All posts tagged: Jaime Rojo

BSA Images Of The Week: 07-12-20

BSA Images Of The Week: 07-12-20

Welcome to BSA Images of the Week.

The writing is on the wall, literally, throughout the street art and graffiti scene right now, and you’re forgiven if it is confusing. We’re confused. We’re also clear on a few things.

The silent storm of Covid-19 has battered our doors and now is simply caving in the roof. The open rift between races and our legacy of disenfranchisement of our own is on parade. The one party system disguised as two stands by; quietly and deliberately offering no big ideas or massive structural programs to backstop the economic collapse either, content simply to hand out the contents of all the cupboards to friends.

The prediction from the first piece below doesn’t sound like the prophetic future shock of Gil Scott Heron as it did when he released it. Rather, its a given. While social media is still relatively unregulated, that is.

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Amir Diop99, Melvin Q, Michaelangelo, Mustafina, and Pedro Oyarbide.

Melvin Q. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Melvin Q (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Melvin Q. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Amir Diop99 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Michelangelo (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist. Mustafina (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Mustafina (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pedro Oyarbide for Overall Murals. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pedro Oyarbide for Overall Murals. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pedro Oyarbide for Overall Murals. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Overall Murals. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Overall Murals (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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“Love in a tough time”: Crash x Joe Iurato at Welling Court 2020

“Love in a tough time”: Crash x Joe Iurato at Welling Court 2020

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Graff train writer, street artist, and studio artist CRASH invokes a Bible verse (1 Corinthians 13:13) here to find common ground in a nerve-wracking, sad, and polarized time in New York.

Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This year’s Welling Court Mural Project was necessarily unannounced, as organizer Alison Wallis wanted to be responsible for people’s health and avoided the possibility of crowding – inviting just a few people at a time to paint, and notifying just a few that the action would happen.

The artists didn’t always know what they would do ahead of time either, including old-skool NYC goldstar veteran CRASH and one of the last decades’ stencil talents Joe Iurato, who decided to combine their styles to see how it would play. Then they got talking, thinking and in a flash decided to collaborate.

Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Joe’s stencil was cut from a photo he had taken at the same spot at last year’s edition of Welling Court; Cey Adams had painted there last year as well and he had taken his grandchildren along for the ride. At some point, the three kids were sitting on the step ladder together and Joe snapped the photo. Iurato thought he’d bring the kids back this year via stencil.

“Joe and I didn’t talk about integrating our work together,” says CRASH, who was assisted by Gemini. “We just did it! – it looks really nice.”

Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

CRASH says he was encouraged by artist Queen Andrea to do something new for the wall instead of writing his name, which he customarily would innovate by playing with fonts, styles, colors, and techniques. When he was thinking of a word to convey his hopes for his fellow New Yorkers, he tells us that at first, he was going to do the Spanish word for love – Amor. But ultimately ‘Love’ won out.

“Each letter is a different typeface that signifies something,” CRASH tells us. “The letter ‘L’ contains a play on a thermometer because of the health crises we’re in. I wanted to keep the ‘O’ light so I used ice cream colors so it looks like an ice cream cone. The ‘V’ is falling because love is becoming something that is almost nonexistent and we need to hold onto it. The ‘E’ is just an old-fashioned graffiti style ‘E’ which is what we do,” he says, “So put it all together and it’s love in a tough time.”

Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash, Joe Iurato and Gemini. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Crash x Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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BSA Film Friday: 07.10.20 / Chip Thomas and The Navajo Nation & Radio Juxtapoz

BSA Film Friday: 07.10.20 / Chip Thomas and The Navajo Nation & Radio Juxtapoz

Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening :
1. Chip Thomas and True Artivism

BSA Special Feature: Chip Thomas and True Artivism

We’re switching it up a little this week and recommending an audio podcast with Radio Juxtapoz instead a film. We think you’ll dig it.

Chip Thomas (aka Jetsonorama), his art, and his photography has of course been featured on BSA and his work/life/activism perhaps 40 times since the late 2000s, but its usually been a blend of other peoples’ stories that we have helped him deliver.

