Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. 5 Minutes with: Plotbot Ken via I Love Graffiti.de 2. Nadia Vadori-Gauthier: One Minute of Dance 3. Ron English: The Road To Heaven (Tribute to Daniel Johnston)
BSA Special Feature: 5 Minutes with: Plotbot Ken via I Love Graffiti.de
Plotbot Ken first caught our eye in the remnants of a factory full of environmental and personal hazards. His is an apocalyptic view of humanity and our shortsighted predilection for creating destruction and for poisoning the earth. But somehow he has made something positive from our dire idiocy. You don’t have to speak German to enjoy this video, or to understand the symbolism of his recurring gas mask motif, or his genius for placement.
Nadia Vadori-Gauthier: Une Minute De Danse Par Jour (One Minute of Dance Per Day)
In reaction to terrorist acts, dancer Nadia
Vadori-Gauthier began a program to dance for one minute a day.
I dance as one manifests, like a small but daily
one, to work for a living poetry, to act by the sensitive against the violence
of certain aspects of the world. It felt like a series of small acts that might
possibly prove to reconnect the disconnections in her own society. She sites
the wisdom of a Chinese proverb to talk about her repeating acts of expression
in the public sphere over many years: “Dripping water ends up going through
This compilation of her works can help us see that
the aggregate of many small acts can indeed be phenomenal.
Ron English: The Road To Heaven (Tribute to Daniel Johnston)
The Industrial Revolution ushered in miracles of production, mechanics, engineering, speed, ease of global distribution – possibly the most important event in human history. It also killed cultures, decimated families, poisoned the Earth, air, water, radically changed civil society, enslaved people in dangerous conditions and caused workers to unite as never before.
The flight of industry has now given us incredible relics to explore and create art inside of or upon.
As industrial production migrated away from so-called Western societies in the last four decades we have been gifted the glorious and treacherous legacy of the factories in our cities. Urban explorers are now nearly legion on some cities, graffiti writers and Street Artist part of the mix. While the goals are often at odds – with explorers wishing only to preserve and archive and urban artists interested in finding new canvasses or installation environments – no one denies the sense of wonder and discovery wandering these carcasses of production in preservation or dilapidation.
If you have the luck to explore the steel and broken glass and possibly toxic materials sprayed with names and characters and patterns or adorned with sculptures of found materials spotlighted by natural beams of luminous fine matter, it can all present itself as a splendid chaos.
Whenever we travel to a new city as guests for academic talks on Street Art, art curating, or just seeing festivals and exhibitions we make it our priority to visit the forgotten margins of the industrial environs; spots where creativity and loose talk can happen uncensored, without permission and absent considerations of financial gain. The abandoned, decaying buildings like this one serve as a laboratory for many artists around the world, presenting an unintended studio environment and university function for artists who are experimenting, discovering, refining their skills.
We had the good fortune to visit one such place during our most recent trip to Leipzig, Germany on the occasion of our participation in the first edition of Monumenta Art. With our friend and colleague, photographer Nika Kramer we visited the KAOS Factory, colloquially named because the German graffiti artist by the same name has slowly taken it over with his work during the last few years, by default converting the former steam factory into his de facto “residency”.
He gave us a tour of the sprawling compound and told us about how much he loves coming here to paint. He told us stories about how young writers come to the factory to paint and due to their lack of experience or knowledge of “street rules” go over his work or his friends work and how he has to confront them and inform them that it may look like chaos to some, but there is actually an unwritten set of guidelines of respect that graff writers show for one anothers’ work – usually.
Similarly these young, inexperience writers take unnecessary risks while walking through the occasionally dangerous factory ruins, he says, with sometimes disastrous results. Today we share with BSA readers some of the many KAOS rooms here where the hospitable graffiti writer has done installations, finding a certain joy when he sees people who have managed to break in to enjoy the works – or to add their own.
Our thanks to KAOS for sharing with us the glorious chaos.
The video shows the attempt to implode the smokestack in the factory in 1995. While the implosion was somewhat successful it didn’t go as planned and it could have been a fatal disaster for the community around the factory. The photo below the video shows the very bottom part of the smokestack as it currently is and to the left it shows the potential damage to property and most likely fatalities as well should the stack have fallen to the left.
Murals have captured so much of the popular imagination about what the Street Art scene is today and although they may be part of the definition, murals remain only a part of the entire scene; a visual conversation that includes legal, illegal, small, anonymous, massive, deliberately confounding, low-energy scrawl, stickers, tags, poetry, diatribes, culture jamming, ad takeovers, sculpture, installations. Every week we aim to present a varied selection of expressions currently represented on the street, and then it is your turn to respond.
During 2016 BSA readers responded to images via our website, Instagram, Twitter, Tumbr, and Facebook pages. In a thoroughly unscientific survey that calculates “likes” and “clicks” and “re-Tweets” and “impressions”, we tallied up which murals (or images) got the most interest from you all. Care to read into the results?
The top 3 really sum it all up for 2016 and shouldn’t surprise us, but they still do; Militarism, Mis-information, and the Man of the Year.
