An essential element of creating works on the street or in the public sphere is having the latitude to discover and experiment. Here on Utsira Island in Norway the Street Art brothers Icy & Sot have been discovering ways to work with the garbage that the sea brings to the shores.
It’s an interesting way to spend your time when there is not really a street culture of any sort on this island where the total population is less than can fit into a subway car. Nonetheless the garbage that the artists were able to collect among these rolling hills of waving green grasses reminded them of the cities they’ve traveled to and made artwork for.
Somewhere along the way the guys Street Art practice has morphed into Land art, a movement quite separate from graffiti and Street Art, yet another one that was at least in part started by New York artists who were getting out of the city in the 1960s and 70s. Rather then manipulating the Earth directly, however, I&S are using as a canvas.
Here at the water’s edge and far from the urban scene, Icy & Sot experiment with these found objects to further their examination of environmental matters, a theme they have often spoken to in their Street Art work.
“Norway is one of the most environmentally friendly nations on earth,” says Icy, “Especially Utsira which is a super clean and magical Island with 211 people living on it. It is frustrating to see all this plastic waste on the shores. This could have been dumped in the ocean in any part of the world, and if we collected it from the entire island it would create a huge mountain of plastic.”
One man’s garbage is another man’s art materials, so the artists show us here sculptural works and installations that they created while there.
“We did some interventions, installations about the environment and the plastic pollution,” says Sot. “We made all the works by using garbage that we collected with the islanders from a very small section of a shore in the island. In an hour we were able to collect so much plastic, there was everything you can think of that is made out of plastic; gasoline cans, soda/water bottles, shampoo, slippers …”
Up to 110 feet long and 330,000 pounds, the blue whale literally can go 1,600 feet deep below the surface and hold its breath for 10 to 20 minutes.
This brand new mural is the brothers’ first stencil to address endangered species and it took a lot of blade wielding in their Brooklyn studio this month to cut the maritime scene before flying to Los Angeles to spray it out. Their work often speaks of social and political ills such as homelessness, war, arms proliferation, immigration. This is their very first that gives voice to those whose habitats are regularly contaminated and polluted by industry and individuals.
“California has suffered a lot recently with their lack of clean water and now the oceans are often polluted as well,” says Sot.
“There is so much plastic pollution in the ocean too,” Icy continues. “What it does to the animals is really bad. I was reading this article and turtles eat jellyfish for their diet. But then people throw plastic bags in the ocean and the turtle thinks they are jellyfish and they eat the plastic. A lot of sea creatures have plastic bags inside of their bodies – they find them when the animals are caught.”
The brothers spent two solid days hand cutting the multi-layer stencil here on Melrose Avenue. How many pieces? “19 pieces,” says Icy. “Its not that big but it has a lot of details” The composite image features an enormous whale emerging from the sea in full view of a coastline packed with industrial forms which presumably are dumping contaminants directly into the waters.
As ever, the brothers crash into each others sentences while talking to us. “Whatever happens in the ocean… it comes back to us,” says Sot. “Whether is trash or plastics or oil..”
Icy jumps in, “The fish eat them and then we eat the animals and we have the plastics inside of us.”
“Yeah, It’s a cycle. We are all making a lot of trash – we are affecting the world. Then it all comes back to us,” says Sot.
“The goal is to paint murals about endangered species in communities around the country, near to where those species are found, trying to increase awareness of and connection between communities and their ecologies. We’ve done four so far,” says Peet, and he sights locations in Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, and Alabama.
From the mission statement of the project:
“Everywhere on the earth is special, and has qualities that distinguish it from other places both nearby and far away. One of those qualities is the biodiversity of a place, the plants and animals that call that place home and that maybe aren’t found anywhere else. Those plants and animals embody the history of a place and its future, and contribute to what makes a place special. Many of them are, unfortunately, endangered.”
New York’s adopted Street Art brothers Icy & Sot have been spreading their wings in Brooklyn for a couple of years since we first interviewed them upon their arrival in the US from Iran. In that time they have continued to develop their personal style and voice, which is probably strongest when they use their work to address social issues and express opinion. To say that their New York experience has been a roller coaster of good and bad fortune for these two is an understatement, including having a solo show in Manhattan, being part of a supportive art community formed by ex-pats and street artists, and a horrifying shooting in their home that left three friends dead and Sot injured.
