Here it is! Our 2013 wrap up featuring favorite images of the year by Brooklyn Street Art’s Jaime Rojo.
Before our video roundup below here is the Street Art photographer’s favorite of the year, snapped one second before he was singled out of a New York crowd, handcuffed, and stuffed into a police car – sort of like the Banksy balloons he was capturing.
“Among all the thousands of photos I took this year there’s one that encapsulates the importance of Street Art in the art world and some of the hysteria that can build up around it,” he says of his final shot on the final day of the one month Better Out Than In artist ‘residency’ in NYC this October. It was a cool day to be a Street Art photographer – but sadly Rojo was camera-less in a case of mistaken identity, if only for a short time.
Released two hours later after the actual car-jumping trespasser was charged, Rojo was happy to hear the Chief Lieutenant tell his officer “you’ve got the wrong man”, to get his shoelaces back, and to discover this photo was still on his camera. He also gets to tell people at parties that he spent some time in the holding cell with the two guys whom New York watched tugging down the B-A-N-K-S-Y.
When it came to choosing the 112 images for the video that capture the spirit of the Street Art scene in ’13, we were as usual sort of overwhelmed to comb through about ten thousand images and to debate just how many ‘legal’ versus ‘illegal’ pieces made it into the mix. Should we include only images that went up under the cover of the night, unsanctioned, uncensored, uncompromised, unsolicited and uncommissioned? Isn’t that what Street Art is?
Right now there are a growing number of legal pieces going up in cities thanks to a growing fascination with Street Art and artists and it is causing us to reevaluate what the nature of the Street Art scene is, and what it may augur for the future. You can even say that from a content and speech perspective, a sizeable amount of the new stuff is playing it safe – which detracts from the badass rebel quality once associated with the practice.
These works are typically called by their more traditional description – murals. With all the Street Art / graffiti festivals now happening worldwide and the growing willingness of landlords to actually invite ‘vandals’ to paint their buildings to add cache to a neighborhood and not surprisingly benefit from the concomitant increase in real estate values, many fans and watchers have been feeling conflicted in 2013 about the mainstreaming that appears to be taking place before our eyes. But for the purposes of this roundup we decided to skip the debate and let everybody mix and mingle freely.
This is just a year-end rollicking Street Art round-up; A document of the moment that we hope you like.
Ultimately for BSA it has always been about what is fresh and what is celebrating the creative spirit – and what is coming next. “We felt that the pieces in this collection expressed the current vitality of the movement – at least on the streets of New York City,” says photographer and BSA co-founder Rojo. It’s a fusillade of the moment, complete with examples of large murals, small wheat pastes, intricate stencils, simple words made with recycled materials or sprayed on to walls, clay installations, three dimensional sculptures, hand painted canvases, crocheted installations, yarn installations etc… they somehow captured our imaginations, inspired us, made us smile, made us think, gave us impetus to continue doing what we are doing and above all made us love this city even more and the art and the artists who produce it.
A Dying Breed, Aakash Nihalini, Agostino Iacursi, Amanda Marie, Apolo Torres, Axel Void, Bagman, Bamn, Pixote, Banksy, B.D. White, Betsy, Bishop203, NDA, Blek le Rat, br1, Case Maclaim, Cash For Your Warhol, Cholo, Chris RWK, Chris Stain, Billy Mode, Christian Nagel, Cost, ENX, Invader, Crush, Dal East, Damien Mitchell, Dase, Dasic, Keely, Deeker, Don’t Fret, The Droid, ECB, el Seed, El Sol 25, Elbow Toe, Faile, Faith 47, Five Pointz, Free Humanity, Greg LaMarche, Hot Tea, How & Nosm, Icy & Sot, Inti, Jilly Ballistic, John Hall, JR, Jose Parla, Judith Supine, Kremen, Kuma, LMNOPI, London Kaye, Love Me, Martha Cooper, Matt Siren, Elle, Mika, Miss Me, Missy, MOMO, Mr. Toll, Nychos, Okuda, Alice Mizrachi, OLEK, Owen Dippie, Paolo Cirio, Paul Insect, Phetus, Phlegm, Revok, Pose, QRST, Rambo, Ramiro Davaro, Reka, Rene Gagnon, ROA, RONES, Rubin, bunny M, Square, Stikki Peaches, Stikman, Swoon, Tristan Eaton, The Lisa Project 2013, UFO 907, Willow, Swill, Zed1, and Zimer.
