Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. disCONNECT, a “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover
BSA Special Feature: disCONNECT, a “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover
London / 24 July – 23 August 2020
Today a series of videos from the artists takeover of this London home, a testament to the fortitude of organizers and artists who didn’t accept “Lock-down” for an answer. Yes, everyone practiced social distancing, and no, a large public opening event could not take place. But this may serve as one welcome new model for art in the time of Corona.
The video series is expertly produced by Fifth Wall TV and a small consortium of commercial/cultural partners including HK Walls and Schoeni Projects. Details at the end of the video parade.
Mr Cenz / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
David Bray / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Aida Wilde / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Alex Fakso / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Isaac Cordal / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Herakut / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
Zoer / disCONNECT / Fifth Wall TV
To find more about disCONNECT A “Lock-Down” Artists Takeover / London / 24 July – 23 August 2020 click HERE
On Christmas we send our very best wishes to you and your
family and loved ones.
Happy Hanukkah to you as well! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Solstice! No matter your religion or non-religion is we wish you the best.
These days of big holidays can be happy times and can also be difficult times for people. We chose to take stock of the year and thank you for your support and love while looking forward to the new year and decade.
We’re also thankful that we could bring Spanish Street Artist Isaac Cordal to the Bedstuy Artist Residency in Brooklyn this month. We think his very unconventional Christmas display pictured here is entertaining and brilliant as he is; a witty critique of modern society, religious traditions, and more.
The moment you think you understand the street is the moment you begin to lose touch. Behavior on social media is also about as reliable as your Uncle Oscar after he’s had a few too many frosted rum balls and rosy red holiday cocktails. First, he’s twirling Aunt Marge to the Beatles on the living room rug, next thing he’s headbanging with your cousin Teddy to Bon Jovi on the back porch – and later you regrettably see him getting his freak on with a Missy Elliott classic as he waits his turn at the pool table in the basement.
So we rely on the numbers to tell us what is popular with our readers, and not surprisingly, you like everything! Little tiny stickers, massive murals, 3-D sculptural elements, even Lizzo running for president. These are the top ten pieces that got retweeted, shared on Instagram, commented about on Facebook and read about on the site. It’s not scientific, and it’s skewed through the lens of BSA’s POV, but these hottest pieces are still an indicator of the sentiments and tastes of fans on social; sophisticated, insightful, critical, dark mooded, conscious and funny AF. You’re just our type!
November was “Native American Heritage Month” in the US and has been since 1990 and ironically the growing right-wing extremism of the intervening decades appears to have further erased our collective knowledge of native peoples – so it’s the perfect time to find this new campaign of local natives on the streets of New York by Street Artist LMNOPI.
9. Abe Lincoln Jr. & Maia Lorian. A Presidential Parody
The public takeover of ‘street furniture’ and advertising kiosks continues as artists demand back the mindspace and public space that is sold or given to corporate advertisers or propagandizers. This duo brings complementary skills to the old phone booths with their own brand of political satire.
8. Okuda & Bordalo II Collaboration in Madrid.
This Frankenstein duet on the streets of Madrid caught our eye this spring and you liked it too. By Spain’s Okuda and Portugal’s Bordalo II. Madrid, March 2019.
7. Oak Oak in Bayonne, France.
A small stencil in Bayonne, France from Oak Oak resonates in its cheerful satire of pompous crass man-boys with bombs.
6 Lula Goce for NRNY Artsy Murals /Street Art For Mankind
The Swan and the falcon depicted on the mural are actual residents of New Rochelle. They came and liked what they saw and decided to stay and raise their families there. A fitting real story as New Rochelle is a town where immigrants are welcomed and are an important part of the community.
5. I Heart Graffiti “Lizzo for President”
A campaign for singer/songwriter/ rapper Lizzo capitalized on the stars meteoric rise in 2019 to the top of many charts. Considering the number of Democratic challengers on the debate stages this summer and fall, it seemed plausible that she was actually running. If she promised Americans to help the poor and working-class yet assured her corporate donors to screw them once in office, she could get elected too.
