Norwegian curator, producer, social activist, and street artist VLEK aka Arne Vilhelm Tellefsen, has joined the street chorus in the west that vilifies Vladimir Putin in myriad ways. His new stencil in Stavanger, home of the NuArt Festival, takes the symbol of the Russian Matryoshka Doll or nesting doll to a public-facing wall to illustrate his idea of the Russian leader who has directed the military to invade Ukraine.
In this progression of unveiling what he imagines is inside the man, VLEK posits that there is a hand grenade at the very center. He calls his piece “Deep with the soul.”
Norwegian street artist Pøbel made a splash last spring with his stencil of a passionate couple kissing with their masks. That was early in our understanding of how the virus might be spread. Today we see his newest piece that lifts a front line medical worker aloft, or rather Minister of Health Bent Høie does. It is good to see that the importance of masking is more evident.
Here on this clean concrete wall alongside car traffic, Pøbel references an arched pose from the ballet (or the movie “Dirty Dancing”) that gives us all a reason to breathe, to exult the love of life, to dance again.
Painting on the street for only eleven years, artist Tamara Djurovic made a sterling impression wherever she created her cerebral diagrams, empathic figures, dream-like compositions, frank diary entries, societal critiques and sly metaphors – most often in a monochrome palette.
For such a short career, how is it possible that she enabled her work to speak volumes to us and about us from so many walls? And how can we not feel shaken by her passing today?
Born in Argentina and living for many years in Spain, she created her nom de plume Hyuro from her given family name. After first working with street artist Escif she was warmly adopted by an ever-growing street art family, her subtle humor and elegant self-effacing demeanor rather effortlessly opening doors over time to paint murals on the streets of the Americas, Europe, Africa… Her practice was studied, her process intentional, her dialogue with the passerby sincere.
Now she has passed in Valencia after struggling with a long illness for years, leaving behind a family, close friends, and many fans. You can also safely say she leaves a legacy as an artist, a colleague, and a person. We raise a toast to Hyuro, with many thanks, and if you can hug somebody, tell them they are loved.
Our headline comes from adapting the title of a novel by the Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, replacing the infectious Corona for the infectious Cholera. In his love-triangle story, he speaks of the lessons learned from a particular woman, but he may as well have been speaking about the now-global crisis we humans are facing:
“(she) stood him on his head, tossed
him up and threw him down, made him as good as new, shattered all his virtuous
theories, and taught him the only thing he had to learn about love: that nobody
teaches life anything.”
In an encounter that feels like Norwegian magical realism, Street Artist Pøbel has left this love-struck couple grappling for one another in the city of Byrne.
Sadly, not even this mask-kissing precaution is enough to protect these lovers from the transmission.
Dr. Muhammad Munir of Lancaster University’s department of biomedical and life sciences, and an expert in viral diseases, says “It’s not just sex itself – it’s any contact involved during the act,” in an article in the Guardian. Journalist Sirin Kale reports there that “Even if you don’t kiss the person you are having sex with, you may still contract coronavirus.”
The nascent voyage of ‘Nuart Journal’ comes slowly into view as a softly bound Street Art/graffiti cultural preservation document; its glossy cover is purple for issue Number 2, like a thick royal-court velvet, or a bruised eye.
Editor-in-Chief Martyn Reed opens this forum to a hand-selected series of thought leaders, artists, organizers, academics and friends who are invited to impart, illustrate, confound and inspire. It is an extension of what he has endeavored to do with his annual invitational public art/commercial art festival Nuart- the newest edition which commences this week in Stavanger, Norway.
An impossible goal; to track the precise movement of the dancing tentacles of this scene as it grew – as it grows – much less to assign motivation or significance or measure impact. A mutational march of interconnected disconnectedness, no amount of pontification will ever fully capture the width of this circle, but Nuart Journal is beginning to take its measure and introduce a sense of order if only to better examine it. The theme is “Eloquent Vandals”, a reference to Nuart’s 2011 self-survey in hardcover. Themes range from colorless black street bombing to definitions of place and authenticity, to Street Art’s movement into conceptual, and decolonizing artivism.
The layout is the new utilitarian modern; clean-framing articles, essays, interviews, inquisitions – text-based and visual. Editor and academic Suse Hansen is nimble, streetsmart, and canny in her guiding of contributors. Hopefully, she can continue to steer confidently through these choppy waters, guiding a forward-moving course of enlightening observations – as the ship passes icebergs of false intellectualism, pirate boats of one-eyed tribalist gatekeepers, or the occasional showboat. Anglers ahoy!