The intensity of the experience was fed by a media frenzy, and for a few months the brothers were in a surreal state of mind. The music and art community rallied to support them and they continued working and focused on more positive endeavors, like curating a cross cultural dual show between Brooklyn and Tehran in galleries in both cities this summer.
Now for the first time the brothers were free to travel this fall and they wasted no time hopping a plane to Norway for the Nuart Festival in September and continued their trip through Switzerland, France, and Germany to paint and meet friends and (gasp) collectors. Yes, these 20-somethings who work very closely together to conceive of and produce their work have garnered a growing following of fans in a relatively short period of time. While Icy and Sot have no plans to return to Iran in the near future, the brothers were excited to see Europe for the first time and to experience the sometimes pronounced differences in acceptance of street art and graffiti in various cities they visited.
“It was our first time traveling and painting around Europe and it was a great experience,” says Sot of their various venues which included in-town interventions and a more intricate and contextual piece high in the mountains of Switzerland. They did some normal tourist stuff of course and Icy says, “From painting in a different environments and cultures to meeting artists, people and friends, we just loved it.” Aside from the many free-wheeling installations, including painting, stencil work, and bus shelter takeovers, they still are relishing the huge wall they did about homelessness in Stavanger, Norway they say. “We were so honored to be part of Nuart Festival,” says Sot, “which is our all time favorite festival.”
A beautiful week weather-wise in New York – a brisk and sunny week that was great for discovering your city without sweating like a hog. Before we all get clobbered by the holidays and start piling on pounds it has been stupendous just to wind through the streets and burn off the calories and see lots of good new pieces popping up.
Also, we see a lot of street related movies and videos pretty regularly and were fortunate to attend the NY premiere this week of a documentary by Cheryl Dunn that you’ll probably dig too. It’s called “Everybody Street” and it floods you with decades of NY street photography by so many great shooters in this every-changing weird and wooly city we all love. Photographers include Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper, and Boogie, and also featured are historians Max Kozloff and Luc Sante. Yes, this is a short list of all the great photographers who have been capturing the NY scene, but its a cool collection. Look it up while it is here and if you aren’t living here it’s also on paid Vimeo too.
So here is our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Axel Void, Bunny M, Danielle Mastrion, Don Rimx, Icy & Sot, Invader, Kitty Kitty, Labrona, LMNOP, Mr. Toll, Nepo, Pixel Pancho, Reka, and Robert Janz.
Big week for street festivals on BSA where we blew up our server on the LODZ murals in Poland, the MURAL Festival in Montreal, and now the most community based of them all – the Ad Hoc Wellington Court block party Street Art jamboree thing in Queens, which we have some new images of today. Not to mention we got up on some roofs and Klub7 got down on the ground. So much fun, sun, and good times to be had with art and the creative spirit cut loose in the streets.
Here’s our weekly interview of the street, this week featuring Alice Mizrachi, Amuse, Andy Pants, Billy Mode, Chris Stain, Dan Witz, Dennis McNett, Droid 907, Icy & Sot, JCHM-IX, Lucx, Nice-One, Okuda, Olek, PRTL, Stefan Ways, This is Awkward, and UNO.
Shout out to Garrison and Alison Buxton for the big throw-down at Welling Court, which they do so well and with such love. We’ll have more images coming up.
Big murals are proliferating at the moment but it is still the domain of the individual street artist to smack up smaller works, stickers, stencils, wheatpastes and the like. We’re featuring quite a few of these smaller personal pieces this week in the mix of some larger ones.
Here’s our weekly interview of the street, this week featuring 1986, Bortusk Leer, ELV, FKDL, Icy & Sot, JR, Martha Cooper, ND’A, Pigeon, Wakuda and XAM.
Stoop sales, hula hoops, fire hydrants, ladders and paint. Get me one of those ices from that guy with the cart on the corner, will ya?
Here’s our weekly interview of the street, this week featuring A1one, Chris Stain, Creepy, Elbow Toe, Essen, Foxx Face, Icy & Sot, LMNOP, Maya Hayuk, Mr. Toll, Rubin, Sexer, Werds, You Are Beautiful, and Zimad.
