In the US, families of military veterans say, “Freedom isn’t free.” It refers to the enormous amount of sacrifice people have to make – military and civilians alike – to guarantee that societies provide a fulsome measure of freedom and autonomy to their citizens. Likewise, free speech has to be fought for periodically to ensure that people have it – because it can be so swiftly taken away if we are not vigilant.
In our third installment of the murals painted in February in Barcelona, Spain, we are reminded that historically, the artist is often one of an oppressive government’s targets. It is somewhat sequential, the positions and stations in society who gradually are targeted for slurring and silencing. Academics, clergy, the press – a building degradation of respect for institutions and trust across the board.
These artists express their opinions in defiance of silencing because, inherently, they fight for everyone’s right to freedom of speech and expression, regardless of our comfort or discomfort with the ideas expressed. Because they must.
Many people in New York and around the world breathed a collective sigh of relief this week when our native son from Queens got on that helicopter with his immigrant wife and A. left the White House and, B. flew to Florida.
But for this week anyway, the streets are saying let’s give Biden and Harris and this new administration the congratulations and the honeymoon they deserve. We wish them (and us) the best!
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Anna is a toy, Bastard Bot, CRKSHNK, Elfo, Jason Naylor, Lunge Box, Praxis VGZ, and Queen Andrea.
Graffiti and street art are cyclical in many ways – reflective of society, urban planning, politics, current events, demographics… Currently the city of Barcelona is pushing hard on cleansing itself of the wild graffiti and street art that brought it so many tourists 15 years ago.
With the pendulum of real estate development and gentrification swinging from aesthetic chaos to antiseptic order, street artists are changing tactics as well, opting for smaller pieces that are quickly and surreptitiously installed.
“The Raval / Ciutat Vella neighborhood used to have 4 or 5 ‘orchards,’” says photographer Lluis Olive-Bulbena, using a slang term to describe empty areas between blocks where freelance painters like to adorn abandoned walls. “Nowadays there are only one or two.”
We’re pleased to introduce a number of artists specializing in smaller works; artists with names like BL2A, Karma, and Radical Playground. Each has their own style and each are part of a new wave using a smaller canvas, sometimes ingeniously; the sticker, the stencil, paste-ups, even ceramic – on the streets of Barcelona.
News reports are telling a story about an uptick in domestic violence because families are confined in closed quarters for long periods of time during the COVID-19 lock-downs across the world. A tendency toward abusive behavior is further complicated by economic insecurity, lack of food, and generalized fear. There is help available, please see below for resources.
Painting on the street for only eleven years, artist Tamara Djurovic made a sterling impression wherever she created her cerebral diagrams, empathic figures, dream-like compositions, frank diary entries, societal critiques and sly metaphors – most often in a monochrome palette.
For such a short career, how is it possible that she enabled her work to speak volumes to us and about us from so many walls? And how can we not feel shaken by her passing today?
Born in Argentina and living for many years in Spain, she created her nom de plume Hyuro from her given family name. After first working with street artist Escif she was warmly adopted by an ever-growing street art family, her subtle humor and elegant self-effacing demeanor rather effortlessly opening doors over time to paint murals on the streets of the Americas, Europe, Africa… Her practice was studied, her process intentional, her dialogue with the passerby sincere.
Now she has passed in Valencia after struggling with a long illness for years, leaving behind a family, close friends, and many fans. You can also safely say she leaves a legacy as an artist, a colleague, and a person. We raise a toast to Hyuro, with many thanks, and if you can hug somebody, tell them they are loved.
Art in the streets around the world has been signaling the beginning of a new US presidential era, even as Trump continues to deny it.
Many, though not all, leaders from countries around the world have offered congratulations and words of praise and recognition to Joe Biden as the next president. In some cases artists have taken to the streets to express their support with their art – as in the case here by Barcelona-based TV Boy.
The pose recalls the poster for the movie Rocky V, which may be the number of times Biden ran for president before he finally won. We’ll have to confirm with our fact-checkers.
We continue to see a dissolving of previous tensions between the worlds of graffiti writing and mural artists and other disciplines of art-making as we travel around cities around the world. Artificial divisions have persisted, and indeed the lived experience of graff and street art and mural making are distinctly different in certain respects, but the piece is the piece, regardless of style, and each creator can be an ambassador with a message.
