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HOW & NOSM on the Israeli-Palestinian Separation Wall

HOW & NOSM on the Israeli-Palestinian Separation Wall

After a half hour, soldiers yelled down, asking what they were doing.

“We’re from New York, we paint,” they shouted back, and continued spraying. Moments later the gate rolled up to the side and four soldiers came out, with the lead officer shouting, “What are you doing here?”

“We’re painting,” they replied.

“It’s illegal,” he shouted back. “I’ll have to arrest you.”

How and Nosm are at the Israeli-Palestinian Separation Wall, or they were until a few days ago, and no arrests were made. Invited by William Parry from the London based charity called Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), the internationally known Street Art/graffiti/muralist twins have traveled to about 60 countries with spray cans over the last decade or so, but they say they were not prepared for this experience.

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How & Nosm. Mural on a metal gate on the Separation Wall by Rachel’s Tomb. Palestinian side. Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

As graffiti writers in their youth, How and Nosm weren’t very surprised when their aerosol works were painted over or “buffed” for being in illegal locations. They were, after all, kids being vandals with spray cans and challenging authority and trying to get away with it – but it still was a bummer.

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How & Nosm. Detail. The text is translated as “Freedom for the Honorable” – a stencil made by women in an art workshop led by How and Nosm. Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

Getting their painting sprayed-over by Israeli guards was a new experience entirely.  Their image of a key, a symbol for Palestinians that is tied to homes they were evicted from, was painted onto a gate by Rachel’s Tomb. Loaded with such associations, obviously it was not a benign gesture and it was one so off-putting to the guards that shortly after H&N finished it, according to Parry, soldiers opened the gate and one picked up a spray can “and scribbled over it: ‘The occupation will prevail’ and made Stars of David symbols.”  By that time, How & Nosm were walking coolly up the street.

A typical graffiti writer back home in New York might have taken that as a serious “dis” of their canwork. Instead How says he was happy, “We painted a key and the gate opened!”

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How & Nosm. The defaced mural on a metal gate on the Separation Wall by Rachel’s Tomb. Palestinian side. Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

“I first interviewed How & Nosm a year ago in Prague at an exhibition that they were participating in,” says the British photojournalist Parry, who published a book called “Against the Wall” in 2010 about a number of Street Artists who have created work there. “We got talking about street artists and Palestine and Israel. How & Nosm were clearly aware that what they read and saw on mainstream media was only one part of the story and when I asked if they would consider doing a trip out to Palestine and Israel with MAP, they said ‘sure’.

“One year on,” he recalls “after scores of emails to follow up their commitment and logistics, my sigh of relief was audible as I saw them pass through the “Arrivals” sliding doors at the airport. First it was Nosm and about 10 minutes later, How, after he was questioned by the immigration staff about why they’d come to Israel. With their tattoos, curious NYC/German accents and a bag of spray caps and stencils, we were off.”

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How & Nosm. Main mural in the Palestinian Side of the Separation Wall. Bethlehem, Palestine. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

Not merely on “spraycation” to hit up some walls with their signature style, which they did, the two also made time to work with two populations specifically traumatized by war within the community and to teach them some of the techniques of art-making that the brothers have used in cities like LA, Lisbon, Prague, Paris, Quito, Mexico City, and Brooklyn. “Initially about five Bedouin women came to the workshop,” says Parry.

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How & Nosm.  Mural on the Separation Wall, Palestinian side en route to Manger Sq., Bethlehem, Palestine. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

“By the following day,” he reports, “as word went round the encampment of the fun they’d had, there was twice the number of people, with several kids joining in too. The women have never had any art classes. One woman, Ameera, said it was the first time she’d been given a pencil to draw with. Despite this, most showed real skill in designing and cutting out stencils to reflect life around them, creating desert-scapes and floral collages with the adept help of the twins. The workshops had a constant air of fun, creativity, chatter and laughter.” The brothers worked with the moms and the kids to create stencils, some of which were gathered together to create a collage of the works on the metal walls of one woman’s home.

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How & Nosm. Mural on the Separation Wall, Palestinian Side. Bethlehem, Palestine. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

An odd scene perhaps for some to contemplate the brash talking streetwise How and Nosm carefully and gently leading art workshops with small kids when you consider your typical image of the nihilistic rebel graffiti writer, right?

Maybe it is our own perception, or the perception that has been created for us that graffiti writers and Street Artists are rather one dimensional vandals. Things are not always the way they appear.

 

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How & Nosm. Bedouin Women Workshops. West Bank. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

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How & Nosm. Children take interest at the Bedouin Women Workshops. West Bank. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

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How & Nosm. Bedouin Women Workshops. West Bank. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

Another surprise was the easy flow of information one can get sometimes these days, even here in the these contested, war-torn lands where reliable information itself can be at a premium to get in and out. The brothers were sort of surprised one day when they went to buy a number of cans of paint in their typical red, black, and white – and they were instantly recognized by the proprietors.