A writer who has used Arabic lettering since 2003, A1one just completed this new piece and translates it for us. “The word is Love (Ishq). In all the Middle East they can understand the meaning of this word… It refers to the divine or clean kind of love,” says A1one.
Brooklyn’s already percolating artists neighborhood called Bushwick continues to thrive despite the circling of real estate agents, lifestyle brands and celebrity chefs. Born in the mid-late 2000s as it’s older sister Williamsburg to the West began to professionalize, this noisily industrial and dirty artists haven got a reprieve from gentrifying forces when the deep recession slowed the rise of rents for artist spaces, which remained still relatively cheap by Manhattan’s standards. Today the area boasts a diverse influx of artists, students, cultural workers, and entrepreneurs who are experimenting and collaborating on projects and shows.
That radical economic downturn probably also nurtured the nascent Street Art scene here, which was one of the early outliers of a cultural influx as artists and explorers began to skateboard to the local delis and stare at laptops for hours in the one or two cafes that offered Wi-Fi. Outcroppings of this new art movement combined with old-school graffiti to pop up on selected concrete and corrugated walls, signposts, and deteriorated blocks where the authorities were disinterested and the neighbors only partially curious in their activities.
It’s an age-old New York story by now; a neglected or winding down post industrial neighborhood reacts to the incoming and odd-looking artists with a sort of bemused affection, happy that at least the block is getting some attention for a change. Puzzlement eventually leads to familiarity and then buying you a sandwich – and then asking you to paint a mural inside his foyer. While national and international Street Artists were already making Bushwick a stopping point thanks to some of the earliest galleries like Ad Hoc and Factory Fresh, the scene recently got newly shot in the arm by a local resident who is facilitating much desired legal wall space to a crowd of artists who otherwise would be hunting and hitting up less-than-legal spots. Not to worry, there are plenty of aerosol renegades and ruffians scaling walls at night too; this is New York after all, yo.
But for now the Bushwick Collective, as it is newly christened by wall-man Joe Ficalora, has infused an adrenaline rush of creativity inside and outside the area that is roughly bordered by Flushing Avenue, Starr Street, Knickerbocker Avenue and Cypress Avenue. The Collective has guidelines on content (nudity, politics, profanity) so the works are not completely unfettered in the true spirit of Street Art/graffiti, but most artists are happy for the luxury of time to complete their work and not look over their shoulder. With a selection of murals that are densely gathered and easy to walk through, the new collection has attracted attention from media folks (and tour guides) on the main island brave enough to venture into the gritty wilds of Brooklyn for a Street Art safari.
As Bushwick hosts its 7th annual open studios cultural event this weekend, intrepid pedestrians who march through opening parties, rooftop DJ jams, dance performances, live bands, transcendent costumery, sidewalk barbecues, open fire hydrants and more than 600 open artist studios will also be buffeted by a visual feast on the streets themselves. As long as the L Train is running (fingers crossed) you can just get off at the Morgan stop. From there it should be pretty easy for any curious art-in-the-street fan to be regaled with big and small works of graffiti, Street Art, tags, wheat-pastes, stencils, rollers, murals, and ad hoc installations all day and night.
A shout out to Arts In Bushwick, an all volunteer organization that has steadily grown and fostered an open sense of community inclusiveness each year for Bushwick Open Studios and to the many volunteers who have contributed greatly to the success of many of the cultural workers here. Without an open studios event many of these shy and quirky artists and performers would simply have stayed unknown and unknowable.
So far Bushwick still has the unbridled imperfect D.I.Y. enthusiasm of an experiment where anything can happen, but grey ladies with kooky bright colored spectacles have already begun to flip it over to inspect it with one hand while pinching their nose with the other, so savor this authentic moment. Ethereal by nature, you know the Street Art scene is never guaranteed to you tomorrow – neither is the mythical artists bohemian hamlet of New York’s yesteryear. For now we’re hopping on our bikes to catch a golden age of Bushwick before it’s repackaged and sold back to us at a price we can’t afford.
The first series of images are walls from the Bushwick Collective, followed by a series of walls that you may also see in the neighborhood.
Happy Friday! Wipe that stain off your shirt from last nights office holiday party and brush your teeth and get to work so you can be a zombie all day. For our part – it’s time for a little Street Art roundup of some things that you might like.
