All posts tagged: Various & Gould

BSA Film Friday: 11.19.21

BSA Film Friday: 11.19.21

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Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening:
1. Monumental Shadows: Rethinking Colonial Heritage
2. Os Gemeos: Secrets – Ep. 03

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BSA Special Feature: Monumental Shadows: Rethinking Colonial Heritage

Last month we covered this Berlin-based project addressing the staining effect of colonialism and racism on everything we see and the structures that we interact with and are formed by today in so-called Western culture. To see the documentary progression of the project and hear the voices of those who executed it is powerful – and instructive.

“We have to deal with people who feel entitled to exclude other people from participation, from conversation, from civil rights, from society, from history,” say Various and Gould.

Brilliant pieces and campaigns like this that require so much time and energy and resources are carefully planned and considered, and quietly have the opportunity and potential to change hearts and minds – even to alter the course of history.

Read more about the project here: Various & Gould Tackle Racism and Colonialism in Berlin with “Monumental Shadows”

OSGEMEOS: SEGREDOS – Ep. 3

“It’s nice that the story isn’t made from one point of view. There are many accounts, and from various elements,” says artist Soberana Ziza, and you suddenly realize that this is the very dynamic that makes this series by OSGEMEOS about Hip Hop so ardently insistent on grabbing your attention, and communicating the steely core of a culture born from our common streets.

There are many voices that make a scene, and not only the loudest ones, and that is an important quality that gives such resonance to this scene over time, wherever it grows. Here we get a brief look at the inherent misogyny evidenced in society generally, and therefore in the culture of Hip Hop specifically.

Are we surprised? “What place is not hostile to women,?” asks Soberana Ziza.

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Various & Gould: “Farbstrahlen” Are Heavy

Various & Gould: “Farbstrahlen” Are Heavy

It’s surprising and revelatory to travel the transom between graffiti, street art, public art, and commercial art – or can be. Since we’ve supported artists at every juncture of their careers, it is enriching to contemplate the variety of projects artists do just to keep engaged with the work that rings true for them.

Various & Gould. “Farbstrahlen”. Niemegk, Germany. (photo courtesy of Various & Gould)

In the case of German duo Various & Gould, only two days ago we presented a very important multi-week installation and performance examining colonialism and systemic racism. Today we look at a commercial gig that synthesizes their fun-loving visual vocabulary and realizes it in heavy metal.

Various & Gould. “Farbstrahlen”. Niemegk, Germany. (photo courtesy of Various & Gould)

“500 grams of paper became 500 kg of metal,” Various tells us as they describe their first metal collage that helps an industrial materials company celebrate a benchmark. “The starting point was a paper collage with elements from our Face Time series,” says Gould to help you place the screen-printed eyes and graphic pieces, stylized “Farbstrahlen”, or color rays.

Mounted and secured on the side of a building on the company property, this permanently installed new installation near Niemegk may possibly last longer than many of their other works. “By slightly staggering the levels, the shadow cast within the installation changes, depending on the position of the sun,” they tell us. “Thematically, it is about the sensual perception of color and color processing.”

Various & Gould. “Farbstrahlen”. Niemegk, Germany. (photo courtesy of Various & Gould)
Various & Gould. “Farbstrahlen”. Niemegk, Germany. (photo courtesy of Various & Gould)
Various & Gould. “Farbstrahlen”. Niemegk, Germany. (photo courtesy of Various & Gould)
Various & Gould. “Farbstrahlen”. Niemegk, Germany. (photo courtesy of Various & Gould)
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Various & Gould Tackle Racism and Colonialism in Berlin with “Monumental Shadows”

Various & Gould Tackle Racism and Colonialism in Berlin with “Monumental Shadows”

In their ongoing quest for creating public works that meaningfully impact society and provoke examination, Various & Gould bravely trespass the silent agreements and disagree.