Here’s the lineup of contributors for “Eloquent Vandals”, Nuart
Journal Volume 1 Number 2, 2019;
Jeff Ferrell, Oskolki, Jens Besser, Georgios Stampoulidis,
Daniel de Jongh, Jaime Rojo, Vlady, Alison Young, Reuben Woods, Lindsey
Mancini, Christian Omodeo, Vittorio Parisi, Faith XLVII, and Milu Correch.
Nuart Journal, Stavanger, Norway. Editor@nuartjournal.com Click HERE for more about Nuart Journal.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. Nuart 2017 – Re-Cap Fifth Wall TV
2. Carrie Richardt. Nuart 2017. Fifth Wall TV 3. ±MAISMENOS± Nuart 2017. Fifth Wall TV
4. Bahia Shehab. Nuart 2017. Fifth Wall TV
BSA Special Feature: 4 Films from Nuart 2017
A glimpse inside the urban art/Street Art/graffiti/mural festival from earlier this month, which included a powerful collection of artists, interventionists, existentialists, activists, academics, and poets, this collection of NUART 2017 videos can only point to the individual aspects of the events. We start off with Doug Gillen’s brief overview and first impressions and feature three individual portraits of artists who took part in this years Street alt-fest.
Nuart 2017 – Re-Cap Fifth Wall TV
Carrie Richardt. Nuart 2017. Fifth Wall TV
“For me art is just the way that I express myself. I think that we need to use all means possible,” says artist, activist and global citizen Carrie Richardt. In her opinion, we should all be activists in service of one kind or another, and art in the streets is one of a myriad ways that people can effect positive change. In her text messages via tile around town, she offers pithy and profound bonmots like “Civil disobedience is not the problem. Civil obedience is the problem.”
±MAISMENOS± Nuart 2017. Fifth Wall TV
Portuguese artist Miguel Januário goes by ±MAISMENOS±, a sort of avatar of interventionism that presents a critical eye on models of our political, social, economic orders. By willfully rearranging signposts of accepted norms in the public space, his installations echo in their disunifying qualities and often comedic effects.
Bahia Shehab. Nuart 2017. Fifth Wall TV
“Art is wonderful. It inspires. But it does not push for action sometimes,” says Egyptian professor and Street Artist Bahia Shehab, whose international acclaim for speaking up against tyranny links the act of art with the struggle throughout the world for liberation.
Welcome to Sunday! This week we have a special edition of BSA Images of the Week; Dedicated to Nuart 2017.
Each year Nuart challenges itself as much as it challenges you, unwilling to fall into the beckoning arms of the ever more bodacious and titilating Street Art Festival siren that increasingly works the thoroughfare in cities globally, looking so enticing in your Saturday night drunken reverie but unable to string together complete sentences over pancakes and coffee in the morning. Not that these stencils, these tiles, these installations and projections will necessarily lead to a more thorough examination and evaluation of neoliberal economics, corporate hegemony, or the caveats of a generation of identity politics, but they might. At the very least the practice of weighing in on these and other topics in a public way, in an ardent or passive voice, means that the conversation can be sparked, possibly brought to its fullness. And you may be encouraged.
John Fekner, stalwart public artist since at least the Reagan Revolution, has finally personally had his say here on the streets and on the subconscious . We asked him to share his wisdom with us, to take the measure of the scene and the new voices and perspectives. Not surprisingly, Mr. Fekner shows why an active engaged mind and spirit is paramount to evolving your art practice, your participation in the public conversation.
“The potent vitality of the artists in this year’s ‘Rise Up’ Exhibition in Stavanger, Norway is striking, in its exploration, selection, and development of the ‘visual voice’ of street art and mural making in 2017. NuArt exists as a ‘community commune of communication’ for artists, writers, musicians and guest speakers with an enthusiastic and participatory audience,” John tells us.
“Personally, I see a little bit of myself mirrored in some of the works- in the process, but not in the unexpected end results. Heralding from various countries, this younger generation represent new beginnings for outdoor art that combine social concern, expressive beauty and hope, urgency and manifesto, for a new future that includes and engages everyone to experience.”
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring ± Maismenos ±, Ampparito, Bahia Shebab, Carrie Reichardt, Ian Strange, Igor Posonov, John Fekner, Ricky Lee Gordon, Slava Ptrk, and Vermibus.
See our conversation with Vermibus about his work here at Nuart below.
