Lister’s plane is on the tarmac and Olek is dragging a shopping cart full of art materials past the Vietnamese restaurant on Zietanstrasse and a block away two ladies in very high heeled boots and short shorts are meandering back and forth under the elevated train line. It’s a sunny fall day in this still skanky sometimes lustrous neighborhood of Berlin – a bit of gravel and leather mixed in with your Marilyn Minter sweet cocktail.
The Berlin-Schöneberg neighborhood is fresh off the International leather and fetish weekend & street fair at Fuggerstraße and you may still see the occasional mustachioed man wearing a dog collar and leash, or perhaps a leather mask that simply looks like a dog head – walking up the street on his way to brunch, perhaps.
Ah well, this is what gives birth to Urban Nation: the marginalized, the rebels, the counter cultural innovators, the forward thinkers and outright kinkers. Just made that word up.
Today we got a look at Bordalo’s giant garbage sculptures of Berlin bears being prepared in a rented studio space south of the Ringbahn and in a warehouse standing in the middle of on a parking lot full of Mercedes Benz’s. For people like us, that parking lot was like stumbling into a field of diamond’s, all class.
For Germans a Mercedes is as common as a slab of fried schnitzel or a bubble tag by 1Up so Bjorn was bombing through the lot in his little car expertly until we reached the roll-up gate on the garage. Also inside is Yok & Sheryo’s special interactive walk-in installation that will go on the “Museum Miele/Museum Mile” with about 25 other brand new sculptures and installations this weekend.
Overhead on the elevated bright yellow rumbling trains you can see whole cars with new skins by Shepard Fairey, How Nosm, and Faust announcing “Unstoppable”, the name of the opening exhibition at Urban Nation that we’ve curated with a team.
Riding the U1 train over to Prinzenstraße we caught the new murals by Ron English, Cryptic and an ONUR/Wes 21 collabo. Heading over to Urban Spree to talk to printer/publisher/curator/gallerist Pascal Feucher in the tattered reverie and aerosol compound we also spoke with Street Artist Tavar Zawacki. The California born Berlin-based artist tells us he has undergone a “Metamorphosis” creatively and has large canvasses in the gallery to prove it.
Deconstructing his arrow shape, he is now free to experiment with overlapping any number of geometric shapes; deconstructing and manipulating his own self-imposed roolz. On our way out of the compound we ran into Louis Masai up a ladder creating one of his signature quilted endangered species. We were sort of running by so all we can say is it looked like a fish of some sort.
Lunch with Christian Omodeo at an Italian restaurant means the food will be good, because he is an actual Italian and won’t brook any suggestions of inauthenticity. That is one charming quality of the academic/curator/writer, in addition to his astute and acute knowledge of rare graffiti/Street Art books that qualifies him to be assisting the museum to organize and conceptualize future plans for the Martha Cooper Library.
Just a portion of the collection of ephemera will be on display for the Saturday’s opening night in the not-yet-completed library space, but you’ll be impressed by the promise of what is to come.
Zines, posters, even framed T-shirts from the collection of the famed photographer will cover the walls in addition to a portion of the thousands of books that constitute the beginning of an important collection which, when finished, will be unrivaled and provide invaluable opportunities to research by scholars of all levels.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. NIMI – The Last Travel
2. Art Meets Milk: BustArt . Hombre . Carl Kenz
3. Said Dokins in Mexico for Letrástica Festival
4. Urban Nation. We Broke Night 19.05.2017
BSA Special Feature: NIMI – The Last Travel
“The character was originally a Nepalese woman – it was during the time they had the earthquake there. I was sort of wondering why we didn’t hear about it from the media, we didn’t hear about it three days into it,” says Nimi about the portrait he completed recently in Stavanger for Nuart Festival. Here image stands for the millions who are uprooted and currently have no home, are stateless and unrooted.
Art Meets Milk: BustArt . Hombre . Carl Kenz
German cow scenes now. A dairy industry boost here from three graffiti artists, BustArt, Hombre, and Carl Kenz. Also some heavy advertising from the paint sponsor in the middle. Mooooo!
Said Dokins in Mexico for Letrástica Festival
In Guadalajara, Mexico for Letrástica Festival, here’s Said Dokins with a tribute to Chalchihuites, an archaeological site in the northwest of Mexico. “This mural is a tribute to ancient wisdom, indigenous cosmogony and ancient thinking and refers directly to the prehispanic rain god Tlaloc, represented by those two great circles made using calligraphy and the geometric elements that accompany them,” he says. You’ll also see techniques common to other cultures, including calligraphic brushstrokes with a Japanese brush.
