All posts tagged: Juarez

A Mexican Mural “Manifesto”, Blackened Flag Colors, and Censorship

A Mexican Mural “Manifesto”, Blackened Flag Colors, and Censorship

Striking and massive murals have been populating walls in Mexico City by international Street Artists in the last five years thanks to the emergence of a global Street Art scene, a rise in mural festivals, and the country’s heritage and tradition of institutional support for murals that further a socio-political mission. There hasn’t been much of the latter lately, however, and it is doubtful that a new politically charged mural campaign underway in certain central neighborhoods is likely to receive tax dollars for the paint and ladders.

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Erica Il Cane. Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo courtesy © Fifty24MX )

Without sighting a specific ill to address, the new mural initiative named “Manifesto” is challenging a select group of local and international Street Artists to express their opinions on weighty and topical matters through murals, “using art as a social tool to propose, reflect and inform.” Among possible topics that might be addressed, the manifesto for “Manifesto” says, are increasing poverty, glorified materialism, the exhausting of natural resources, a fraying social web, and a dysfunctional justice system.

At the heart of the matter of course is the still turbulent national discussion surrounding the series of violent events last September that resulted in the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero, igniting a public spectacle of accusations, arrests, outrage and fear with each new gut-wrenching revelation searing the senses of Mexicans at all levels of society six months later.

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Erica Il Cane. Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo courtesy © Fifty24MX )

“This situation exposed a deep crisis in the power structures that has shaken opinions worldwide and has created a movement within our society where people are speaking out,” says Emilio Ocampo from FIFTY24MX, a gallery that shows the work of the artists and is securing walls in neighborhoods of Roma, Juárez, San Miguel Chapultepec, Centro Histórico, and Peralvillo.

Based on the response to the mural by Italian Street Artist EricaIlcane, however, “Manifesto” may be running into resistance against certain artistic speech, and censorship has suddenly appeared . The ribbon around the neck of a cymbal-banging monkey originally contained the colors of the Mexican flag but has now been painted black. The monkey was overlooking a street in a part of town central to political marches, and Ocampo says it “is always a very ‘sensitive’ part of the city.”

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Erica Il Cane. Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo courtesy © Fifty24MX )

So, he says, “The owners were a little bit scared about the ribbon around the monkey.” For those living outside of Mexico, no particular association may be made from the green, white, and red bands hanging around the monkey’s neck, but here it has meaning.

“It seemed to him (the wall owner) as a direct reference to the presidential ribbon,” says Liliana Carpinteyro, Co-Director of the gallery with Arturo Mizrahi about the significance of the “banda presidencial”. Many discussions took place between all parties and “In the end the artist agreed to change it,” she says.

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Erica Il Cane. Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo courtesy © Fifty24MX )

“You have to consider that this piece is located in the main downtown avenue where all the protesters pass through in their way to the Zócalo, where the “Palacio Nacional”, the national government headquarters, is located,” explains Carpinteyro.

Because many people were watching the creation of the wall and sharing images of it across their devices, the blackout sparked a lively reaction that included condemnation for cowardice. “This situation created a social media reaction, people were irritated and a freedom of speech dialogue happened,” says Carpinteyro, commenting on the outcry.

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Erica Il Cane. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

Unable to sway the building owner, the organizers were glad they could keep the monkey none-the-less. Ocampo sees the conversations and “the haters” as a positive development because the art and its censorship sparked just the kind of reaction people should be having right now.

“They wanted us to change the colors to black. But you know what? We like that censorship, and the reactions it produced. That also means that the message bothered someone. We love both images: with the tricolored ribbon and now with black.”

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Erica Il Cane painting it black. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

No stranger to controversy, the largely anonymous Italian BLU has similarly featured the banded colors of the Mexican flag in his mural but with bluntly acidic criticism – with the green appearing as dollars, the white as lines of cocaine, and the red a dripping liquid similar to blood. Framing the flag are military figures standing guard.

You may recall the coffins draped with dollars in the BLU mural that was censored at LA MoCA in 2011 during the “Art in the Streets” exhibition  – but so far this new one has not merited the same response.

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Blu. Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

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Blu. Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo courtesy © Fifty24MX )

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Blu. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

Just finishing her wall for “Manifesto” is the Colombian Street Artist Bastardilla, who uses a more subdued palette to depict cherubic writers with pencils for arrows afloat on an open text signed “Vivos Los Queremos”, circled by alligators in choppy waters.

Meanwhile Erica Il Cane has just completed his second mural yesterday; much less invective, but terrorizing none-the-less in its metaphorical circumstance. A snaggle-toothed and spotted member of the leopard family lowers his snapping smile upon five rabbits standing on hind legs as if to great him. One bunny even appears to offer a carrot. Another of los conejos is wearing an arm-band with the number “43”.

Ocampo says it is a little difficult to get new walls right now, but the organizers are not giving up. “Obviously the project will not be cancelled but we are still trying to get those permissions.”

