Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. PHLEGM – Mausoleum of Giants – A Behind the Scenes View 2. Hamburger Eyes; A documentary by Aaron Rose 3. Conor Harrington / American Flag 4. Fujito Nakaya. Fog Sculpture #08025 (F.O.G.) 1998. Guggenheim Museum. Bilbao.
BSA Special Feature: PHLEGM – Mausoleum of Giants – A Behind the Scenes View
Delicious Clam Records, Bal Fashions Speakeasy, Plot 22...
long has this been going on?
According to Doug at Fifth Wall TV Sheffield has been in the thick of it as a cultural hotbed of music and art for quite some time – with artist collectives and installations like this new one in an old ironworks building by Street Artist Phlegm.
of that combined means there is a really vibrant underground scene and we have
a lot of D.I.Y. stuff happening” says Steve of @CADS Sheff – the grassroots
formed team that activates spaces like this.
Don’t be a mardy bum then, let’s go and take a look at Phlegm shall we?
Street photography, when done well, can
summon euphoria and nausea. Rather like a chain restaurant hamburger.
Perhaps that is the inspiration for the name “Hamburger Eyes” for this eclectic
collection of photographers from the San Francisco Bay Area, who capture the
American fun and folly that you may have missed.
Just screened this month in New York at
Metrograph with a Q&A with Ray Potes and Clark Allen, its a documentary by
Aaron Rose (Beautiful Losers) that helps remind us why some people are drawn to
cities, while others avoid it like limburger. With interviews, stills, and
video the film brings to action the magazine by the same name that has just
celebrated its 18th birthday, yo. Watch out! Legal age!
The Irish Street Artist and muralist and painter has a go at the nationalism that blinds and could lead you to walk into traffic or off a cliff. We think.
Fujito Nakaya. Fog Sculpture #08025 (F.O.G.) 1998. Guggenheim Museum. Bilbao.
A foggy memory from standing outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao a few weeks ago. This fog sculpture is activated periodically, and if visiting school students are nearby, the excitement is multiplied! Video by Jaime Rojo.
Remember that red-haired aerobics teacher that used to yell loudly over the thumping disco beat while her head-banded spandex army jumped and kicked in unison in front of a mirror at the community center?
forget to breeeeeeeaaaath, people! Okay? And 2 and 3 and 4. Good!”
You cannot forget to breath if you are gazing down Piotrkowska Street in Łódź on your average Thursday night either. You will see the slowly pulsing acqua neon sign just installed there reminding you to do that normal thing that you may not pay much attention to.
artist duo Supergut Studio (Katarzyna Furgalinska, Lukasz Smolarczyk), have
just completed this new public art piece, “throbbing in line with human’s
breathing, creating an illusion of synchronization between the neon light and
the human organism, ” they say.
Made with old fashioned neon technology instead of the LEDs that are taking over public light fixtures everywhere, this sign is shrouded effectively in the darkness of night despite its proximity to illuminated crossings and traffic. Watching it silently from a distance, it also summons a memory of city life in the past – perhaps your past.
“The idea is to direct the installation’s influence at a single recipient and his individual sense of ‘here and now’,” says the project’s curator Michal Biesynski, who has over the last decade brought a huge number of artists opportunities to paint walls and erect sculpture here in the Polish city.
This new installation in the public sphere may actually be good for citizen’s health, and possibly their peace of mind.
An Art, Science and Climate Action project by Andreco
“ANDRECO painted the air pollution with the air pollution itself,” say organizers in the 20 million strong New Delhi – which was declared the world’s most polluted capital, according to Reuters this month.
And the statement isn’t hyperbole, according to AIR-Ink, the company that made his ink, which is “the first ink made entirely out of air pollution,” they explain on their website.
The unique art-making material is part of the Italian Street Artist / Activist’s most recent installment of his Climate ArtProject, which he orchestrated on the streets here in New Delhi for the St+Art Festival this year. Part of a global, multi-city installation and demonstration, “Climate 05 – Reclaiming Air and Water”.
The mural, people’s march and public talks are a hybrid of activism, art and science, ANDRECO tells us. His goal is for residents in Delhi to focus on the consequences of the climatic changes and the air water pollution in their city.
“In particular the project takes inspiration by the latest studies on the Air quality and the condition of the Yamuna river,” he tells us, “and it aims to underline the best practices for air and water remediation and climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
We have published previous editions of this project and it is always good to
see the images of people participating in the demonstration and march with
flags, a physical commitment to the expressed goals of standing in solidarity
with Mother Earth, her natural systems, and our responsibility to preserve
“The mural at the Lodhi Art District in Lodhi Colony, Delhi represents an
artistic translation of the studies about air and water remediation,” says a
press release from organizers. “The wall painting symbolizes the transition of
toxic smoke and greenhouse gases, coming from unregulated emissions from
industrial pollution, emissions from vehicles and crop burning, into a healthy
environment with clean clouds. The transition is made possible due to the tree
that stands in the middle of the wall.”