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 1. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

During their recent multi-week installation in Berlin, the street art activist duo rips at the roots of Western Colonialism by messing with the permanence of statue materials and decades of history and its retelling.

The results are colorful and sometimes bitter, usually illuminating.

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 1. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

By targeting the 6 meters (19.6 foot) statue of the first German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck they created a paper-cast of the man and “took it symbolically off the pedestal under the eyes of dozens of spectators,” they say.

The de-mythologizing work brings the man and his history down to the level of the everyday person, and through of series of performances and discussions over a 5 week period from August through October, the street artists and their collaborators hope to crack open some of the conspiracies that were wide open for everyone to read about when white guys split up Africa like so many spoils.

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 1. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

“For ‘Monumental Shadows’,” V&G tell us, “a series of seven artistic paper impressions of monuments in Europe is planned.” This particular installment is set “against the historical background of the Berlin ‘Congo Conference’ (1884-85),” which regulated the colonization of trade in Africa by fourteen countries, effectively partitioning the continent in a formalizing of theft and imposition of power. Aside from that, it was great.

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 1. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

Using colorful papier-mache techniques of wrapping the sculpture and bringing the pieces to the ground for performers to interact with and formal discussion panels to happen, Various and Gould intend to recall the false narratives and address the underlying debris of social and structural racism in German society specifically, western society generally.

“Our concern is to break the power of the white narrative on colonialism by proposing a change of perspective,” they say, and their accounts of responses by passersby range from supportive to corrosive; from outright verbal attacks on dark-skinned members of the crew to Boomers stopping by to say that all of this topic was essentially passe and not necessary anymore. “We fought colonialism already in 1968!” said one woman as her husband shouted profanities at the couple.

Peace, man.

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 1. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 1. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

In a story similar to those of American confederate statues coming down, there also were a fair number of people who stopped by the art project to protest the disrespect to the legacy of the statue and their personal ownership of historical events.

“Two black members of our team were still finishing some last bits of work on the scaffolding while the rest of the team was preparing the lunch break down on the ground,” they say. “Suddenly a woman (white, German, in her seventies) came by and started to shout up into the scaffolding, addressing our two team members: ‘I am outraged! This is my history.’”

“One of our team in the scaffolding answered instantly: ‘This is also our history.’”

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 2. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

This is not the first time that Various and Gould have created large-scale installations involving public monuments and the repositioning of historical perspectives – See our 2017 article “Marx and Engels Statues Re-Skinned & Re-Located” for example.

Perhaps because of the increasing tensions today in Europe and the US and elsewhere due to voracious crony capitalism and corruption creating a fast gulf of opportunity – and increased anxieties due to the coronavirus, V&G say they were a bit more soured than usually by the vitriol directed at them and their art project – including the unusual multiple requests by police to show permits. There were other subtleties of course.

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 2. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 2. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

“We noticed in many conversations with outraged citizens, that they would behave far more respectfully towards a white, cis male team member, than for example towards a female and/or person of color,” says Various.

“In general many passers-by kept bothering our team members in a number of ways,” offers Gould. “Very frequently people trivialized the German colonialism and Bismarck’s role in it.”

The conference of Berlin, as illustrated in “Illustrierte Zeitung”, public commons

And for the black members of the team, the experience was also intense at times.

Billy Fowo, who worked as part of the team on the scaffolding and on the paper-casting is part of Colonial Neighbours / SAVVY Contemporary, posted this on his Instagram @karl_fowo at the end of the second week:

“Though very personal, I think the presence of people like me who don’t look ”German” to their eyes, in this process, made the pill even more bitter to swallow. But what do the words ‘my history’’ constantly sang as a chorus by this second group really mean? Bismarck & Co in organizing the 1884-85 Berlin conference – didn’t they unfortunately/ unconsciously make us ALL part of ”that history!” Of course, this is not a question! If it were one then the answer is obviously YES! We are ALL part of ”that history”. We ALL build histories! We are today more than ever in dire times, and it is vital that in rewriting and writing the pages of our histories, we completely destroy the narrative of the single story and start including multiple perspectives.”