Our own philosophy is if art is going to have the transformative power that we believe it can have on all of our societies, families, and institutions we need to dissolve artificial divisions in the creative community as well – as they serve little constructive purpose. As art in the street usually reflects society at large, we have our own challenges with classism, sexism, and racism as well.
So it’s great to see the continuance of brotherhood and sisterhood at small neighborhood festivals like the 3rd Edition of the Kronos Art and Arts Santa Mònica here in an area of Barcelona during the third week of October. One core philosophy at this festival this year was to re-consider the future of art and its role by actively consulting kids in defining what art is, and what it could be.
“Be aware of the role of ARTIST and his work in our PRESENT, without
judging, without imposing criteria, with the sole conviction that what we are
creating is the prologue of the FUTURE in the ART”
During their ‘live painting’ events at 3 Chimney Plaza (Plaza de las 3
Xemeneies) it was the men and women, graffiti writers and street artists – all working
side by side. Part of a much larger group of events that included 70+ artists,
photography, sculpture, performance, music, video art, cinema, talks, and workshops,
these painters just did their thing and had a good time.
“Becoming cultural activists, taking the reins of how to express ourselves and about what to express ourselves through art; and by doing so becoming key pieces for the freedom of creation, we become aware as spectators, as thinkers, as artists, as a species. KRONOS ART BCN 2020 is a wager to the freedom of society through the freedom of the artist; free to catch everything that interests and surrounds them, without fear of being judged and without judging the protagonists of their artwork. Free to BE in all the aspects that make us human, thus turning the PRESENT into the prologue of a FUTURE world full of diversity.”
Our thanks to photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena for capturing a few of the artists at work at the plaza.
running! It’s 20 meters along this wall on the inner courtyard of
the Bac de Roda Housing Cooperative in Poblenou, a neighborhood of Barcelona,
The new stop-action installation is meant to freeze for a moment the emotions and sensations that can occur during migration – which many people are forced today to do all over the world, whether they are escaping from hardship, fear, war, environmental extremes, or decimated economies.
Vázquez wants us to think about the distance that people run, and how crossing
a simple national boundary can be the difference between life and death. If you
studied Western art history, these figures may also call to mind warriors and
heroes of so-called classical antiquity.
says he has captured “through a sequence of movements, different snapshots
which reflect a mosaic of unique expressions.” This, he says, is “a figure who
symbolically represents all who they have made a migratory journey risking
Cadiz, now living in Barcelona, Vázquez is participating in the fourth edition
of MURAL / LOCAL, an artistic action that annually renews this wall. He would
like to thank his subject Mourad as well as his fellow artist Magda Cwik, who
assisted him in hanging the new installation. Our thanks go to photographer Lluis
Olive Bulbena, who shares his photos of this new work with BSA readers.
Under the initiative of Barcelona based street artist, Xupet Negre, around 15 artists responded to an invitation to participate in the project #theblackwallmovement at Parc De 3 Xemeneies in Barcelona.
Police brutality is not a foreign concept in Barcelona and the images coming out from the United States have hit a nerve within the creative community of this Catalan Metropolis, we are told, and the artists here decided to show their support for the protest against racism in Barcelona by painting these walls.
Photographer and frequent BSA contributor Lluis Olive shared his photos of the project with us.
The anonymous artist(s) who painted the mural above, titled “Here the police also kill” decided to paint the names of a number of the immigrants killed by the police in Barcelona since the ’90s. An individual who happened to be on the scene where the mural was painted and wishes to remain anonymous related the what unfolded once the police got wind of the mural:
“Here the police also kill…and censor!
Yesterday I visited Parc De 3 Xemeneies in Barcelona to support #theblackwallsmovement event organized by Xupete Negre. I wasn’t there as an artist, but rather in support of my fellow artists who were participating and painting in the event.
What caught my attention was a mural where a crew of anonymous artists decided that rather than paint images on the wall they wrote a list of the names of immigrants assassinated by the police in Barcelona from the ’90s to the present time. Shortly after the mural was completed a police squad arrived. The officers wanted to know the name of the artist(s) who painted the mural so they could charge the artist(s) of defamation and demanded that the mural be painted over.
The artists who were present at the time refused to name names and refused to paint over the mural. The following day the portion of the mural that reads: “Here the police also kills” was painted over. I find it abhorrent that crimes that took place are being censured and that the collective memory of said crimes is being erased.
Never mind that the event in question was to fight racism and police brutality and to denounce the murder of George Floyd in The United States.
