Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. VHILS “Debris” Sets Macau in Golden Nostalgia 2. OKUDA: The International Church Of Cannabis 3. Mr. Sis. and #SoloUnBeso 4. Parees International Mural Festival. Oviedo, Spain. Edition 2018.
BSA Special Feature: VHILS “Debris” Sets Macau in Golden Nostalgia
Last year Vhils published this film about communication – personal, intimate, and global. We waited a year to see if it felt equally timeless as the first time we viewed it and indeed it is. Some stories like these have an additional element that secures their status. Surrounding the portraits created by the Portuguese Street Artist in Macau, this collage of images, interactions, flashes of expression and sequences of behavior is accompanied by a linear/circular narration that attempts to reconnect to a personal history while chiding the narrators own behavior.
It’s a winsome recounting of memories that are shared globally; a communal and personal experience at once told with clarity and emotional nostalgia, written and directed by José Pando Lucas.
OKUDA: The International Church Of Cannabis
One would hope that the International Church of Cannibis would look like this! Owing perhaps to psychedelic art of 1960s counterculture, liquid light art, concert posters, murals, underground newspapers, and of course kaleidoscoping the world with new eyes, the Spanish Street Artists Okuda San Miguel transformed this internal architecture into a truly holy space. Denver is one of those American cities that still has a good economy thanks to Colorado’s low taxes, growing marijuana industry and soaring real estate market. It seems like the whole city has invited many Street Artists to transform street space over the last decade and with a good collector’s base, the art galleries are busy and special projects are popping up everywhere to show off the skillz.
With a new church that uses pot as a sacrament, this project is spearheaded by Steve Berke, who’s Wikipedia posting lists him as “two-time candidate for mayor of Miami Beach, cannabis activist, rapper, YouTuber, entrepreneur, and former All-American tennis player.” Dude, just gaze at the ceilings here and you realize that the possibilities are awesome.
“Artist Mr. Sis is in Barcelona painting this pair of full figured females going in for the kiss on this billboard for Contorno Urbano,” we wrote a few weeks ago in a posting about this wall. Today we have the finished video.
Parees International Mural Festival. Oviedo, Spain. Edition 2018.
A new mini-doc from the
Parees Festival in Oviedo, Spain has just been released about the 2018 edition.
It features on-screen interviews with many of the artists who were involved,
including Colectivo Licuado, Roc BlackBlock, Taquen, Xav, Andrea Ravo Mattoni,
Kruella d’Enfer, Alfalfa y Twee Muizen.
“Every man is the son of his own works” ~ Miguel de Cervantes.
The greatest writer in the Spanish language was inspired by the character of this region and its arid but fertile elevated plateau when creating his greatest work Don Quixote, a true titan of historical literature and one of the world’s most translated books after the Bible.
His central character is a delusional would-be knight who calls himself The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. His absurdist but imaginative self-regard is echoed in the sheer scale of the grand new Titanes (Titan) mural project. Given the camaraderie among artists and organizers here you may say that the heart of Titanes is more likely aligned with the earthy wit of his sidekick Sancho Panza.
Naturally when these characters are intermingled by an imaginative multi-disciplinary artist like Okuda San Miguel you are not surprised to see the image of movie director Pedro Almodovar co-starring along with Quixote; Okuda’s silo is seated in the filmmaker’s town of Calzada de Calatrava and Almodovar’s richly drawn characters have captured a generation of Spaniards happily. As a rainbow splits the storm clouded sky behind him, it’s precisely this painters intuitive alchemy of reality and fiction that may shake a viewers’ conscience while entertaining them, revealing Titanes as an enormous vehicle of communication.
“The past and present are seen through my geometric and surrealist filters,” says Okuda, who is a principle architect of this audacious public mural project in La Mancha. In an era of perplexing social, political, and economic upheavals, it is comforting to see modern artists take on the messages of the classics, reinterpreting and re-presenting them.
15 or so more murals on silos are on the way here from top talents before the year is complete. The societal outreach is ground-breaking in its own way with an uncommon integration and engagement with the neighboring communities.
“It’s an interesting story,” says photographer Martha Cooper, who shares her images with BSA readers today. “Okuda is working with organizations who help people with disabilities like autism and Down Syndrome. The part of the mural at the base of each one of the silos was painted by a number of these participants,” she says. “And they all seemed to be having a great time.”
