Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. David Shillinglaw: Alive In The Human Hive 2. Flavita Banana in Barcelona for 12+1 Project 3. JR at the Louvre 4. A NYC Subway Train in Queretaro, Mexico
BSA Special Feature: David Shillinglaw: Alive In The Human Hive
“The artworks I make are an absurd visual taxonomy listed in no particular order the ingredients that we all consume and produce,” explains the British painter and Street Artist David Shillinglaw. Clearly, he’ll have enough to paint until his dying day, as we cannot stop producing.
gem here: “We are funky little space monkeys orbiting a ball of hot gas”
David Shillinglaw: Alive In The Human Hive
Flavita Banana in Barcelona for 12+1 Project
“With a nod to La Danse by Henri Matisseand many human tribes’ rites of Spring, artist Falvita Banana creates her new “Juntes sumem” (add together) here on the façade of Cotxeres Borrell in Barcelona,” we wrote a few weeks ago when she first finished her mural. Today we have video of the event. See the original article here: Flavita Banana & Women in a Springtime Dance
JR at the Louvre
This time-lapse movie shows the installation of street artist JR’s paper trompe l’oeil at the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, France.
“On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Pyramid, JR
created a collaborative piece of art on the scale of the Napoleon Court.
Three years after having made the Pyramid disappear, the artist brought
a new light to the famed monument by realizing a gigantic collage,
thanks to the help of 400 volunteers !
Each day hundreds of volunteers came to help cut and paste the 2000 strips of paper, making it the biggest pasting ever done by the artist.”
A NYC Subway Train in Queretaro, Mexico
When local graff writers in Queretaro, Mexico heard that New York’s famous photographer Martha Cooper was going to be in their town for a new exhibition they decided to welcome her in the best way they knew how: A graffiti jam on a train.
When local graff writers in Queretaro, Mexico heard that New York’s famous photographer Martha Cooper was going to be in their town for a new exhibition they decided to welcome her in the best way they knew how: A graffiti jam on a train.
With the help of the organizers at Nueve Arte Urbano, the local kings and queens scored a long wall on a busy major avenue that they could paint subway cars on and convert to an NYC train. They hoped Martha would feel at home seeing this and it looked like she definitely did.
It’s a fast-growing major city without a subway, even though it could definitely use a more inclusive and efficient public transportation system since its quick growth has swelled to a million inhabitants. Scores of multi-national corporations left the US and set up shop here since they wrote the NAFTA trade deal and now employ this highly educated population. Many universities, lower wages, and an easier regulatory environment have brought the big companies here as well as the fact that the city boasts an attractive protected historical area that was declared a World UNESCO zone. Now they have a subway, at least a temporary painted one.
The neighborhood where the wall is located is called “San Francisquito” or Little San Francisco – a sort of sister city for many of the folks who have family in that US city as well. Rich in character and history, the neighborhood retains a distinct connection to indigenous culture: For example this is the home of Los Concheros, a group of native indigenous people in Mexico who have roots in the Chichimecas, Aztecs and, Mexicas who perform traditional dances dating back to the early colonial period.
Mostly residential, with narrow cobblestone streets and family-owned small business and grocery stores, we saw many locals who appeared pleased for the industry of local youth in a mural that stirred some excitement and pride.
They stopped by and commented on the new works and wondered where the action was coming from as aerosol lettering and characters began to populate the train sides.
was an interlude of serendipity that the visiting New Yorkers were not
expecting – a sunny day full of love and art. Martha happily obliged to
requests for photos, to write tags in black books and thanked each of them for
their gifts of t shirts, stickers and even a miniature portrait of her drawn in
Many images this week are from our short visit to Querétaro, Mexico this week – where, among other things, we saw first hand many of the murals mounted by the festival Nueve Arte Urbano over the past few years. Each festival around the world is unique to its local culture – with the possible exception of the highly commercial ones that are self-styling as a franchise of cool McArt dipped in tangy “Street” flavored sauce. We had a good survey of this mural/street art/graffiti scene in the context of Mexico’s historic mural masters, and a true sense of how counterculture can be embraced by so-called “mainstream” culture for the betterment of both.
short, the DNA of this festival is not about self-promotion but engaging
community in meaningful dialogue, respecting tradition of indigenous culture,
and embracing the modern day rebels who have brought art to the streets in
myriad ways. Combined with an unprecedented 101 photo exhibition of graffiti,
Street Art, and urban culture mounted on the streets that was too meta for our
brains, we saw people walking the walk, not just talking the talk. We only wish
we had more time, and a drone!