St+Art Delhi continues apace with an ever-expanding roster of artists and financial/commercial/municipal partners five years after we first began writing about it, and photographer Martha Cooper brings us today some of the newest installations and shots that she recently discovered while there.
A mural program at heart, many of the artists invited here bring a decorative character to the districts of Shahpurjat, Khirki Village and Hauz Khas Village also have roots in illegal graffiti and Street Art back home, and during their youth.
Over the years that list has included an international and local array of artists invited to paint at Lohdi Colony from all the continents – well maybe not Antarctica. Names have included ECB, Lady Aiko, local students Avinash and Kamesh, Suiko of Japan, Reko Rennie from Australia, Lek & Sowat from France, Kureshi from India, Inkbrushnme from India, Dutch artist Niels Shoe Meulman, Swiss duo Never Crew, Tofu from Germany, Mattia from Italy, Artez from Serbia, M-City from Poland, Ano from Taiwan…
Notable here is the architectural framing convention for most of these murals- the distinctive facades of Lodhi Colony architecture that features a central archway and four windows divided by it on a semi-ornate face forward. Some of the arches begin on the ground while others have been bricked into windows. Each provides a view inside the entry or courtyard, while others are bursting out with limbs and trees that protrude through them to the street.
Originally designed by the British-born architect William Henry Medd in the late 1930s and early 1940s as part of a program to house certain populations, this unifying pattern sets the quiet neighborhood apart from others in the city.
As Chief Architect to the Government of India during that period, Mr. Medd
oversaw much of the design of the relatively new city as well as buildings like
the Cathedral Church of the Redemption and Sacred Heart Cathedral, both of which
reflect his affinity for the high arches that distinguish the period.
“It’s interesting to see how the very different artists have incorporated the arch into their murals,” says photographer Cooper. “The uniform size and shape of the walls unify the disparate collection and the arches give the whole area an exotic touch.”
As is her practice many of these images also skillfully incorporate the foot traffic and community who live here and who are beginning to associate these figurative, abstract and folk-inspired murals into their daily lives. Asking people to pose in front of the new paintings gives them context, somehow also bringing them alive in certain cases. At other times, her timing and eagle eye capture the passerby who unknowingly creates a serendipitous counterpoint to the new work.
“It’s a quiet neighborhood compared to the rest of Delhi,”
Martha says, “making it a very pleasant place for an afternoon walking tour.”
Patti Smith begins the roll call for BSA Images of the Week in this portrait by Huetek. The punk term is loosely tossed around today, but it only applies to a certain number of people truthfully. In so many ways she is one. But she is also an author, poet, activist, and champion of the people – who she says have the power.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Adam Fu, Bella Phame, BK Foxx, Bobo, Deih XLF, Exist, Huetek, Isaac Cordal, Koralie, Koz Dos, Sixe Paredes, Smells, SoSa, UFO 907, Velvet, WW Crudo, and Zoer.
With a nod to La Danse by Henri Matisse and 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.
Her illustrations have been in magazines, books and on public walls, often with the most basic and courageous technique at play; the simple stroke in monochrome. Humor, absurdity, melancholy all are intertwined. Here the expansive commanding of space and convivial craze infers the spirit as well as the movement of these celebrants.
But as with many of her humorous works, she says that this new wall completed Wednesday has a sadness – the clan-like closeness on display is for safety as well as intimate sisterhood.
This is a feminist ring-around-the-rosy says the artist. “At any
time and situation, women have to be alert and united. We have to protect and
help each other; unfortunately, even when we’re having fun,” she says of the
jovial scene. “Above all, we have to remember that we are stronger together.”
Created in conjunction with the public art project Contorno Urbano in Barcelona.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. RONE Wrecks a Mansion in Melbourne
2. Vegan Flava: The taste of fresh water
3. Vegan Flava: Foot prints in the snow
4. Nina Chanel Abney’s “Colorfully Seductive, Deceptively Simple” Art at ICA Boston
BSA Special Feature: RONE Wrecks a Mansion in Melbourne
You know that a Street Artist is heading toward serious consideration as a collectible artist, no, painter, when they begin invoking the imagery and trappings of European so-called classicism. Here Rone temperately unveils the sweeping view of an estate, the tinkling of grand ivories, the complex mourning of strings, the long veiled windows of the sitting room. It all serves as a set piece for a portrait of the light-skinned royal. This one takes the entire wall and has no gilded frame. But it does have drips, so you know we’re keeping it real, bro.
No candalabras, you ask? Hang in there, Whitaker, they’re coming.