Larry King, a Church Rock resident who was an underground surveyor at the Church Rock Uranium mine at the time the dam failed in 1979, speaks to a group of anti-uranium activists on the 40th anniversary of the spill, July 16, 1979.  Activists were present from Japan and across the U.S (photo © Jetsonorama) Jetsonorama Tells “Stories From Ground Zero”

Over the years we have facilitated his historically informed storytelling on the health and life of people on the Navajo Nation, the US dumping radioactive matter there, issues surrounding climate change, the voting rights act, the March on Selma, the favelas in Rio, his “Painted Desert” multi-year project with invited Street Artists.

Chip Thomas in Brooklyn commemorating the March to Selma. (photo © Jaime Rojo) 50 Years From Selma, Jetsonorama and Equality in Brooklyn

All the time Chip has been showing us how to bridge communities, raise awareness, through socially engaged street art and photography.

Here you’ll enjoy Evan Pricco and Doug Gillen as they dig deep through the personal and professional history of this artist, activist, and doctor. For once here you’ll hear his actual voice and trace his navigational route in storytelling about himself and the path he’s taken to bring to the surface of our consciousness the people who the US historically makes invisible.

Chip Thomas Is Telling The Story Of The Navajo Nation Through Street Art. Via Radio Juxtapoz.

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“Occupy City Hall” Turns Into “Abolition Park”

“Occupy City Hall” Turns Into “Abolition Park”

Occupy City Hall is a movement that appears to bear a very close resemblance to the Occupy Wall Street movement nine years ago. Born with the protests against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, this movement created an encampment located on Centre Street next to City Hall Park and near The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building, named after the 1990s mayor.

Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Occupy City Hall is open 24 hours a day and at the height of the protests it drew hundreds of people who joined the activists with their demands to trim the NYPD budget at least $1 billion from the police department’s current $6 billion budget. During the debates and passing of the new budget at the beginning of July the City appeared to have cut a billion, but critics say it was some fancy footwork that gave the appearance of giving citizens what they demanded.

Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We went to the camp on a day just after the encampment had experienced heavy rains and suffered an early morning raid by the police. It had an unsettled atmosphere, with some raging outbursts and some quietly warm generosity exhibited among the primarily young crowd. Guess everyone needs a sense of balance these days. The encampment has a communal library, a space for drinking tea, room for meditation and, a sign-making workshop. Most people are welcomed and it also provides a safe space for homeless people in need of a hot meal, a place to rest, and clean clothes.

Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Now these New Yorkers are calling the location “Abolition Park” and as the encampment evolves it continues to be a very well organized community of people with volunteers serving hot meals, distributing protest kits, water, and first aid for those in need of it.

Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Occupy City Hall #blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson and Marka 27 Speak Against Police Brutality

Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson and Marka 27 Speak Against Police Brutality

It’s when you have an opportunity to see a piece of art on the street in person. The combination of portraits, graphic design, and text treatments may spring more from the imagination of those in the design fields but up close you can get an appreciation of the warmth and vulnerability of the figures as well. The stories that are told are down to earth, universal, and here for you to bear witness to.

Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson, and Marka 27. “No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA featured the video that accompanies this work last week for BSA Film Friday

“Quoting Isaiah 54:17 in the Bible, this mural inspires us and girds us and reminds us that when it comes to systemic racism the battle is not for the faint of heart. Can we get an ‘Amen’?”

Big up to Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson, and Marka 27.

Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson, and Marka 27. “No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson, and Marka 27. “No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson, and Marka 27. “No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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John Fekner (with Don Leicht and Brian Albert) “Hymn 2020” / Welling Court Mural Project NYC

John Fekner (with Don Leicht and Brian Albert) “Hymn 2020” / Welling Court Mural Project NYC

A recent street stencil work by John Fekner, Don Leicht, and Brian Albert is a reprise, a sad reminder that the legacy of racism in the country has been with us for what seems like forever. During another chapter of Fekner’s creative life on New York streets he sang a visual HYMN to the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the wake of the murderous brutality of white New York teens in Queens. Now thirty three years later the viciousness of police violence against black citizens on display can make you think nothing has changed fundamentally, even though we know it has.