1. Miami in The House All Weekend
2. “Deck the Walls” at Stolen Space (London)
3. “Rinse & Repeat” Group Show at Ambush (Sydney, Australia)
4. Skewville in France, Quel Surprise! (Lille, France)
5. Jaye Moon at Paik Hae Young (Seoul)
6. “Sowing The Seeds of Love” – Just Seeds Group Show Friday (Manhattan)
7. Icy & Sot at Nu Hotel (Brooklyn)
8. Zombie Nation – Ezra Eismont
9. Herakut The Giant Story Book Project (VIDEO)
10. SWOON’s Konbit Shelter – Art in the Streets – MOCAtv (VIDEO)
Miami in The House All Weekend
This weekend the fun is for Street Art in Miami and check out some of our recommendations (Best Miami Street Art: BSA Picks Awesomest for Basel ’12) for hoofing it around that we posted Wednesday. Tonight of course there are a number of grand opening parties/after parties (including Fountain), but really just being on the street is equally fun if not funner! Thanks for that adverb from 7 year old Darnell Wilsen of Brooklyn.
For a full listing of Art Fairs, Events and Street Murals click here and here.
But not all the fun is in Miami here are a few picks of what’s happening elsewhere in the world:
“Deck the Walls” at Stolen Space (London)
Greeting cards are a nice way to say Merry Christmas to Grandma, and for suburban white middle class families to distribute photos proving that their kids are not on drugs. This is Stolen Space Christmas Show celebrates greetings cards and holiday cheer with D*Face, Word to Mother, Will Barras and David Bray among others putting their own imprimatur on Christmas. Come on, Uncle Bert and Aunt Dolittle will be there, so comb your hair, put some shoes on and get out of the house!
For further information regarding this show click here.
“Rinse & Repeat” Group Show at Ambush (Sydney, Australia)
With a collection of Australian Graffiti and Street Art Artists, “Rinse & Repeat” finds its inspiration by taking a look at the Old Masters and re-interpreting them with their own styles and techniques. An interesting proposition albeit fraught with risks – there are a few good ones here though that will delight your academic/street sensibilities. Included in the line up are: Adnate (AWOL Crew),Bridge Stehli, Cam Wall, Carl Steffan, Deams (AWOL Crew), Fintan Magee, Guido van Helten, Phibs, Shannon Crees, Slicer (AWOL Crew) , Team and Teazer.
For further information regarding this exhibition click here.
Skewville in France, Quel Surprise! (Lille, France)
Hope they realize what they have gotten themselves into, but Vertikal Gallery is hosting Brooklyn Street Art collective Skewville for a solo show entitled “Be Inside”. Considering we have had one or two Lillians in Brooklyn putting work up on the streets over the last few years, this sounds like a cultural exchange program of some kind, right?
For further information regarding this exhibition click here.
“Sowing The Seeds of Love” – Just Seeds Group Show Friday (Manhattan)
The Art Collective Just Seeds new group exhibition titled “Sowing The Seeds of Love” opens tonight at the Munch Gallery in Manhattan. The artists in Just Seeds aim to put forth their world views on a variety of issues – looking to inform and bolster you through the power of art. Participating in this show are: Jesus Barraza, Kevin Caplicki, Melanie Cervantes, Santiago Doesntsitstill, Alec Dunn, Molly J Fair, Thea Gahr, Nicolas Lampert, Josh MacPhee, Fernando Marti, Colin Matthes, Dylan Miner, Roger Peet, Jesse Purcell, Pete Railand, Favianna Rodriguez, Shaun Slifer, Chris Stain, Meredith Stern, Mary Tremonte and Bec Young.
For further information regarding this exhibition click here.
Icy & Sot at Nu Hotel (Brooklyn)
Iranian expats and brothers Icy & Sot invite you to celebrate with them their first foray in the hospitality business. The brothers designed a room at the Nu Hotel in Brooklyn and you are invited to come over tonight for some refreshments.
Artist Ezra Eismont has a Kickstarter fundraiser to help publish his Zombie Nation book, which features his zombified portraits of icons and celebrities. Seems like a heartwarming holiday thing to do, doesn’t it? Please support your local artists and small family businesses.
Herakut The Giant Story Book Project (VIDEO)
SWOON’s Konbit Shelter – Art in the Streets – MOCAtv (VIDEO)