Urban Nation. We Broke Night 19.05.2017
Inside scenes of the new museum space at Urban Nation for its last public event before the opening in September. Here you can see new temporary works and hear observations from such artists as Fin Dac, Shepard Fairey, Snik, Millo, 1UP crew, Klebebande, Inkie, Fanakapan, Nuno Viegas, Sepe, Cranio, Sebastian Wandl, Dot Dot Dot, Onur & Wes 21, Erik Jones, Lora Zombie, Haroshi, Woes, OG Slick, TankPatrol, Mimi S., Jef Aerosol, Bustart, Vhils, Christian Rothenhagen, Herakut, Daniel Van Es… and more.
There are two things we never expect to see in our lives here on the streets when looking for new Street Art and graffiti. One is a live unicorn walking down the street twirling a hula hoop on its horn and farting glitter. The other is the 1UP crew hitting up a wall wild style in broad daylight, wearing those mystical Tron-Kabuki masks – on the front wall of the nascent Urban Nation Museum (UN).
As the double barrelled aerosol assault was happening we could hear the sound of heads exploding when the news of this ubiquitous graffiti crew hitting up this location would hit various constituencies. We could also hear the sound of the guys yelling over the Bülowstraße street traffic to each other through their masks – asking for one to throw a particular can or to question whether to do a specific fill or line. “We don’t usually work during the day,” said one of them to us as he gazed up at the blue fire glow that frames the 1UP name. “With so many people around with cameras these days, we can’t take many chances.”
In this historically graffiti-loving city you have to work really hard for people to notice your work, and crews like 1UP and Berlin Kidz are revered for their aerosol prowess – and the chances they take. Not sure what the German term would be but in English the word “crushed” may have a picture of 1UP next to it in the dictionary. Equally impressive is their ability to stay completely anonymous – and with more members than the annual Menudo reunion BBQ.
Compound the occasion with celebrated graffiti and Street Art photographer Martha Cooper pacing back and forth on the pavement and capturing every angle of the action. She’s crouching low and climbing higher for the right show while normal every day dudes like Shepard Fairey walk up to the small group of assembled observers to see what the matter is.
Shepard and his crew have just finished a large building side mural a block from here, as well as an expansive piece inside the museum space, where he’s DJing tonight. He seems to like the 1UP work and he also mentions how he digs Berlin Kidz and their style of rappelling down walls – and then talk turns to Brazillian pichação writers.
When a red-faced teenaged girl approaches one of the masked markers, he takes a minute to answer her inquiries, can in hand, ready to hit the wall but happy to respond to her multiple follow-up questions. Then he darts back up the ladder to spray a few small white starbursts while she aims her smartphone up at the action and he starts to looks for a red can to spray Martha’s name. Seeing Martha’s name up there seems appropriate, considering the first Martha Cooper Library will open here in four months.
So that’s it, nothing special happened today here in Berlin, only that 1UP knocked out a large piece on the outside of UN. Nothing more to see here.
The gallerists and merchants have begun arriving in the South Beach area of Miami to uncrate the art they’ve shipped for the enormous Art Basel and the assorted satellite fairs of Art Basel Miami 2016. Across the Venetian Way heading inland and minutes to the north you see that artist have already been painting on walls in the Wynwood neighborhood.
First adorned by an entirely organic graffiti and Street Art scene in the late 90s and early 2000s, the low-income neighborhood with a light-manufacturing base has been transformed by real estate and economic development. Now after a decade of inviting local and international artistic talent to come and paint, the Wynwood area of Miami is a beacon of mural art that showcases this moment in its evolution.
Urban Nation (UN) returns this year as well, having worked with many of these artists who will be getting up throughout Wynwood, and BSA is on the streets here with you to see the action as it unfolds with exhibitions, shows, and possibly a party or two. While Wynwood events certainly popped up in the shadow of the annual Art Basel exhibition, art fair patrons and a modicum of celebrity have made the pilgrimage here in greater numbers every year for some urban decay realness, now sprinkled with glitter.
It is no surprise that many of these same artists are now featured in the art fairs as well, represented by new and established galleries and hired by lifestyle brands and moneyed corporations to carry their messages. It’s a heady mix of power, rebellion, politics, aesthetics, and aerosol; and sometimes it is a pure revelation to see the transformations, given the anti-establishment undercurrents that have run through graffiti and the more socio-political activist elements of Street Art throughout the last half-century.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in the 70s, minutes away from the sand and the ocean, this grit is just getting stirred up again, and the aerosol fumes are already wafting through the blocks that are now looking less run-down, and decidedly under development.