“This is the end of pretty pictures,” wrote the artists at the end of the mural. “-by anonymous.
*These two murals are not part of the event listed above and were painted a different location in Barcelona.
The demonstrations and protests in support of George Floyd and against racism and police brutality continue in many cities across the US. Similarly, new reports from other countries of people marching in solidarity have brought the message to an international audience. Today we have a new mural by Tim Marsh sent to us by BSA contributor and photographer Lluis Olive who shares these images from Barcelona, Spain.
As one may expect, subtleties of language may get lost in translation, so we’ll briefly mention why “Black Lives Matter” is not the same as “All Lives Matter”, and in fact the latter is received by many in the US as a dismissal of blacks, a de-facto denial of the suffering of people in an effort to erase the magnitude of a deliberately designed unfair system that threatens black people’s lives.
First, it’s good to know that Black Lives Matter is actually an organization founded by three black women in 2013 – used as a hashtag to begin with – soon spawning a movement. The BLM name came to be known as a response to the casual denigration of the sanctity of the life of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by George Zimmerman and who was found “not guilty.” So, today using the term is directly tied to that organization and time no matter the current context.
Secondly, as a slogan, it is directly implied that the dominant white culture has done everything it can to deny the humanity to persons with dark skin, whether through a thousand tiny subtleties on a daily basis or through big obvious examples like state-sanctioned violence – and a gamut in between. It is a defiant statement that is made so obvious in intent that people cannot mistake its meaning. Consequently, for many, saying “All Lives Matter” is yet one more example of denigration, a sideways denial of the utter toxicity of racism and its impact, a re-direction away from the dire facts.
that our international friends, like this artist here, are undoubtedly trying
to be inclusive when they say “All Lives Matter”. We just wanted to share that
some Americans won’t understand it as such, and they may even interpret the
slogan as an underhanded insult to blacks and other persons of color. After
all, Women’s Rights wouldn’t even be an issue if women’s rights were equally encoded
by law and absolutely insured by a fair process in greater society. Until then
we’ll talk about Women’s Rights, GLBTQ Rights, Disabled Rights, etcetera.
UPDATE: Since publishing this article we received a message from the artist of this work above. He let us know that he had already painted over this slogan with “Black Lives Matter” – only a day after he first painted it and not as a result of this article. He had in fact not understood the implications and once he did he wanted to be clear with his intentions. This is a win for everyone, and to whatever extent we can share information and ideas to raise our collective awareness with each other and learn from each other, we say “yes!”
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ. First wall after the lock down. I wanted to paint something else, but the news over the world have made me react. What the actual fuck, people. It seems that all over the world, racism has been increasing lately…
This is just an example of what white supremacism is causing over the
world. The latest news happened in the USA, but some similar stories
happened lately in france too, With people from other origins. . This is why at first i used the sentence “All lives matter”. And then some of you explained that white supremacists were using this beautiful phrase to protest against the protests. Which led me to go correct the text on the wall. Which leaves me with a wierd feeling, like forgetting about ALL the other cases. AND I REALLY HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL SUPPORTING THEIR CAUSE TOO.
I strongly encourage ALL the people over the world to keep fighting.
Bring justice to all those abused by the police, and by all acts of
racism. MAKE RACISTS ASHAMED. BE ANTI-RACIST All my support goes to all the people protesting, and fighting against racism, all over the world. ✊✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿
Barcelona, Spain has begun
the process of re-opening the city from the confines of Covid-19. Lluis Olive,
a frequent BSA collaborator tells us that phase I of re-opening includes bars
and restaurants but only at 50% of their capacity. Stores under 400 square
meters are also allowed to re-open. Groups up to 15 individuals are permitted
to gather in public as well. For him this is a welcome relief for much needed
And what does a street art
fan and photographer do when you let him outside after weeks stuck in his home?
That’s right, he captures the voice of the artists in the public sphere.
Here Mr. Olive shares a few
shots on the streets of Barcelona – artists’ view on the pandemic.
So far the activity of traipsing through a town to discover new Street Art, graffiti, and murals will not put you at risk of contracting a virus.
So BSA Contributor Lluis Olive Bulbena recently took a brief trip to Cuenca, Spain and he stumbled into the Barrio San Anton.
He says that he didn’t think the offerings were bountiful but he did manage to send us a cache of new and old images from which we are very happy to share with you. The majority here are figurative, full of character, almost speaking to you.