“The young guys running the shop seemed excited to have How & Nosm in town and were asking where they were going, what they were planning, and said they would be very happy to show them round and get them some great walls,” says Parry. “How & Nosm remained tight-lipped and said ‘We’ll call you,’ taking the contact information of the guys,” he remembers, still marveling at the reach of the art world. “About two hours later, we were in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, looking for the ideal locations for murals and smaller art pieces.”

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How & Nosm. Beit Sahour, Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

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How & Nosm. Beit Sahour, Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

In the Street Art scene we always like to say that context is everything, and clearly here the artists and their hosts feel strongly about the conditions in the occupied areas they witnessed in Palestine and they place sincere blame for the dire situation that envelopes even the smallest children in an atmosphere of fear and trauma. Using art as a vehicle for expression, therapy, and perhaps furtherance of understanding, they say their workshops were instrumental is giving something valuable to the community.

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How & Nosm. Saraya Centre workshop for children. Old City, Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

“It was just four days of workshops but the impression that How & Nosm left on the Bedouin women and children who participated in the workshops was enormous,” says Parry, as he speaks of the collaborative mural using the stencils the women produced on a structure in the Jordan Valley. He says he “asked what they liked most about the workshops and the women said that it gave them a rare opportunity to express themselves creatively, to discover talents, and to produce beautiful things. ‘We also rarely laugh so much,’ added Hanan, the joker in the group.”

Parry also asked the brothers about their experience. “We agreed to participate because we agree with what MAP is doing and we thought it was going to be a nice collaboration between an organization helping people in need in Palestine and for us to bring attention to the it and for us to see what’s going on in Palestine,” says Raoul.

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How & Nosm. Saraya Centre workshop for children. Old City, Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

For Davide, his days there produced more of a critique of the Western media that he depends on back home. “It was important for us to see firsthand what is going on in the conflict rather than just reading about it. Even in the independent media you don’t get the full picture, it’s just not the same experience as coming and seeing the illegal outposts and settlements and other things that exist, and I think we have a better understanding of that thanks to MAP.”

For the kids, it was hard to let go, says Parry, and some even cried at the end. “They completed their artwork and mounted them on foam board to create a mural of color and symbolism,” Parry says. “As they said goodbye, one child broke down in tears, then like dominoes, several others followed.” Many people on the street came to tell the guys how much they liked the work they were putting up on different walls.

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How & Nosm. Saraya Centre workshop for children. Old City, Bethlehem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

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How & Nosm. Separation Wall, Palestinian Side. Zeitoun Checkpoint. East Jerusalem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

But the brothers say they will think twice as artists if they would recommend others to go paint there. Instead of just hitting a wall, they say they would want people to be sensitive to the impact it may have on the populations who live there. “It’s such a difficult situation here politically. We believe that just coming here and tagging, doing pieces, would be inappropriate and selfish,” says How. Nosm continues, “We felt an obligation to bring more than just our names so we brought some messages. If you’re an artist you should take that into consideration.”

Truthfully, in a continually tense war-like environment like this, almost any act, including kindness, can be interpreted as being a political act of some sort. Not all art is necessarily political however and most people understand that it is a form of expression that we can grant latitude to because of its proximity to our own creativity. Who doesn’t long to return to the world of discovery we each inhabited at least once or twice in our childhoods?

But it isn’t every day that you hear tough-talking graffiti writers speak about considering the affect of your street work on the people in the neighborhood. But this isn’t just any wall. And these aren’t just any artists.

 

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How & Nosm. Separation Wall, Palestinian Side. Zeitoun Checkpoint. East Jerusalem. September, 2013. (photo © William Parry/MAP)

For more information about MAP please click HERE.

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post. HOW-Nosm-Huffpost-BSA-Screen-Shot-2013-10-02-at-10.18

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Fun Friday 02.17.12

Woo Hooooooooo! Street Art and graffiti shows are hopping tonight ya’ll! With shows in Chinatown, Dumbo, and Williamsburg, you’re going to have to take the train and the bus if you want to catch it all.

1. Cake and Don Pablo Pedro at Mighty Tanaka (DUMBO)
2. “All Talk” Group Show at Pandemic (Williamsburg, BK)
3. “Snowblind” at Klughause (Chinatown)
4. “Ocean Size” at Kunsthalle Galapagos Gallery SATURDAY 2/18 (DUMBO)
5. “What I Know,” curated by Jason Andrew
6. ” The Permanent Collection Volume II: My Own Private Serpico,” English Kills Gallery
7. Kraftwerk Retrospective at MOMA in April
8. William Thomas Porter – Splendid Cycles (VIDEO)
9. Connor Harrington “Black Herds of the Rain” (VIDEO)
10. JAZ in Mexico City with MAMUTT (VIDEO)
11. Nuria Mora in South Africa (VIDEO)

Cake and Don Pablo Pedro at Mighty Tanaka (DUMBO)

We’ve interviewed Cake this week, and Don Pablo Pedro when he wasn’t in shows, and we can assure you that “Inside Out” is about all the disgusting little bits you keep inside. Tonight they’re out at Mighty Tanaka.