Startlingly original and indelibly context-specific, Titanes is a mural/public art project that resides at the intersection of social responsibility and community participation. Organizers say that the goal is not only to bring a roster of well-respected artists here to paint but to be completely inclusive of societal members who aren’t typically thought of as artists.
From now until October, a number of artists from the urban art scene will be transforming silos into art all across this region, including Bicicleta sem Freio, Daniel Muñoz, Demsky J., Equipo Plástico (comprised of Eltono, Nuria Mora, Nano4814 and Sixe Paredes), Fintan Magee, Hell’O, Smithe, Nychos, Ricardo Cavolo and Spok Brillor. In an unprecedented program of social inclusion through public art, 450 members of the Laborvalía association will also be working alongside the artists on various creative activities.
Already the program has proven life-changing in many ways, say participants, as perspectives and relationships are evolving during the initial painting program. “Okuda worked with one boy with autism while painting his mural,” Martha tells us. “He began to speak and interact after starting to paint – much to his parents’ delight. This part of the project gave it more weight than just the usual “artists-painting-walls” event.”
Organizers say that they hope Titanes will be an epic project that will go down in history as one of the world’s biggest events to promote social inclusion. At its core are Okuda’s own multi-faceted art agency called Ink and Movement, the Laborvalía organization, the Provincial Government of Ciudad Real, and a number of other municipalities and civic and tourism-related fields who are supporting the art and its message throughout society.
Laborvalía says in its mission statement that its principal goal is to promote the integration of people with disabilities in society and the workplace.
Titanes looks like it is the perfect project to make a big impression.
Hell’O Our idea was to mix abstract shapes and figurative elements in a colorful environment. We enjoy playing with the balance between different shapes and finding a homogeneous composition. We wanted to give it an optimistic, pop, fresh touch, something that speaks to everyone
Bicicleta sem Freio
“Os Gigantes de la Mancha” (The Giants of La Mancha) represents the
power of creativity and imagination and its indispensable role in the ability
of human beings to make sense of the world and others, especially among
children and people with disabilities.
Daniel Muñoz & Spok Brillor:
There are a number of concepts behind our intervention. First, it represents 15 years of working together as artists and friends: each medal symbolizes a story from some of the projects we’ve worked on in recent years.
It also reaffirms the building from an architectural standpoint: “decoration” in the sense of an award or honor and not just ornamentation. For us, it’s important to reaffirm the object in itself and not its political history. Finally, there’s an irony in the use of gold and its contrast with bread, a basic product produced by the silo and one that, in reality, was always represented as luminary and powerful in the imaginary of the 20th century.
Equipo Plástico (Eltono, Nuria Mora, Nano4818 and Sixe Paredes)
“Meseta” (Plateau) is a homage to the countryside, to the intractable space surrounding these silos. The tones and patterns of the surrounding areas, their textures and shades, cover every centimetre of the wall like a blanket, giving the building a round, almost sculpted look. Ignoring the limits of the building and symbolically camouflaging it in its environment accentuates its current invisibility after years of neglect and helps lighten the weight of its history.
Demsky & Smithe
In “Parábolas del
Pensamiento” (Parabolas of Thought), we have unified our style, based on the
phases of the brain for creation and thinking: preparation, incubation, illumination
First things first – Full disclosure; we are featured in the movie and we are close friends with both the subject of the doc and the director and we first suggested to the director that she was the perfect candidate to make a film about Martha Cooper. Now that we have that out of the way here are a number of shots from the premiere and our review of the movie:
Martha: A Picture Story had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Thursday to an enthusiastic crowd that included big graffiti, Street Art, international press and film industry names, to see the highly anticipated documentary about the venerable photographer Martha Cooper by the Sydney director Selina Miles.
Included in the crowd were old-skool New Yorkers and a large international contingent of folks like Henry Chalfant, Doze Green, Skeme, Lee Quinones, Soten1, Carlos Mare 139, Terror 161, Kane, Dink (Baltimore), Okuda San Miguel (Spain), Faith47 (Los Angeles), Mantra (France), 1UP Crew (Germany), Nika Kramer (Germany), Roger Gastman, Lars Pederson (Denmark), Ian Cox (UK), Dean Moses… and many more. Those who didn’t attend this screening are having the opportunity to see it at three more sold-out evenings over the course of the festival.