If you ever doubted how much art on the street reflects the psyche of a society back to itself, no need to wonder anymore. If only we could read these tea-leaves and tell the future…
No 15. David Choe’s Portrait Of Martha Cooper for Wynwood Walls / Art Basel 2016.
Curator Carlo McCormick quotes Novalis by way of describing this new exhibit of an eclectic blend of terrific troublemakers, pop-culture hijackers, and show-stopping crowd pleasers drawn from cities all around the Street Art/ graffiti /urban art scene today – and forty years ago. This is a welcoming walk of unexpected intersections that only McCormick and co-curator Ethel Seno could imagine – and pull together as a panoply of street wizardry that acknowledges activism, artistry, anarchy, and aesthetics with a sincere respect for all. It will be interesting to see how this show is viewed by people who follow the chaotic street scene today in the context of its evolution and how they read the street signs in this city.
McCormick, in his customary self-effacing humor, expects there to be some shit flying – as anyone who is involved in this scene expects from the hard-scrabble rebellious margins and subcultures that this art-making interventionist practice rises from. There also are a growing and coalescing mini-legion of scholars and academics who are currently grappling with the nature and characteristics of this self-directed art-making practice rooted often in discontent – now organized inside an exhibition that is ticketed and sold as a family friendly show.
In his descriptions of the public sphere, the writer, historian, author, and cultural critic McCormick often refers to graffiti and street artists messing with “contested space”. It’s an apt description whether we are talking about the public space in high-density gleaming metropolises or the bombed-out grid-less and polluted quagmires of human fallibility and urban un-planning that dot our globe; all public space its nature is contested.
Here is a place used by many artists to protest, agitate, advocate, or deliver critique – and many of the artists in this exhibition have done exactly this in their street practice, often pushing limits and defining new ones. Dig a little into many of the individual story lines at play here and you’ll see that the vibrant roots of social revolution are pushing up from the streets through the clouds of propaganda and advertising, often mocking them and revealing them in the process.
Ultimately, this Magic City experience is an elixir for contemplating the lifelong romance we have with our cities and with these artists who cavort with us within them. “Our Magic City is a place and a non-place,” McCormick says in a position statement on the exhibit. “It is not the physical city of brick and mortar but rather the urban space of internalized meanings. It is the city as subject and canvas, neither theme park nor stage set, but an exhibition showcasing some of the most original and celebrated artists working on and in the city today.”
BSA curated the film program for Magic City with a dynamic array of some of the best Street Art related films today presented together in a relaxed environment. In this video hosted by Andreas Schanzenbach you get a taste of the works that are showing that we draw from our weekly surveys on BSA Film Friday. Over the last few years we have had the honor of presenting live in-person to students and scholars and fans an ever-evolving collection of videos that speak to the spirit experimentation, discovery and culture-jamming outrageousness of urban interventions, graffiti and Street Art. The BSA Film Program at Magic City presents a survey of some of the very best that we have seen recently.
Magic City artists include: Akrylonumerik, Andy K, Asbestos, Ben Heine, Benuz, Biancoshock, Bordalo II, Brad, Downey, Dan Witz, Daze, Ernest Zacharevic, Ganzeer, Henry Chalfant, HERAKUT, Icy & Sot, Isaac Cordal, Jaime Rojo, Jens Besser, Juandres Vera, Lady Aiko, Leon Keer, Loomit, MAD C, Mark Bode, Martha Cooper, Oakoak, Odeith, Olek, Ori Carin / Benjamin Armas, Qi Xinghua, Replete, ROA, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Skewville, SpY, Tristan Eaton, Truly, WENU Crew, Yok & Sheryo
The BSA Film Program for Magic City includes the following artists: Borondo, Brad Downey & Akay, Ella + Pitr, Faile, Farewell, Maxwell Rushton, Narcelio Grud, Plotbot Ken, Sofles, Vegan Flava, Vermibus
Some behind the scenes shots days before the Premiere
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. 5 Minutes with Plotbot Ken via ARTE Creative
2. Aerosoul – NYC by Kris Kim
3. Nychos at The Ice House in Jersey City.
4. “Europe” by BEZT (ETAM Cru) in Mannheim
BSA Special Feature: 5 Minutes with Plotbot Ken via ARTE Creative
“I don’t want people to think my images are cool or beautiful. I want to encourage them to think,” says Plotbot Ken in this introduction to the German stencil artist and his work.
The darker themes of war and environmental poisoning occur often in his hand-cut aerosoled works on the street, as well as singular images that also evoke the ghosts inside industrial ruins made with brushes and pens. He says that his work processes the disasters we have created and continue to create because “Doomsday is already here.”
Aerosoul – NYC by Kris Kim
Queens is home to Kris Kim, who spends a lot of time BMX riding and sees a lot of graffiti and Street Art in his neighborhood. He just edited together a video that he shot this past winter and he really captures a sense of poetry and discovery in his own urban environs. “Honestly I’m not a writer but it is something I have a lot of respect for – I get the whole outsider art aspect of it all and definitely enjoy it from a viewer’s perspective,” he tells us.
Nychos at The Ice House in Jersey City.