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 2. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

Thus the power of monuments, and art in the public sphere. Various & Gould again do the hard work of helping us examine those who we revere, and the messages we integrate into our institutions and our daily life. Equitable society needs these questioners and questions about the ‘monumental shadows” cast over others.

“We have to deal with people who feel entitled to exclude other people from participation, from conversation, from civil rights, from society, from history,” they say.

Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 2. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 2. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 3. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 3. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 3. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 3. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Week 3. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Daniela Medina Poch and Juan Pablo Garcia Sossa.“Monumental Shadows”. The inscription reads: “Das Zentrum von Gestern, die Splitter von Heute” (The center of yesterday, the splinters of today) Week 3. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Performance. “Gospel of Wealth” by Thomias Radin, Natisa Exocee Kasongo, Jumoke Adeyanju, and Delawhere. September 12, 2021, Berlin. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Performance. “Gospel of Wealth” by Thomias Radin, Natisa Exocee Kasongo, Jumoke Adeyanju, and Delawhere. September 12, 2021, Berlin. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Performance. “Gospel of Wealth” by Thomias Radin, Natisa Exocee Kasongo, Jumoke Adeyanju, and Delawhere. September 12, 2021, Berlin. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Performance. “Gospel of Wealth” by Thomias Radin, Natisa Exocee Kasongo, Jumoke Adeyanju, and Delawhere. September 12, 2021, Berlin. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Performance. “Gospel of Wealth” by Thomias Radin, Natisa Exocee Kasongo, Jumoke Adeyanju, and Delawhere. September 12, 2021, Berlin. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Performance. “Gospel of Wealth” by Thomias Radin, Natisa Exocee Kasongo, Jumoke Adeyanju, and Delawhere. September 12, 2021, Berlin. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)
Various & Gould in collaboration with Colonial Neighbours. “Monumental Shadows”. Performance. Berlin, August 2021. (photo © Raisa M. Galofre Cortés)

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COVID-19 365 Days Later; Art in the Streets That Narrated a Pandemic

COVID-19 365 Days Later; Art in the Streets That Narrated a Pandemic

What the hell just happened? Has it been a year? Or has it been 10 years? Or just one long nightmare/daymare? Or has it been 10 years? Did we already ask that?

In March 2020 we awoke to a world that was transforming before all of our eyes, yet we felt so cut-off from it and each other. The first days seem so long ago as we mark the first anniversary of the pandemic. Still, the initial shock of those days resonates in our chests so strongly that we confidently talk about a collective global trauma that has indelibly marked a generation.

Pobel. Stavanger, Norway. March 14, 2020. (photo © Tore Stale Moen)

From Stockholm to Mexico City to Barcelona to Bethlehem to New York to LA, BSA brought you street art that was responding with fear, derision, critique, hope, and humor to the never-static, always evolving barrage of Covid news. Stuck inside and afraid to expose ourselves to each other, we New Yorkers became accustomed to experiencing the outdoors only through our windows, connecting with neighbors we’ve never met who were also banging pots and pans or clapping and waving and yelling.

We listened to ambulances screaming past our windows every half hour or so during those first weeks, imagining the torn families, the terrified fellow New Yorkers now being rushed to the hospital and separated from their loved ones without a goodbye, gasping for air. We wondered if we would be next.

Jilly Ballistic and Sack Six. Manhattan, NYC. March 23, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

When we did go to the streets, they were empty – or nearly. In New York this was unheard of. In this bustling, noisy metropolis, we experienced a daily disconcerting quiet. That is, until the killing of George Floyd by cops finally pushed the anger/anxiety into the streets all summer.

The deadly hotspot of New York quelled, but the fires of Covid spread west, grabbing communities who thought they would avoid impact. At the same time, local, state, and national leaders fumbled and argued or famously callously ignored the desperation of citizens, occasionally admirably filling the shoes they were elected to occupy, often misstepping through no fault of their own.