We asked the artist how this HYMN at the Welling Court Mural Project this summer is a counterpart to the HYMN project more than three decades ago – a collaboration by John Fekner and Brian Albert.

John Fekner and Brian Albert. Hymn. Queens, New York. 1987. (photo courtesy of John Fekner)

HYMN  was a collaboration by John Fekner and Brian Albert. The project constructed on an embankment overlooking the Grand Central Parkway in Queens was intended as a call for peace, an immediate response to the growing racial tensions over the death of a young black man in New York City. A gang of white youths in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens brutally beat three black men whose car had broke down in the neighborhood, chasing one of the three, 23-year-old Michael Griffith from Bedford-Stuyvesant, to his death when he was hit by a car crossing the Shore Parkway on December 20th, 1986.

The piece consisted of a tombstone-shaped concrete electrical power box painted black with the word “HYMN” stenciled in 12-inch high white letters. Flush with the ground, in front of the ‘tombstone’ was a translucent 40” x 50” photographic print portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., illuminated from a light source in the ground. The electricity necessary for the underground lighting was tapped from a streetlamp, which switched on at sunset.

Hymn was installed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 19th, 1987. Passing motorists could see the work both during the daytime and at night when it transformed into a subtle glowing image of harmony and peace. The illegally sited work remained for a few weeks and was eventually removed from the parkway embankment.”

John Fekner, Don Leicht, and Brian Albert. Hymn. Welling Court Mural Project NYC. Queens, NYC. June 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

John Fekner (with Don Leicht and Brian Albert) Hymn 2020 (Rest In Power) (above) is intended to be a solemn reflective message to show empathy and compassion to the local community and beyond, during this time of protest, police reform and positive change.


(Installation by Dante, Roman & Dave Santaniello at Welling Court Mural Project NYC)

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Largest Piece by BustArt in Tegel, Berlin for Urban Nation

Largest Piece by BustArt in Tegel, Berlin for Urban Nation

Massive and bright and staring at the summer sky, the new mural in the Tegel area of Berlin is quintessential BustArt. Two decades after starting his mark-making as a Swiss graffiti writer, his style borrows elements from that classic graffiti mixed with cartoons, pop art, and perhaps an eye toward others like Crash and D*Face who themselves point to the Roy Lichtenstein.

BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)

His  brand of ‘neopop” mixology is unique to him of course, and the tireless effort, scale of work (40 meters x 16 meters), and relative speed that he works sets him in a category of his own.

“This is the biggest wall I have painted so far and I could not be more happy with the outcome,” he says of the two week gig. The confident command of visual vocabulary, character and line work tell you that this new mural is a challenge BustArt was more than ready for.

BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)

Bustart also wants to shout out his mate @sket185 for the enormous help, the folks at @yesandpro who orchestrated along with Urban Nation, and we all give thanks to photographer Nika Kramer for sharing her work here with BSA readers.

BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
BUST Art in Tegel Berlin / One Wall Project. Urban Nation Museum. (photo © Urban Nation/Nika Kramer)
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BSA Images Of The Week: 07.05.20

BSA Images Of The Week: 07.05.20

Welcome to BSA Images of the Week.

Hanging tough is what New York does, and the art in the street is 10X more potent than six months ago. It’s almost cliche to say that Street Art and graffiti are about a conversation on the street, but the words and sentiments being expressed right now on monuments, edifices, and in doorways are a direct reflection of the high-emotion, high-stakes conversations that we must have about the true state of race, freedom and social mobility in 2020 US.

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Art 2 Heart Art, Calicho Art, Chris RWK, Col Walnuts, Eortica, Irena Kenny, Jilly Ballistic, John Ahearn, Know Justice, Sac Six, Scratch, Shiro, Top Bun Artist, Zachary Ginsberg, and Zero Productivity.