West Coast based mural magician and philosopher Chor Boogie, with his protective air mask perched like mini-horns atop his head, smiles and welcomes a visitor happily because this time is just before the flood, before the sidewalks are thick with ipad-photographers and selfie-takers and fans of all sorts.
With moving vans and ladders and boxes of cans being unpacked, this neighborhood is clearly gearing up for a party again, and many artists have already laid down line work to play alongside pieces that have survived previous years. As the events unfold we’ll keep you apprised of the ones we trip into.
The concept album was born in the Stoned Age when TV was black and white, back when disaffected teens had to trudge for blocks and blocks outside on the sidewalk to the record store and carry their rock and roll home on large heavy vinyl platters called albums, sometimes double albums.
Rewarded for their hard work and sacrifice, these pioneering music fans opened those two record concept albums and used the big flat surface to pick the seeds out from their marijuana stash and roll a reefer.
Then they dropped the needle, turned up the dial, and lied on their back on their single beds surrounded by the two speaker stereophonic sound that gently vibrated their black-light posters on the wall, reading the song lyrics and metaphorically taking a wild and magical trip inside the cover art of the album.
By pairing one musician/group with one visual artist/group, Young, the director of UN, wants to re-create the concept album where the eyes have a newly created entryway into the music. Of course its only one interpretation but countless stories can be evoked from this intercultural exchange.
It’s the second year for the program, and we are very lucky to have these exclusive shots from Nikka Kramer of some of the first walls going up in advance of the festival, which this year features over 200 bands. Check out the stunning atmospheric images featuring northern lights; a poetry of their own.
The Artmossphere Biennale jump-starts the debate for many about how to best present the work of Street Artists and organizers here in Moscow chose a broad selection of curators from across a spectrum of private, commercial, academic and civically-inspired perspectives to present a solid range of artists from the graffiti and Street Art world inside a formal hall.
To be clear, unless it is illegal and on the street, it is not graffiti nor Street Art. That is the prevailing opinion about these terms among experts and scholars of various stripes and it is one we’re comfortable with. But then there are the commercial and cultural influences of the art world and the design industries, with their power to reshape and loosen terms from their moorings. Probably because these associated art movements are happening and taking shape before our eyes and not ensconced in centuries of scholarship we can expect that we will continue to witness the morphing our language and terminologies, sometimes changing things in translation.
Definitions aside, when you think of more organic Street Art scenes which are always re-generating themselves in the run-down abandoned sectors of cities like Sao Paulo, New York, Melbourne, Paris, Mexico City, London, and Berlin, it is interesting to consider that this event takes place nearly on the grounds of the Kremlin under museum like security.
An international capital that ensures cleanly buffed walls within hours of the appearance of any unapproved Street Art or graffiti, Moscow also boasts a growing contingent of art collectors who are young enough to appreciate the cultural currency of this continuously mutating hybrid of graffiti, hip hop, DIY, muralism, and art-school headiness. The night clubs and fashionable kids here are fans of events like hip-hop and graffiti jams, sometimes presented as theater and other times as “learning workshops” and the like.
Plugging into this idea of street and youth culture is not a singular fascination – there is perhaps an association with the rebellious anti-authoritarian nature of unregulated art in the streets that fuels the interest of many. With graffiti and hip-hop culture adoption as a template, newer expressions of Street Art culture are attractive as well with high profile artists with rebel reputations are as familiar in name here as in many cities. New festivals and events sometimes leverage this renegade free-spirit currency for selling tourism and brands and real estate, but here there also appears to be an acute appreciation for its fine art expression – urban contemporary art.
MOSCOW’S MANEGE AND “DEGENERATE ART”
So ardent is the support for Artmossphere here that a combination of public and private endorsements and financial backing have brought it to be showcased in a place associated with high-culture and counter-culture known as the Moscow Manege (Мане́ж). The location somehow fits the rebellious spirit that launched these artists even if its appearance wouldn’t lead you to think that.
The 19th century neo-classical exhibition hall stands grandly adjacent to Red Square and was built as an indoor riding school large enough to house a battalion of 2,000 soldiers during the 1800s. It later became host to many art exhibitions in the 20th century including a famous avant-garde show in 1962 that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev famously derided as displaying ‘degenerate’ art.
