplinary exhibition such as this, one can reframe Urban/Street as important tributaries to contemporary art – but will they re-direct the flow or be subsumed within it?
The work often can be so far removed from street practice that you don’t recognize it as related.
Aside from putting work up in contested public space without permission and under cover, an average visitor may not see a common thread. These works run aesthetic to the conceptual, painterly to the sculptural, pure joy and pure politics. But then, that is we began to see in the streets as well when the century turned to the 21st and art students in large numbers in cities like New York and London and Berlin skipped the gatekeepers, taking their art directly to the public.
Perhaps beneath the surface or just above it, there is a certain anarchistic defiance, a critique of social, economic, political issues, a healthy skepticism toward everyone and everything that reeks of hypocritical patriarchal power structures. Perhaps we’re just projecting.
Looking over the 60+ list of names, it may be striking to some that very few are people of color, especially in view of the origins of the graffiti scene. Similarly, the percentage of women represented is quite small. We are familiar with this observation about Urban Art in general today, and this show mirrors the European and American scene primarily, with notable exceptions such as Instagrafite’s home-based Brazilian crew of 4 artists. As only one such sampling of a wide and dispersed scene, it is not perhaps fair to judge it by artists race, gender, or background, but while we speak of invisible walls it is worth keeping our eyes on as this “scene” is adopted into galleries, museums, and private collections.
Following are some of the artists on view at Artmossphere:
Certainly Moscow native ASKE is gently mocking our mutated modern practices of communicating with his outsized blocked abstraction of a close couple riveted to their respective electronic devices, even unaware of one another.
Warsaw based NeSpoon creates a sculpture of another couple. Heroically presenting her vision of what she calls the iconic “Graffiti Writer” and “Street Art Girl”, they face the future with art instruments in hand ready to make their respective marks. She says her work is emblematic of a permanent financial insecurity for a generation she calls the “PRECARIAT”.
“ ‘Precariat’ is the name of the new emerging social class,” says curator, organizer, and NeSpoon’s partner Marcin Rutkiewicz when talking about the piece during the press conference. “These are young people living without a predictable future, without good jobs, without social security. It’s a class in the making and probably these people don’t have any consciousness or global unity of interest. But they are the engines of protest for people all over the world – like Occupy Wall Street, Gezi Park in Turkey, or the Arab Spring.”
The artist developed the sculpture specifically for this exhibition and planned it over the course of a year or so. Born of a social movement in Poland by the same name, the sculpture and its sticker campaign on the street represent “a kind of protest against building walls between people who are under the same economical and social situation all over the world,” says Rutkiewicz.
Artist Li-Hill says his piece “Guns, Germs, and Steel” directly relates to the divisions between civilizations due to a completely uneven playing field perpetuated through generations. Inspired by the 1997 trans-disciplinary non-fiction book by Jared Diamond, Li-Hill says the Russian sculptural group called “The Horse Tamers” represents mankind’s “ability to harness power of the natural world and to be able to manipulate it for its advantage.”
“The horse is one of the largest signifiers and is a catalyst for advancement in society because it has been for military use, for agriculture, for transportation,” he says. “It was the most versatile of the animals and the most powerful.” Here he painted a mirror image, balanced over a potential microbial disaster symbol, and he and the team are building a mirrored floor to “give it this kind of infinite emblem status.”
Afloat in the middle of some of these walled areas M-City from Poland is choosing to be more direct thematically in his three dimensional installation of plywood, plaster, aerosol and bucket paint, and machine blown insulation.
“It is an anti-war piece,” he says, and he speaks about the walls between nations and a losing battle of dominance that ensures everyone will be victim.”
“It’s kind of a monster who destroys arms,” he says of this temporary sculpture with a lording figure crushing tanks below.
“He is destroying the tanks but at the same time he is also a destroyer – so it’s a big circle. Nothing is positive that can come out of this. There is always someone bigger.” He says the piece is inspired by the political situations in Europe today and the world at large.
Minneapolis based HOTTEA usually does very colorful yarn installations transforming a huge public space, but for Artmossphere he is taking the conceptual route. The walk-in room based on the Whack-A-Mole game presents holes which a visitor can walk under and rise above.