BSA: Can you tell us about your new piece and what it is about and how you are feeling about the progress? Vermibus: I brought two original pieces for the festival, both are part of one artwork that is the installation itself, and even if each artwork has its own personality they need from the rest of the room to express what I want to say with the installation.
The tunnels from Nuart Festival are huge and very interesting, so I thought I could use all this space to create an atmosphere instead of trying to fill the whole space with artworks or with a massive piece.
With this installation I want to bring to the viewer to its more hidden part of its personality, there where you don’t usually allow others to go in, where all the fears and traumas survive.
I want the viewer to have some intimacy with it’s inner self through my work.
The way the viewer will see my work is completely different from other occasions.
BSA: Can you give us your impressions of Nuart and Stavanger and the environment you are working in? Vermibus: It’s the first time that I participate in a festival, so for me everything is new, but I have the strong sensation that this place is special.
The whole team is friendly, incredibly talented, surprisingly humble and completely ready to help the artists to express themselves without limitations, it’s kind of a paradise.
The lineup is so well curated that I cannot be happier to participate around all this amazing artists.
Ricky Lee Gordon is painting a mural of Finnish transgender activist Sakris Kupila for the launch of the BRAVE campaign with Amnesty International, raising awareness of human rights defenders and their work all over the world.
In Stavanger, Norway the Nuart Festival, in all its firey activist rebellious street-smart community-powered glory, is well underway; a chain-reaction of events and actions that ignite throughout the streets, in the gallery halls, and in neglected margins of this seaside town. In our 10th year bringing you the art and ideas from Nuart, BSA is ecstatic to show you works in process right now, courtesy of photographer Tor Ståle Moen.
The news out of Nuart 2017 is splendiforous and we are feeling celebratorious. These irregularly formed adjectives are in good company with the mismatched yet harmoniously woven characters who together have again selected and summoned artists, academics, kooks and cultural workers to Stavanger for a September synergy of Street Art, public art, and myriad interventionist ideas. It is a highly particular hybrid germinated, conjured, emancipated perhaps, by the free-form and analytical mind of its Founder and Director Martyn Reed. While sowing Nuart seeds spectacularly on the shores of Aberdeen earlier this spring, it is here in Stavanger where the new ideas germinate, are nurtured and given latitude. It is also where the tortoises of conventional thinking are happily rolled onto their backs, little webbed feet waving. We’re pleased today on BSA to publish Martyn’s new manifesto in preparation for Nuart’s festival this autumn in Norway so one might better appreciate the ruminations behind and development of this year’s theme.
Nuart produces both temporary and long-term public artworks as well as facilitates dialogue and action between a global network of artists, academics, journalists and policy makers surrounding street art practice. Our core goal is to help redefine how we experience both contemporary and public art practice: to bring art out of museums, galleries and public institutions onto the city streets and to use emerging technologies, to activate a sense of public agency in the shaping of our cities.
Outside of Nuart Festival, our growing portfolio of projects represents an on-going art and education program that seeks to improve the conditions for, and skills to produce, new forms of public art both in Stavanger and further afield. For us, public spaces outside conventional arts venues offer one of the richest, most diverse and rewarding contexts in which this can happen.
Our work is guided by our belief in the capacity for the arts to positively change, enhance and inform the way we think about and interact with each other and the City.
The Real Power of Street Art
Nuart festival presents an annual paradigm of hybridity in global sanctioned and unsanctioned street art practice. Through a series of large and human scale public artworks, murals, performances, art tours, workshops, academic debates, education programs, film screenings and urban interventions, supported by a month long exhibition of installations, Nuart explores the convergence points between art, public space and the emergent technologies that are giving voice and agency to a new and more creative civilian identity, an identity that exists somewhere between citizen, artist and activist.
The real power of “street art” is being played out daily on walls, buildings, ad shelters and city squares the world over, and it’s now obvious that state institutions can neither contain nor adequately represent the fluidity of this transgressive new movement. As the rest of the world begins to accept the multiplicity of new public art genres, it is becoming more apparent, that street art resists both classification and containment. The question is, not how can this inherently public art movement be modified or replicated to fit within the confines of a civic institutional or gallery model, but how can the current model for contemporary art museums, galleries and formulaic public art programs, be re-examined to conform with the energy of this revolutionary new movement in visual art practice.