4. Judith Supine’s Luxury Cowboy/girl Ad Take Over
The brilliant collage surrealist Judith Supine was back with a new lasso this year, skillfully misleading audiences on the street with his free associations equating luxury fashion brands and 20th-century cancer product advertising. It’s a match made in Hell!. Welcome!
3 Nafir at Urban Spree in Berlin
Iranian Street Arist Nafir left this Instagram alienation indictment hanging in a hidden spot at Berlin’s Urban Spree playground this year, and for some reason, it struck a chord with many.
Do you want to talk about it? We’re not joking about suicide.
2. “Outings Project” for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin
It began as a way of bringing fine art pieces from inside the museum to the Street, and “The Outings Project” has brought hundreds of artworks out into the daylight this way for a decade or so, thanks to French artist Julien de Casabianca. These particular dark angels have been cast out of heaven and are just about to hit the ground across the street from Urban Nation Museum, Berlin.
1. Sara Lynne-Leo struck a chord with her pain commentary on the streets of NYC
A relative newcomer to the streets in New York, Sara Lynne-Leo keeps her small scale pieces well-placed, if your eyes are open. A comedian and social observer, her character’s pains and insecurities are played out in magnified emotional tableaus that quickly capture the severity and make light of it at the same time. This one must have really captured the zeitgeist of a troubled time across modern societies, where one pretends a wound is made bearable with an optimistic sunny perspective, even if the situation may be life-threatening.
The evolution of an artist’s practice is something we feel very privileged to observe over time and we revel in the successful steps forward that any artist takes, preferring to see it as an act of courage. Street Artist Isaac Cordal is currently taking a big jump forward, consolidating his strengths and doubling down on his convictions in ever more powerful ways for his new exhibition entitled “Ego Monuments”, now showing at Galerie C.O.A. in Montreal, Canada.
His vocabulary intact and increasingly sophisticated, something tells you that it is all synthesizing and gathering with the momentum of a storm. Here he is mocking the clique mentality of the politburo, presenting his company men as a block of distracted dullards, each separately miserable and indistinguishable in their groupthink.
The image of one of his hapless figures as a crucified businessman with slightly ghoulish smirk taps into the themes of self-important sacrifice and holy reverence of so-many corporate heroes, frankly flagellating the idea of either. Elsewhere soaring pedestals lift the individual so high that coming down would likely result in death.
As a disarming collection of
installations in the gallery you may revel at the methods Cordal devises to
communicate the collective blindness pushing us further toward oblivion, his
blunt critique of consumer culture and mindless navel-gazing is a reassuring
mediocrity that warms you gradually– as the water rolls toward a boil.
“We are the new version of
colonialism,” Cordal says his new press release, “we are waiting for climate
change by sunbathing on the beach. We live permanently exposed, controlled,
leaning out to the public balcony of the social networks and Big Brother has
become our flat-mate.”
As we examine our public statues and the messages of our massive free-standing art in parks, Cordal suggests that size matters in this age of the SELF. “Monuments to the ego would be so big that it was necessary to change the scale of these works to place them into the gallery.”
Elsewhere he comments on the sorrowful narcissism that permeates the culture, as expressed by his figures here: “Almost all the sculptures that are part of the exhibition have their eyes closed, immersed in their smartphones or virtual reality headsets. Blind to their own reality, they don’t want to see beyond their own perimeter. ”
Isaac Cordal, “Ego Monuments” at Galerie C.O.A. in Montreal, Canada is open to the general public until October 12th.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. NeverCrew – “Celsius” 2. Boulevard Paris 13 3. Isaac Cordal “Follow The Leaders” at Urvanity 2019 Madrid.
BSA Special Feature: NeverCrew – “Celsius”
The streets are awash with artists visions these days, but few play so well with technology as these new whales from Nevercrew. The Swiss duo often use their work on the street to call attention to the plight of our water bodies, and the bodies that live within them. In these new multi-layered street pieces water is also the great reveal.
“Thermochromic paint allows us to create an immediate transformation,” Christian Rebecci tells us, “and at the same time it provides a silent litmus paper of the actual situation.”
Splashing the water upon the majestic animals certainly gives a look inside their living situation. The guys are calling it “Celcius”, an oblique reference to temperature and the effect rising temperatures due to climate change in fact changes the equation.