A secret installation inside the Burnham Beeches mansion in Sherbrooke, Victoria, the artist has a velvet crush on the ghosts who may still live here. He sets the stage for their return, and invites you to tour the handsome estate just east of Mellbourne. Bring your gin and vermouth, darling, and enjoy the EMPIRE, while it lasts.
Fresh Water and Foot Prints from Vegan Flava
Switching hemispheres, we fly to lake Översjön in Stockholm
and find Vegan Flava writing in the snow, contemplating existence. First he sets the pristine stage of this two
chapter story. Or rather nature does.
Then he defiles the crystalline palette with aerosol
(biodegradeable black chalk), smudging matter together like a charcoal
portraitist. As the camera pulls away we see the portrait, or relic in the snow.
“How we produce food, consume, and the
burning of fossil fuels leaves the footprints of collapsed ecosystems,” he
says, “melting the worlds glaciers, dead ocean floors, logged and burned
forests, dirty air and waters.”
Vegan Flava: The taste of fresh water
Vegan Flava: Foot prints in the snow
Nina Chanel Abney’s “Colorfully Seductive, Deceptively Simple” Art
Sometimes the most impactful art is the kind that begins the conversation with you and can go deeper with you if you would like it to, but can stay on the surface if that is all you can countenance on that particular day.
Perhaps the rapid romance that fans have had with muralist Nina Chanel Abney is her self-described approach of creating “deceptively simple investigations of contemporary cultural issues.” Currently on exhibition at ICA Boston, her work is described by the organizer as “Deeply invested in creating imagery that is legible and accessible, Nina Chanel Abney (b. 1982, Chicago) is known for weaving colorful geometric shapes, cartoons, language, and symbols into chaotic and energetic compositions.”
Also; systemic racism, police violence, unjust incarceration, white privilege.
When you are ready to go there, she will too. Ready? Let’s go!
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.
BSA Exclusive Announcement and interview with the director and the star of
Documentary by Selina Miles
BSA is proud to announce the world premiere of Selina Miles’ new full-length documentary on the life and career of New York photographer Martha Cooper at the Tribeca Film Festival next month. Separated by four decades and an ocean or two, the Australian film director and the American photographer – each of whom has garnered serious respect in the myriad subcultures of art-in-the-streets with phenomenal storytelling abilities and an innate sense of timing – together land a remarkable film capturing life as a street-shooter, making the multi-chaptered story sing.
It is a fascinating visual sweep that illustrates the unusually gratifying paths that this ever-curious ethnologist charts on the streets (and below them) worldwide since receiving her first camera from her father at age three. The film is a well illustrated collage of a remarkable 70 plus year span showcasing Coopers’ 6th sense for people, urban culture, and burgeoning subculture. Viewers get to see the huge variety of interests she has investigated with amiable warmth and academic rigor – from the Peace Corps in Thailand to tattoos in Japan to graffiti train writing in New York to the daily lives of people in her native Baltimore.
With ample interviews and vintage video footage never seen before, “MARTHA: A Picture Story” follows Ms. Cooper across continents into the streets, through tunnels and over rooftops to provide illustrative background contexts for her decisions, her driving motivations, and her pure determination to succeed as a professional photographer – despite man-made and societal adversity.
We’ve been very fortunate to see this diamond of a
documentary up close, and we can say that MARTHA is legitimate crowd-pleaser.
spoke with Ms. Cooper and Ms. Miles for this auspicious announcement day about
the new movie:
BSA: Your personal and professional history has often been about overcoming challenges and pushing aside barriers. Is there one new challenge you have gone beyond to participate fully in a documentary about you? Martha Cooper: Well like most photographers, I’m more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it especially when speaking. I can’t say I’ve gotten good about overcoming being filmed, but I tried hard to give good footage.
BSA: One of the challenges of being a doc filmmaker is the number of hats you have to wear – sometimes perhaps feeling like you have to do everything yourself. What did you discover about your preferred role/s on a film? Selina Miles: Making a documentary is certainly a dynamic job and requires a mix of technical, social and creative skills. Learning from a photojournalist with 50 years experience such as Martha has been a wonderful experience. I started my career in video making by mucking around with friends making graffiti videos and shooting street art festivals, and the DIY spirit of both of these art forms really gave me an advantage on this project.
Not all directors know how to shoot or how to edit, but thanks to these early experiences I do know a little about all of these disciplines. Being able to just grab a camera and shoot, or to edit my own little concept videos was very handy in getting the project off the ground. That being said, being able to employ an amazing editor like Simon Njoo and having the mentorship of producers like Jennifer Peedom has also been a dream come true and really helped take this film to the next level.
BSA: With the new documentary many people will learn about a more dimensional photographer than the one they most frequently associate with the name Martha Cooper. Why is this important? Martha Cooper: I’m often called a graffiti, street art, or hip hop photographer but I don’t put myself into those categories. I would like people to understand that the common denominator in my choice of subjects is art in everyday life. I’m always looking for examples of how people are creative in their everyday lives. Graffiti is just one of many different examples.