Pure Genius. Manhattan, NYC. March 23, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We have no particular wisdom to offer you today beyond the obvious; this pandemic laid bare inequity, social and racial and class fault-lines, the shredded social net, the effect of institutional negligence, the ravages of 40 years of corporate privatization, and the power of community rising to the occasion to be in service to one another in ways that made us all more than proud.

Here are some of our favorite Covid-themed street art pieces from over the last year, a mere sampling of the artistic responses. Interspersed we paste screenshots of the daily events (via Wikipedia) in 2020 that shaped our lives, and our society.

We mourn the losses of family and friends and the broken hearts and minds in all of our communities. And we still believe in the power of art to heal and the power of love to balance our asymmetries.

Trusto Corp. Los Angeles, CA. March 26, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Lapiz. Hamburg, Germany. March 30th, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Tag Street Art. Tel-Aviv, Israel. March 31, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Phlegm. April 6, 2020. London, UK. (photo courtesy of the artist) Phlegm created a visual diary of his experience with the Pandemic. We published his diary HERE
Don Langrend for USA Today Network. On April 13, 2020, we published a compilation of political cartoons with views on the Pandemic. Click HERE to see the whole collection.
Alessio-B. Padua, Italy. April 15, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Banksy. London, UK. April 19, 2020. (photo Instagram)
Shepard Fairey. Los Angeles, CA. April 20, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Banksy “The Girl with a Pierced Eardrum” Bristol, UK. April 23, 2020. (photo © Reuters/Rebecca Naden)
Cake Stencils. Bethlehem, Israel. May 10, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Almost Over Keep Smiling. Manhattan, NY. May 15, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Captain Eyeliner. Manhattan, NY. May 15, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
SacSix. Manhattan, NY. May 15, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Oliver Rios. May 15, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Teo Vazquez. Barcelona, Spain. May 25, 2020. (photo © Lluis Olive Bulbena)
Adam Fujita. Brooklyn, NYC. May 25, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada. Queens, NYC. June 2nd. 2020. (photo © Just A Spectator)
Russian Doll NY. Manhattan, NYC. June 6, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Gianni Lee. Manhattan, NYC. June 13, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Various & Gould. Berlin, Germany. June 19, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artists)
Sara Lynne-Leo. Manhatttan, NYC. June 27, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Stikman. Manhatttan, NYC. June 27, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentifed artist. Brooklyn, NYC. July 18, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
De Grupo. Manhattan, NYC. August 1, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Sticker Maul. Manhatttan, NYC. August 6, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Fintan Magee. Queensland, Australia. August 16, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Persak. San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. August 23, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
Novy. Manhatttan, NYC. August 29, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Asbestos. Cork, Ireland. September 8, 2020. (photo courtesy of the artist)
1111 Army. Brooklyn, NYC. September 12, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist. Brooklyn, NYC. September 12, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Raddington Falls. Manhattan, NYC. September 26, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Faust. Manhattan, NYC. September 26, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pure Genius. Manhattan, NYC. October 31, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
I Heart Graffiti. Manhattan, NYC. November 14, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
UFO 907 in collab with MUK 123. Manhattan, NYC. December 15, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
The Creator. Manhattan, NYC. December 28, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
City Kitty. Manhattan, NYC. December 28, 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Karma. Barcelona, Spain. January 4, 2020. (photo © Lluis Olive Bulbena)
Pobel. Stavanger, Norway. February 11, 2021. (photo © Tore Stale Moen)
Aya Brown. Brooklyn, NYC. February 27, 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Manhattan, NYC. March 06, 2021 (photo @ Jaime Rojo)
Paolo Tolentino. Manhattan, NYC. March 07, 2021 (photo @ Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist. Manhattan, NYC. March 07, 2021 (photo @ Jaime Rojo)

As NYC went on complete lock-down and New Yorkers were ordered to remain in their homes in complete isolation the city’s residents organically joined together in a collective 7:00 pm ritual in support to the first responders. To the nurses, doctors, paramedics, trash collectors, public transportation, police, fire fighters, supermarkets workers etc…with their services and sacrifices we, the residents of this megalopolis were able to keep out hopes for brighter days to come.