“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.”
The streets have always been a powerful venue for everyday men and women to advocate their political views and to be visible, to be heard, to champion and to demand. Today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and all that it achieved and how we all changed as a result of it, even as we recognize how far yet we have to go for everyone to be treated fairly and the great cost the struggle exacted from many. This march had an impact on the American people like none other and even now the struggle for freedom, equality, and economic justice continues here and around the world as the words of Martin Luther King Jr. remain an inspiration to many.
The Loss Prevention. John Lewis. March On Washington. August 28, 1963. (photo @ Jaime Rojo)
Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” Speech
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
The artists are having breakfast at the Goat Farm, and Georgie is yelping in his cage. The year old beagle wants to get out and jump on everybody’s lap and help clean off their plates with his pink tongue and but for right now Emily is looking at the weather channel on her laptop and transfixed by the forecasted rain that could hit tonight’s block party in Edgewood and Know Hope is debating a second helping of scrambled eggs. Somebody plows through the screened door with fresh copies of the local arts newspaper that features JR on the front and the Living Walls 2013 official map inside, and assorted bearded bros are pawing through their iPhones to answer emails and catch Instagram shots of the walls that have gone up so far here in Atlanta.
The Goat Farm is the central meeting spot for the 20 or so artists in this, the 4th Living Walls festival, and you are free to wander the grounds of this 19th-century complex of industrial buildings that made cotton machinery and munitions during two of its previous iterations. Now it has a few hundred artists studios, performance spaces, and cool little places to hang out and talk about the new walls by artists like 2501, Inti, Agostino Iacurci, and many others in neighborhoods like Summer Hill and Edgewood. Naturally, you can also hang out with the goats in their penned off area or be entertained by the personality-plus chickens that walk freely around the sprawling grounds.
Last night was the kick off Movie Night party at Callenwolde Arts Center and BSA gave the room of 200+ guests an entertaining tour of about 15 Street Art videos from around the world called “Street Art in Motion”. After giving a bit of history about BSA and our involvement with the arts in general and Street Art in particular we introduced three categories that we think represent Street Art in video right now – “Explorers, Experimenters, and Anti-heroes”. Drawn from the archives of BSA Film Friday we looked at works from a group in Tel Aviv, Vhils in Brazil, Vexta in India, Conor Harrington in Norway, Creepy in the Australian outback, MOMO in Jamaica, Various and Gould in Instanbul, and Jay Shells in Brooklyn, among others.
It was great to invite special guest RJ Rushmore from Vandalog introduce a video from Evan Roth and we ended the hour and half presentation with the most popular video of the year so far, “Infinite” featuring Sofles slaying wall after wall in a mammoth abandoned building – a perfect combining of stop action editing and low-tech special effects that pulls together all three of our themes of exploration, experimentation, and a bit of the badass anti-hero stance. By the time the drums and bass stopped pounding on the speakers we were ready for a visit to the bar and some excited talking about music, spraycans, and the city’s longest continually operating strip club, the Clermont Lounge.
Living Walls 2013 typifies the rolling feast of Street Artists, neighborhood and volunteering that can put together like-minded creators and fans in a harmonious collaborative way. With so many energetic and organized volunteers, its just a good vibe, and the work on the walls reflect a quality and a developed sense of concept that sets up Living Walls Atlanta as a standard of sorts that you may want to study. Even when your car battery goes dead and you need to find a new one to continue touring, its great to see that there is a genuine sense of that thing called southern hospitality here in the city, and we have already met some great neighbors on the street who are happy with the artists and the walls, some even honking and giving the “thumbs up” from their passing cars.
Here’s our first group from Living Walls Atlanta this year. Hope you dig.