Jilly Ballistic (photo © Jaime Rojo)
#blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
#blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
#knowjustice (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Top Bun Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
#blacklivesmatter (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Its The Fucking Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Zachary Ginsberg. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Zachary Ginsberg (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Shiro, Erotica, Scratch. Hunts Point. The Bronx. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Art 2 Heart Art . Calicho Art (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Irena Kenny (photo © Jaime Rojo)
John Ahearn. Hunts Point. The Bronx. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Col Walnuts (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Zero Productivity, Chris RWK (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Sac Six (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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BSA Film Friday: 07.03.20

BSA Film Friday: 07.03.20

Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening :
1. “No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper” Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson, and Marka 27

BSA Special Feature: “No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper” Cey Adams, Sophia Dawson, and Marka 27

Quoting Isaiah 54:17 in the Bible, this mural inspires us and girds us and reminds us that when it comes to systemic racism the battle is not for the faint of heart. Can we get an ‘Amen’?

“No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper” By Murals For The Movement, Cey Adams, I’m Wet Paint and Marka 27 is dedicated to the victims of police brutality and mass incarceration.

Shout out to @ow.ley for creating the video.

“No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper”

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Lady Pink Blossoms in Welling Court Mural Project NYC – 2020

Lady Pink Blossoms in Welling Court Mural Project NYC – 2020

Free spirit Lady Pink has sprinkled a summer bouquet across a wall here with friends in Queens for the Welling Court Mural Project this year. The Ecuadorian-American artist is known by many for her graffiti writing on trains in the 1970s and 1980s and her latter day murals empowering women, exploring the cityscape – and themes of rebellion or self-expression.

Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Here she has decided to keep it simple for summer 2020, perhaps in the face of the complexity of our lives at the moment. These colors and motifs of flora are reassuring and soothing – possibly to give a salve for our collective wounds as she subtly pays tribute to those names of black and brown people brutalized by our system.

The city is hurting, black people are hurting, poor folks are hurting. In times like these, Lady Pink and her painting family know what you need, because they need it too.

Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Shout out to Alison Wallis for organizing this years Welling Court Mural Project, despite the challenges of Covid-19. Read more about the project at wellingcourtmuralprojectnyc on Instagram.

Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Pink with the crew. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Martha Cooper)
Lady Pink. Welling Court Mural Project NYC – June 2020 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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disCONNECT / Alex Fakso / Between The Collective And The Individual.

disCONNECT / Alex Fakso / Between The Collective And The Individual.

The marauding crowd, faceless and multi-podel, rumbling with half ideas and mislead missions. If you have lived in cities you know the feeling of being swept along inside one as it hurtles down the stairs, up the escalator, through the lobby, across various stadia.

Alex Fakso. Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

We like it because we feel like we are part of something bigger, something that must have a logic of its own. In losing yourself, in becoming one with these others, we are reassured for that moment that there is something larger and of consequence, if only to break apart again into one once more.

Alex Fakso. Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

Isolation and pandemic have scarred many minds in the last few months because they’ve been couple with fear, but these events have opened a few minds as well because we’ve had time to examine, correlate, critique, observe our own impulses and needs and wants.

Artist Alex Fakso tells us that he used to be an avid traveler for his work, relying perhaps on incessant movement for his sanity – moving from city to city sort of mindlessly. He says he may have taken some things and people for granted, including himself. and the current world crisis has allowed him to reflect on what was left for granted by many people including himself.

Alex Fakso. Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

In his installation for the disconnect exhibition in London, he says these ideas of panic and isolation are at the core. A distanced exhibit, he’ll be happy to see you contemplate the images of crowds placed here. He hopes it will be “a dive into a world which has dramatically changed,” he says, and one in which, “as individuals, we currently long to belong again.”