Visitors/participants will experience the physical separation of space, and perhaps contemplate facing one another and interacting or ignoring one another. It is something he says he hopes will draw attention to how many walls we have allowed ourselves to distract from human interactions.
Englands’ Sick Boy calls his project The Rewards System, where guests are invited to climb a ladder over a brick wall and descend down a slide into a darkened house, setting off a series of sensors that activate a variety of multisensory lights and tantalizing patterns. After landing and being rewarded the visitor is forced to exit on hands and knees through a too-small square door.
“The concept of the show is about invisible walls so I was thinking about there being barriers in your life and I thought about the reward of endorphins one experiences for achieving a task – a small amount of endorphins. So I thought I would build a house that signifies the reward system,” he explains.
Atlanta/Seattle based Derek Bruno reached back to the Leonid Brezhnev years and into Moscow’s Gorky Park for his series of site specific installations based on Soviet Cement Fence type PO-2. The iconic fence was re-created in a nearby studio and Bruno shot photographs of his 10-15 minute “interventions” in the park itself, revisiting a field of design called “technical aesthetics.”
In a statement Bruno explains “Since the end of the Soviet Union, the iconic fence has become a persistent and ever present reminder of former delineations of space; while new forms of boundaries shape the digital and sociopolitical landscapes. “
Remi Rough is known for his smartly soaring abstract geometry in painted murals and smaller scale works, and for Moscow he wanted to strip it back to the basics, approaching a white box with one undulating graphic composition.
“My idea was that Moscow’s a bit ‘over the top’,” he says, and he decided to strip back the audacity and go for simplicity, which actually takes courage.
“I said ‘you know what?’ – I want to do something with the cheapest materials you can possibly get. These two pieces literally cost 3000 rubles ($50). It’s made of felt, it’s like a lambs wool. I think they use it for flooring for construction.” Depending on the angle, the pink blotted material may translate as a swath of otherworldly terrain or a metaphorical bold vision with all the hot air let out.
“I wanted to do something peaceful and calming and use natural materials – something that’s different from what I usually do – but I use the folds in the fabric and the pink color – two things that I usually use a lot.”
Moscow’s Alexey Luka is also challenging himself to stretch creatively by taking his wall collage installations of found wood and converting them into free-standing sculptures.
“For this biennale I tried to make something different so now I am going from the assemblages to 3-D.” The constructed media is warm and ordered, reserved but not without whimsy.
“My work is made from found wood – I use it with what I found on the street and my shapes and my graphics – so it’s kind of an experiment with three dimensions,” and he confirms that most of this wood is sourced here in Moscow.
We ask him about the number of eyes that peer out from his installation. Perhaps these eyes are those of Muscovites? “They are just like observers,” he says.
Torino’s Mimmo recreated the Moscow Olympic Village from the 1980 games in miniature presented as on a plainly brutalist platform. The sculpture is austere in detail on the hulking towers save for the tiny graffiti tags, throwies, rollers, extinguisher tags, and the like at the bases and on the roofs.
Curator Christian Omodeo tells us that Mimmo recreated the massive village based on his direct study of the site as it stands today; a housing project that has hundreds of families — and a hip-hop / graffiti scene as well.
It is striking that the scale reduces the impact of the graffiti – yet when experienced at eye-level it retains a potency. Even so, by recasting the relationship between viewer and mark-making, this graffiti actually seems “cute” because of its relative size to the viewer.
Brad Downey and Alexander Petrelli hi-jacked the opening of the Biennale by circulating within the exhibit as a gallery with artworks for sale. With Downey performing as a street-huckster pushing his own art products, Mr. Patrelli showcased new Downey photo collages and drawings inside his mobile “Overcoat Gallery”
A charming Moscow art star / gallerist / performance artist, Mr. Patrelli is also a perennial character at openings and events in the city, by one account having appeared at 460 or so events since 1992 with his flashing overcoat. The artworks also feature Patrelli, completing a self-referential meta cycle that continued to circle the guests at the exhibition.
