A quick shot from photographer Nika Kramer here in Berlin from Italy’s PixelPancho as part of the One Wall project in Tegel series. Part of the Urban Nation initiative, the new mural dips into is a memory of future past, as is his custom, and a stunning addition to the collection of works the group has brought so far to these neighborhoods.
BSA is excited to be here is Berlin with UN for the final installment of Project M – a wide ranging and inclusive series of installations from many curators and artists over the past three years, seeding the ground for the new Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art, opening Mid 2017. This week you will see new works from Faith 47, JAZ (Franco Fasoli), 2501, Axel Void, Speto, Panmela Castro (Anarkia), Olek, Nunca, and Robosexi – and surely a few more – as Marina Bortoluzzi and Marcelo Pimentel of Instagrafite curate PM/10.
We’ll see you at the opening hopefully! Please come by, we’d love to meet you!
What are you celebrating this season? We’re celebrating BSA readers and fans with a holiday assorted chocolate box of 15 of the smartest and tastiest people we know. Each day until the new year we ask a guest to take a moment to reflect on 2015 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for him or her. It’s our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and saying ‘thank you’ for inspiring us throughout the year.
Nika Kramer is a photographer, writer, street scene documentarian, Hip Hop activist, and event organizer from Berlin. With astoundingly beautiful photography Kramer has captured the action, camaraderie and atmospheric qualities of art on the streets globabally. Similarly, Kramer is a pre-eminent documenter of the global Bgirl and Bboy scene and the co-author of We B*Girlzwith Martha Cooper, editor of Hip Hop Files: Photographs 1979-1984, co-producer/director of the documentary short Redder than Red – The Story of B-Girl Bubbles and the organizer of the annual We B-Girlz Festival in Berlin.
Photograph by Nika Kramer
Cuba was my most important trip this year though. 2 months! So I decided on the picture of this kid in the street, playing baseball. I love the lighting on this one and it represents how I feel this whole year, ready to hit it – ready to go. Feeling my career is going in the right direction, just not really taking off. Having lots of fun, but not really making enough money yet, feeling I need to put all my energy into it to really make it fly…
I like Cuba, life happens on the streets. Kids are playing outside with toys that are mostly handmade – check out the bat, I doubt it’s store bought.
People bring their work out into the street, they sit outside and chat, they bring out tables and play board games. I fear with the arrival of the internet, that’s all going to change very soon…
Urban Nation (UN) and Iceland Airwaves Festival Create Mural Program
Sound and vision are inextricably bound in the modern music canon, with inspired visuals leading our auditory imaginations at least since Toulouse-Lautrec’s depictions of Moulin Rouge orchestral and singing talents. Later illustrators were important for ushering us into the jazz era with snappy collage and geometrics for album covers and the birth of rock and roll expanded and shaped popular album-oriented daydreams. With every subsequent genre and subgenre of music from pop to rap to metal to disco and EDM, static and video artists continue to visually augment, interpret, define, and expand upon the music that we listen to.
This autumn in Iceland an equally inspired program pairing of 10 Street Artists with 10 musicians for the Airwaves music festival brought Reykjavik new murals from a mix of local and international artists. Since Iceland is the new Brooklyn, you’ll like to see how Berlin’s Urban Nation (UN) is precisely on top of something hot and icy with these eye-popping murals inspired by pace-setting modern sounds.
“I love music,” says UN Director Yasha Young as she describes the process that she and Iceland Airwaves’ Grímur Atlason and Henny Frímannsdottír went through to select music for their 1st edition of Wall Poetry. “We started to play our favorite bands from the lineup to each other, researched their album art, read their lyrics in great depth and watched all the video footage we could find,” she explains. “After that we decided who we thought would be interesting to approach for such a creative adventure. I know the artists I work with very well so it was more about listening to them and defining in more detail what the their individual ideas were for this project. The main goal for me was to pair them with the right collaborative partner musically and visually.”
“With paintings in and around Reykjavik the artists had time to complete their walls in time for the 10 day music festival in November, drawing the attention of fans and locals who were interested in the artwork that is impacting their daily experience of the city. The musicians were asked to provide the street artists with a song, lyrics or poetry especially chosen or written for this project,” says curator Frímannsdottír on the site. “The visual artists were provided a city wall as surface for the large scale work.”