In the 1990’s, Situationist concepts developed by philosopher Guy Debord, surrounding the nature of “The City”, “Play” and the “Spectacle”, alongside sociologist Henri Lefebvre’s theories exploring the rights to shape our own public and mental space, came together to form an emergent adbusting “artivism”, which now forms the foundation of street art practice. Radical cultural geographer David Harvey has stated, “The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources, it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city”.
It is here, at the intersection between philosophy, geography, architecture, sociology, politics and urbanism, that Nuart situates itself, it exists as a critique of the colonization of everyday life by commodity and consumerism, whilst recognizing that one of the only radical responses left, is to jettison the hegemonic, discursive and gated institutional response to capitalism, and engage it directly where it breeds and infects the most, in our urban centers.
The challenge for a new and relevant public art isn’t to attempt to negate capitalisms neoliberal market logics with an ever more dominant liberal discourse, both are ultimately mired in a conflict that on the surface simply serves to feed the polarization and spectacle that we’re attempting to transcend. What we need is the active participation of citizens in the creation of their own holistically imagined environments, both physical and mental, a direct and collective response to space that leads to the shaping of place. A place in which the disengaged and passive citizens desired and ever more manipulated by market forces, are inspired to re-make themselves. Nuart proposes that the production of art in public spaces outside conventional arts venues offers the community, not only the most practical, but also the richest, most relevant and rewarding contexts in which this can happen.
It is in this “remaking” of self, this deep desire to engage with the world, to develop civic agency and purpose, that transcends identity, gender and class, and enables those locked out of the arts by a post-Adorno obscurant lexicon (eh?), that street art delivers. It offers an opportunity to reconnect, not only with art, but also with each other. Hundreds of people covering a vast swathe of demographics, from toddlers and single moms to refugees and property barons, on a street art tour conversing with each other, are testament to this.
We believe that when you want to challenge the powerful, you must change the story, it’s this DIY narrative embedded within street art practice, that forms the bonding agent for stronger social cohesion between citizens from a multiplicity of cultures, as our lead artist for 2017, Bahia Shehab will attest. It is this narrative, that is acting as the catalytic agent towards street art becoming a vehicle capable of generating changes in politics as well as urban consciousness.
The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from what kind of person we want to be. The transformation of urban space creates changes in urban life, the transformation of one, being bound to the transformation of the other. What social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies, art and aesthetic values we desire, are closely linked to the spaces we inhabit. The “banalization” of current city space, combined with the numbing effect of digital devices that guide us from A to B, have rendered us passive. Consumer cows sucking at the teat of capital trapped in a dichotomy between left and right, instead of right and wrong. And for the most, the hegemonic islands of sanitised cultural dissent we call Art Institutions, are either unable or uninterested, in engaging with the general public in any meaningful way.
In the early 2000’s, the evocative power of certain already existing and often crumbling industrial interzones, including that of Tou Scene, our main exhibition space, one that we were instrumental in establishing, gave rise to a new form of engagement with art in urban spaces that is only now being fully recognized and exploited. Street Art is at times of course co-opted and complicit with the “creative destruction” that the gentrification process engenders, but Capitalism’s continuous attempt to “instrumentalize” everything, including our relationship to art should be vigorously resisted. It is these “Stalker-esque” zones of poetic resistance, that initially gave shelter to one of the first truly democratic , non-hierarchical and anti-capitalist art forms, and unlike most cultural institutions, it is still, for the most, unafraid to voice this opinion, important in a time when even our art institutions are beginning to resemble houses of frenzied consumption. Street art exists to contest rather than bolster the prevailing status quo. As such, it is picking up as many enemies as friends within the field of public art.
By attempting to transform the city, street art attempts to transform life, and though by no means is all street art overtly political, it does, in it’s unsanctioned form at least, challenge norms and conventions regulating what is acceptable use of public space. In particular, it opposes commercial advertising’s dominion over urban surfaces, an area that Nuart are active in “taking over” throughout the year and in particular during the festival period. Our curating initiatives not only aim to encourage a re-evaluation of how we relate to our urban surroundings, but to also question our habitual modes of thinking and acting in those spaces. Street art is not just art using the streets as an artistic resource, but also an art that is questioning our habitual use of public space. Street art doesn’t simply take art out of the context of the museum, it does so whilst hacking spaces for art within our daily lives that encourage agency and direct participation from the public, “Everyone an artist” as Joseph Beuys would have it, and if it is accussed of being produced without academic rigour, we are reminded that he also asked, “Do we want a revolution without laughter?”.