Alex Fakso. Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)

Participating artists:

Adam Neate (UK)
Aida Wilde (Iran)
Alex Fakso (Italy)
Mr.Cenz (UK)
David Bray (UK)
Herakut (Germany)
Icy and Sot (Iran)
Isaac Cordal (Spain)
Vhils (Portugal)
ZOER (Italy)

Alex Fakso. Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)
Alex Fakso. The Couple. Photo on vinyl on old reclaimed photos. Schoeni Projects / HK Walls. London. (photo © Ian Cox)
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Dave The Chimp @ Urban Nation Berlin: Love Is Fuel

Dave The Chimp @ Urban Nation Berlin: Love Is Fuel

When Jan Sauerwald, Urban Nation’s Artistic Director, began making plans in earnest for the new facade for the museum, he was pondering what the art on the walls should convey. Given the difficult Covid-inflicted times we are living in he thought that possibly something fun and humorous was what Berlin needed. Indeed, humor has the power to provide levity, but humor is also an exceptionally effective vehicle to impart knowledge and spread a positive message without appearing to be lecturing.

So it seemed most appropriate to gift the denizens of Berlin a fresh, humorous new mural, especially considering that collectively, the whole city had just endured months of lockdown, and they are just now slowly coming out to play outdoors and drink some beers with friends in the parks. Luckily Sauerwald knew who to call. Dave The Chimp. A Berlin-based artist, illustrator, and skateboarder who is known on the streets of Berlin for his simple but street-smart orange characters shaped like a bean. He calls them “Human Beans”.

We reached out to Dave The Chimp and asked him a few questions about the artists he invited to paint along with him and about his experience being able to get up and to get dirty again on the streets.

Dave The Chimp. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

BSA: How did it feel to get up after the lockdown? How was the experience of working outdoors for the first time in many weeks?

DtC: I don’t work outside often. My work practice is constantly changing, sometimes painting, sometimes drawing comics or creating skateboard graphics, writing the text for zines, and in the past, I’ve organized costumed wrestling parties, played in a punk band, directed pop videos and tv commercials, compiled books… painting outside is just one of a constantly changing set of fun problems to solve!

I personally enjoyed the lockdown. I started meditating again, I was stretching and doing yoga and working out almost every day. Sitting on my balcony in the April sun, reading, catching up on all the movies I don’t have time to watch, helping plug the gaps in my son’s education, trying new recipes. All my projects and exhibitions were canceled so I figured “ok, guess I’m on holiday for a few months, so let’s forget about work”. I realized that this was a very unusual time, so why would I try and carry on with my usual life? 

Germany locked-down early. Berlin was quick to organize an emergency fund for freelance workers, so most were able to receive money that meant they could survive a few months without worry. This lessened the fear. Fear shuts down the immune system, and during a pandemic, the one thing you need is a strong immune system!

It was great to come out of the lockdown here and be straight on a worksite, mingling with people, getting dirty, laying in the street. After two months of washing my hands constantly, it was fascinating to feel just how grimy I get just living a normal life! We’re a bunch of filthy little monkeys!

Dave The Chimp, Mina, Señor Schnu, Matt Jones, and Humble Writerz. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

BSA: UN invited you to paint the UN facade for the first time. In turn, you invited four artists to join you. What were your criteria for inviting the other artists?

DtC: Due to Corona, the new museum exhibition had to be delayed until September. They had planned to paint the facade for this exhibition with other artists, so had the city permit to put the lift in the street at the end of May. The crisis has meant that all government offices are running slowly, and a new permit wouldn’t be possible until early 2021. Jan called me and asked me if I could paint the facade two weeks before work had to begin!

The first idea was for me to paint it with Flying Fortress, but unfortunately, he wasn’t available. This sowed the idea of working with others in my mind and I figured “if it would have been fun painting with one friend, why don’t I invite four?” I chose people I like, and whose work I like, and that I could see working with the theme I wanted to portray on the wall.