The electricity was in the air as Director Miles and producer Daniel Joyce along with the just-arrived Australian members of the “Martha” crew looked for their seats in the Village East Cinema. After a brief introduction by Miles, who told the audience that the film had been a great pleasure to make, the curtain went up to reveal the mother of the superstar art twins Os Gemeos on the big screen. She is sitting at her kitchen table in São Paulo remarking how her boys used to draw on everything, including fruit, and how Cooper and Chalfant’s 1984 book “Subway Art” changed their lives forever. With their story as a backbone for the film, the theme of personal transformation is repeated in a hundred large and small ways for the next hour and twenty minutes.
Spanning nearly all of Ms. Cooper’s 75 years, including a photo at age 3 with a camera in hand from her father Ben and uncle Harry’s Baltimore camera store, “Martha” successfully identifies the underlying driving forces, the unique personality and intellectual traits, and the milestones that propelled the photographer across scenes, subcultures, cities, and continents.
While Cooper is most often identified as a crucial documentarian of the 1970s and early 1980s graffiti-writing scene in New York, with “Subway Art” considered a global holy book of preservation that inspired thousands of artists worldwide, the film is judiciously clear that the photographer has had an anthropologists’ zeal for documenting much more over her multi-decade career.
During and after the film you don’t know who you are most impressed with – the director, Martha, the communities touched, the history and stories that are preserved with such care and respect.
“Martha” captures important and character-molding biographical events – like her work in the Peace Corps in Thailand, a subsequent motorcycle trip from there to the UK, her investigations of tattoo techniques in Tokyo, and her work as the first “girl” photographer at the New York Post. During the film’s nearly magical depiction of Cooper’s first meeting with New York graffiti king Dondi, those in the audience who knew this story broke out into spontaneous applause.
The film isn’t shy about the low points and struggles of Cooper, like her repeated attempts to work at National Geographic, the continuous rejections of “Subway Art” by publishers, her loss of money by its initial disappointing sales, and the high-sniffing artworld classism of a clueless gallerist who unsuccessfully tries to dash her hopes of being recognized for her truest and most human work.
You are gently led to take that journey with great interest as well, finally arriving at the mid-2000s European promotional tour for her book Hip Hop Files where Cooper suddenly realizes the impact that “Subway Art” has had on graffiti artists worldwide. Building on that enthusiastic response from new-found fans of her work she jumps back into street photography just as the Street Art scene is exploding.
Despite such a complex story Miles is able to coax out many significant truths in character development along with their infinite shadings, facts and nuances of the story.
With interviews, testimonials, unseen home footage from Cooper’s ex-husband and excerpts from soft-news TV stories of the 1980s, viewers may gain a greater understanding of the sacrifice, dogged determination, and her sixth sense for capturing images that the subject exhibits. Keeping a quick pace aided by a smart soundtrack, pertinent graphic elements, and sharp editing, Miles finds ingenious ways to educate us about the various milieu Cooper worked with and the vicissitudes she had to overcome.
The additional layers of visual language infuse so many aspects of the story – a collaging of words, music, precise editing, intuitive pairings and lyrical, witty storytelling that lands in a pitch-perfect way.
In the end you realize Coopers’ underlying credo of taking pictures is about shedding light on people, their lives, their amazing ingenuity in the face of difficulty, their ability to rise above their environment as well as the artists techniques of art-making.
Careful observers will also be struck by the scenes of quiet moments that remain still for a few seconds to reveal deeper feeling – a remarkable glimpse of the filmmaker’s intuitive grasp of the life path and its trials. It’s those in-between places of luminosity that are revelatory, and the human gestures she lets the camera linger upon allow the viewer to write small essays inside their head, bearing witness.
With gratitude and respect to Director Miles and her whole film crew whom have worked thousands of hours over the past 2 and half years, we know that the graffiti/Street Art/photography scenes have been given a huge gift; almost as big a gift as Martha herself.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. “A Message From the Future” Narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Illustrated by Molly Crabapple 2. Good Guy Boris – Viral Vandals Music Video 3. TITANES: Six Silos. Eight international artists in La Mancha, Spain. 4. The Story of Us and Them – Conor Harrington
BSA Special Feature: “A Message From the Future” Narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Illustrated by Molly Crabapple
A project from The Intercept and Naomi Kleinit imagines that somehow the oligarchy is going to let go of its addiction to fossil fuels and the aspirations of the citizens will prevail. Enjoy!