One of the artists whose work was criticized, painter and sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, challenged the label defiantly and won accolades afterward during his five decade career that followed, including receiving many awards and his work being collected worldwide by museums. Russian President Vladimir Putin is quoted as calling him “a recognised master and one of the best contemporary sculptors”. In January of this year at the age of 90, Neizvestny’s return to Menage featured an extensive exhibition. He passed away August 9th (The Moscow Times), only weeks before Artmossphere opened.
In some kindred spirit many of these artists at Artmossphere have done actual illegal work on the streets around the world during their respective creative evolutions, and graffiti and Street Art as a practice have both at various times been demonized, derided, dismissed and labeled by critics in terms synonymous with “degenerate”.
A CLEAN CITY
“Moscow is mostly very clean,” says Artmossphere co-founder and Creative Director Sabine Chagina, who walks with guests during a sunny afternoon in a busy downtown area just after the opening. “But we do have some good graffiti crews,” she says as we round the corner from the famous Bolshoi Theater and soon pass Givenchy and Chanel and high-end luxury fashion stores. Shortly we see a mural nearby by French artist Nelio, who painted a lateral abstracted geometric, possibly cubist, piece on the side of a building here in 2013 as part of the LGZ Festival.
If there was graffiti here in Moscow, it was not on full display very readily in this part of town. In driving tours, rides on the extensive metro train system, and in street hikes across the city a visitor may find that much of the illegal street art and graffiti common to other global capitals is illusive due to a general distaste for it and a dedicated adherence to buffing it out quickly.
For a pedestrian tourist Moscow appears in many ways as fully contemporary and architecturally rich as any international world-class metropolis. One of the cleanest places you’ll visit, the metro is almost museum-like in some instances; the historic districts spotless, public fountains, famed statues of important historical figures. All is efficiently ordered and – a welcome surprise – most public space is free of advertisements interrupting your view and your thoughts.
Come to think of it, the sense of commercial-celebrity media saturation that is present in other cities doesn’t appear to permeate the artists psyche here at the Biennale – so there’s not much of the ironic Disney-Marilyn-supermodel-Kardashian-skewering of consumerism and shallowness in this exhibition that you may find in other Urban Art events.
Also, unlike a Street Art-splattered show in London for example that may rudely mock Queen Elizabeth or art in New York streets that present Donald Trump styled as a pile of poo and Hillary Clinton as Heath Ledger’s Joker, we didn’t see over-the-top Putin satires either. So personality politics don’t seem directly addressed in this milieu. According to some residents there was an outcropping of huge festival murals by Street Artists here just a few years ago but more recently they have been painted over with patriotic or other inspiring murals, while others have been claimed for commercial interests.
Starved for some gritty street scenes, it is all the more interesting to see the one live mural painting that we were able to catch – a 6-story red-lined op-art tag by the French graffiti writer L’Atlas. Far from Manege, placed opposite a cineplex in what appears to be a shopping mall situated far from the city’s historical and modern centers, our guide tells us half-jokingly that he is not sure that we are still in Moscow.
Here L’Atlas says that he has painted his bar-code-like and cryptic nom-de-plume with an assistant on a cherry picker for a few days and he says that no one has stopped to ask him about it, neither to comment or criticize. Actually one man early one morning returning home from a disco did engage him briefly, but it was difficult to tell what he was talking about as he may have had a few drinks.
This lack of public commentary is mainly notable because in other cities the comments from passersby can be so ubiquitous that artists deliberately wear stereo headphones to prevent interruption and to be more productive. Sometimes the headphones are not actually playing music.
This Street Art Biennale nonetheless is gaining a higher profile among Urban Art collectors and its associated art dealers and the opening and later auction reaches directly to this audience. Included this year with the primary “Invisible Walls” exhibition are satellite events in association with local RuArts Gallery, Tsekh Belogo at Winzavod, and the Optika Pavilion (No. 64) at VDNKh.
The opening night event itself is wide and welcoming, a mostly youthful and populist affair with celebratory speeches and loosely organized group photos and an open bar. Added together with a press conference, a live DJ, virtual reality headsets, interactive artworks, major private business sponsors, government grants, ministers of culture, gallerists, and quirkily fashionable art fans, this is a polished presentation of a global culture that is filtered through the wide lense of the street.
