This story starts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and ends in Madrid, Spain but its focus is global in nature.
With the earth at the center of the eye, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada tells us that the first of two murals he painted for the recent COP 25 conferences is called “Forest Focus.” As the world has been watching the largest forests of Australia burning this month, he clearly knows what we’re all facing.
“With an image of the world as the iris,” he says, “This mural has an artistic focal point that symbolizes the values set forth at the COP25 conference being held in Madrid.”
The Cuban-born Street Artist, now based in Barcelona, was partnering with a public art program/platform called GreenPoint EARTH during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, or COP 25 to create two new street art pieces.
Well known for his “Terrestrial Series” of artworks spread over masses of land that are visible by planes flying overhead, Rodriguez-Gerada blends social and ecological themes seamlessly with sometimes profound results.
His second mural of the series is a portrait of Hilda Pérez, a person indigenous to Peru and theVice President of the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP). The team says she was chosen to represent indigenous people because their voices are frequently marginalized in discussions about ecology and climate change, despite occupying 25-50 percent of the Earth’s land.
“We need to think of every tool in our toolkit because time is ultimately running out,” said Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio at a panel discussion with the artist at the Action Hub Event during the COP25.
He was speaking about the pivotal role that Street Art has been able to fill in education, as well as his own interest in partnering with artists and other collaborators to raise awareness for a myriad of environmental issues. “That’s why it’s really important that Chile/Madrid COP25 has this really strong message that it’s time for action.”
more plans to involve Street Artists around the world “to inspire climate action with
positive messages about the interconnected themes of nature, people, and
climate,” Donofrio says he believes that the
power of communication that Street Artists wield can be focused to make real,
“The connectivity is really important
in these projects to establish that we are dealing with globally challenging issues
that boil down to a really local consequence.”
As part of the offerings on the street this year in Madrid, the Urvanity fair featured four artists creating new murals in the nearby environs to the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid (COAM) campus.
Today we have some shots of the new works by Artez, Marat Morik, Poni, and Pro176, who each were working on their pieces while the Madrid crowds milled by in what really felt like the first sunny days of spring. Here are some process shots and final shots of the walls.
Serbian Artez brings his realistic illustration style says he is talking “About
this Town” with this mural placed in the central shopping district. “Instead of
carrying shopping bags,” he says on his FB page, “the girl is depicted as
holding a pile of books important for the history and culture of the city along
with a plant with a small birdhouse that is inviting all the ‘birds’ to come
and feel like home!”
Parisian graff writer Pro176 busted out a tall slim slice of back-alley
wall with his collaged pop comic style that may trigger memories of
childhood adventures with superheroes and comedic capers. You may have
to hunt for it but it feels like a reward once you discover this hidden
powerhouse by an aerosol painting pro.
The Mexican artist Poni brings this balance of feminine and
statuesque alive on this tall slab of wall that rises high above the street.
With a nod to sisterhood and Matisse cutouts, her solid shapes buttress the
history of womens work and liberates as well.
Former graffiti writer Marat Morik from Russia now uses his illustration style work to evoke the dramatic, darker elements of the street and fiction novels perhaps. Here his portrait of poet Anna Akhmatova, who looks like she’s been caught unaware amidst a deepening plotline shrouded in collaged symbolism, text and textural elements.
Patti Smith begins the roll call for BSA Images of the Week in this portrait by Huetek. The punk term is loosely tossed around today, but it only applies to a certain number of people truthfully. In so many ways she is one. But she is also an author, poet, activist, and champion of the people – who she says have the power.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Adam Fu, Bella Phame, BK Foxx, Bobo, Deih XLF, Exist, Huetek, Isaac Cordal, Koralie, Koz Dos, Sixe Paredes, Smells, SoSa, UFO 907, Velvet, WW Crudo, and Zoer.
Unearthed by Artsy this week, the paper is ricocheting across social media with shock and dismay uttered by some artists who lament the hollowness of the modern graffiti/ Street Art/ Urban Art world, purporting to be distinct and above it all, yet posing in countless photos on their social pages with myriad peers and professionals and potential clients cheek-to-cheek.
It may be time that some hardcore Graffiti and Street Artists can shed some of the charades about how the globe turns, even if you are a graduate of the “School of Hard Knocks”. This movement we are witnessing toward self-promotion and marketing has always been true: This research paper doesn’t even use modern artists as a model for study – the subjects were part of the 20th Century abstract art movement and most died years ago.