BSA: Is there a special approach or formula that one tries to follow when making a story like this for a more general audience. Selina Miles: I think that the interesting thing about this story, in particular, is that it explores a subculture that is so misunderstood by so many people. Everybody has seen graffiti and has an idea of what it is, but I still think that few people really understand why it exists and where it came from. There’s so many tropes and ideas about graffiti and those who practice it that are just plain wrong or oversimplify a very complex idea. It’s been an enjoyable and interesting challenge for me to unpack the facts and rules of this subculture as I see them, and step them out in a way that somebody completely new to the culture can understand and appreciate Martha’s story.
BSA: Your photos capture a time and a moment and a technique of creation, but also often the more atmospheric and cultural energy of the street. What has drawn you time and again to capture this to share? Your own curiosity? Martha Cooper: Not exactly. As you know, I like looking for things and collecting them. Photography is a challenging quest and taking a good photo is the reward. The nature of what I’m questing for can change according to time and place but in general, the world is more interesting to me if I have a camera. The possibility of photographing something makes me look at my surroundings with a keener eye than I would without a camera.
BSA: Martha stood on the shoulders of feminists before her, yet blazed some paths that were very much her own – frequently without support. What is one lesson a younger person may take from Martha Cooper when they watch this movie? Selina Miles: Marty often says that people today don’t understand what it took to survive as a freelancer in earlier decades, especially as a woman and I completely agree. It’s a common thing that you hear but it’s very true, we are lucky these days to live in a world so connected and relatively accepting of all kinds of races, ages and sexes. That being said, there’s always going to be a frontier, and I hope that young people watching Martha’s story will be inspired to push beyond that frontier in their own way, and not be held back by anybody’s expectations of who or what they should be. And do it all the time with a smile and a sense of humor!
MARTHA: A Picture Story.
Premiering at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival,
which takes place from April 24 – May 5th. Public tickets will go on sale on
Tuesday March 26 at 11am ET. Tickets are extremely limited and we recommend
purchasing tickets early.
“Catastrophe or salvation?” asks Various and Gould. “Being offline is scary and disastrous to most of us, however for some of us it might evoke the feeling of freedom through digital detox.”
A departure from their typical work and on-the-street installations, the Berlin duo are taking over advertising spaces and bus shelters with images of broken, smashed crystals of digital phones. The smart phone displays are transferred using the venerable intaglio print technique at a large scale, transforming the shattered smart phone displays into works of art.
“We love the beauty and the random and unique structure of the damaged displays,” they tell us of the new works that are illuminated from behind and contain none of the typical insignia or clever ad copy that evoke desire in consumers.
Perhaps more subtle than the activist messages of other hi-jackers of private ad space in public space, these images of brokenness are meant to draw our attention to the fragility of our devices as well as our tenuous connection to the ephemeral information we so greedily consume from them daily.
Not only are these broken screens, they indirectly could be interpreted as a critique of our broken social scenes that have been shattered and fragmented by our slavish reliance on these small glowing rectangles.
Part of a campaign they entitle simply, “Broken Screens” the two say we could stand to consider the power we have given to our smart phones – a charge which may seem obvious but we may actually overlook.
“It also discloses the flaws of these devices, which we use every day almost 24/7 and which we carry around on every occasion,” they say. “The project really attracts us, having raw destruction and dysfunction as a starting point.”
Unearthed by Artsy this week, the paper is ricocheting across social media with shock and dismay uttered by some artists who lament the hollowness of the modern graffiti/ Street Art/ Urban Art world, purporting to be distinct and above it all, yet posing in countless photos on their social pages with myriad peers and professionals and potential clients cheek-to-cheek.
It may be time that some hardcore Graffiti and Street Artists can shed some of the charades about how the globe turns, even if you are a graduate of the “School of Hard Knocks”. This movement we are witnessing toward self-promotion and marketing has always been true: This research paper doesn’t even use modern artists as a model for study – the subjects were part of the 20th Century abstract art movement and most died years ago.
You’ll recall that a central tenant of graffiti is that writers spread their names on every wall in different neighborhoods and cities to get “Fame”. As the authors of the paper Banerjee Mitali and Paul L. Ingram say, “CEOs, activists, scientists and innovators all benefit from fame. Meanwhile, the struggle for fame is becoming ever more intense and complex in a digital economy.” Download the paper here.
Yes, networking helps your career. In other breaking news, puppies are cute, the Pope is Catholic, and boys like short skirts.
This week our Images of the Week are coming to you directly from our latest visits to Madrid, Bilbao, and Bayonne. We’re excited to share what we found with BSA readers.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Anna Taratiel, Artez, Aryz, C215, Dan Witz, Eltono, Invader, Monkeybird, MSW, Stinkfish, and Suso33.