Boulevard Paris 13
With Mehdi Ben Cheikh at Galerie Itinerrance and Jérôme Coumet, the Mayor of Paris’ 13th arrondissement, this neighborhood of Paris has become a top-shelf open air museum over the last decade or so. With the common critique of the illegal Street Art movement evolving into a legal mural system of business development, one may overlook the few programs that have actually gotten the quality and the balance right. De facto public art for the 2010s, this execution has proven to pack a powerful visual punch and a possibly timeless quality. This newly produced video helps put the entire project’s best foot forward.
Isaac Cordal “Follow The Leaders” at Urvanity 2019 Madrid.
Radiating the drama dread of Isaac Cordal’s springtime installation at Urvanity Madrid is no easy task, but this commercial shoe brand took the time and dedicated their observation skills to help viewers reflect on the absurdities of our human condition.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Evan Roth “Since You Were Born” 2. “Island” Hamburg Max Mortal and Robert Lobel 3. Isaac Cordal In-Studio Visit. Bilbao, Spain. 4. ARTRIUM in Moscow
BSA Special Feature: Evan Roth “Since You Were Born”
Graffiti Research Lab
co-founder Evan Roth has been hacking his way through life and art practice for
the mid-2000s when he was a student at Brooklyn’s Parsons, where he was
valedictorian. Now an older wiser daddy of two, he turns his attention to the
saturated everyday data pileup generated from Internet browsing. The
accumulated images, logos, maps, banner ads in the cache is like so much DNA of
the person behind the mouse, and when it is printed to display, one becomes
Our favorite term from his new exhibit?
“An alternate form of art-making,
memory-making, and storytelling”.
Project Atrium: Evan Roth
“Island” Hamburg Max Mortal and Robert Lobel
From Hamburg an animated short video by Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel explores the irresistible desire to communicate with this stop motion & 2D animation piece. Adorable exotic creatures come alive during the day to explore and seek kindred spirits.
Isaac Cordal In-Studio Visit. Bilbao, Spain.
From our visit to his studio comes this silent overview of how to turn a pig into a pig-man. “Here is where you see the craftsman at work; carefully attentive, problem-solving industry in play, possibly more at peace while he is creating than when he is left to think too much. He picks up a pink pig figurine and begins the plastic surgery, the fine reconstruction; a gentle whirring, a whittling away of snout and a defining of chin-line.”
When we were in Moscow last summer as
curators at Artmossphere, we had the opportunity to meet the director of the
new program to bring international Street Artists to paint a shopping
mall. The magnetizing force that drew
artists to hit these walls is pretty strong; just ask Shepard Fairey, Felipe
Pantone, Tristan Eaton, Ben Eine, PichiAvo, Okuda San Miguel, Pokras Lampas,
Faith47, WK Interact, Faust, and Haculla.
The endgame of vulture capitalism. The implosion of the corporate culture. The subtle differences between public housing and private jailing. The melting of the ice caps.
However you have wished to interpret the work of Spanish sculptural street artist Isaac Cordal over the last decade, you probably thought he didn’t hold much hope for our future. Or us. But he says his work is more a reflection of what he sees, and he presents it will a subtle humor.
After a recent visit to his ceramic tiled and flourescent-lit artist studio in downtown Bilbao, we realized that his public art darkness is at least as hopeful as it is critical. All around the studio he has created a variety of rehearsal spaces, vignettes, and theatrical scenarios or displays with his figures interacting with other objects that he collects along the way.
It is at least as entertaining as it is educational. His sad characters and formal scenes of concrete dystopia are also humorous in their unlikely repetition, their utter lack of comfort, their repurposing of common objects as dire ones. His critiques of consumerism, environmental degradation, militarism, corporatism merging into fascism are sometimes couched by his own understated humor and attitude of childlike play as well.
Not that people were chuckling as they encircled the austere and degrading urban jungle scene he constructed in the Spanish capital for the Urvanity 2019 showcase in the courtyard of the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid. The tribal clusters of bald men in suits were situated above, partially submerged in, or up to their chins in gravel from a bombed out lot, perhaps churned rubble created by a drone.