You’ll recall that a central tenant of graffiti is that writers spread their names on every wall in different neighborhoods and cities to get “Fame”. As the authors of the paper Banerjee Mitali and Paul L. Ingram say, “CEOs, activists, scientists and innovators all benefit from fame. Meanwhile, the struggle for fame is becoming ever more intense and complex in a digital economy.” Download the paper here.
Yes, networking helps your career. In other breaking news, puppies are cute, the Pope is Catholic, and boys like short skirts.
This week our Images of the Week are coming to you directly from our latest visits to Madrid, Bilbao, and Bayonne. We’re excited to share what we found with BSA readers.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Anna Taratiel, Artez, Aryz, C215, Dan Witz, Eltono, Invader, Monkeybird, MSW, Stinkfish, and Suso33.
A large installation in the center of Urvanity by Street Artist Isaac Cordal went up and came down while we were in Madrid this past week, and we were fortunate to see how such a vision is realized in the midst of a modern school of architecture campus. We also witnessed the responses of guests who circled the ex-urban tale of with cocktails in hand, or in the case of sunny afternoons, reclining alongside it on the artificial green turf.
At a commercial art fair of this caliber it was thrilling, chilling, to see this large scale courtyard installation depicting absurd and psychologically dire scenarios playing out in the wake of crises. This is the kind of discourse that gives a place gravitas, and may provide a route to go forward.
But Cordal doesn’t regale us with color and vividly drawn character studies that some how charm us into a Dantean vision of circles and layers of hell. His dimly illuminated and apocalyptic tale is heavy and grey and in such slow motion you may not realize it is moving.
Here finally are the Business Class, climbing as ever, now also sinking into the toxic soil they created, the world translated as one continuous privatized prison complex.
“Urvanity seeks to explore and thus imagine possible future scenarios for this New Contemporary Art,” they say boldly in the manifesto for this art fair/cultural platform in Madrid. A thrilling nexus is created here in this college campus of architecture where art from the streets is evolving in such ways that it is invited to come in from the street.
Whatever your perspective is on this evolution, we encourage the conversation – which usually contains elements of tribalism (various), resistance, acceptance, even euphoria. During breaks from hosting the BSA Talks this weekend we are also skipping and swerving through the crowds to look at the art that galleries have on offer.
Here we offer a very quick sample of some items that have caught our eye, looked fresh, or were indicative of larger movements in the so-called “scene”. And we use the word “scene” very loosely, because there is really not such thing as a homogeneous scene, only a constellation of them which are intersecting, coalescing, and redefining themselves. Some pieces are remarkable.
Here is the past, existing side by side with the future.
With a theme of “Theriomorphism”, curated by Okuda San Miguel with four other artists, the Pop Up exhibition just opened at Galeria Kreisler here in Madrid- and it looks like Sabek has taken the idea to the street as well.
“So it’s all about animals and
God,” say Agostino Iacurci, the Italian Street Artist, muralist, and fine
artist. “God in the shape of animals or mixing with humans.”
As you imagine human/animal hybrids your thoughts may wander to plants and sheep and bare breasted women and hooved men with erections and surrealist naturist imagery that verges on bestiality – that all seems like fair play in this cunning mix of artistic styles and fluorescent visions. Last night’s opening in a tony part of the city featured a large crowd of friends and family, including Okuda’s mom and a number of exotic and eclectically dressed hybrids as well.
But for Iacurci, it’s a domestic
matter. “My idea is more about the contemporary role of animals in our lives in
the domestic sense. I am interested in the fact that we choose some species
over others to make them into pets.”
Together with artists Bruno Pontiroli and Kristen Liu-Wong, Iacurci is listening to a gentle samba while painting in Okuda’s studio on a large canvass that will be in the show. Naturally it also has a striking multi-colored figure from Okuda as well.
The fifth artist in the show, Bordalo II created collaboratively in an aesthetic hybrid as well, a simian sculpture split in two – a parallel to the mural they completed here on the street (see Monday’s posting).
Does Agostino think that God is
involved in the selection process of our pets?
“No I think it’s human
arrogance. It’s the human being pretending to be God.”
Outside a new installation by Sabek in Plaza Callao has captured human’s imaginations – as most artworks including cats are bound to do these days. This one done in concert with Urvanity was originally scheduled to be on display until March 5th.
So successfull has the new work been that it has sparked a grassroots petition drive, gathering hundreds of community signatures to get the new sculpture to stay for much longer, even years.
How God is involved in these matters, we cannot elucidate.
It is a series of surprises on the streets that are planned here in connection with the Urvanity Art Fair, including some tricky geometricks overhead and underfoot from artists Moneyless and 1010.