Artist and musician collaborations for Wall Poetry include:
We spoke to Yasha Young about the first year of Wall Poetry and the challenges of mounting a project like this:
Brooklyn Street Art:How important is the visual aspect of music to you? Many people may not always make that connection. Yasha Young: To me it is so very important. I am a visual person to begin with but I think that it is vital as an individual who works with and for artists to work across genres and with as many different creative aspects as possible to be able to create one lasting and meaningful overall experience.
I remember buying LP’s for their cover art and the stickers and zines that came with them. I remember Buzzocks’s and The Ramones buttons and the silk printed posters by the Sex Pistols that came with the LP if memory serves me correctly. I think about The Rolling Stones “Some Girls” sliding cover and the art for Pink Floyds ‘The Wall’ and the “Led Zeppelin III” album with its rotating cover art that you could interact with.
And of course music videos became huge productions; actually they are little films that often connect with you on an even deeper level and enhance your experience of the music. Videos were launch pads for creative careers and massive innovations; for example Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’, ‘Cry’ by Godley and Crème, Gorillaz’ ‘Clint Eastwood’, Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’, and my all-time favorite song and visuals combination was Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’. Of course as we speak I’m thinking also about Iceland’s Björk and her video for ‘ Human Behaviour” and John Grant and Tate Shots collaboration… I could go on and on.
(Young, continued) In my career I’ve had the great pleasure to be part of making album art happen for bands, such as KORN’s ‘Untitled’ for example. I worked with many bands on that creative level and it only deepened my connection and convictions when it came to art and music. Today we have a one-click behavior for experiencing streaming music that almost reminds me a little of when video killed the radio star. There is an essential part of the experience that is fading and we feed it with the “instant buy”.
I believe that we are losing more than ‘just’ the record store and the poster art or album cover. We are losing an essential and lasting connection that came with the purchase of the record or CD but was established long before; the multi-faceted creation of the entire visual aspect. You became part of a creative baseline and connected to the music through the visual work. Reading the lyrics as audio poetry on the back sleeve or the LP or interacting with the music and the art made it a much more lasting and impressive experience in my view. This is just the surface of what I think and would like to explore even further and on a deeper level next year when we return for the 2nd edition of Wall Poetry.
Brooklyn Street Art:What inspired you to start the project? Yasha Young: I am always inspired by new opportunities to bring together different artistic genres and unusual or challenging – but always exciting – new venues. I had been visiting Iceland Airwaves for many years and finally decided last year to find walls and spaces and to connect with the Iceland Airwaves crew.
My idea was to visually prolong the reach of the music and bring it onto the walls through well-conceptualized and executed art pieces. In a way I wanted to re-connect two entities that have always been vital and necessary for each other in a public space, with music and art spilling out of the concert venues onto the streets and into the lives of people.
It was almost like we were going to extend the music, with the core idea being “We paint the music you love to hear”. Once that was established as the core of the project I very quickly had an idea of which visual artists would be not only be a great fit for the city and the project but also who would be able to work in rather unusual and unknown conditions – namely, the Icelandic weather, and I say this with great fondness for those wild and unpredictable skies.
Brooklyn Street Art:How did you choose the lyrics? Was it a difficult process? Yasha Young: Actually I only picked the bands and visual artists. It was more about creating and encouraging the connection between both of these groups to get their beautiful creative minds talking together. Once connected they picked songs and talked about their choices in depth. I was a bystander, a very curious fly on the wall and following the process was simply amazing. To read the exchanges and feel the moment the spark ignited – that moment to me is, and will always be, what marks true curatorial success and is key to all collaborative creative projects.
Brooklyn Street Art:Were there any challenges along the way? Specifically regarding logistics.. Yasha Young: ( laughs ) Yes! Many many many – but less in the actual execution of the vision and more in the daily production. For example the wind picks up and the mechanical lifts start swaying in the wind like a leaf. It was “Safety first” of course so we had to stop working immediately. Often the rain can be surprising and torrential and water runs down the walls like little waterfalls washing all the hard work from the night before off the wall again. But these artists are professionals and in my job the goal is to work as innovatively as possible – always finding or inventing new methods and finding other options.
It’s part of the journey and it can actually be fun. For my stubborn mind the only factor that will always be in way is time – we have not found a way to stop it or make more of it.