Nychos put a big heavy metal exclamation point on his New York invasion this summer by hopping the river into Jersey. For the Austrian muralist the experience is a fully immersive performance over a hot week while traffic backs up on its way into the tunnel leading to Manhattan, a gritty urban scene without redemption. His mixing of science and fantasy and dark drama is truer to life than the billboards that drivers run into along this route, and is delivered with total heart and mind engaged.
Shout out to the folks at Mana Contemporary and Jonathan Levine for making this possible.
“Europe” by BEZT (ETAM Cru)
A quick view of Polish illustrative muralist BEZT from the ETAM Cru on his own in Mannheim, Germany creating a piece he calls “Europe”.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. Plotbot KEN on Acid Tanks 2. Story Of Abstract Ritual From Jeff Frost
3. Boohaha & Don Forty: Μαινάδες-Maenads in Athens, Greece. 4. Pixel Pancho in Santurce
BSA Special Feature: PLOTBOT Ken hits Acid Tanks
In this film by Isabelle Petit we can revel in the physical and material qualities of paint, dripping, smearing, speckled and strewn. With your air mask on you can accompany these urban explorers as they venture into the carcass of industry that lays barren and toxic, corrosive and threatening to life. It’s a drums and bass soundtrack that accompanies the bubbling, spraying, steaming pastiche and the Berlin based Plotblot Ken gives an ominous darkness with his own industry in the detritus of that city, but really it could be anywhere in the abandoned industrial areas that litter our globe.
Story Of Abstract Ritual From Jeff Frost
“Hi I’m Jeff, an artist based out of Southern California. This is the story about how I became a nomad and embarked on an endless adventure,” begins photographer and director Jeff Frost as he describes his very visually stimulating and magical dance of inverted Joshua trees with light, motion, and sound — and many volunteers.
Boohaha & Don Forty: Μαινάδες-Maenads. Athens, Greece.
Oh no! It’s more foreboding music and broken glass as the camera hovers and slowly inches across the floor! Fallen leaves, dry leaves, desiccated branches with leaves, fluttering leaves. Then forms in darkness rapidly move in the shadows, maybe sawing something, maybe jumping on or stabling something. Don’t be afraid, it’s just a temporary sculpture installation in an abandoned space in Greece… with an excellent soundtrack.
Pixel Pancho in Santurce, Puerto Rico.
And to round out the collection with one more haunted and futuristic soundtrack, Pixel Pancho and Tost Films treat you to a stop action vision of how he creates one of his insectual future disaster scenes while the crazy cloud atmospherics of nature and post-production blurring are punctuated by the truculent punching of drumsticks and the sidewinding slathering of rusty razoring guitars.
The walls of Berlin are so slammed with graffiti and Street Art that artists and writers have no choice but to go over each other. While Germany (and France for that matter) have foresworn the laissez-faire approach of unregulated economics that led to the financial collapse, Berlin’s approach to graffiti and Street Art here is still relaxed.
Since the fall of the wall nearly a quarter century ago, the sense of liberation is still exploding on a cellular level throughout Berlin’s creative scene; a pent-up energy of free expression that has given the city a truly magnetic quality which draws artists from around the globe. Each visitor seems energized by their experience here where artists continue to seed, germinate and grow a dynamic scene that continues to take surprising shape. As of yet, it hasn’t been capitalized on entirely, but you can be sure that it will be one day very soon, if the pattern of other artist-led movements in cities of the Western world are indicators.
“The walls of Berlin are heavy with an exclusive cultural history. A city once divided, now converges into a thriving epicenter of artistic expression,” says New York Street Artist Gilf!, who just got back from this place of relative artistic freedom. Even as she toured the blanketed walls she says she knows that it is a temporary condition, and wonders if the “the rattle of spray cans” will fall silent one day. Today on BSA we have exclusive insights and photos of the scene from her perspective as a New Yorker in the early twenty-teens.
“Layers upon layers of spray paint, wheatpastes, murals, and installations make this metropolis a street art mecca. The energy is contagious, inspiring, and thought provoking. When discussing art, often times people compare modern day Berlin to New York in the nineteen eighties: expressive, prolific, and all-encompassing.” – Gilf!
“The extreme censorship of decades past, contrasting with the current overwhelming display of personal expression on the walls of Mitte, Kruezberg and many other neighborhoods became my internal obsession as I walked the streets. As this art form becomes more and more censored in US cities like New York and Chicago, I can’t help but draw a reverse parallel with Berlin.” – Gilf!
“The above piece in reference to Malala Yousufzai, the 15 year old girl in Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting women/girls education. She was transferred to a hospital in the UK, where she was recently released. The QR code next to her sends the viewer to a BBC news page that explains her ordeal”
“I am trying to educate people with this piece. It’s funny how the Arabic really scares people, like it’s some sort of terrorist threat. Even with the translation “knowledge is the deadliest weapon” written in English on her body- it’s not enough to keep this piece up in certain places. People fascinate me. It’s almost subconscious, that choice of ignorant disregard for other cultures, hate is a strong word, but it feels like that sometimes.”-Gilf