Perhaps because the exhibition hall is a cavernous rectangle with exposed beams on the ceiling and many of the constructed white walls that mimic vendor booths, it has the air of an art fair. There are thankfully no salespeople pacing back and forth watching your level of interest. People tend to cluster before installations and talk, laugh, share a story, pose for a selfie.
The theme seems very appropriately topical as geopolitical, trade-related, social, digital, and actual walls appear to be falling down rapidly today while the foundations of new ones are taking shape. Catalyzed perhaps by the concept and practices of so-called “globalization” – with its easy flow of capital and restricted flow of humans, we are all examining the walls that are shaping our lives.
With 60+ international artists working simultaneously throughout this massive hall, newly built walls are the imperative for displaying art, supporting it, dividing it. These are the visible ones. With so many players and countries represented here, one can only imagine that there are a number of invisible walls present as well.
The theme has opened countless interpretations in flat and sculptural ways, often expressed in the vernacular of fine art with arguable nods to mid-20th century modernists, folk art, fantasy, representational art, abstract, conceptual, computer/digital art, and good old traditional graffiti tagging. Effectively it appears that when Street Art and graffiti artists pass the precipice into a multi-disciplinary exhibition such as this, one can reframe Urban/Street as important tributaries to contemporary art – but will they re-direct the flow or be subsumed within it?
The work often can be so far removed from street practice that you don’t recognize it as related.
Aside from putting work up in contested public space without permission and under cover, an average visitor may not see a common thread. These works run aesthetic to the conceptual, painterly to the sculptural, pure joy and pure politics. But then, that is we began to see in the streets as well when the century turned to the 21st and art students in large numbers in cities like New York and London and Berlin skipped the gatekeepers, taking their art directly to the public.
Perhaps beneath the surface or just above it, there is a certain anarchistic defiance, a critique of social, economic, political issues, a healthy skepticism toward everyone and everything that reeks of hypocritical patriarchal power structures. Perhaps we’re just projecting.
Looking over the 60+ list of names, it may be striking to some that very few are people of color, especially in view of the origins of the graffiti scene. Similarly, the percentage of women represented is quite small. We are familiar with this observation about Urban Art in general today, and this show mirrors the European and American scene primarily, with notable exceptions such as Instagrafite’s home-based Brazilian crew of 4 artists. As only one such sampling of a wide and dispersed scene, it is not perhaps fair to judge it by artists race, gender, or background, but while we speak of invisible walls it is worth keeping our eyes on as this “scene” is adopted into galleries, museums, and private collections.
Following are some of the artists on view at Artmossphere:
Certainly Moscow native ASKE is gently mocking our mutated modern practices of communicating with his outsized blocked abstraction of a close couple riveted to their respective electronic devices, even unaware of one another.
Warsaw based NeSpoon creates a sculpture of another couple. Heroically presenting her vision of what she calls the iconic “Graffiti Writer” and “Street Art Girl”, they face the future with art instruments in hand ready to make their respective marks. She says her work is emblematic of a permanent financial insecurity for a generation she calls the “PRECARIAT”.
“ ‘Precariat’ is the name of the new emerging social class,” says curator, organizer, and NeSpoon’s partner Marcin Rutkiewicz when talking about the piece during the press conference. “These are young people living without a predictable future, without good jobs, without social security. It’s a class in the making and probably these people don’t have any consciousness or global unity of interest. But they are the engines of protest for people all over the world – like Occupy Wall Street, Gezi Park in Turkey, or the Arab Spring.”
The artist developed the sculpture specifically for this exhibition and planned it over the course of a year or so. Born of a social movement in Poland by the same name, the sculpture and its sticker campaign on the street represent “a kind of protest against building walls between people who are under the same economical and social situation all over the world,” says Rutkiewicz.
Artist Li-Hill says his piece “Guns, Germs, and Steel” directly relates to the divisions between civilizations due to a completely uneven playing field perpetuated through generations. Inspired by the 1997 trans-disciplinary non-fiction book by Jared Diamond, Li-Hill says the Russian sculptural group called “The Horse Tamers” represents mankind’s “ability to harness power of the natural world and to be able to manipulate it for its advantage.”
“The horse is one of the largest signifiers and is a catalyst for advancement in society because it has been for military use, for agriculture, for transportation,” he says. “It was the most versatile of the animals and the most powerful.” Here he painted a mirror image, balanced over a potential microbial disaster symbol, and he and the team are building a mirrored floor to “give it this kind of infinite emblem status.”
Afloat in the middle of some of these walled areas M-City from Poland is choosing to be more direct thematically in his three dimensional installation of plywood, plaster, aerosol and bucket paint, and machine blown insulation.
