We return today to the streets of Paris for Dispatch 2 with Norwegian photographer Tor Staale Moen, who tells us that the streets are alive with stencils and aerosol paintings as much as ever. Our first Paris report a couple of days ago focused on the presentation of the female form and energy by street artist in this city. Today, it’s time for the guys.
Here we begin with one of the country’s most well-known stencil masters, C215. His portraits of unknown street dwellers, as well as important historical figures, have graced walls, mailboxes… even national postal stamps. Here C215 honors the memory of a French son of a Polish immigrant to France during the second world war, Samuel Émile Adoner (known as Milo Adoner). Deported with 7 members of his family by convoy in 1942 from the Drancy camp to Auschwitz, he was the only one to survive the Holocaust- along with an older sister who was not deported. With the help of activists and historians and artists like C215, the street can be a platform for the open exchange of ideas – and histories.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. Wasteminister – Greenpeace 2. Слава Україні! (Glory to Ukraine) 3. Bordalo II via Rafael Estefania
BSA Special Feature: Wasteminister – Greenpeace
Using Boris Johnson’s exact quotes, Greenpeace illustrates his folly, and ours.
What if all the plastic that the UK exports in a day were dumped on his head instead?
Directed by Jorik Dozy & Sil van der Woerd Concept & Production by Studio Birthplace Co-Produced by Park Village CG Production by Method & Madness Produced by Sean Lin
Greenpeace – Wasteminister
Слава Україні! (Glory to Ukraine) Via Spray Daily
The graffiti term “Throwup” takes on a different tinge as we watch our young people pushed into war, yet again. Not the rich ones of course. Here’s a wartime video from Ukraine, Nokier & Reys – who say in their Youtube description that they are doing some street bombing and delivering aid and bulletproof vest plates to Ukrainian graffiti writers defending their country.
Bordalo II via Rafael Estefania
“It doesn’t make sense for me to be related to some big brands that don’t really care about the environment. If they are not doing a good job, no way.” Wonder which brands that sponsor Street Art/graffiti culture events and publications meet this criterion?
Gone is the “Disgusting” sweatshirt. Here is the “Life is Beautiful” t-shirt. Why do we think he’s just kidding? Artur Bordalo, also known as Bordalo II, the artist/street artist from Lisbon has been telling us all to awaken to the wasting/polluting of the earth that we are doing. This overview introduces his work to a larger audience – although you could argue that his estimated 190 animal street sculptures made of recycled trash in 23 countries had made his argument more powerfully – and directly.
Ah, the women of Paris! Street artists have many interpretations of the female form, visage, and image. We have been thinking of female street artists in particular for the last few days because one of its originators in the modern street art movement, Miss Tic, passed away. Her female figures were frequently versions of herself, or her higher self – a sharp mind with a philosopher’s view, a poet’s heart, and a feminist tongue.
A pioneer in a field mainly populated by men, Miss Tic brought her clean-lined stencils of bold brunettes to greet passersby like a friend. Beginning in the mid-1980s, she leads with poetry and existential texts; insightful, entertaining, humorous, and sometimes strident. Looking at these new images from Norwegian photographer Tor Staale on the streets of Paris, we like to think that Miss Tic opened the door to invite all of these women and girls to share in public space and to have a voice.
Graffti and street artists are often targeted by owners of real estate for their illegal artworks – it’s a tradition. These days those same artists are approached by real estate companies to give their property some urban “edge”, increasing their appeal to younger populations.
In the case of one large corporation in Spain that rents student housing, the appeal has been paying off by giving their properties a ‘hip’ sort of brand, thanks to huge murals by street artists and others. The art is not deliberately political or controversial and usually is aesthetically pleasing to a wide audience.
Recently the Madrid-based collective Boa Mistura artists have left their unique artistic imprint on a 107 square meter surface of interior and exterior walls – using layered colorful typography to allude to the compendium of memories and experiences that can build during your life in one place.
“The murals represent the essence of everything that happens inside a residence: a meeting point, a place of dialogue and refuge,” say the artists say. They say that, with time, your home becomes “a place that is deeply rooted, building stories and memories for life”. In this case, the student living site is at Carlos III University Campus in Getafe.
If you are ever looking for an artist to paint your basketball court, Giulio Vesprini has that on lockdown. This is his seventh court project in recent years. Also, it would be helpful if your court is in Italy.
Calling this court of many colors “G O A L – Struttura G070” in Sant’Elpidio a Mare in Castellano, Italy, Vesprini says he has grown fond of these projects because he feels like he upgrades each small community when he creates and paints a unique scheme for each one. The artist says he believes that the courts create a sense of character for some neighborhoods and that the park itself becomes a meeting point between culture, sport, and nature.
This park already has a noted feature; “The park is famous for its astronomical observatory and my work pays homage to this fantastic place with its surrounding landscape by observing the moon, the sea, the beautiful countryside and the Via Lactea (Milky Way).”