A 3 dimensional turn on the abstract lineplays that you may associate with the murals and canvasses from the Tuscany-based Italian Ted Pirisi, aka Moneyless, his ongoing investigations of shapes and geometrical spaces has led him to suspend his newest piece between two fine examples of Spanish architecture only a five minute walk from the fair.
As you approach it, walk under it, gaze upward to continually re-frame it within the sky and between the facing buildings on this small street full of pedestrians, shops, and lottery ticket sellers. The story is the form, and the form keeps changing.
Hamburg-based visual illusionist 1010 commands a larger swath of the street, literally, with his wavy cartography of a fictional nature with his “color caves” playing with perception as you stroll along this thoroughfare.
Pedestrians gazing down at their phones stop periodically as the earth layers beneath them appears to dip deeper, throwing off your sense of interpretation. It is crazy how these large installations affect perceptions even as they are getting a little weathered by the feet passing over them – a tribute to the effectiveness of 1010’s mastery of visual illusion.
Madrid Increíble! – with its venerable two hundred year old Prado Museum stuffed full of Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya – and Okuda San Miguel’s favorite, El Bosco, or Hieronymus Bosch. Little did we know yesterday when we nearly got decapitated by security for trying to snap a cell photo of Velasquez’ “Las Meninas” at the museum that we would enter an alternate universe of Okuda’s studio and his own work in progress tribute to Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” today. May we also just say that this new painting will also belong in the Prado when it is finished?
More on that studio visit later, along with the crew of artists whom Okuda is curating for tomorrow nights’ Theriomorphism show. Today we bring you some fresh shots of his brand new mural in Lavapiés, a run-down yet exotically rendered old part of Madrid that teams with graffiti and new immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, China, a smattering of Arabs and a spectacular selection of Senegalese. This kind of cultural hybrid always produces the most scintillating and surprising results; perfect soil for this new collaboration as well.
You’ll recognize Okuda’s Street Artist partner literally just around the corner from his half of the painting, the Lisboan Bordallo II, who is still collecting discarded refuse to complete his sculptural counterpoint to Okuda’s fulsome geometrics in hallucinogenic color. The neighborhood was popping with spectators on this sunny spring-like day with hearty opinion-givers and inquisitive photographers filling the sidewalk.
Señor O. kept his headphones on to concentrate on his painting while the owners of the wall, Jorge and Jose from Xpresion Creativos, offered visitors refreshments and their hairstory told in equally vivid colors. Self-professed #Hairhackers, their team creates effects you literally have never seen before – including their October collaboration with Okuda below. Currently, they are turning hair into Tartans. Check out this shot of a hair collabo they did together.
Meanwhile, here’s a detail of the newly finished piece by Okuda and Bordalo II in Lavapiés, Madrid.
A week on the street – and 3 days on stage with Urvanity 2019
As refugees from institutionalized dogma we’ve never felt a need to align our thinking about art on the streets with any one perspective regarding the various sets of “rules” that are set forth about graffiti, street art, and fine art, and their various intersections with the Internet, the commercial art world, urban dialogues, anthropology, sociology, legality, illegality, institutional embrace, patronage… unless you can make an appealing argument that rings true.
BSA Talks intends to provide a forum for multiple voices wherever it appears, opening the conversation about where these grassroots art movements came from, how they developed and merged, how they have retained their individual character or became aligned with more established aspects of the culture on their route from being strictly part of a subculture.
At this year’s edition of Urvanity we are pleased to invite some scholars, artists, producers, cultural curators, free thinkers and disruptive rebels to the table, to the stage, to the discussion of ideas. We are calling this edition of BSA TALKS in Madrid “How Deep Is the Street”, and we invite you to come and see the presentations and discussions and ask your own questions about this exciting, vibrating, shape-shifting, and evolving people’s art movement at this moment; locally and globally.
as ever, we may not become believers, but we won’t try to force you to become
one either. Welcome!
How deep is the street?
“When you talk about Street Art, Urban Art, Graffiti, and Urban Contemporary, there is much more than what you can see on the surface. For this years edition of Urvanity we present the “BSA Talks”, a lively and opinionated series of talks that are curated and hosted by the founders of the influential art blog BrooklynStreetArt who created an entertaining program that reflects and investigates the complexity of a half century of artists working on the streets – and the hot topics that deeply affect the scene today.