Additionally this week we have a few more favorite shots from a quick trip to Berlin last week. Berlin is basically Brooklyn’s sister city and it was also in the full throes of Spring, with long lines at the all-night dance clubs way after the sun came up. This weekend it looks like Brooklyn is warming up too – almost beer garden time!
Until then, let’s head over to Bamonte’s for a vodka martini with the fine men and women of what’s left of Italian American Williamsburg here in Brooklyn. This is an institution that’s 119 years old lined with framed photos of famous Italian Americans and celebrities who ate there like Telly Savalas and that guy from the Sopranos!
No music, only the clinking of glasses and animated storytelling and some people who may have been dining here when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn – all eating lobster tails, shrimp cocktail, clams oreganata, iceberg lettuce salads, pastas, meat balls, fish, sautéed porkchops, scalloped potatoes, green beans, chicken parmesan, and blueberry pie or tiramisu. Okay it’s not five star, you big hotshot, but it’s at least as good as your Aunt Rosa’s kitchen, amiright? Bamontes not good enough for you now, you big Broccolini?
And the portions, my god, you won’t need to eat again
until Good Friday.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring 007, 1UP Crew, Calladitos, City Kitty, Clown Soldier, CS SZYMAN, Deih XLF, drsc0, Ger-Man, La Madriguera Grafica, Mantra, Nespoon, Paola Delfin, Santiago Savi, Victor Lopez, and Voxx Romana.
The city changes at night – the blinking, the beams, the shadows. The tires screech, the leaves scatter across pavement in the dusty breezes. The hushed voices, the silences. The spraying of gestures and earnest street choreography inside the tunnel while others sleep.
It is an impromptu invitation to discover the creative spark as it reveals itself on the city in the dark; now part of the city loudly, quietly. To have this moment, with these people, in this place, with this history, on this precipice… it is a moment of wonder that lifts us all off of the ground, if only a few centimeters. Then we are back here, together, in the night.
“Martha Cooper isn’t only a photographer, she’s a historian as well and you are here with us today to pay homage to her work. Martha is my teacher and she taught me more than graffiti, she’s taught me the way in which we live with art every day. When we see a piece of art on the street we bring it into our daily lives. That’s precisely Martha’s contribution to our lives”
Edgar Sánchez, co-founder of the Nueve Arte Urbano festival.
Under the magical spell of the Jacarandas in full bloom, a spirit of Pax Urbana flowed through Queretaro’s lush public park Alameda Central this weekend as dignitaries from the city, including the honorable Andrea Avendaño, the Minister of Culture of the City of Queretaro, and the Nueve Arte Urbano team hosted the opening of an outdoor exhibition by famed photographer Martha Cooper.
The 101 photographs spanning four decades were enlarged and mounted in weather resistant vinyl throughout the park, representing the full range of Ms. Cooper’s continued focus on art in the streets.
Named “Evolucion de una Revolucion” (Evolution of a Revolution), produced by Nueve Arte Urbano in collaboration with the Secretariat for Culture of the city of Queretaro, the open air exhibit champions the grassroots art movement that continues to evolve in cities around the world. It also references the social and political revolutions in countries like Mexico that reflect the will of people and produce upheaval that change the course of history.
The welcoming ceremony featured bboys, bgirls, djs, and speeches by the Minister of Culture, representatives of the municipality, and Edgar Sánchez, co-founder of the Nueve Arte Urbano festival.
With the arte libre espiritu of New York graffiti writers like Dondi, Lee, and Futura mingling in the air with Mexican muralists Siqueiros, Rivera, and Orozco – a rather transnational reverence for the powerful engagement of art in the streets was at play.