“It is an anti-war piece,” he says, and he speaks about the walls between nations and a losing battle of dominance that ensures everyone will be victim.”
“It’s kind of a monster who destroys arms,” he says of this temporary sculpture with a lording figure crushing tanks below.
“He is destroying the tanks but at the same time he is also a destroyer – so it’s a big circle. Nothing is positive that can come out of this. There is always someone bigger.” He says the piece is inspired by the political situations in Europe today and the world at large.
Minneapolis based HOTTEA usually does very colorful yarn installations transforming a huge public space, but for Artmossphere he is taking the conceptual route. The walk-in room based on the Whack-A-Mole game presents holes which a visitor can walk under and rise above.
Visitors/participants will experience the physical separation of space, and perhaps contemplate facing one another and interacting or ignoring one another. It is something he says he hopes will draw attention to how many walls we have allowed ourselves to distract from human interactions.
Englands’ Sick Boy calls his project The Rewards System, where guests are invited to climb a ladder over a brick wall and descend down a slide into a darkened house, setting off a series of sensors that activate a variety of multisensory lights and tantalizing patterns. After landing and being rewarded the visitor is forced to exit on hands and knees through a too-small square door.
“The concept of the show is about invisible walls so I was thinking about there being barriers in your life and I thought about the reward of endorphins one experiences for achieving a task – a small amount of endorphins. So I thought I would build a house that signifies the reward system,” he explains.
Atlanta/Seattle based Derek Bruno reached back to the Leonid Brezhnev years and into Moscow’s Gorky Park for his series of site specific installations based on Soviet Cement Fence type PO-2. The iconic fence was re-created in a nearby studio and Bruno shot photographs of his 10-15 minute “interventions” in the park itself, revisiting a field of design called “technical aesthetics.”
In a statement Bruno explains “Since the end of the Soviet Union, the iconic fence has become a persistent and ever present reminder of former delineations of space; while new forms of boundaries shape the digital and sociopolitical landscapes. “
Remi Rough is known for his smartly soaring abstract geometry in painted murals and smaller scale works, and for Moscow he wanted to strip it back to the basics, approaching a white box with one undulating graphic composition.
“My idea was that Moscow’s a bit ‘over the top’,” he says, and he decided to strip back the audacity and go for simplicity, which actually takes courage.
“I said ‘you know what?’ – I want to do something with the cheapest materials you can possibly get. These two pieces literally cost 3000 rubles ($50). It’s made of felt, it’s like a lambs wool. I think they use it for flooring for construction.” Depending on the angle, the pink blotted material may translate as a swath of otherworldly terrain or a metaphorical bold vision with all the hot air let out.
“I wanted to do something peaceful and calming and use natural materials – something that’s different from what I usually do – but I use the folds in the fabric and the pink color – two things that I usually use a lot.”
Moscow’s Alexey Luka is also challenging himself to stretch creatively by taking his wall collage installations of found wood and converting them into free-standing sculptures.
“For this biennale I tried to make something different so now I am going from the assemblages to 3-D.” The constructed media is warm and ordered, reserved but not without whimsy.
“My work is made from found wood – I use it with what I found on the street and my shapes and my graphics – so it’s kind of an experiment with three dimensions,” and he confirms that most of this wood is sourced here in Moscow.
We ask him about the number of eyes that peer out from his installation. Perhaps these eyes are those of Muscovites? “They are just like observers,” he says.
Torino’s Mimmo recreated the Moscow Olympic Village from the 1980 games in miniature presented as on a plainly brutalist platform. The sculpture is austere in detail on the hulking towers save for the tiny graffiti tags, throwies, rollers, extinguisher tags, and the like at the bases and on the roofs.
Curator Christian Omodeo tells us that Mimmo recreated the massive village based on his direct study of the site as it stands today; a housing project that has hundreds of families — and a hip-hop / graffiti scene as well.
It is striking that the scale reduces the impact of the graffiti – yet when experienced at eye-level it retains a potency. Even so, by recasting the relationship between viewer and mark-making, this graffiti actually seems “cute” because of its relative size to the viewer.
Brad Downey and Alexander Petrelli hi-jacked the opening of the Biennale by circulating within the exhibit as a gallery with artworks for sale. With Downey performing as a street-huckster pushing his own art products, Mr. Patrelli showcased new Downey photo collages and drawings inside his mobile “Overcoat Gallery”
A charming Moscow art star / gallerist / performance artist, Mr. Patrelli is also a perennial character at openings and events in the city, by one account having appeared at 460 or so events since 1992 with his flashing overcoat. The artworks also feature Patrelli, completing a self-referential meta cycle that continued to circle the guests at the exhibition.