A Message From the Future
Good Guy Boris – Viral Vandals Music Video
Good Guy (bad guy?) Boris is back with his own version of Gypsy trap to entice and thrill you to do a big ass tag. A graffiti renaissance man who continues to plow his own path forward, the hijinx are hilarious and the song isn’t so bad either. Maybe it is a little better than those graffiti vandal road trip movies he was doing, but maybe we just have a short attention span these days.
TITANES: Six Silos. Eight international artists in La Mancha, Spain.
“People who normally lived in a very specific way and nobody had bothered to see whether they had talent or not,” explains Alfonso Gutierrez about the genesis of this project encouraging 450 students from around Spain to participate in a public mural campaign.
An inspirational message, and a welcome sign in this march of humans.
The Story of Us and Them – Conor Harrington
A short film that looks at the creative process on by the sincerely absorbed Irish Street Artist/fine artist Conor Harrington as he talks about his work and promotes his new show ‘The Story of Us and Them’ at Heni Gallery in London.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Okuda San Miguel. The World is Ours 2. Vhils – Annihilation 3. C215 Au Pantheon 4. On Set / Kenny Scharf
BSA Special Feature: Okuda San Miguel. The World is Ours
The awesome expanse of one artists’ life during the course of a year, as expressed visually in the travels of Okuda San Miguel. Prolific, pro-people, kaleidoscopic in his imaginings; Okuda’s public works are as engaging as any artist working outside today, and in some cases, very inspiring. This is a good era for the artist, and with talented people on his team galavanting the globe, at this moment the world is theirs.
Okuda San Miguel. The World is Ours
Vhils – Annihilation
Finding the right partner for collaboration is no easy matter, and Vhils is here studying the contrasts and shiny chaos of the US in late stage capitalism, finding that harmony can be struck from the most unlikely of pairings. Europeans can’t believe the disparity here, and we know its setting aflame the very fabric of our society – but it’s so dazzling as it burns. Feel your pulse quicken as you see Vhils chip away at the veneer with Shepard, Retna, and a jackhammer.
C215 Au Pantheon
master C215 continues his move into other arenas, in this case the crypt of the
Pantheon with his portraits of great men and women. Full of character and
dignity, his people are somehow brought to life in his depictions through
On Set / Kenny Scharf
Is this a commentary on the times, or a commentary on The Times? Maybe Kenny knows
Box trucks are a favorite canvas for many graffiti writers in big cities and have become a right of passage for new artists who want the experience of painting on a smooth rectangular surface that becomes a rolling billboard through the streets advertising your name, making you truly “All City”.
When in French Polynesia a few weeks ago with the ONO’U festival, a number of artists were given the significant gift of a large truck or school/commuter bus on which to create a mural, a message, a bubble tag.
Together on the islands of Raiatea and Bora Bora there were about 10 of these long and low autobuses that became sudden celebrities in the sparsely travelled streets, debuted as some of them were in Raitea, when painted live at an all night party for the public.
With a similar sized surface to paint, the comparing and contrasting between styles and techniques among the artists was suddenly on full display. In contrast to the cities that many of these artists began in, you could not have found a more appreciate audience of people for these artists and their talents. The best part is that these buses are currently rolling through the streets even though the festival is over.
With multi-colored geometric planes that form her bare shoulders, the Spanish artist says this architectural woman holding a piece of fruit is based on a painting by another famous European artist, the French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, who lived here in French Polynesia the 1890s.
It is a radical yet reassuring interpretation of a contemporary painter who counts surrealism painters like Dali, Ernst, and Magritte as favorites over the more romantic Impressionists. Aside from some of the rich hues and compositional elements, Okuda’s newer painting is a stunning departure from the revered original.
Okuda’s wall is one of five large new murals at ONO’U, the Tahitian mural festival now in its fourth year that has invited international Street Artists to this neighborhood in Papeete to paint and to get to know the locals, many of whom work in the tourist industry, sell produce, crafts, and jewelry.
Okuda, who has become a world traveler of late and a name that is sure to grow in the Contemporary Art field, says memories of his days playing soccer in the neighborhood as a boy with his brother while their parents worked at a restaurant keep him aware of the struggles of the workers whom he runs into. However fantastic the interpretation of a figure or form, he says that his works are often improvised in the moment and he wants them to come from the heart. In this case he used Gauguin’s original as his sketch but felt free to play with size and proportion of the figures and elements in the background.