Notably, the audience here were again the youth of the city who feel the powerful magnetism of this grassroots people’s movement that opens doors to them to create and express themselves, giving them a sense of agency over their own environment.
It has always been the kids, teens, and young adults who have driven this global urban culture and Ms. Cooper has steadfastly sought the clues to our future by consulting the opinions and creative expressions of these folks.
That may explain why Cooper today embodies that precise sense of discovery and vitality – an enthusiasm that shined during a personal tour she gave of her new photo exhibition here outside in Mexico.
“On a path where thousands of people walk every day we’ll be welcomed by urban art in an urban space. “Evolution of a Revolution” is an exhibition by famed photographer Martha Cooper under the project PaxUrbana, a collaborative project that’s rooted in a dialogue between several sectors of our society and includes the graffiti writers from different neighborhoods of the city of Queretaro”
Andrea Avendaño, Minister of Culture of the City of Queretaro
Mexico and Estonia; an unlikely couple. But sometimes love is like that. In a time when orthodoxy globally is seemingly self-combusting and obviously falling short in meeting the needs of people, it is perhaps no surprise that the unique hybrids of shared strengths are those that arise and can lead.
A cultural love child combining the traditions of these two nations has resulted in a surprising amount of cross-cultural exchange and mural making in the last year or two. Today we have just some of the artworks made during a two-part event held in each country, the first in Tallinn, Estonia in June 2017 and the second in Querétaro, Mexico during March 2018.
The unlikely pairing by two sociological searchers who love graffiti, Street Art, and the mural traditions of the past as much as the modern mural phenomena now speaks a common language of aesthetics in multiple spheres.
Together Édgar Sánchez and Sigre Tompel have mounted two large cross-culture jams, attracting numerous artists and trans-national interpreters (nearly 100), presenting and renewing interests in history, indigenous people, traditions, and the environment challenges of today.
By highlighting the similarities and distinct differences in traditional and modern culture, these two are the magnetic field around whom a multi-faceted public art practice is developing that showcases urban and mural artists.
Together the two say that the effort is “a reminder of what makes us feel proud of being Mexicans, Estonians, and even better, what unites us beyond our nationalities: our cultural freedom. Our responsibility of making this place, this world, a better place than how we found it.”
The enterprise is frequently steeped in metaphor and symbolism and a search for meanings in the overlapping of traditions. One that is often sited is the Blue Deer/Fern Blossom intersection.
In México, according to ancient Huichol tribe tradition, people go to hunt Blue Deer to search for wisdom and inner vision. Searching is also involved in the Estonian ancient tradition of searching for the Fern Blossom that is said to appear only during the summer equinox of June, which they call Jaaniöö. Both traditional cultural stories represent prosperity, protection and fertility, they say.
“Mextonia is a gift to remind the world about the Spirit; a collective soul in the shape of a Blue Deer, in finally finding a Fern Blossom,” say Sánchez and Tompel.
For Mr. Sánchez, the Mexican co-creator and author of the Mextonia Manifesto, there is a belief that there are larger forces at work in the Universe and that Mextonia is a platform and vehicle for the new generation.
When reading his observations you will see that the platform is hoping to lead Millennial artists to reconnect with a sense of culture and identity, two things that are sadly slipping away due to the dopamine-laced fire hose of mass media stimuli, social and otherwise, that we are collectively exposed to.
For Tompel, the Estonian co-director of this bi-national transcultural journey, “Mextonia was born from a personal ‘vision quest’ to better understand the native wisdom of Mesoamerican natives.”
She says the enthusiasm and knowledge of Sánchez guided her to better appreciate ancient traditions like those of the Mexican Huichol tribe, and that this new appreciation enlivened her interest in her own homeland of Estonia, which she began to study in earnest. Together, the two of them have poured the molten iron of their combined roots and cast a foundation that many artists are now adding their interpretation to.
Whether it is costume or symbols or rites or ceremony, you can see a deep desire to be inclusive in the styles and expressions. The spring festival, for example, extended its message with the collaboration with the PangeaSeed Sea Walls effort, headed by Tré Packard and his team in pursuit of “combining art and activism on this level and caliber to champion for the oceans,” and often sited aspiration.