But did the art crowd also see the two
businessmen carrying a stretcher full of wheatgrass? The absurdity is a relief.
Are they rescuing a rectangular slab of nature? Possibly cultivating it for
farming? Blissing out on a wheatgrass juice cleanse to counter the martinis and
And what about these new human-faced pigs gathered around, looking for a trough? He presents the human/animal hybrids without comment under electric lights that glitter warmly across the compound. They could be a metaphor addressing attitudes or behaviors. They may also be a glimpse into a law-free amoral future where any new life-form you conjure can be sequenced and produced.
A graduate in sculpture at the University of Fine Arts near his hometown in Galicia, he also studied conservation of stone crafts and trained in London at Camberwell College. He was a founding member of a digital art community called Alg-a.org, a heavy metal guitarist in a band called Dismal, and a publisher of a fanzine called Exorcism.
As you learn these details about his life in the 90s and 2000s, you gain a greater appreciation for the powerful work of a guy who has emerged uniquely on the global street art stage with his Cement Elipses.
As hard driving electronic drums, bass, and cryptic lyric loops pounding from a radio on a shop stool, we witness the fastidious artist at work in the tidy studio area in this converted warehouse on a dead-end block. As he circles the center island in his overalls looking for the appropriate steel bit or resin mold he bobs gently to the beat, skillfully switching attachments on his drill and hand-designed vacuum device.
Here is where you see the craftsman at work; carefully attentive, problem-solving industry in play, possibly more at peace while he is creating than when he is left to think too much. He picks up a pink pig figurine and begins the plastic surgery, the fine reconstruction; a gentle whirring, a whittling away of snout and a defining of chin-line.
The result is rough and unrefined, proportions not sweet. He blazes through these final actions and presents his new hybrid man-pig, a satisfied glint flashing by as he blinks. The drill whirrs downward and he sits on the stool for a minute to flip over the figurine a few times and inspect it.
BSA:I imagine sometimes that people must think that you are walking around with a cloud over your head – but you’re not really. You’re a happy person who thinks seriously about the world and its issues.
Isaac: It’s not that I am choosing the topics. It is something that came by default. It is my personality. Also I make this work because I do not like the kind of society that we have now. I think about all the improvements that we have from our new discoveries – and I don’t understand what the reason is that we have all of these situations and problems. We should be a smarter society and more just.
We can find water on Mars but we can’t feed people here – what’s the reason for this? Why is our only worry about how we can have more and more and more? In that sense probably in my work it is like that because I don’t understand what we are doing, or our idea of progress. I say ‘Wow, it’s incredible that we cannot work on a common welfare.’ So the work is probably a reflection of what I do not like.
BSA:Do you think your work is conceptual art? Isaac Cordal: I don’t think so because it’s pretty direct. It’s not codified. It’s very easy to understand and with conceptual art there is a semantic idea, meanings. It’s more of a movement of art.
BSA:So you been doing this project using cement for maybe 15 years? Isaac Cordal: I don’t know maybe the first one was in 2005. Maybe before because I have some others that I made in cement that maybe go back 1999 it’s crazy how fast time goes. Because it was in 1996 that I started to study fine arts at the university in my hometown in Galicia. I also went to stone-carving school for five years. We were like slaves there because we were working with big stones – but I learned quite a lot because I learned to do more in terms of carving and modeling clay.
It was quite an experience for me. Most of the school was nice because it was more conceptual or theoretical – and it was interesting for me to learn more about contemporary art.
BSA: How do you feel about this time of your life as an artist? Isaac Cordal: The future for me I think is a little uncertain because every day is like a new year. I’m laying in the bed hiding behind my covers just looking over the edge. You say, “Oh my God another day that you have to prove yourself, do your projects.”
There are different venues and situations for artists but I think it is a kind of battle, a combat that first starts inside of you and after splashes onto others – your family or maybe your girlfriend. It’s not easy. It’s quite complex. I’ve had so many friends who were studying with me and they were talented but they couldn’t live their lives in this manner. It is a little bit uncertain. People may prefer to have a proper job. For me, probably not.