Video of four former presidents urging people to “roll up your sleeve and do your part” and get the vaccine.

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Various & Gould Big Wheels Keep on Turning / Dispatch From Berlin

Various & Gould Big Wheels Keep on Turning / Dispatch From Berlin

Black Lives Matter is rolling forward, quickly and unevenly, causing revelation, elevation, discomfort, and hopefully eventually liberty and freedom and equality.

Various & Gould. Berlin, June 2020. (photo © Various & Gould)

Until then, big wheels keep on turning. Berliner’s Various and Gould are the duo behind these new vintage clip-art wonders that may recall the permutations of yesterday’s kaleidoscopes, although the images may be new. That’s the paradox baked in to the truisms that these perennial mixologists offer. Just think of these new powerful and ironic artworks as a mirror on events of this moment, with a through-line to the past.

Various & Gould. Berlin, June 2020. (photo © Various & Gould)
Various & Gould. Berlin, June 2020. (photo © Various & Gould)
Various & Gould. Berlin, June 2020. (photo © Various & Gould)
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BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2019

BSA HOT LIST: Books For Your Gift Giving 2019

The ephemeral qualities of art in the streets are effectively contradicted by this site, and we have captured much in the time we’ve been documenting the scene. Even, so, it is primarily digital, our work, our gift to you. If you want something of more lasting value, buy a book.

This year we had the pleasure of reviewing a number of books, and even appeared in a few ourselves with text and photos. If you’re looking for a lovely gift for the graffiti/Street Art/ Urban Art/ Contemporary Urban Art fan in your life, have a look at this list – our Hot List of 2019.

Futura 2000 “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz

From BSA:

Futura Goes “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz

One benefit of being ahead of your time is that you can paint your own rules, discover your own voice, set a standard. A drawback is that you may have to push forward on your own before you gain support for what you are pursuing. The key is to keep moving.

As Futura pulls fully into the frame of contemporary artist, its important for upcoming artists to remember that he had a long route – including being a bike messenger on Manhattan’s untamed streets to provide for his family – while he was waiting until the rest of the street and art world caught up with him. Now that Street Art has confirmed that his abstract explorations on subway trains were an early sign of what was coming, brands and gallerists and collectors often call. “Full Frame” helps appreciate the body of work he developed during that time.

Hendrik Beirkich: “Siberia”

From BSA:

Hendrik Beikirch Traces Lives and Memories in “Siberia”

A corollary to 2015’s “Tracing Morocco” by German street artist Hendrik Beirkirch (aka ECB), a new book travels to meet the rugged inhabitants of Siberia’s countryside in the Russian Federation. The results are starkly genuine, impressively authentic.

Again indulging us in the deep crevasses of many a weathered façade, Siberia invites you to meet the people whom he has met in his travel and presumably befriended, given their ease as subjects. A part of the Jardin Rouge stable over the past few years, Beirkirch has followed the lead of founder Jean Louis Haguenauer, the Frenchman who moved to Russia in the early 1980s and found his own odyssey outside the city to be formative to his character, leading him to write the introduction to the handsome tome.

“Graffiti In New York Hardcore” by Freddy Alva

From BSA:

Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore

A welcome and necessary addition to any graffiti academic’s library comes Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, carefully documented by Freddy Alva. A thorough recounting of the birth and growth of graffiti through the lense of punk and hardcore scenes after 1980, Alva presents a parallel evolution of a scene as it was interpreted by a largely white constituency of rockers, anarchists, and rebels who grew up in and around New York at that time.