“Art and public activism can educate and inspire the global community to help save our water resources,” says Packard. “Regardless of its location, large metropolitan city or small coastal town, all drains lead to the ocean and the ocean provides every breath we take. The Earth cannot exist without healthy oceans and water resources.”
With this in mind the city of Querétaro was chosen for the multiple aqua-related public artworks as a way to draw attention to the city’s own reliance on water that is transported from a hundred kilometers outside the city. This chapter of “Mextonia” was also known as “Water is One”.
The experience and study has even helped coin new terms, like transgraffiti and transgraffiti muralism.
“Muralism and Street Art have proven to transform cultural symbols and catalyze culture,” says Sánchez. “Now, Transgraffitti is a trans-personal kind of muralism, which distances itself from both; names and pop culture, by taking deep cultural symbols and re-expressing them in a transcendental and contemporary way.”
In this respect, it is a unique view of Street Artist and graffiti writers in contemporary practice from an evolutionary perspective. In the Water is One Manifesto 2.0 that was released this spring the organizers write:
“In today’s world we see millions of young people expressing on walls, influencing the streets and society. They write their names to identify with their space: we call them graffiti writers. As they grow and explore, some look beyond the writing of a personal name and embark into trans-personal-creation.
They research social challenges, paint visual metaphors and transcend borders. They discover the power of their painting over streets and culture. They become a kind of contemporary shaman, producing street incantations.
This is the transpersonal-graffiti, and we call it Transgraffiti muralism.”
As BSA correspondent from Tallinn and Querétaro, veteran photojournalist and ethnographer Martha Cooper attended the installations, exhibitions, celebrations, and ceremonies in both countries and she collected a wealth of important information to share.
In her own words Cooper says, “Street art is a worldwide art movement and Mextonia has shown how creative two different cultures can be when combined. Excellent idea – brilliantly realized.”
As mentioned Part 2 in Querétaro, Mexico was a collaboration with Pangea Seed and it was a concerted effort to highlight water resources, and “The Water Is One” theme was reflected in the murals.
“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” ~Jacques Yves Cousteau
While these 40 or so photos are resplendent in conveying the spirit and dedication shown daily by participants, they are ultimately a very small sample of the hundreds Cooper took.
Similarly a blog platform like this cannot comprehensively cover the events or the perspectives in their entirety, but we hope that you can gain a greater appreciation for the depth of feeling, scholarship, and talent that is represented here in Martha’s photographs and our descriptions.
We conclude our text here with an interview that Ms. Cooper conducted for BSA with Sigre Tompel to better understand the breadth of the festival and also to get more detail about a sacred spiritual ceremony that Cooper attended with native peoples and the artists during her Mexican visit this spring.
Martha Cooper:Can we call “Water Is One” in Querétaro Part 2 of Mextonia? Are you planning Part 3? Sigre Tompel: Yes, it is a sequence of Mextonia, part 2 (Mextonia in Estonia was the element of Fire, Water Is One was the element of Water. Yes, we are planning part 3 and 4 (Earth and Air).
Martha Cooper:How many artists participated in both the Estonian and Mexican festivals? Sigre Tompel: In Estonia we had 60 artists and in Mexico 33 – together with graffiti writers and neighboring walls of the Dome. These 5 artists were actually in both festivals – Aaron Glasson (New Zealand), Sänk (Estonia), Sermob (Mexico), Renata (Mexico), Goal (Mexico). Our whole core crew is a total of 15 people.
Martha Cooper:What was the name for the type of group that performed the ceremony at the walls? What was burning in the pot that produced the smoke? Copal? Sigre Tompel: They are called Concheros, they use Copal , smudging for blessing. The message was smudging the artists to thank them for their work and to bless their way back home, so they can arrive healthy and happy. The name of this particular group of Concheros is “In Xochitl In Cuicatl”, Flor y Canto (Flower and Singing) and they are lead by Conchero General Manuel Rodriguez. The name is in Nahuatl, the ancient language of the Mexica.