BSA:Do you have a sense about how people see your art? Issac Cordal: We have to deal with so many fears that this society is selling to us and it seems that you have to think about them. I think the people can understand my work very easily as it is very simple and representative.
BSA: What perceptions or reactions do you think they are having when looking at the “Yard” installation, for example? Isaac Cordal: The “Yard” is kind of a reflection of ourselves on a small scale. The topics are a little bit pessimistic but perhaps people can see it as a sort of reflection. They probably think about the topic that is suggested behind the installation.
BSA:Did you feel a sense of tension, given your worldview about politics and power and privilege and all of the societal structures we work within – your politics are so strong. How do you decide what to manifest? Isaac Cordal: I don’t want to do real political art. I think it is quite complicated. You have to be very clean. When you do political art you cannot make mistakes. In my work I am more interested in creating a reflection of what I see through the window. Sometimes I think I’m only speaking about myself. We are a reflection of the society and the society is always growing and evolving so probably as an artist we have to grow too.
Patti Smith begins the roll call for BSA Images of the Week in this portrait by Huetek. The punk term is loosely tossed around today, but it only applies to a certain number of people truthfully. In so many ways she is one. But she is also an author, poet, activist, and champion of the people – who she says have the power.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Adam Fu, Bella Phame, BK Foxx, Bobo, Deih XLF, Exist, Huetek, Isaac Cordal, Koralie, Koz Dos, Sixe Paredes, Smells, SoSa, UFO 907, Velvet, WW Crudo, and Zoer.
Here in Basque country you can casually drive between Bilbao (Spain) and Bayonne (France) as if you were just heading out to the shopping mall to buy new kicks. The signs of course are in multiple languages (Spanish, French, Basque) and there is much more political street art in these towns- addressing topics like fracking, racism, women’s rights and amnesty for political prisoners.
With an atmosphere that is more politically charged than other parts of the world, you can quickly forget it when you see so many rolling green hills dotted with puffy round sheep and old white farm houses along the highway.
Arriving in Bayonne we were happy to see many of the medieval small streets still boast Gothic-style cathedrals, a cloister here, the occasional castle there. It’s a walkable city with centuries of history, conservative cultural values, and a cool Street Art festival from the last few years called Points de Vue. Co-Founder Alban Morlot obliged us with a tour of the city and a multitude of murals produced over the past few years (You can read here our article of the recent 2018 edition of the festival with exclusive images from Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer).
Headquartered in the public/privately run community center/gallery called SpaceJunk since the early 2000’s Alban and director Jérome Catz have been organizing shows here and in Lyons and Grenoble as their interests and network of artists has expanded. The two met when Catz was better known as a celebrity snowboarder organizing an art show for a sponsoring brand, and Marlot attended the show as a self-described “groupie”.
With a common interest is providing artists a platform and complementary abilities with funding and collecting, the two have gone on to mount shows and festivals in their organic path through the lenses of “board culture”, graffiti, Street Art, Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism.
Shows and exhibitions over the last decade and a half have included artists such as Lucy McLauchlan, Adam Neate, Will Barras, Jeff Soto, Laurence Vallières, Robert Williams, Robert Crumb, Isaac Cordal, Vhils, C215, Slinkachu, Ron English, Zevs, Shepard Fairey, JR, Lister, Augustine Kofie, Beast, NeverCrew, Monkey Bird, Daleast, and Seth.
A topic close to our heart for a decade, they also began a new film festival for there 2017 edition of the Grenoble Street Art Fest.
Headquartered in the public/privately run community center/gallery called SpaceJunk since the early 2000’s Alban and director Jérome Catz have been organizing shows here, Lyons, and Grenoble as their interests and network of artists has expanded. The two met when Catz was better known as a celebrity snowboarder organizing an art show for a sponsoring brand, and Marlot attended the show as a self-described “groupie”.