Lithuania’s Ernest Zacharevic transformed the shadow of an earlier building into a personal photo book.
“It’s inspired by the song ‘I Miss You’ by Dikta,” says Ernest. “The image has the same sadness and nostalgia in the photographs that I felt in the piano track song. The work is my imagining of all the past scenarios that could have happened in this old heritage house, physically and emotionally being taken down and rebuilt.
It’s more about memory because after I spoke to a lot of locals they were very nostalgic about how Reykjavik used to be, not so keen on how modernized it has become.”
Urban Nation in Berlin has just completed a new series of walls, window displayed artworks, and a gallery show for the eighth edition of Project M (PM/8) in conjunction with StolenSpace Gallery in London.
The show is called “Freedom” and features a few of the better known names in the Street Art / Urban Art game along with other emerging artists in the Stolen Space stable. In addition to the opportunity to see new work being created live and meeting many of the artists, this version of Project M also included a roundtable discussion hosted by Very Nearly Almost (VNA) editor Roland Henry and featuring a conversation with D*Face, Shepard Fairey, and UN Director Yasha Young.
Project M is taking it to the street, into a gallery/museum-like setting, and into the community with various educational projects like these. We’re looking forward to seeing the nascent Martha Cooper library project as it continues to grow as well as seeing more panels, discussions, scholarly examinations, and interactive community programming in the future as the UN evolves.
Project M is meant as a lead-up to the opening of Urban Nation, currently slated for 2016, and many of the window works made here will become part of the future institutions permanent collection. The full PM/8 roster continued to shape-shift as additional artists were painting walls as well but we think we have it right when we say it includes Cyrcle, D*Face, Evoca1, Miss Van, Herakut, The London Police, Shepard Fairey, Snik, Word to Mother, Maya Hayuk, Cyrcle, Case M’Claim, Elle, and Lora Zombie, with many of artists in attendance, and one giving tattoos (see below).
Maya Hayuk took on the large task of the UN façade while Shepard and D*Face knocked out a slim set of tall twin walls and Cyrcle knocked out a modern text balanced graphic piece.
Our very special thanks to Nika Kramer, who shares her exclusive photographs of some of the artists and action at PM/8 here with BSA readers.
The stencil has been a steady presence on the street since the beginning of graffiti and Street Art. Possibly picked up from commercial or military methods of labeling shipments, machinery, signage, and weaponry – it has remained a foundational technique of creative expression since the early days of the modern graff scene even as it’s use continues to expand stylistically.
The simple one color stencil captures the imagination of many first time artists working in the public sphere because it enables you to quickly spray your message on a wall and run. And replicate it. With time your cuts may become more sophisticated or not but its up to you; it’s not entirely necessary to labor for hours over a stencil for it to have a worthwhile impact, but it can help.
In the 2000s the Street Art scenes in many cities have been teeming with stencil art, and a number of practitioners have developed the art form into one that expresses high degrees of artistry, complexity, and warmth, as well as conveying the bluntest of sentiments and slogans, with and without irony.
“Cut It Out” is a new exhibition in the Urban Nation Gallery in Berlin that pulls together an interesting collection of folks who have used stencils on the street across mainly Europe and the US and in the case of artists like Jef Aerosol, Epsylon Point, and Stencil King (Hugo Kaagman), across more than three decades, almost four.
Curated by Olly Walker and Henrik Haven, the international group was on display in Berlin, and many of the participating artists were in attendance – and as is their wont they hit the walls inside and outside the gallery around Berlin, including the Urban Nation van. BSA is happy to share these exclusive shots of the honored stencillists in action = procured to us by Henrik Heaven and shot by Nika Kramer.
”Cut It Out!” features new works by: Above, Adam 5100, Aiko, Alessio-B, Artist Ouvrier, B-Toy, C215, Canvas, Don John, Eins92, Eelus, EismannArts, Epsylon Point, Icy & Sot, Jana & Js, Jef Aerosol, Joe Lurato, Logan Hicks, M-City, Mobstr, Nick Walker, Orticanoodles, Paul Insect, Pisa 73, RekoRennie, Rene Gagnon, Snik, Stan & Lex, Stencil King, Stew, STF, Stinkfish, Tankpetrol and XooooX.