“We think this incident is a reflection of the self-censorship that we decide to live in,” says Carpinteyro, “perhaps a result of living in a political system that for years has oppressed the weakest. But its also evidence that art has the capability to move people.”

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Bastardilla. Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

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Bastardilla.  Process shot. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

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Bastardilla.  Detail. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

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Bastardilla. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

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Erica Il Cane. MANIFESTO. Mexico City. February 2015. (photo © Nasser Malek Hernández)

“Manifesto” will include new works from BLU (Italy), Saner (Mexico), Swoon (US), Ericailcane (Italy), Franco JAZ Fasoli (Argentina), Curiot (Mexico), Bastardilla (Colombia), Ciler (Mexico), and Vena2 (Mexico).

Our very special thanks to Emilio Ocampo of FIFTY24MX Gallery @fifty24mx for his assistance with this article and to Nasser Malek Hernández @nssr21 for sharing his photos exclusively with BSA readers.

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post.

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Happy New Year! BSA Highlights of 2010

Year-in-review-2010-header

As we start a new year, we say thank you for the last one.

And Thank You to the artists who shared their 11 Wishes for 2011 with Brooklyn Street Art; Conor Harrington, Eli Cook, Indigo, Gilf, Todd Mazer, Vasco Mucci, Kimberly Brooks, Rusty Rehl, Tip Toe, Samson, and Ludo. You each contributed a very cool gift to the BSA family, and we’re grateful.

We looked over the last year to take in all the great projects we were in and fascinating people we had the pleasure to work with. It was a helluva year, and please take a look at the highlights to get an idea what a rich cultural explosion we are all a part of at this moment.

The new year already has some amazing new opportunities to celebrate Street Art and artists. We are looking forward to meeting you and playing with you and working with you in 2011.

Specter does “Gentrification Series” © Jaime Rojo
NohJ Coley and Gaia © Jaime Rojo
Jef Aerosol’s tribute to Basquiat © Jaime Rojo
***

January

Imminent Disaster © Steven P. Harrington
Fauxreel (photo courtesy the artist)
Chris Stain at Brooklyn Bowl © Jaime Rojo

February

Various & Gould © Jaime Rojo
Anthony Lister on the street © Jaime Rojo
Trusto Corp was lovin it.

March

Martha Cooper, Shepard Fairey © Jaime Rojo
BSA’s Auction for Free Arts NYC
Crotched objects began appearing on the street this year. © Jaime Rojo

April

BSA gets some walls for ROA © Jaime Rojo
Dolk at Brooklynite © Steven P. Harrington
BSA gets Ludo some action “Pretty Malevolence” © Jaime Rojo

May

The Crest Hardware Art Show © Jaime Rojo
NohJ Coley © Jaime Rojo
The Phun Phactory Reboot in Williamsburg © Steven P. Harrington

June

Sarah Palin by Billi Kid
Nick Walker with BSA in Brooklyn © Jaime Rojo
Judith Supine at “Shred” © Jaime Rojo

July

Interview with legend Futura © Jaime Rojo
Os Gemeos and Martha Cooper © Jaime Rojo
Skewville at Electric Windows © Jaime Rojo

August

Specter Spot-Jocks Shepard Fairey © Jaime Rojo
“Bienvenidos” campaign
Faile studio visit © Jaime Rojo

September

BSA participates and sponsors New York’s first “Nuit Blanche” © Jaime Rojo
JC2 © Jaime Rojo
How, Nosm, R. Robots © Jaime Rojo

October

Faile “Bedtime Stories” © Jaime Rojo
Judith Supine © Jaime Rojo
Photo © Roswitha Guillemin courtesy Galerie Itinerrance

November

H. Veng Smith © Jaime Rojo
Sure. Photo courtesy Faust
Kid Zoom © Jaime Rojo

December

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Joerael on the Streets of Juarez, Mexico

Joerael working with panels of his new piece. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico
Joerael working with panels of his new piece. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico

In the quiet everyday moments of this sister city to El Paso, Juárez can seem small and provincial, where neighbors share stories about sports teams or new babies or an upcoming Quinceañer while walking up the sidewalk or standing around in the corner Farmacia. Other days in the last couple of years find residents afraid and hidden as this dusty border city has become marred by the crossfire of a violent drug war that no one has found a solution to yet.

Street Artist Joerael spent some time in Juárez recently working with local friends to put up a few new pieces of Street Art just outside the industrial sector of town where international companies operate factories for goods exportable to the U.S.  In these images you can get a feeling for the small town within the city, nestled between las colonias (the neighborhoods) named Ignacio Ramos and Colinas Del Norte, street art is a family affair.  Joereal put up a complicated paper stencil of symbolic icons combining Mexican tradition, native history, cubist shapes, and storytelling to address the corrosive effect on the psyche here.  Whether specific commentary on the local situation or a more general observation of human’s incredible capacity for denying uncomfortable truths, Joereal is laboring to be heard.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico

Joerael. “The World Is On Fire Yet We Don’t See The Flames”   (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico

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