“According to the Chinese curse, may we live in interesting times,” says Andrey Parshikov, curator of the IV Biennale of street art ARTMOSSPHERE on the website for this newest iteration of a festival mounted in public space and gallery space that is at least partially funded by the government. Selections of artists were made with consultation of a ten-member international committee of advisors from the commercial, publishing, institutional and intellectual world who have expertise in graffiti, street art, and its various expressions more broadly referred to as Urban Contemporary. The fourth edition of the international event, this year more than 70% are nationals; 38 Russian and 15 international artists.
The expert committee, according to organizers, have allowed for a diverse range of artistic formats and techniques to be employed by the participants, resulting in something that sounds like it will be more of an experimental exhibition than previous editions; featuring murals, graffiti, public art, installations, performances, and theatrical actions that will be open to the public.
“This season we are bringing back the original idea of the show – street art should live in the urban environment, in the open space,” says Sabina Chagina, one of the co-founders of the biennale in 2014 who is now the Art Director of the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center and Artistic Director of the Biennale. Winzavod has provided a varied artists compound of creative spaces for a decade and a half in Moscow that many credit as a laboratory for cultivating opportunities for experimentation and support for artists working in the public realm.
“Two years ago, ARTMOSSPHERE received permanent institutional support from the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center and became part of it,” says the press release about the collective exhibition that has launched parallel programs and special projects in public space in the last decade.
A difficult exhibition program to pull off during peacetime, this one is mounted during a hotly debated war that is being watched by most of the world. Like all arts programming, people will be measuring it at least in part to see how it responds to the times and political realities.
International artists include: ARIS ONER (Germany), Matteo Ceretto Castigliano (CT) (Italy), Amaro (Brazil), Pablo Harymbat (Argentina), IHAR (Belarus), Varenje Organism (Israel), GAYA SOFO (Armenia), Maria Bokovnia (Germany), Daria Goffman (Armenia), Filip Radonjic (USA/Serbia), Neon Spidertag (Spain), Hakob Balayan (Armenian Center of Experimental and Contemporary Art (NPAK) (Armenia).
Artists from inside the Russian Federation include: Anastasia Litvinova (Moscow), Sasha Braulov (St. Petersburg), Wearing Tail and artist Eldar Ganeyev (ZIP Group) (Moscow-Krasnodar), Lubov Vink (Krasnoyarsk), Philip Kitsenko (Moscow), Masha Smorodina (Moscow), Alena Troitskaya and Ksenia Sharapova (Moscow-Cyprus), Fork (Moscow), Alexander Gushchin (Yekaterinburg), Out Band Mucha (Samara), KTK (Moscow-Spb-Ekb), Anya, come! (Khabarovsk), Anna Tararova (Moscow), Elena Kholodova (Moscow), Alexandra Kuznetsova (Moscow), Ozerki, Andrey Shkarin and Maria Yefimova (Moscow), Galina Andreeva (Moscow), Krasil Makar (Ekaterinburg), Twenty Two (Moscow), New City Artists, Ivan Volkov (Protvino), Frukty Vrukty (Perm).
We had a question going into the BSA Talks program at Urvanity in Madrid
earlier this month: How deep is the street? Turns out it’s very deep.
We had 10 minds from different countries and disciplines on the stage
talking to us about a wide range of issues in depth, and armed with a vast
wealth of knowledge.
As we reflect on our week in Madrid we realize that we came out of it vastly
enriched. The knowledge shared on the stage came from people who have devoted a
great part of their lives researching, studying, producing, traveling, writing,
exposing, taking risks, creating on the streets, on stages, outdoors, indoors,
alone, with a team, with funds, without funds.
Many have made their own path by walking.
Multiplying the effect was the fact that we were presenting in a bubble.
Perhaps that is a metaphor to some, but in this case our three day exploration
was while inside a room that had been covered with plastic top to bottom, side
to side; a red bubble cave made of plastic. The site specific installation by
the Madrid based collective Penique Productions changed our very perceptions
because everything was drenched in a red/pink glow.
Here are some of the images from those few mind-expanding days;
From the start, big thinker Denis Leo from Berlin spoke to us with his
current vision on “The Intelligence of Many” and what it means in terms of
collaborative place-making, curating, and problem-solving. It seemed a perfect
note to begin as we contemplate a world where long established hierarchies are
flattening and power is reallocated to those who can work collectively and
independently. He reminded us that pretending to know about art may mean that
we close our mind to new opportunity, new experiments and possibly the whole
Following him Dr. Fernando Figueroa from Madrid spoke about how Graffiti and Street Art can act as a social barometer; an emotional and ethical reflection of a neighborhood, a community, and a city. With an unearthing of research on societies attitude toward graffiti and mark-making that went back centuries, his research combined classical notions of civilization, architecture, and urban planning with the individuals’ psychological need to have a voice. He also talked about how to decode the messages we see on the street.