Hacktivism, Intellectual Property, Place Making, Urban Planning, legal/illegal DIY escapades and large scale collaborative public projects – These are all within the scope of this massive movement and are shaping the future. Come join us, talk with and listen to artists, professionals, academics, and thinkers who are studying and pivotal in the formation of this global grassroots art scene. Let’s see how deep it goes!”
“Street culture and digital technologies continue to flatten hierarchies in the art world. Art, Activism, and evolving models of Collaborative Creation are all converging toward a new way of working. Disciplines more easily melt together, why not collaborative works of exhibitions, performance, and engagement. The concept of The Intelligence of Many provides insight into opportunities (and possible dangers) for new truly D.I.Y. energy as applied to art and culture movements.”
6.00pm-6:55pm – Fernando Figueroa– How Graffiti Speaks to Society as a Humanity Barometer
Graffiti and Street Art can act as a social barometer; an emotional
and ethical reflection of a neighborhood, a community, and a city. But
how can you decode it? Urban art and its myriad expressions are
intrinsically red to real or figurative space and time and can act as an
alarm system, a stress valve, or a request to change. Come hear Dr.
Fernando Figueroa as he shows us that graffiti is alive, insisting on
opening awareness, taking action and ultimately giving voice to
BSA Film Friday presents the Madrid premiere of “Equilibri”, the documentary directed by Batiste Miguel about Okuda San Miguel’s intervention at the Fallas in Valencia. The new film presents his piece as it re-interprets the historical celebration and illustrates a harmony between tradition, modernity and New Contemporary Art. Join Steve and Jaime as they welcome Oscar Sanz and the protagonist of this incredible event, artist Okuda San Miguel.
The proliferation of so-called Street Art mural festivals in the last
10 years has certainly added color to our cities, but has it created a
dialogue with them?
Can we thoughtfully program works that respond to the rhythm of a city,
cognizant of its systems, in concert with its various populations? What
is “creative placemaking” and how does one get permissions from all the
parties affected by complex works. Why is it important to see Urban Art
in a broader light beyond murals on walls? What should be the scope of
public art nowadays in our communities and how to be able to achieve
that? Join these two professionals in the fields of Urban Art / Public
Art to hear about making art that steps outside the mural tradition and
creates a dialogue within the city.
4.00pm-3.55pm – Jan KalábUrban Art and Inclusivity
Whether it’s illegal graffiti on trains and streets or studio-based artist collectives who create new events together, the creative process open thrives on collaboration. A multi-disciplinary artist, Jan Kaláb shows you why, working solo or collectively, his motto is the same: always get higher. Whether it is the inventive soul of graffiti or the organic lines of his geometric sculpture and painting; Urban Art is about nurturing inclusivity.
The Gag Law reaches into areas many could not have imagined, including the practice of art as speech and its intersection with the public sphere. Join artist and arts professional Alberto González Pulido as he speaks about censorship and another important topic for artists, intellectual property.
7.00pm – 7.55pm – Sabina Chagina– How I Co-built an Urban Art Biennale in Moscow
A leading curator in the Street Art scene in Russia, Sabina Chagina talks about the stages of development she had to foster to launch ARTMOSSPHERE, the first Biennale of Street Art and urban culture in the country, now presented in its third edition in 2018. A rewarding and challenging series of programs built the road there and she’ll speak about how it is changing conversations about Street Art, murals, and Contemporary Art in Moscow..
From hacking public space to subvertising to collaborative interventions, the street practices of Creative Activism are anything but rote, especially when there is a message to convey or a story to tell. What role does activism play in a time of social-political-psychological upheaval and who gets to have the last word?
16.00-17.15 Pascal Feucher + Dan Witz– Urban Art and Residencies: The Importance of Nurturing Artists and the Creative Process
From traditions born in the age of the apprentice, art residencies have been a valuable step in the developing, broadening, and advancing of fine artists (and sometimes curators) for years. Graffiti writers and Street Artists open come with a different worldview entirely. Is there a model for nurturance of D.I.Y. outlaws?
For a complete schedule of events, dates and times click HERE
A new sharply political campaign championing the freedom of expression has caught fire in Spain in the last few weeks under the hashtag #NoCallaremos, and Street Artists are now adding their talents to the protest. Rather shockingly for a modern European nation, a rapper’s prison sentence for offensive lyrics was upheld in Spanish Supreme Court in February (Billboard) and that decision along with other recent events has sparked a number of creative protests across the art world in cities across the country. Today BSA contributing Street Art photographer Fer Alcalá shares his opinions and new images of the murals in progress with BSA readers.
