Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. The outcry over the Russian invasion of Ukraine has overwhelmed all other news “coverage”.
In his State of the Union speech this week Biden even conflated sanctions with domestic inflation – but it was already 7.5% annually for a full year before the Ukraine invasion. Using that logic, Putin is also the reason you have no Medicare for All, and the reason there is no student loan debt forgiveness.
New York has so many beautiful communities and we value our Russian and Ukrainian neighbors. We refuse to demonize a whole community collectively, and hopefully you do too.
However repugnant the idea, let’s look for a diplomatic solution on the world stage to this crisis if it is all possible. We all have too much to lose if we don’t try in this incredibly difficult moment in history.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Pear, Subway Doodle, Txemy, Calicho Art, V Ballentine, Under Wave Walls, Mike Raz, Tony Tuan Luong, Manuel Alejandro, Smetsky Art, Deborah Kass, Lady Vday, Sage Gallon, and Michael Neff.
A new sharply political campaign championing the freedom of expression has caught fire in Spain in the last few weeks under the hashtag #NoCallaremos, and Street Artists are now adding their talents to the protest. Rather shockingly for a modern European nation, a rapper’s prison sentence for offensive lyrics was upheld in Spanish Supreme Court in February (Billboard) and that decision along with other recent events has sparked a number of creative protests across the art world in cities across the country. Today BSA contributing Street Art photographer Fer Alcalá shares his opinions and new images of the murals in progress with BSA readers.
THE NO CALLAREM PLATFORM
~ by Fer Alcalá
…or how some of Spanish top artists react against censorship and repression of the freedom of speech from the central government…
It’s now known worldwide: the Spanish government is imprisoning hip hop artists like Valtonyc and Pablo Hasel because of their sharp and truthful lyrics as well as sentencing people like you and me because of their critical posts on social media.
As a reaction to these acts against the freedom of speech that are more in tune with a well established dictatorship than with 40 years of democracy, some projects like the No Callarem (we won’t shut up) platform have raised their voices.
One of the direct actions organized by the platform for fighting against Partido Popular’s civil rights oppression was to film a video clip featuring some of the most renowned lyricists on the scene as Frank T, Elphomega, Los Chikos del Maíz, La Ira, Rapsusklei, and César Strawberry, among others, at the old La Modelo prison. The location is an accurate metaphorical scenario when you are seeing that your liberty is being cut off thanks to laws like ‘Ley Mordaza’.
The song ‘Los Borbones son unos ladrones’, which alludes directly to the Spanish monarchy, includes some excerpts from some of the songs created by rappers serving a prison sentence. The video clip for the song, which you can watch at the end of this article, has become viral and almost all media outlets in the country are speaking about this big shout-out in the name of freedom.
I was invited to witness the filming and painting session by local artist Javier de Riba, from Reskate Studio, who invited some fellow artists to paint at La Modelo walls as a part of the whole process. Franco Fasoli JAZ, Twee Muizen, Txemy, Joan Tarragò, Enric Sant, Milvietnams, Werens and Fullet gave a new voice to the walls surrounding that backyard, providing 2D images that perfectly matched the spirit behind the beats and the rhymes.
This is what Javi has to say about his collaboration with the project:
“Our involvement with No Callarem happened thanks to the Catalan rap artist Pau Llonch. He lit the spark for recording a clip against the Valtonyc and Hasel sentences. They wanted to do it at La Modelo no matter what and the No Callarem platform supported the action. We helped to spread the word for putting together a team with different languages together to visually enhance the video clip.
At the beginning, was what meant to be an ‘atrezzo action’ turned into a bunch of pieces that can be visited in the backyard of Gallery 4. In fact that backyard is not open to the public, but you can see it from the watch guard pit. We think that, from a conceptual point of view, it’s very powerful to keep those pieces locked – especially when thinking about how things are going in Spain regarding freedom of speech.”
Additionally it’s worth mentioning Reskate’s initiative about shouting against the suffocating atmosphere that we are experiencing here for some time: ‘Our idea is that every artist post one piece / illustration / painting / picture (old or new) supporting our initiative promoting freedom of speech in order to criticize the lack of democracy within the Spanish government.
Some of the hashtags that we will use are #NoCallarem #EzGaraIsilduko #NonCalaremos #NunVamosCallar #NonCararam,#NoCallaremos being the main one.
Visual artists from Madrid, Zaragoza, Almería, Oviedo, Valencia, Vila-real, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valladolid, Tenerife…are supporting this initiative. Some of them are: Malakkai, Escif, Paula Bonet, Aryz, Ricardo Cavolo, Enric Sant, Twee Muizen, Franco Fasoli, Hyuro, Javier Jaén, Boa Mistura, Conrad Roset, Jordi Borràs, Danjer, Cinta Vidal, David de las Heras, Juan Díaz-Faes, Chamo San, and Marina Capdevila, among others.