Many thanks to: City Hall of Sant’Elpidio a Mare city Mayor: Alessio Terrenzi Sport Assessor: Alessio Pignotti.
San Luis Potosi is culturally rich, has a UNESCO protected historic downtown, and just hosted the Miss Mexico pageant last night – yet most people think of other Mexican cities before this one. It’s been an educational week discovering the city, its rooftop beer gardens, its cathedrals, it’s markets, museums, its seedy side of town with sex workers openly chatting, its gorgeous green parks that pop up every three blocks, its friendly helpful people, its mezcal, and its expansive safe walkways. This city may be one of Mexico’s most underrated.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Janin Garcin, Diego Rafel Lopez, Isela Vargas, Oscar Medina, Patricia Macias Mendizabal, Carlos Mejia, Says David, Panda, PaPa, and Celoz.
“I’ve faltered, but I haven’t given up,” says Calendonia Curry AKA Swoon. “I believe in it and I hope you do too.”
She is speaking about the much ballyhooed Braddock, Pennsylvania church which she purchased a decade ago and parlayed into an art project, or two. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Now we enter “The Sanctuary”.
Now along with her Heliotrope Foundation the street artist is proposing to convert the church into a sanctuary for persons transitioning from incarceration and programs to assist. She’ll be donating it to Ronna Davis Moore, an originator and shepherd for similar such safe havens, – but first Swoon is making sure there are new windows in the building, and is raising money via Kickstarter.
“The Heliotrope Foundation has rallied our community to fix the roof in a traditional way (no tiles this time), so now the building is secure and dry,” Swoon says, “and our next step is the windows.”
READ MORE about how you can participate in the final delivery of this planned safe haven.
“It’s a specific project in a specific place,” says Swoon, “but I believe that it is a beacon in many ways, and that its success will have a ripple effect, addressing questions like: How do we help people heal so that they no longer make harmful choices? Can participating in an effort to re-enfranchise the black community with land and assets be part of a journey of healing for people who have benefitted from our country’s brutal legacy? Can artists work alongside social workers, activists, and community organizers to create spaces that challenge cycles of intergenerational trauma and create the potential for lasting change?”
Now you can help in this new chapter for Swoon’s Braddock church, which will be called called Donelle’s Safe Haven. The church will join Z’akiyah House, a house Swoon bought and fixed up a few years ago for a similar mission.
Swoon recalls the exchange that took place to finally get to “Yes”.
Swoon says she placed the call to Ms. Davis Moore and asked, “Ronna, if we can get this church building to you with the roof and windows fixed, do you think you could take it from there, and make it into something that continues to serve your mission?” She stresses that Davis Moore took all things into consideration before answering.
“Ronna is no naive visionary like I was, so she didn’t answer right away,” says Swoon. “She looked at the space, she contacted her community, she slept on it – and then her answer came back. ‘I have a vision for what it can be, and if you can get it that far, we can take over the rest.’ ”
These are the origins of the Universe, the concept of duality, the personification of diety, the reverence for the dead, the mourning of loss, and the paralyzing fear of the devil. These weighty themes and others have regularly been addressed through masks, costumes, and dance in rituals dating back to 3000 B.C. in Mexico. During the Pre-Hispanic period, people became gods and devils, eagles and jaguars – by donning masks.
Wearing a mask in ritual or celebration, one could assume powers over the harvest, influence relationships, attempt to sway health outcomes and even predict the future. Later, pagan practices were folded into western religious practices to gain new adherents (and donations) to the church, fortifying their importance in the histories re-told to future generations.
The masks we saw this week at the National Museum of the Masks (Museo Nacional de la Máscara) in San Luis Potosi were formidable, frightening, and fascinating – and you are guaranteed that there is never a dull moment as you walk from room to room. The mechanics of artifice and imagination summon some of the strongest emotions and associations perhaps because of their human scale. Whether made for “Las Mascaradas” or in later centuries at “El Carnaval” one realizes that sophistication and skill can be revealed in the most intricate pieces with valuable materials and those of the roughest cut or bluntest application of color.
Housed in a colonial palace in the beautiful historical center of the city that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010, surprisingly this museum presentation appears to have missing texts, holes where items once were, and darkened lights – detracting from the grand history of masks in general, and Mexico’s role in particular. A final section dedicated to masks worn by wrestling performers known as luchadores is a missed opportunity to connect the ancient with the contemporary and pay homage to the powerful impact and significance these masks have had in multiple media and on modern imaginations.
Overall the masks and costumes are incredibly impressive, drawn from regions and tongues across the country and centuries. Seeing these masks in this grand former home gives visitors a greater appreciation for the role artists have played in communicating the sacred and profane, the rituals of celebration and mourning, the creation of drama and myth, and the creation of traditions.
For more information about The Museo Nacional de la Mascara, click HERE.