Cake. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here

“All Talk” Group Show at Pandemic (Williamsburg, BK)

“Some of New York City’s boldest anti-heros, cynics and preachers” – Say no more! Tell me where to sign. “All Talk” is the new group show at Pandemic Gallery opens today with the participation of: Aakash Nihalani, Andrew H. Shirley, Cassius Fouler, Destroy & Rebuild, Gabriel Specter, Isabel Lasala, J. Ralph Phillips, Jenna Hicock, Jesse Edwards, Map, Merk, and NohJColey.

Aakash Nihalani (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

“Snowblind” at Klughause (Chinatown)

We’re gonna start calling it SLUGHOUSE because their first 3 shows have been heavy hitters for such a small scrappy gallery at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, near a Police Precinct, and yet in damn near darkness. The concept for tonights show is cool, but what’s cooler is CARNAGE, the magazine by Ray Mock, one of the best graffiti photogs on the street today. Oh, also, Martha Cooper is in the show. See ya there!. “Snowblind” opens today with the participation of Martha Cooper, Ray Mock, Alexander Richter, Mike P, Bob Barry,  Oscar Arriola, Graham Shimberg, Michael Fales, and Jesse Edwards.

For further information regarding this show click here.

“Ocean Size” at Kunsthalle Galapagos Gallery SATURDAY 2/18 (DUMBO)

Yo, we checked this one out as it was going up yesterday – It’s worth it and Toronto based Street Artist and fine artist Troy Lovegates just killed it with this brand new piece which we’re showing you a detail of below.

Troy Lovegates. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

Also happening this weekend

“What I Know,” curated by Jason Andrew – The Bushwick arts leader who makes art happen, Mr. Andrew curates a 40 person show at NYCAMS (New York Center for Art and Media Studies), opening tonight. Download the PDF here

English Kills Gallery Permanent Collection opening Friday night : ” The Permanent Collection Volume II: My Own Private Serpico,” the second installment of works from the English Kills Permanent Collection featuring David Pappaceno, Don Pablo Pedro, Cleon Peterson, Steven Thompson, Brent Owens, Vilaykorn Sayaphet, Hiroshi Shafer, Joe Borelli, Frank Stella, Peter Dobill, Andy Piedilato, Jim Herbert, Tyrome Tripoli, Kevin Brady, Jenn Brehm, Kevin Regan, Giles Thompson, Jeff Clark, Mike Olin, Shane Heinemeier, Dan Taylor, Lenny Reibstein, Tescia Seufferlein, Andrew Ohanesian, Andrew Hurst, Austin Thomas, Evan Ryer, Gary Cullen

 

Kraftwerk Retrospective at MOMA in April – Tickets on Sale Wed 2/22

The live presentation “Kraftwerk-Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8″ will explore their pioneering electronic music and each of their eight, groundbreaking studio albums with a unique set of projected images (some in 3-D ):

The music called electronic was basically created by Kraftwerk, who began four decades ago and whose influence and flat out appropriated music appears in work by these artists, to name a few: Jay-Z, Coldplay, Afrika Bambaata, Chemical Brothers, Pink Floyd, Fatboy Slim, New Order, Fergie, Ladytron, Missy Elliott, Franz Ferdinand, Thompson Twins, and yes, McDonna.

William Thomas Porter – Splendid Cycles (VIDEO)

Creater and builder of the famous “F*ck Bike 001” now on view at the Museum of Sex show “F*ck Art”, here is a video following William Thomas Porter around on his preferred form of transportation.  “I wouldn’t call them mutants,” he says of his bike caricatures, “because that would make them sound ugly. It’s more like creating this… splendid form.”

Connor Harrington “Black Herds of the Rain” (VIDEO)

JAZ in Mexico City with MAMUTT (VIDEO)

Nuria Mora in South Africa (VIDEO)

 

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Pandemic Gallery Presents: “All Talk” A Group Show (Brooklyn, NY)

All Talk


“ALL TALK”

Feb.17th – March 11th, 2012

Opening Reception: Fri. Feb. 17th, 7-11pm

Featuring works by:

Aakash Nihalani

Andrew H. Shirley

Cassius Fouler

Destroy & Rebuild

Gabriel Specter

Isabel Lasala

J. Ralph Phillips

Jenna Hicock

Jesse Edwards

Jesus Saves

Map

Merk

NohJColey

“ALL TALK” features some of New York City’s boldest anti-heros, cynics and preachers. Those that run us through the gauntlet of fine art, design, and graffiti. From spray paint to oil paint to print making, this group of artists will display a collection of work to be hung in a gallery, but that can also be seen on the streets, walls and rooftops of New York. Their consistency and work ethic have been unparalleled in a scene that seems to be full of come and go artists looking for quick fame. This group has proved themselves time and time again to be among the most authentic and dedicated creators around. Engulfed with the love for what they do, they demonstrate their undaunted drive and creative dominance…………… unless it’s just all talk.

 PANDEMIC gallery
37 Broadway btwn Kent and Wythe
Brooklyn, NY 11211
www.pandemicgallery.com
 
Gallery hours:
Tues.-Fri. 11-6pm
Sat. & Sun. 12-7pm
closed Monday
or by appointment 

L train to Bedford ave, J train to Marcy ave, or Q59 bus to Broadway/Wythe


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