With a common interest is providing artists a platform and complementary abilities with funding and collecting, the two have gone on to mount shows and festivals in their organic path through the lenses of “board culture”, graffiti, Street Art, Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism. Shows and exhibitions over the last decade and a half have included artists such as Lucy McLauchlan, Adam Neate, Will Barras, Jeff Soto, Laurence Vallières, Robert Williams, Robert Crumb, Isaac Cordal, Vhils, C215, Slinkachu, Ron English, Zevs, Shepard Fairey, JR, Lister, Augustine Kofie, Beast, NeverCrew, Monkey Bird, Daleast, and Seth. A topic close to our heart for a decade, they have also began a film festival for there 2017 edition of the Grenoble Street Art Fest.
As we walk through a very windy afternoon that kicks up the new construction dust that coats this neighborhood by the river, Alban talks to us about the suspicious embrace of locals and politicians of his work, the various working personalities of artists for the festival, the creation of a new currency by the Basque community, the tradition of socialist bars and political activists in the neighborhood, and his own connection to graffiti that began when he was hanging out in his hometown of Pau as a teenager with other skaters.
would listen to music, smoke a blunt, and skate all day. At some point graffiti
became my culture,” he says of those times that formed his character and
informed his aesthetic eye. “I don’t think I realized it at the time when
I was a teenager but by the time I was 25 I said to myself ‘this is my culture’.
I know I’m not the only one to feel this way but I knew that I wanted to share
this experience and make it visible for other people in my generation.”
and riding in a car to see murals, small installations, illegal graffiti, and
formally approved artworks, you may wonder how this organizer and curator looks
at his position in an evolving urban art scene that has witnessed the arrival
and departure of many over the last 15 years. He says that his work has always
centered on the artists, and that despite the chaos and change, this may be why
job is to know the artist and learn where they want to go and what their
context is,” says Alban. “Afterwards I let them express their hearts without any conditions
because I want them to have the maximum pleasure to produce their art. This way
you receive the best from them.”
You may wonder where this philosophy comes from, and ask if he always felt this way.
“I think I just love artists so much,” he says. “People at Space Junk often ask me if I am an artist and I am not. I just consider artists to be very important in our lives and in society and I think we have to put artists in the middle of the system and not like they are just observers. I think artists belong in the center of society and I think people have to learn again how to listen to what they have to say. The way they present society is a very different point of view that helps us to understand who we are, who our neighbors are and help us to drive together.”
Our sincere thanks to Alban and Jérome for their work and hospitality and we hope you enjoy some of these pics from Bayonne.
A large installation in the center of Urvanity by Street Artist Isaac Cordal went up and came down while we were in Madrid this past week, and we were fortunate to see how such a vision is realized in the midst of a modern school of architecture campus. We also witnessed the responses of guests who circled the ex-urban tale of with cocktails in hand, or in the case of sunny afternoons, reclining alongside it on the artificial green turf.
At a commercial art fair of this caliber it was thrilling, chilling, to see this large scale courtyard installation depicting absurd and psychologically dire scenarios playing out in the wake of crises. This is the kind of discourse that gives a place gravitas, and may provide a route to go forward.
But Cordal doesn’t regale us with color and vividly drawn character studies that some how charm us into a Dantean vision of circles and layers of hell. His dimly illuminated and apocalyptic tale is heavy and grey and in such slow motion you may not realize it is moving.
Here finally are the Business Class, climbing as ever, now also sinking into the toxic soil they created, the world translated as one continuous privatized prison complex.
“Urvanity seeks to explore and thus imagine possible future scenarios for this New Contemporary Art,” they say boldly in the manifesto for this art fair/cultural platform in Madrid. A thrilling nexus is created here in this college campus of architecture where art from the streets is evolving in such ways that it is invited to come in from the street.
Whatever your perspective is on this evolution, we encourage the conversation – which usually contains elements of tribalism (various), resistance, acceptance, even euphoria. During breaks from hosting the BSA Talks this weekend we are also skipping and swerving through the crowds to look at the art that galleries have on offer.
Here we offer a very quick sample of some items that have caught our eye, looked fresh, or were indicative of larger movements in the so-called “scene”. And we use the word “scene” very loosely, because there is really not such thing as a homogeneous scene, only a constellation of them which are intersecting, coalescing, and redefining themselves. Some pieces are remarkable.
Here is the past, existing side by side with the future.