Originally I had a team of two boys and two girls, but one of the girls wasn’t available, and I couldn’t find another making the kind of thing I needed. Luckily my friend Matt Jones had recently sent me a zine of his doodles, and I saw how some of these could work as a kind of ancient alien language etched into my Stone Henge “stargate”. I invited Mina to paint her powerful females as prehistoric rock paintings, got my skateboard buddy Humble Writerz to chisel the faces he bombs in the streets into stone columns, and had Señor Schnu paste his posters onto boulders. And then I added my own characters so it looked like they were doing all of this work! 😉

Dave The Chimp. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

BSA: The mural has a playful tone to it which goes well with your character but it also has a message of a team effort in order to build a better world. Is that right?

DtC: I’m pretty sure we don’t need to use fear and anger to change the world. As PiL said, anger is an energy, but I’ve learned that it’s one that is soon burnt out. Much better to try and make the world a better place with love as your fuel. There’s an endless supply of love in all of us. Political action doesn’t need to always be a raised fist, a black, red, and white stenciled shout at the world. Why can’t protests be a fun day out, just like a festival, a carnival of change?

BSA: Can you tell us about the genesis of the concept for the mural? Did you have a brainstorming session with the other artists or did you know what you wanted and just told them your idea and they jumped into action?

DtC: I pretty much see complete ideas in my head. I knew I wanted to paint rocks, and I knew the work of the artists I wanted to paint with. And I had a week to work out the design of an 8 meter high by 50-meter long wall, with three doors, six windows, various corners, and parts inaccessible by the lift! I didn’t have time for brainstorming! I came up with concepts, told the artists what it was I’d like them to do, and then trusted them to do their thing. I had way too many things to think about – five artists with different schedules, a lift that took 20 minutes to move each time, and three days when we were not allowed to use the lift, created an organizational nightmare! Plus I had to try and paint huge structures that I’d never painted before, and 25 characters, all doing different things. But that’s kinda what I like. Painting is setting myself problems, then trying to solve them. It’s fun! If I know what I’m doing, how exactly to do something, and how it will turn out, in advance, then it just becomes work. Better to keep yourself on your toes, make it play! 

Dave The Chimp. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)

BSA: Where do you see public murals/outdoor murals going after Covid-19 and the worldwide protests about racial injustice, racism, and police brutality?

DtC: I’ve always thought of graffiti and street art as a political act. It is a reclaiming of the commons. In our cities only those with the money to buy the walls around us – public space – get to have a voice. Advertising is designed to make you require more, to feel like what you have, who you are, is not enough. This is psychological oppression and we are exposed to it thousands of times a day. If we can use walls to make people feel less than, can’t we also use them to feel greater than, to inspire, to cheer, or just simply to help people be satisfied that they are ok? Like Picasso, I believe art can be a weapon to wage war. Bad people win when good people stay silent.

I have been known to make political work and to use a lot of slogans and messages in my work, but right now, in 2020, I find that I am overwhelmed with things that need to be spoken about, with things that are being spoken about, and, frankly, I don’t feel able to speak. Things are changing so quickly. It’s all too confusing. So I am trying to keep my use of words to a minimum, and to try and communicate on a more subtle level. The rocks in this mural represent our belief in the human-built structures and systems of life. The scaffolding, the planks and ropes, represent just how fragile all these systems are, as we have been seeing, and show our need to work together to make life function.

A mural like this couldn’t have been made without a huge network of people. The group of artists I worked with, the production crew at YAP, the lift hire guys, the factory workers that made the brushes, the chemists who brewed the paint, the people that built the wall, the people that cooked our lunch, the people that farmed the food for our lunch, the people that made the bikes we rode to the site every day, that built the roads we rode on… thousands of people are involved in every single human action.

The world is a crazy place right now, and it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together. Maybe it’s better we stop finding ways to divide ourselves, and instead unite. 

Together we are stronger. 

Dave the Chimp. Berlin, Germany, June 2020

Dave The Chimp. Mina at work. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Matt Jones at work. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Humble Writerz. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Mina. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones. Detail, Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones, Mina. Detail.Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones, Mina. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
Dave The Chimp. Señor Schnu. Matt Jones, Mina. Urban Nation Museum. Berlin, Germany. June 2020 (photo © Urban Nation by Nika Kramer)
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