Juan Peiro from Spain and Sergio Pardo from New York spoke about how we can thoughtfully program works that respond to the rhythm of a city, cognizant of its systems, in concert with its various populations.
A New York City Arts programmer and a professor at Universitat Politècnica de València, the two of them have worked in public space with artists and the community. Each had valuable observations about the interactions. An underlying theme: What is “creative placemaking” and how does one obtain permissions from all the parties who are affected by works in the public sphere?
Prague based multidisciplinary artist Jan Kaláb spoke about inclusivity and exclusivity in Street Art as seen through the eyes of someone who’s art practice has continuously evolved in the past two decades. Reclining on the plastic red couch with mic in hand, Jan shared his personal experiences as a graffiti writer hitting trains and explained to us how the graffiti crews are an inclusive community who rely upon each other to succeed and how graffiti is a social experience that thrives in collaboration. Lessons learned from his foundations working collaboratively led him to different forms of working with artists, creators, administrators, galleries, and fans.
Alberto González Pulido from Madrid touched on a timely and very important set of topics from the Gag Law in Spain, censorship to copyrights and artists’ intellectual rights. Armed with in-depth detail about current laws that are evolving to address Internet matters and copyright and free speech – casting a frightening pall of power overreach by corporations into areas exclusively reserved for our courts and governments. The main message for us was that we all need to educate ourselves.
Sabina Chagina from Moscow took us on a personal trip and shared her experience and the process and difficulties co-founding a Biennale of Street Art in Moscow, a city with practically no culture of street art on the streets. A frank and open sharing of knowledge, it was instructive on how huge projects can come together with the right partners and the ability to pivot when necessary toward opportunity. Also, think big!
Susan Hansen and Bill Posters took us on a learning trip with their lectures about hacking public space with subvertising, brandalism, collaborative interventions, the street practices of Creative Activism. They both spoke of the role that activism plays in a time of social-political-psychological upheaval and how Street Artists are using the existing public furniture to disseminate their message – and reclaim public space.
And finally curator, visionary, publisher and gallery owner Pascal Feucher from Berlin spoke about the importance of nurturing artists and giving them the space and the freedom to create, experiment, fail, learn and succeed.
Three days of intense learning and meeting people and talking about why we do what we do – and the importance of remaining independent and commercial free – gave us new impetus to continue taking risks. We are newly determined to make things happen; providing a platform for artists, curators and big thinkers to present their proposals and voice their dreams and aspirations. For galleries to announce their exhibitions. For art fairs to promote their programs, for authors to voice their thoughts and for the public to experience art without the intrusion of advertisements.
“And yes, it is that red in the room,” scholar Susan Hansen says to narrate her photos of the BSA Talks. “Like Dexter kill zone plastic red.”
It was an unusual three days living inside the conference that was blowing minds inside an art piece. We often forgot that we were bathing in, drenched in, glowing within a steady crimson glow while listening to astute historians, lawyers, hackers, artists, academics, and urban arts pros who were sitting on a big plastic couch or leaning on cherry plastic lectern.
We were lucky to be there to see the process by Penique from
the beginning, a transformational project that looks like a lot of fun, if a
lot of work.
The Yap crew from Berlin described it to friends the same way we’re seeing it, BSA Talks was “bringing the most creative heads from all the world to chat in the red living room.”
We simply surmised that we were working with others inside of a beating heart.
A week on the street – and 3 days on stage with Urvanity 2019
As refugees from institutionalized dogma we’ve never felt a need to align our thinking about art on the streets with any one perspective regarding the various sets of “rules” that are set forth about graffiti, street art, and fine art, and their various intersections with the Internet, the commercial art world, urban dialogues, anthropology, sociology, legality, illegality, institutional embrace, patronage… unless you can make an appealing argument that rings true.
BSA Talks intends to provide a forum for multiple voices wherever it appears, opening the conversation about where these grassroots art movements came from, how they developed and merged, how they have retained their individual character or became aligned with more established aspects of the culture on their route from being strictly part of a subculture.