“I think the most important aspect of my work is to change the place in a more positive way and I hope all of the Papeete community can feel it, you know?” he says on a hot muggy afternoon where the breeze from the nearby marina doesn’t seem to come far in shore.
“I remember that a teacher said to us one day when he was watching me paint that this wall is so important for the kids because they will be affected by my positivity,” Okuda says. “You can’t imagine how much you can change kids lives with art – and it is so important. Maybe the adults are too distracted to see it and to feel it but the kids are very receptive.”
The week-long festival included a museum installation, projection mapping, a block party, and even a fashion show that included local beauties modeling gowns painted by graffiti writers like Astro, Phat1, Abuz, Marko93, Lady Diva, Rival, Soten and Inkie.
Here we give you a few of the exceptionally strong pieces from the tight and high quality curation of ONO’U 2017; including works from Okuda, Felipe Pantone, Astro, FinDAC, Kalouf, MrZL, and Inkie on a box truck. Our thanks to all the volunteers and to the ONO’U Festival organizers Sarah Roopinia and Jean Ozonder.
Paul Gauguin. Where Are You Going?, or Woman Holding a Fruit . 1893. Current location: The Hermitage Museum. Russia.
Using a tracked central element as their starting point, French aerosol artist Marko93 and French digital mapping artist MrZL collaborated on this installation piece that debuted last week at the Tahiti Museum of Street Art.
Raitea, or more correctly, Ra’iātea, is the second largest of the Society Islands, after Tahiti, in French Polynesia. A 50 minute plane ride from where we spent a week in Tahiti for the ONO’U Festival, the organizers treated us and some of the artists and documentarians to an additional few days on this island this week.
The experience in this down to earth environment deepened our understanding and appreciation for the history, the sacred sites, and people here – many who have not previously had any interest in so-called Street Art or graffiti- or the current iterations of it anyway. The mainly port town is lush in vegetation with modest architecture, a lot of fresh produce, bare feet, a number of impressive tattoos, coral reefs, brightly colored schools of fish, vanilla beans, pineapples, black pearl farms, and now, murals from Street Artists from New Zealand, Paris, Madrid… Yes, we had the conversations about colonialism, cultural imperialism, hip hop culture, western culture, respecting traditions, giving and receiving. We’ll probably need more.
In the end, the artists thought perhaps more carefully about their work here than usual, sensitive to the audience, wanting to share. It’s this attitude of cultural exchange that inspires us to share them with you as images of our week. With gratitude to the organizers Sarah Roopinia, Jean Ozonder, Sarah’s kind parents, people of Tahiti and Raitea, and to you the loyal BSA reader here are some of the scenes that Jaime shot this week.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Akimbo, Charles & Janine Williams (Phat1 and Lady Diva), Kalouf, Marko93, Okuda, and Soten.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. Colouring The World. A Film By Okuda San Miguel
2. Borondo “Golden Gate” 3. Elbi Elem in Barcelona for 12+1 P 4. Chip Thomas in Santa Fe, New Mexico at Biocultura
BSA Special Feature: Colouring The World. A Film By Okuda San Miguel
The pleasing and bright geometry of Okuda has wide appeal to many audiences and he maximizes the effect with his choice of amiable animals and friendly themes. It’s a worldwide dance party for this artist and last year he took his public and commercial murals to many cities in places like Australia, Tahiti, and Thailand. And Miami, naturally.
Borondo “Golden Gate”
Dude, I told you – turn your phone so it’s landscape when you are doing video!
Just kidding. Here’s a video installation from a group show in March 2017 called COLERA in Rome’s Galleria Varsi.
Made as a stop action animation of a house on fire by Matteo Beradone with music by Enzo Pietropaoli. The multiple monotype prints by the Street Artist/Fine Artist Borondo are moving and crackling, inflected with gold leaf shadings, each different and evocative of the rapid flickering of fire, drowning in a reflective sea.
The group show also included Run, Canemorto and Michele Servadio during a two week residency at the gallery. You can see how the images were displayed in the photo from Borondo below the video
Elbi Elem in Barcelona for 12+1 Project
Here’s a process video of artist Elbi Elem at work on her mural for the 12+1 Project in Barcelona this spring.
Chip Thomas is a master at wheatpasting his large scale photographs, and has been doing this kind of art for many years now, usually with a genuine social mission and without great fanfare. This project is with Social Media Workgroup on the side of the Biocultura event space in Santa Fe, New Mexico