See Mexican Street Artist SANER, whose work is greatly influenced by the mask making/wearing traditions of Mexico:
Certain sectors of Mexican society have a women problem. More accurately, they have a lack-of-reverence-and-respect-for-women problem.
Ongoing violence against women has pushed many in civil society to fight back in an organized fashion across classes, ages, trades, professions, religious and academic spheres. With marches, protests, street art, and speeches millions of Mexican women from all sectors of life and demographics have been coming out to the streets to let their leaders know that they are fed up.
“Ni una más” is the slogan most often used; “Not one more”.
In March protests in more than 20 states across the country women called for an end to gender-based violence. The Mexican newspaper Milenio reported extensively on protests in Mexico City and included news about marches in cities large and small; Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, León and Puebla – all saw marches, as did numerous smaller cities including Morelia, San Luis Potosí, Saltillo, Cancún, Mérida, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Los Cabos, Veracruz, Zacatecas, Hermosillo, Tlaxcala and Chilpancingo.
Several women’s rights organizations have accused President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of not making the problem a top priority in his administration. Even worse, some assert that he has callously blamed the problem on the victims themselves, adding to a general perception in the country that the president really doesn’t care. According to the Guardian, ten women are killed every day in Mexico.
This week in the historic district of San Luis Potosi we saw more references to this topic than any other in the street art and graffiti on walls. The technique and format of creation varies, but the messages are empowering and they illustrate a determination and resilience of people who are advocating for change.
Slogans are stenciled on fencing, wheat-pasted graphics are stuck to door ways. Here in La Calzada de Guadalupe, a green and vibrant park that tourists flock to, a statue paying tribute to woman’s rights is adorned with fresh flowers and information about the Femenicidios (or Femicides) that terrorize people lays at its feet.
Every few blocks you can see a poster seeking missing young women taped to light posts. In a city that has such a strong reverence for history and the sacrosanct place of women in its evolution, it is striking to see such issues so fervently discussed in the art on the street.
Intergenerational conflict ebbs and flows through history – and right now, along with so many other points of societal contention, it appears to be flowing.
In a matter of a decade, for example, the term “Baby Boomer” has transformed from something to be admired to the shortened term “Ok Boomer”. Coined by their own progeny – it is meant as a dismissive, even contemptuous disregard of the generation born after WWII. Sort of ironic, given the rebellious young hippies that the Boomers once were, to see them openly derided by Millenials.
And the youth… ahh, the youth. They’ve been bothersome for years – or centuries, to be exact. 4th Century B.C.E. carries a quote from rhetoric by Aristotle about those darn kids:
“[Young people] are high-minded because they have not yet been humbled by life, nor have they experienced the force of circumstances. … They think they know everything, and are always quite sure about it.”
While we aren’t sure what the backstory is of this new photo-pasted mural by the Italian street artist Bifido, one may surmise the screaming old and young subjects have reached a tipping point in the high-intensity arguments that occur between generations. Added to this fight is that the one the young artist tells us surrounded it’s installation here in Sicily, Italy.
“This piece is the fruit of many days of work. Work often hindered both by the hosting community and by the very people who commissioned it. It was a process made up of arguments, silences and distances difficult to bridge. During my stay, many times I changed my mind about what I was going to do and I finally decided to honor some teenagers I met there, without whom I couldn’t have done anything. Those teenagers come up every single day against a narrow-minded and short-sighted mindset which they stubbornly try to change.”
It sounds like it was a very intense experience, and yet we all know the fervor the artist speaks of. Diplomats also council that the only way forward is usually some form of compromise.
“So, no compromises,” says Bifido of his experience. The name of the work also indicates the rancor that can lead us to wars – again it rings through the centuries; “everything changes but you’re always the same shit”
The sheer number of organic and community walls in Berlin means that you are exposed to a great variety of styles and opinions and perspectives through art daily on the street. There is a sense of pride about this as well – and we’re pleased to see free speech here while privately held social platforms are growing tumors of censorship. Long live the contradictory opinions that challenge our minds and our assumptions.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: 1UP, Dave the Chimp, Lacuna, Anne Bengard, Murad Subay, Caro Pepe, Sam Crew, Dafne Tree, Little Ms. Fierce, Emily Strange, Anne Baerlin, Kiexmiezn030, Cippolini187, Artmos 4, Juliana Zamoit, Paris, Urteil, and Mate X.
As the weather turns warmer, activities on the streets become more fevered, energetic, free.
Graffiti writers burst out of the doors to their apartments and houses with backpacks filled with markers and cans, looking for opportunities to express themselves, to claim space, to be seen. Last week in Spain, a crew of the most actively known writers in Catalonia got together for a graffiti jam on the embankments of the Rio Congost a few miles from Barcelona. BSA contributor and photographer Lluis Olive took a day trip to the area to document and share the results of the jam with our readers.