Alva is careful to give due to the graffiti scene that is more often identified as the roots of this practice of urban mark making; the hip-hop culture of primarily black and latino youth during the 1960s and 1970s. As the neoliberal corporate capitalists took over Wall Street and the Reagan White House, a different sort of graffiti writer was often showing up on the street – and often on stage as part of a hardcore band.

“Smashed: The Art Of The Sticker Combo” by I Will Not

From BSA:

SMASHED: The Art of the Sticker Combo by “I Will Not”

Anyone born after 1960, and that includes most sticker artists on the street today, has a positive association with the humble sticker. From “smiley” and “gold star” rewards stuck to the top of your grade-school class papers to scratch-n-sniff or puffy stickers to MAD magazine product parodies for Quacker Oats and Minute Lice, a lot of kids grew up with good feelings about slaps.

Over the past two decades a serious community of sticker designers, traders, artists, exhibitors and collectors has emerged – virtually assuring that public bathrooms in heavy metal/ punk / hip hop/ alternative music clubs will be covered top to bottom or ‘smashed’ with stickers. Adhesive equivalents of a business card or portfolio sample for many artists, musicians, philosophers, anarchists, and wise guys/gals, stickers are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to the world.

“The Rap Quotes Coast To Coast” by Jay Shells

From BSA:

Jay Shells: The “Rap Quotes” Book

Context and placement are key to the success of Street Art. Jay Shells’s project, “The Rap Quotes” more than meets those standards. Indeed his project might be one of the most relevant examples of street art responding to a specific time and place in history that you’ll ever see.

We’ve been repping Jay Shells (Jason Shelowitz) for years since we first found his text-based signage on Brooklyn streets in the oddest of locations. Within a short time they began to make sense, and then brilliant sense – since they acted as a GPS for some of your favorite rap lyrics. 

“What if somehow these lyrics existed visually, in the exact location mentioned?” he says to illustrate his original idea.

“Flowers” by Michael De Feo

From BSA:

Michael De Feo “FLOWERS”

Amid the detritus of the urban cityscape in decline, it is a welcome contrast to see a dandelion or wild daisy sprouting up from a crack in the sidewalk. Not only is it a reminder of the original inhabitants of the land you are standing on it is an ever-present truth that the plants and the trees and the animals will inherit the earth again, no matter what grand ideas you have for it.

The simplest symbol of nature in the layered debris of urban margins, and a decorative one, is the flower that Micheal De Feo has been “planting” on walls since the early 1990s. The practice has sustained him through many cities and travels abroad, introducing him to artists and fans and collectors, eventually pushing him into explorations of contemporary art.

“Street Art Las Vegas” by William Shea and Patrick Lai

From BSA:

“Street Art Las Vegas” Takes a Tour Beyond the Strip

Before there was a scene in Las Vegas, there was a scene in Las Vegas.

Not in just the shimmering, drink slamming, dice rolling, pink-fur bikini with a rhinestone choker kind of way – that’s the real Las Vegas scene that you may think of – but in the urban art scene as well.

In this context, the Las Vegas graffiti/Street Art scene that existed in the 1990s and 2000s that led up to a massive “Meeting of Styles” in 2012 was lively and varied and leaned more toward lettering, handstyle, and characters. Later, beginning in 2013 with a music/art festival called “Life is Beautiful”, a select group of international Street Artists was paid by public and private interests to help the city tap into a growing interest in urban decoration with eye-popping murals.

“Stencillists / Pochoiristes” by Serge Louis

From BSA:

“Stencilists / Pochoiristes” Cuts Across the Street Scene Gallantly, with Serge Louis

Enthusiastic authors like Serge Louis can make Street Art sing, even in print. His new “Stencilists/Pochoiristes” is a finely illustrated hardcover of iconic images from the street. The carefully selected plates are placed within interviews in French and English.

The 17 stencillists whom he has selected are from a populated field of possibilities but he captures a fair range from his travels in Europe – with a few from the US to compliment them.