International artists participating in the Artmossphere Biennale 2016 include: Akacorleone, Alex Senna, Brad Downey, Chu (Doma), Orilo (Doma), Claudio Ethos, Demsky, Christopher Derek Bruno, Filippo Minelli, Finok, Galo, Gola Hundun, Hot Tea, Jaz, Jessie and Katey, Johannes Mundinger, L’Atlas, LiHill, LX One, M-city, TC, Mario Mankey, Martha Cooper, Miss Van, Nespoon, Millo, Pablo Benzo, Pastel, Paulo Ito, Proembrion, Remed, Remi Rough, Rub Kandy, Run, Sepe, Sickboy, Smash 137, Sozyone Gonsales, SpY, The London Police, Trek Matthews, Wes 21.
The Solar Grid is a serialized sci-fi graphic novel in 9 parts by Ganzeer, the Egyptian Street Artist whose work on the streets during the Arab Spring caused him to fear for his safety, escaping to the US and in the process garnering press.
His work as an artist or course continues and this summer he is promoting his illustrated vision of a future based on his observations of the present wholesale consolidation and hoarding of planetary resources and the accompanying interruptions in our fundamental natural systems.
Ganzeer. The Solar Grid. Photo still from the video.
“The concept of the Aswan dam is controlling a central natural resource. I figured if I was to apply it to the whole planet, that resource is obviously the sun. That’s what we see in the future with the two kids. As the sun sets, the solar grid automatically turns on and turns off as soon as the sun rises again,” he tells David Batty in The Guardian, as he describes the story that unfolds in chapters.
The next chapter is released in August, which is also when the list of artists participating in Magic City in Dresden will be released. We can happily tell you the Ganzeer is one of the them.
Traveling around Berlin this weekend we took a couple of trains and an unexpectedly looooong walk into the neighborhood of Tegel in search of Urban Nation’s huge One Wall installations that we haven’t been able to catch in person. The gentle breezes, smells of leafy trees, and unending barrage of mocking birds was punctuated by the excited fans of German football yelling out car windows and waving flags.
Here in this semi-suburban breezy summer bliss far from the Kreuzburg artists enclave that Street Art and graffiti fans think of Berlin for, you’ll find Tegel boasts these four towering pieces by How & Nosm, The London Police, Borondo, and a collaboration between Collin Van Der Sluijs and Super A. Singularly, each one impresses. Seeing the quartet of soaring murals all at once; let’s just say it is well worth the trip.
After that, we figured out how to take the double decker public bus back to the U6 train line. Berlin has this public transportation thing nailed.
Berlin Begins Building a Haus for Street/Urban Art
Urban Nation “Museum For Urban Contemporary Art” Set to Open Mid 2017
“You can try and tame the wild but what good would it do? Isn’t the wild what makes us into warriors, kings and queens, discoverers and inventors? – The wild is all we need to know to make life worth living but we should never ever try to comprehend or change it…that is what art means to me,” says Yasha Young as she pulls back the curtains on the plans for the construction of the brand new Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin this afternoon.
With a wall full of photographs by the renowned Martha Cooper behind her and before a roomful of press people and artists, the manager and future director of the museum gave this sweeping overview of the philosophical approach that has breathed life into a project that is her brainchild. Along with Markus Terboven from the Gewobag foundation, Thomas Willemeit, Managing Director at architect GRAFT, Tim Renner, the Undersecretary of State for Cultural Affairs, and Hendrick Jellema from the non-profit Berliner Leben, Ms. Young laid out the plans for the dynamically designed interior of this Wilhelminian-era building at Bülowstrasse 7.
The nascent museum and the Urban Nation project has already shown serious signs indicating it’s future significance over the past three years with the famed curated “Project M” series of urban/street/graffiti artists in the main street-level windows – as well as the UN’s partnering with urban/Street Art festivals and community-driven initiatives in Europe, the US, Russia, and Asia.
In fact the lead-up to today’s announcement, a real art world first, has included three years of on the street programming and in temporary exhibition spaces that has featured 320 large scale and smaller works by 219 artists established, well known and emerging on the global street art and contemporary urban art scene.
Screenshot of new Martha Cooper Library at Urban Nation from video below.