International artists participating in the Artmossphere Biennale 2016 include: Akacorleone, Alex Senna, Brad Downey, Chu (Doma), Orilo (Doma), Claudio Ethos, Demsky, Christopher Derek Bruno, Filippo Minelli, Finok, Galo, Gola Hundun, Hot Tea, Jaz, Jessie and Katey, Johannes Mundinger, L’Atlas, LiHill, LX One, M-city, TC, Mario Mankey, Martha Cooper, Miss Van, Nespoon, Millo, Pablo Benzo, Pastel, Paulo Ito, Proembrion, Remed, Remi Rough, Rub Kandy, Run, Sepe, Sickboy, Smash 137, Sozyone Gonsales, SpY, The London Police, Trek Matthews, Wes 21.
This week BSA is in Moscow with you and Urban Nation for Artmossphere 2016, the 2nd Street Art Biennale, a group exposition introducing 26 Russian and 42 foreign artists who were shaped by street art in some way. Also present are international curators, museums and galleries who have significantly intersected with urban art in recent years.
Artmossphere co-founder and curator Sabina Chagina pulled off a second edition of this biennale last night in Moscow – not an easy feat. But with 11 curators and nearly 70 artists from here and around the world, the multi-discipline show unveiled on time and was well attended – with a steady stream of curious fans coming through the space today as well.
With the air of an art fair (minus the sales associates and plus the soaring arched windows) and work often so far removed from street practice that you may refer to it simply as Urban Contemporary, there is a palpable enthusiasm and curiosity here about what this “movement” might be bringing.
Most if not all of the international artists have intersected with illegal Street Art in cities around the world and this work has often evolved from the practice. Perhaps beneath the surface or just above it, there is a certain defiance and a critique of social, economic, political issues and systems.
Elsewhere the presentation is primarily aesthetic, very muted or so similar to previous mid-20th-century art schools as to appear separate from what one may recognize as the urban art of the last two decades. Similarly, the inclusion of graffiti is only occasional and is presented as part of the greater whole today rather than its genesis role.
Adding together a press conference, a Moscow superstar DJ, virtual reality headsets, interactive displays (otherwise known as selfie-with-art opportunities), major private business sponsors, cultural ministers, government grants, and official accreditation, this is a professional and polished presentation of a global culture that has filtered through the lense of the street.
Here are a few select shots to give you an idea of the feeling during the opening of Artmossphere 2.
Brad Downey and Alexander Petrelli performed Brad’s huckster mobile art-selling installation on the floor of the bienalle, where Brad used his laser-like sales skills to sell his own work. Mr. Patrelli is known for his unannounced appearances at Moscow openings wearing his “Overcoat Gallery”. This was reportedly his 461st such appearance since 1992 and his flashing overcoat contained original Brad Downey artworks for your perusal.
This week BSA is in Moscow with you and Urban Nation for Artmossphere 2016, the 2nd Street Art Biennale, a group exposition introducing 26 Russian and 42 foreign artists who were shaped by street art in some way. Also present are international curators, museums and galleries who have significantly intersected with urban art in recent years.
A few more hours until the opening of the Artmossphere Biennale and we have seen many very successful installations – from the aesthetic to the conceptual, painterly to the sculptural, pure joy and pure politics.
In a word, when Street Art and graffiti artists pass the precipice into a multi-disciplinary exhibition such as this, one realizes that this scene has become an important tributary to contemporary art – and one with staying power that very well may re-direct the flow.
Perhaps the street practice is just a training ground for some or these artistss, a formative touchstone for others. It’s up to you to divine what the through-line is among these pieces, as diverse as the collection is. We think that there is a certain defiance present in many works, and a healthy skepticism toward existing hierarchical structures, but that’s just us projecting perhaps.
Remi Rough is known for his smartly soaring abstract geometry in painted murals and smaller scale works, and for Artmossphere he wanted to strip his typical practice back to the basics, approaching a white box with one undulating graphic composition.
“My idea was that Moscow’s a bit ‘over the top’,” he says, and he decided to pare the audacity and go for simplicity, which actually takes courage.
“I said ‘you know what?’ – I want to do something with the cheapest materials that you can possibly get. These two pieces literally cost about 3,000 rubles ($50). It’s felt material, it’s like lambs wool. I think they use it for flooring for construction.”