At this year’s edition of Urvanity we are pleased to invite some scholars, artists, producers, cultural curators, free thinkers and disruptive rebels to the table, to the stage, to the discussion of ideas. We are calling this edition of BSA TALKS in Madrid “How Deep Is the Street”, and we invite you to come and see the presentations and discussions and ask your own questions about this exciting, vibrating, shape-shifting, and evolving people’s art movement at this moment; locally and globally.
as ever, we may not become believers, but we won’t try to force you to become
one either. Welcome!
How deep is the street?
“When you talk about Street Art, Urban Art, Graffiti, and Urban Contemporary, there is much more than what you can see on the surface. For this years edition of Urvanity we present the “BSA Talks”, a lively and opinionated series of talks that are curated and hosted by the founders of the influential art blog BrooklynStreetArt who created an entertaining program that reflects and investigates the complexity of a half century of artists working on the streets – and the hot topics that deeply affect the scene today.
Hacktivism, Intellectual Property, Place Making, Urban Planning, legal/illegal DIY escapades and large scale collaborative public projects – These are all within the scope of this massive movement and are shaping the future. Come join us, talk with and listen to artists, professionals, academics, and thinkers who are studying and pivotal in the formation of this global grassroots art scene. Let’s see how deep it goes!”
“Street culture and digital technologies continue to flatten hierarchies in the art world. Art, Activism, and evolving models of Collaborative Creation are all converging toward a new way of working. Disciplines more easily melt together, why not collaborative works of exhibitions, performance, and engagement. The concept of The Intelligence of Many provides insight into opportunities (and possible dangers) for new truly D.I.Y. energy as applied to art and culture movements.”
6.00pm-6:55pm – Fernando Figueroa– How Graffiti Speaks to Society as a Humanity Barometer
Graffiti and Street Art can act as a social barometer; an emotional
and ethical reflection of a neighborhood, a community, and a city. But
how can you decode it? Urban art and its myriad expressions are
intrinsically red to real or figurative space and time and can act as an
alarm system, a stress valve, or a request to change. Come hear Dr.
Fernando Figueroa as he shows us that graffiti is alive, insisting on
opening awareness, taking action and ultimately giving voice to
BSA Film Friday presents the Madrid premiere of “Equilibri”, the documentary directed by Batiste Miguel about Okuda San Miguel’s intervention at the Fallas in Valencia. The new film presents his piece as it re-interprets the historical celebration and illustrates a harmony between tradition, modernity and New Contemporary Art. Join Steve and Jaime as they welcome Oscar Sanz and the protagonist of this incredible event, artist Okuda San Miguel.
The proliferation of so-called Street Art mural festivals in the last
10 years has certainly added color to our cities, but has it created a
dialogue with them?
Can we thoughtfully program works that respond to the rhythm of a city,
cognizant of its systems, in concert with its various populations? What
is “creative placemaking” and how does one get permissions from all the
parties affected by complex works. Why is it important to see Urban Art
in a broader light beyond murals on walls? What should be the scope of
public art nowadays in our communities and how to be able to achieve
that? Join these two professionals in the fields of Urban Art / Public
Art to hear about making art that steps outside the mural tradition and
creates a dialogue within the city.
4.00pm-3.55pm – Jan KalábUrban Art and Inclusivity
Whether it’s illegal graffiti on trains and streets or studio-based artist collectives who create new events together, the creative process open thrives on collaboration. A multi-disciplinary artist, Jan Kaláb shows you why, working solo or collectively, his motto is the same: always get higher. Whether it is the inventive soul of graffiti or the organic lines of his geometric sculpture and painting; Urban Art is about nurturing inclusivity.
The Gag Law reaches into areas many could not have imagined, including the practice of art as speech and its intersection with the public sphere. Join artist and arts professional Alberto González Pulido as he speaks about censorship and another important topic for artists, intellectual property.
7.00pm – 7.55pm – Sabina Chagina– How I Co-built an Urban Art Biennale in Moscow
A leading curator in the Street Art scene in Russia, Sabina Chagina talks about the stages of development she had to foster to launch ARTMOSSPHERE, the first Biennale of Street Art and urban culture in the country, now presented in its third edition in 2018. A rewarding and challenging series of programs built the road there and she’ll speak about how it is changing conversations about Street Art, murals, and Contemporary Art in Moscow..
From hacking public space to subvertising to collaborative interventions, the street practices of Creative Activism are anything but rote, especially when there is a message to convey or a story to tell. What role does activism play in a time of social-political-psychological upheaval and who gets to have the last word?