THE NO CALLAREM PLATFORM
~ by Fer Alcalá
…or how some of Spanish top artists react against censorship and repression of the freedom of speech from the central government…
It’s now known worldwide: the Spanish government is imprisoning hip hop artists like Valtonyc and Pablo Hasel because of their sharp and truthful lyrics as well as sentencing people like you and me because of their critical posts on social media.
As a reaction to these acts against the freedom of speech that are more in tune with a well established dictatorship than with 40 years of democracy, some projects like the No Callarem (we won’t shut up) platform have raised their voices.
One of the direct actions organized by the platform for fighting against Partido Popular’s civil rights oppression was to film a video clip featuring some of the most renowned lyricists on the scene as Frank T, Elphomega, Los Chikos del Maíz, La Ira, Rapsusklei, and César Strawberry, among others, at the old La Modelo prison. The location is an accurate metaphorical scenario when you are seeing that your liberty is being cut off thanks to laws like ‘Ley Mordaza’.
The song ‘Los Borbones son unos ladrones’, which alludes directly to the Spanish monarchy, includes some excerpts from some of the songs created by rappers serving a prison sentence. The video clip for the song, which you can watch at the end of this article, has become viral and almost all media outlets in the country are speaking about this big shout-out in the name of freedom.
I was invited to witness the filming and painting session by local artist Javier de Riba, from Reskate Studio, who invited some fellow artists to paint at La Modelo walls as a part of the whole process. Franco Fasoli JAZ, Twee Muizen, Txemy, Joan Tarragò, Enric Sant, Milvietnams, Werens and Fullet gave a new voice to the walls surrounding that backyard, providing 2D images that perfectly matched the spirit behind the beats and the rhymes.
This is what Javi has to say about his collaboration with the project:
“Our involvement with No Callarem happened thanks to the Catalan rap artist Pau Llonch. He lit the spark for recording a clip against the Valtonyc and Hasel sentences. They wanted to do it at La Modelo no matter what and the No Callarem platform supported the action. We helped to spread the word for putting together a team with different languages together to visually enhance the video clip.
At the beginning, was what meant to be an ‘atrezzo action’ turned into a bunch of pieces that can be visited in the backyard of Gallery 4. In fact that backyard is not open to the public, but you can see it from the watch guard pit. We think that, from a conceptual point of view, it’s very powerful to keep those pieces locked – especially when thinking about how things are going in Spain regarding freedom of speech.”
Additionally it’s worth mentioning Reskate’s initiative about shouting against the suffocating atmosphere that we are experiencing here for some time: ‘Our idea is that every artist post one piece / illustration / painting / picture (old or new) supporting our initiative promoting freedom of speech in order to criticize the lack of democracy within the Spanish government.
Visual artists from Madrid, Zaragoza, Almería, Oviedo, Valencia, Vila-real, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valladolid, Tenerife…are supporting this initiative. Some of them are: Malakkai, Escif, Paula Bonet, Aryz, Ricardo Cavolo, Enric Sant, Twee Muizen, Franco Fasoli, Hyuro, Javier Jaén, Boa Mistura, Conrad Roset, Jordi Borràs, Danjer, Cinta Vidal, David de las Heras, Juan Díaz-Faes, Chamo San, and Marina Capdevila, among others.
La Semana por la Libertad de Expresión (Freedom of Speech Week) is happening now, with different activities taking place all over the country. The funds raised from these activities will go to a resistance fund for the platform in order to defend all those people chased and brought to justice because of censorship and repression. You can check the whole program of the week HERE.
So, yes: we have a fight going on. Comedians, actors and actresses, musicians, journalists, visual artists, the guy / girl next door who is active in social media… It’s kind of a Russian Roulette game where, if you are critical with the established system and you are using 3rd grade humor as a weapon, you can end in jail. And all of it is happening in a country whose government is accused of being the most corrupt on the whole continent.
I have a very well informed friend who has been kind of disappointed with the absence of critical vision and combative behaviors from most of the big names in the local street art / graffiti scene. Thanks to initiatives such as No Callarem and the impulse of people like Javi de Riba, she is reconciling herself with this small, but powerful little world whose images have the strength for making important things happen.
Finally, I’d like to recommend that you check the publications under the hashtag #nocallaremos that are out, as there will be some fine and unique art being produced for the occasion in the upcoming days.
As it’s being said in Los Borbones son unos Ladrones:
– rap music is not a crime
– we need scratches, we need paintings
– I don’t dream about Versace, I dream about barricades
– …because of the poetry that still sleeps in the ditches…
Big props to Javi de Riba, Xavier Urbano and all the artists behind the No Callarem movement.