In addition to featuring a brand new library named after Martha Cooper and featuring part of her collection of books, magazines, sketchbooks, photography and ephermera, and a winding, floating catwalkway through shifting perspectives that is inspired by Escher’s stairs, and education/lecture spaces, the new museum will feature a high tech façade that will continually change with installations, artists, and themes.
Screenshot of architectural rendering for new Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art from video below.
Architects and designers at GRAFT, which has built a reputation for experimentation and design innovation in exhibitions as well as architecture, are said to have continually looked for ways to establish a continuum between the street and the museum. In a recent conversation with Denis Leo Hegic, an architect on the project, we learned that the concrete of the street will quite literally lead into the museum main floor. Take a look at the video tour of the space here.
More to come on this story as construction begins along with curation of the inaugural exhibit!
New Video Takes You Flying Through Berlin’s new Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art.
Exactly a year ago we were in Berlin as invited guest curators by Urban Nation Museum’s Director Yasha Young to curate the 7th Edition of Project M. Our exhibition, “Persons Of Interest” was aesthetically rich and culturally relevant in the windows and on the facade of the under-renovation UN haus, and the positive feedback we received lasted a number of months. Each artist had dug deep in their research and were inspired to bring a Brooklyn-Berlin historical and contemporary story to the street in a meaningful way.
The indoor exhibition at the museum’s headquarters overflowed onto the streets on opening night as well; with artists, fans, curators, honored cultural muses, and officials from Berlin’s formal arts infrastructure all abuzz with the exchange happening in Kreuzberg.
As Ms. Young and her teams continue to build the cultural foundation of UN with a dizzying array of programs, initiatives, and artists this year leading to the official opening next spring, we remark on her singular vision as a cornerstone of the museum.
With a finger on the pulse of many movements within the current Urban/Contemporary scene Young has made some bold and sharp choices to get an institution like this underway. With a clear sense of the potential that this global scene has always shown, Young has harnessed goodwill and top talents in the urban arts community and is gradually attracting the eye of more formal institutions. Undoubtedly in many ways UN has already made history.
So to mark a year since our first show with UN we’re looking at a treasure trove of photos of works on the streets that we didn’t publish at that time. This city is singular in it’s permissiveness to graffiti and street art – a tacit but undeniable appreciation for its eclectic contribution to contemporary art, the life of the culture. Berlin also somehow understands the intrinsic value of supporting artist communities. A laboratory on the streets, Berlin continues to afford art space to take shape before your eyes.
The 6th Marrakech Biennale brings a number of parallel projects into the Medina this year, including performances and public education programs. MB6 Street Art brings the art to the streets for both serious art fans and everyday members of the public who can appreciate it entirely free.
Over the week in Marrakech we found that the people didn’t necessarily know about the large international art show happening in the historical heritage sites around them, but they certainly had impressions and opinions of these murals being put up by international (and one local) Street Artists.
As an update to the progress of the new murals going up under the direction of the MB6 team, here are some shots on the street with Dotmasters, Giacomo Buffarini (RUN), and SickBoy.
The 6th Marrakech Biennale has begun and the parallel project MB6 Street Art is in full effect as well – with an international collection of 10 artists painting murals at street level and on roofs inside the “Red City” or Medina of Marrakech.
One of the core principals of the biennale is to be sensitive to the local context, and organizers for MB6 have taken that guidance to heart in these old and often conservative neighborhoods by curating artists whose work in abstract, geometric, and decorative forms can endure a while under the intense sun. Particular sensitivity has been taken into consideration in this sort of magical fortified city where time seems to have slowed or even stopped in many ways. The approach is appropriate for the theme of this years biennale “Not New Now”.
Many inquisitive passersby in this bustling, chaotic/serene street scene will stand by and observe for long periods of time to discuss the evolving artworks and question others about the significance of a particular feature. Whether you speak Arabic, French, or Tamazight these new murals are providing a lot to talk about and many appear to relish the discussion.
We’ll be bringing you more details later but thought you’d like a few images of walls in progress, today with Birmingham’s Lucy McLauchlan, Moscow’s Alexey Luka, and Marrkesh’s own Kalamour.
The nascent museum is emerging before our eyes with ever deeper ties to the global/local urban art communities and artists. We’ll be making more announcements regarding our collaborations in the near future.
A special shout out to photographer Ian Cox for showing us how to get around the market and the souks on our first day! We’d still be stuck in there right now without his help. Follow him @wallkandy on Instagram