Martha Cooper:Does the ceremony have a name? Can you say a few words about what kind of blessing it was or what message they were sending the artists? Sigre Tompel: The Concheros hold the tradition of the old Mexican belief system. After being conquered by the Spanish, they decided to hold balance and harmony between the two belief symbols, so they started honoring Christian symbols, while honoring also Mexican symbols, usually in secret. Concheros need to be reconsidered as a Cultural Heritage of the World, they are not “syncretic” by ignorance, but to keep the sacred balance of cultural hybridization.
The Concheros were very happy because the artists expressed the metaphors of their dances into the murals, and because this represents a kind of Mexican renaissance that returns to an earlier time, reinterpreting the ancient classic pre-religious Mexican belief systems.
Read this article in Spanish / Leer este articulo in Espanol aqui:
TRANS-GRAFFITI Y EL FESTIVAL TRANSNACIONAL “MEXTONIA
Publicado el 26 de Mayo, 2018
México y Estonia; una pareja improbable. Pero a veces el amor es así. En una época en la que la ortodoxia global es autocomplaciente y obviamente no satisface las necesidades de las personas, quizás no sorprenda que sean los híbridos únicos de fortalezas compartidas los que pueden liderar en el mundo.
We’re back with a slew of new ROA pieces as he continues to share the absolute best images with BSA readers while traveling around the globe. The Belgian street artist, who we refer to as an Urban Naturalist, continues his astounding world tour at a pace that few Street Artists can sustain. Right now he in Hawaii for Pow! Wow! but will soon be in New York for what we hear will be a rather amazing solo gallery show.
The prolific painter has so many fresh images for you that ROA is getting two days of postings on BSA this week. Today we go to London (UK), Werchter (Belgium), Bromölla and Nassjo in Sweden, Queretaro (Mexico), Schmalkalden (Germany), Rome (Italy), Lexington, Kentucky(US), and Las Vegas, Nevada (US). Accompanying some of the images is commentary from ROA about the experience, the context in which he created the pieces and the relevance of the subjects he chose to depict.
As is often the case, ROA raises consciousness about the deleterious effects our everyday selfishness causes for the animal world, who we crow so loudly that we care about. While ROA could stay with comfortable subjects, he has demonstrated a long lasting dedication to the plight of animals that few social activists doing work on the street can sustain or have the stomach for. Coupled with the ceaseless dedication to honing his craft over the last few years, sometimes the result is so monumental that your jaw drops open.
This container construction is a permanent installation for NORTHWESTWALLS in Werchter, Belgium. He explains how he arrived at the subject when he was given this massive sculpture of shipping containers as canvas. “Thinking about this situation and the given element of the containers, my thoughts were directly connected to freight and legal and illegal animal trafficking of exotic animals: a questionable practice,” he says.
“Illegal trafficking is an ongoing crime and we all know to what it can lead, however in the context of legal trafficking I was thinking about how the colonies exported exotic animals in poor conditions to show in Victorian zoos. I also thought about the ironic repercussions of zoos today: how they export animals for breeding programs and how some species only exist in captivity anymore, which is a paradox. So this is how I got the idea to use the containers as cages and instead of using native animals, it became a pile of exotic animals.”
“Malverket (the building) is a part of a ceramic factory that makes huge insulators, located in Bromölla, in South Sweden. ‘Bromölla boasts remains from the Stone Age, and even some findings of dinosaurs…‘,” he says, quoting the WikiPedia page I painted a tyrannosaurus. Teresa and Jonathan invited me, and I do know you already shown the reportage of Henrik Haven, thank you for that! That was great.
“The London shrew in Dulwich,” he tells us, is actually a depiction of a shrew is stuck into a jar. “It happens a lot in nature that shrews crawl into empty beer bottles and can’t get out because of the slippery/smooth bottle end… they die and the rotten smell attrack other shrews to check out the bottle and on tier turn they become trapped in the bottle.”
ROA thanks Ingrid Beazley from the Dulwich Picture Gallery who invited him over to paint the Dulwich wall.
ROA did a number of paintings of animals local to the area while in Queretaro for the Board Dripper Festival, which celebrated its fifth year in September. ROA would like to says thanks to Isauro for the hospitality.