La Semana por la Libertad de Expresión (Freedom of Speech Week) is happening now, with different activities taking place all over the country. The funds raised from these activities will go to a resistance fund for the platform in order to defend all those people chased and brought to justice because of censorship and repression. You can check the whole program of the week HERE.
So, yes: we have a fight going on. Comedians, actors and actresses, musicians, journalists, visual artists, the guy / girl next door who is active in social media… It’s kind of a Russian Roulette game where, if you are critical with the established system and you are using 3rd grade humor as a weapon, you can end in jail. And all of it is happening in a country whose government is accused of being the most corrupt on the whole continent.
I have a very well informed friend who has been kind of disappointed with the absence of critical vision and combative behaviors from most of the big names in the local street art / graffiti scene. Thanks to initiatives such as No Callarem and the impulse of people like Javi de Riba, she is reconciling herself with this small, but powerful little world whose images have the strength for making important things happen.
Finally, I’d like to recommend that you check the publications under the hashtag #nocallaremos that are out, as there will be some fine and unique art being produced for the occasion in the upcoming days.
As it’s being said in Los Borbones son unos Ladrones:
– rap music is not a crime
– we need scratches, we need paintings
– I don’t dream about Versace, I dream about barricades
– …because of the poetry that still sleeps in the ditches…
Big props to Javi de Riba, Xavier Urbano and all the artists behind the No Callarem movement.
The influence of Street Art and graffiti continues to disperse through cities, towns and the countryside of many regions in the form of mural festivals. The village of Penelles in Catalonia asks residents if they would like to hand over the walls of their houses to be painted by contemporary artists and many say yes, gladly.
It is a far cry from the responses of landlords in large cities where the association in the minds of many is graffiti and vandalism. According to a posting on Facebook, the challenge for attendees of a recent mural festival here was to gather enough money to rent a bus and drive people around to see the new artworks!
GarGar, the festival held in the third week of May, also featured live music, food trucks, beer, workshops, and people milling around taking photos of the artists while they worked and discussing the new pieces. Perhaps taking as a model the same concept as the Spanish town of Fanzara, Penelles is a small sleepy town that is being revitalized with urban art.
Photographer Luis Olive Bulbena tells us that the town, which is located around 130 km northwest of Barcelona, has about 500 inhabitants and “basically the whole of the municipality revolves around agriculture.”
We thank Mr. Bulbena for sharing these new images with BSA readers.
BOS, Bushwick Collective, Juicy Fest, RedHook Studio Tours, Northside Festival, Welling Court… BK and QNS are bombed with artists in June – and today’s throwdown in Bushwick is just one tab on the 12-pack to pop and spray all over your friends on a hot summer day. When it comes to street art we’re in this new legal mural phase right now and when you head out to Bushwick Open Studios today you will see freshly painted and in-process walls. Don’t worry, we’re still seeing a lot of uncensored freewheeling self-selecting artistic installations of the unsanctioned variety – and that sector is alive and well. See you out in the street!
Here our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring
Adam Fujita, BustArt, Cb23, Chris Dyer, Dain, Dasic, Don Rimx, Ethos, FoxxFace, Jerk Face, Labrona, Meca, Meer Sau, Milo, Muro, Osch, Princess Hijab, QRST, Ricardo Cabret and Son, Sem, Skewville, Stinkfish, Stovington 23, Txemy, Vexta, Zaira
If you are lucky enough to be in NYC this Sunday, get out of the house and head over to East Williamsburg and Bushwick. You’d have the chance to see many of these murals in person and perhaps and artist or two while applying the final touches to his or her wall. Click HERE for more info on The Bushwick Collective block party taking place today. And HERE for the Juicy Art Fest which is not happening until June 5, 6 and 7 but artists are currently busy at work on their murals and it is only a short walk between the two.
Here our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring AEON, Arturo Vega, Bio Tats Cru, Balu, Bifido, COL Wallnuts, Crash, Federico Cruz, JMR, Kram, Kronik, Labrona, LMNOPI, Meca, Moby, Muro, Nick Walker, Stinkfish, TRN, Txemy, and Vexta.
When you hit the street in search of street art, it helps if you keep you eyes AND mind open. On his trip to London for the Moniker Art Fair last month, photographer Geoff Hargadon had time to trek the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch and was usually surprised by what he caught. Old stuff like Fauxreel’s father on a ladder, and fresh new work going up before his eyes by Dabs and Myla next to Word to Mother.
Here he captures what he liked and what moved him regardless of how old or new it was. This is what Street Art is all about anyway – an ongoing conversation on the street that tells you as much about the artist as contemporary society. In a city that values it’s oldest architecture and its revered historical legacy, there is still plenty of room for the newest voices in the public sphere; even if officially unsanctioned, it is still permitted to ride a while. Sometimes, it is even invited.