“I wanted to do something peaceful and calming and to use natural materials – something that’s different from what I usually do – but I use the folds in the fabric and the pink color – two things that I usually use a lot.”
And the crisply painted pink dot? “The circle takes it back to the wall and takes it back to the kind of perfection that I like to get. I love the imperfection of the fabric as well – I love the rough edges – a kind of counter-perfection. For me this interpretation of my own work was quite freestyle.”
“My work is made from found wood – I use what I find on the street and with my shapes and my graphics – so it’s kind of an experiment with three dimensions,” and he says most of this wood is sourced here in Moscow. We watch him completing his singular wall piece and notice that he has painted many eyes into the composition.
“In the 2-D piece I try to combine very simple geometric shapes with the eyes and make a huge composition on the wall.” Perhaps these eyes are Muscovites?
Minneapolis-based artist Hot Tea usually does huge colorful yarn installations that transform public space, but for the biennale he is taking the conceptual route. The walk-in room is based on the Whack-A-Mole game. With white fabric stretched wall to wall at chest level within the cube, meter-wide holes are cut which a visitor can crouch under and rise above.
Visitors/participants will experience the physical separation of space, and perhaps contemplate facing one another or ignoring each other – with absolutely no other visual distraction. It is something he says he hopes will draw attention to how many walls we have allowed ourselves to distract us from human interactions.
Torino’s Mimmo RubKandy recreated the Moscow Olympic village from 1980, now a home for hundreds of families, and a hip-hop graffiti scene as well. The soaring towers are painted in scale with tiny graffiti tags, throwies, extinguisher tags, and the like – at the base and on the the roofs.
Curator Christian Omodeo tells us that these are taken directly from the artists investigations of the site as it exists today. It is striking that the scale reduces the impact of the graffiti – yet when experienced at eye-level it has a potency. Accompanying the towers are framed photos of the current site via Google images, including blurred faces and logos.
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.
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
Thanks to LoMan, the island of perdition is popping with new stuff almost daily. Could be coincidence or serendipity but this week NYC has new stuff from heavy hitters mixed happily with lots of newer talents. Summer ’15 is stupendous – mostly because you are here in your flip-flops and shorts and pretty smile, you flirt.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Aiko, Andre, Ayakamay, BD White, Buttless, Clint Mario, Gold Loxe, Hot Tea, Ivanorama, JP Art, JR, Magda Love, Mint & Serf, Mr. Toll, and Os Gemeos.
The Minneapolis based yarn artist very possibly has some Mexican blood because this private pool commission is strikingly washed in color that plays with the structural geometry in a way reminiscent of work by the architect Luis Barragan and his disciple Ricardo Legorreta. The Spanish conquerors were reportedly impressed with the colorfully painted buildings as well as the advanced architecture they found when they invaded the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan, now known as Mexico City and here on Roosevelt Island Hot Tea embraces jubilant color with the same passion that the two Mexican Masters did in their public and private projects.
In his large scale yarn installations the gradient fade from one color to another in three dimensional circumstances can evoke deeper emotional/psychological responses than one may expect: likely because of the gradual shifts and bending light waves and your own associations that are triggered by color. Now using paint instead of yarn, Hot Tea says that the desired effect is the same.
“This piece is inspired by my color field installations that take up both private and public spaces. I love introducing color to spaces that seem neglected or forgotten.”
Once the home of an asylum, the island is still a quasi secret getaway that just happens to lie in the plain view of Manhattan and Queens. Because of its location and its history, the artist says he has felt that the pool project has summoned both associations of a place to escape to and a place where mental states are out of balance.
“I entitled this piece “Asylum” because the act of creating it pushed my mental and physical endurance so far that I wasn’t sure I could complete the task,” he says of the challenge. Painting by himself such a large expanse in only a few days may have been more difficult than he had estimated, but he is satisfied with the otherworldly effect the result is summoning.
“When people experience my installations I hope that they will remember the experience far after the moment is gone. My goal for people who are viewing my work is to evoke subconscious feelings one may have forgotten.”