16.00-17.15 Pascal Feucher + Dan Witz– Urban Art and Residencies: The Importance of Nurturing Artists and the Creative Process
From traditions born in the age of the apprentice, art residencies have been a valuable step in the developing, broadening, and advancing of fine artists (and sometimes curators) for years. Graffiti writers and Street Artists open come with a different worldview entirely. Is there a model for nurturance of D.I.Y. outlaws?
For a complete schedule of events, dates and times click HERE
As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2018 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s a box of treats to surprise you with every day – and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2019. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to you for inspiring us throughout the year.
Today’s special guest:
Sabina Chagina, Co-Founder of the Artmossphere Biennale in Moscow, Russia
Dear BSA readers!
Happy New Year!
I want to wish you a pure art in your daily life, because art is actually a very important thing to start with. It’s not a dessert or a hobby.
That is why I chose this photo as one of the recent works by Shepard Fairey, whom I worked with this year during his participation in the 3rd Artmossphere Biennale in Moscow. The work called “Tunnel vision” was inspired by the aesthetics of Russian constructivism and made in his signature OBEY style.
In the center you can see the inscription in cyrillic “Art must be spread everywhere”.
New exclusive images today from Moscow as Shepard Fairey joined the 3rd ARTMOSSPHERE Street Art Biennale where BSA were co-curators this August and September.
In conjunction with ARTMOSSPHERE and his personal exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, an expansive collection that Fairey told us totaled 400 or so pieces and a huge crowd (see Zane Meyers video below), he created his first large-scale street work in the Russian Federation.
Entitled Tunnel Vision, the mural is derived from a recent fine art piece he did for his DAMAGED exhibition that incorporates his deep appreciation for Russian Constructivism and his own unique geometric studies in design. At the center, placed hypnotically and in a typically humorously ironic way, is his own meta icon, Andre the Giant framed inside the gear star symbol, flanked by icons of the machinery of messaging and distribution. A frequent critic of the mediated, manipulated techniques of global dis-information today, Fairey intrinsically loads his own imagery with the flair of a seasoned elocutionist on a world stage.
The significance of the more structural geometry of a tunnel is magnified by the location of the mural on the façade of a tram depot. Moscow’s impressive metro system dates back to 1935, a time period that parallels the powerful Soviet posters and artworks that communicated with the population and promoted the might of train systems as a point of national identity and pride.
That this form of messaging and image-making inspired many artists and designers around the world for decades afterward, it adds layers of significance to this photo (below) of Fairey on the Moscow Metro train with ARTMOSSPHERE co-founder Sabina Chagina and previous biennale curator Christian Omodeo. Add this to the references of the modern graffiti tradition of painting messages and images on trains throughout cities globally and the painted Soviet Agit-Trains of the 1920s, and the thematic interconnectedness here will require a map.
The inscription on the mural reads: “Art should be distributed everywhere” and while trains and planes still distribute the goods and the people everywhere, it is a new set of electronic and computer engines that can distribute the information and aesthetics everywhere today. Perhaps Fairey is reminding us that if this communication freedom of expression becomes limited we can risk the creation of a narrow form of tunnel vision.
“I believe that the mural in a public space is just as powerful a means of influencing minds and spreading artistic ideas as the replication of my posters. Therefore, in the work there is a printing press, it symbolizes, relatively speaking, the monumental propaganda in the modern sense. The work is named in an ironic way: after all, art expands, rather than narrows, our view of the world,” Fairey says of the new mural.
It’s been a packed couple of weeks between traveling to Moscow for the Artmossphere Biennale 2018 and immediately hopping to Leipzig, Germany for the magnificent Monumenta opening. Our heads are full of stories and conversations and images in two distinctly different scenes that somehow are still completely connected. Can’t tell if its euphoria or relief or jetlag but this Sunday is a dizzying day of taking account and being really thankful to be involved with an astounding amount of talent and camaraderie in the Graffiti/Street Art/Urban Art community that is connecting people around the world.
Here are our images of the week this time around; some selections from the Thursday night Artmossphere Biennale 2018 in Moscow, featuring 108, 1UP, Adele Renault, Bill Posters, BLOT, Canemorto, CT, the DOMA Collective, Egs, Faith XLVII, Faust, Finsta, Hyland Mather, LOT, Lucy McLauchlan, Lyall Sprong, Martha Cooper, Pablo Harymbat, and Pink Power.