Nuart’s programs are designed specifically to explore and silently challenge the mechanisms of power and politics in public space. Increasingly, we see the rights to the city falling into the hands of private and special interest groups, and yet, we have no real coherent opposition to the worst of it. The 20th Century was replete with radical Utopic manifestos calling for change, from Marinetti’s Futurist manifesto of 1909 to Murakami’s “Superflat” of 2000. Nuart’s annual academic symposium, Nuart Plus, acts as a platform for a resurgency in utopic thinking around both city development and public art practice, and whilst recognizing that street art is often co-opted and discredited by capital, it also recognises that even the most amateur work, is indispensable in stimulating debate and change in a Modern society that has developed bureaucracies resistant to seeing art, once more, as part of our everyday life.
As the Situationst graffiti scrawled on Parisian walls in 1968 stated, Beauty is in the streets, so Rise Up! and support those dedicated to unleashing one of the most powerful communicative practices known to mankind, there’s work for art to be done in the world amongst the living.
Martyn Reed, July 2017
Artists scheduled to participate in Nuart Festival 2017:
Ampparito (ES), Bahia Shehab (EG), Carrie Reichardt (UK), flyingleaps presents Derek Mawudoku (UK), Ian Strange (AU), John Fekner (US), Know Hope (IL), ±maismenos± (PT), Igor Ponosov (RU), Ricky Lee Gordon (ZA), Slava Ptrk (RU) and Vermibus (DE).
With a touch of domesticity that may make you think of home, often they bring a child-like fascination with stories and characters; playful monsters and grouches setting at play inside a number of possible narratives, depending on your interpretation.
Here in Stavanger and Sandnes (Norway), Tor Staale Moen had the opportunity to capture them around the winding stone streets of the two adjoining seaside towns, adding illustrations in public spaces. We thank him for sharing his images here with BSA readers.
Stavanger, Norway may not have throbbing Street Art scene per se, but it does have a lot of cool murals (thanks to Nuart festival) and a few favorite artists who reliably please the crowds (thanks to Nuart Gallery). This week opened a dynamic duo of the contemporary pop art side of the spectrum working in tandem with complimentary styles for a new show called “Junction” in the gallery space.
The line outside stretched down the cobblestoned adorable block and around the adorable cobblestoned corner! Montreals based Sandra Chevrier has been quickly garnering attention since debuting at Reed Projects in 2013 with her masked beauties and Norwegian stencillist Martin Whatson has been touching on the vernacular of pop Street Art and hand-tagged abstractions in a way that has developed into his own style over these past few years. The collaboration is an easy reach for both and the resulting ironic/arresting images that only this mashup can produce.
Here are a few images from the new mural they collaborated on to celebrate Thursday’s opening – the show runs through the 28th of July.
As we near the new year we’ve asked a special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2016 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for him or her. It’s an assortment of treats for you to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for the new year to come. It’s our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ for inspiring us throughout the year.
Tor Ståle Moen is a Norwegian executive turned passionately engaged Street Art fan and photographer whom we first met in Stavanger during the Nuart Festival a few years ago. Donating his vacation time to volunteer with the artists at Nuart, the atmosphere is charged with Tor’s enthusiasm and knowledge about Street Art, artists, and the history of the people and Norway. Today Mr. Moen shares with us one of his photos from this year of art on a very quiet Norwegian island.
Artists: Ella & Pitr from Saint Etienne, France
Location: Utsira Island on the west coast of Norway
Date: August 27, 2016.
Photograph by Tor Ståle Moen
The beautiful island Utsira was the first public financed port in Norway. Since it was finished in 1870, it has provided safe shelter for lobstermen and merchant ships in the harshest part of the North Sea.
Today there are only 200 residents left on the tiny island – a vibrant mix of people of all ages and different corners of the world who share the love of nature and the windy life on an island far at sea.
Even though the community is tiny and isolated, their living tradition of welcoming strangers in distress sets an example to us all. In a time when world leaders calls for protective walls against foreign trade, religion and people escaping war and poverty – the people of Utsira reflects the opposite. They are known for their philanthropic engagement and heartfelt empathy.
Also when it comes to art, they have open-mindedly welcomed a number of street artists to work on their tiny island. The inhabitants are very proud of the art and memories the artists have left behind. The artists visiting have been struck for life by the beauty of the place and the warm, safe and welcoming atmosphere they experienced here.
This person, painted by the french artists Ella & Pitr on a roof top on Utsira, has obviously found his own peaceful and safe haven – and together with him I wish all BSA friends a relaxing festive season and a tolerant and peaceful 2017