“Utility Writers” by MRKA

From BSA:

MRKA Gives High Marks to “Utility Writers” in Unique Street Tome

When academics and post-modern esoteric poets plunge into descriptions of graffiti sometimes they proffer colorful didactics and clever terminology like “mark-making” and “gestural” to describe the tagging practice. Conceptualist, graffiti writer, and multimedia artist MRKA takes a step toward the mundane and discovers a new kind of poetry with his “Utility Writers”.

“Stickers Vol 2: More Stuck Up Crap” by DB Burkeman

From BSA:

Stickers Vol. 2: More Stuck-Up Crap from DB Burkeman

In the Street Art continuum that presents itself to the passerby on city streets, the early practice of hand-drawn tags on stolen postal stickers eventually morphed into mass-produced slick runs of personal branding and large scale one-off hand rendered/cut paper pieces wheat-pasted with a brush. This story, ever-evolving, is more inclusive than some may think of when you talk generically about “slaps” on a door or on the base of a streetlamp in the city’s visual dialogue. For the book Stickers Vol 2, author DB Burkeman takes a wider survey of the practice, however, and in his second compendium, he goes where BSA has always followed the creative spirit; wherever it leads.

Dont Fret “Life Thus Far”

From BSA:

Dont Fret: “Life Thus Far”

Nothing to lose your head about, but you’ll be thrilled to hear about the long-anticipated release of the new monograph by the ingenious troublemaker and largely incognito Chicago Street Artist DONT FRET.

Emerging on the streets for a decade or so with painted wit and misshapen characters wheat-pasted where you least expect them, he’s the sharp observer and human humorist whose work is as brilliant as your cousin Marlene, as funny as Johnny at the funeral home, as handsome as the guys behind the counter at Publican Quality Meats.

Well, maybe not that handsome.

Various & Gould “Permanently Improvised”

From BSA:

Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future: “Permanently Improvised”

“Our early conceptions about a future robot world were made from what we knew about automation and mechanics. Thankfully the surrealists and Dadaists were there to help us with flying ships made of tea pots and mystic, amiable metal helpers soldered and screwed together with spare train pistons and kitchen implements. Our helpers were all carefully oiled and pumping, marching in a mathematical concert through dry-ice fog, propelling herky-jerky humanoids up the path to the thoroughly modern world.

Do Rabotniki exist? They are already here. It just took Various & Gould to remind us.”


~ Steven P. Harrington in his essay “A Mixed and Matched Future-Past: Robotiniki” for “Permanently Improvised: 15 years of Urban Print Collage” by Various & Gould

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Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future:  “Permanently Improvised”

Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future: “Permanently Improvised”

“Our early conceptions about a future robot world were made from what we knew about automation and mechanics. Thankfully the surrealists and Dadaists were there to help us with flying ships made of tea pots and mystic, amiable metal helpers soldered and screwed together with spare train pistons and kitchen implements. Our helpers were all carefully oiled and pumping, marching in a mathematical concert through dry-ice fog, propelling herky-jerky humanoids up the path to the thoroughly modern world.

Do Rabotniki exist? They are already here. It just took Various & Gould to remind us.”


~ Steven P. Harrington in his essay “A Mixed and Matched Future-Past: Robotiniki” for “Permanently Improvised: 15 years of Urban Print Collage” by Various & Gould


Various & Gould. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

The Berlin based Street Art/fine art duo have released a colorful patchwork overview of 8 major campaigns they formulated for the street in the last decade and a half and present their practice in a series of analytical essays ranging by urban/art intellectuals, activists, and experts including Jan Kage, Steven P. Harrington, Toby Ashraf, Alison Young, Luis Muller Phillip-Shohn, Ilaria Hoppe, Anne Wizorek, Mohamed Amjahid, and an illuminating interview with the artists and Polina Soloveichik. The two open their kooky-cryptic inner fantasy world to the reader and to fans who have wondered how their idiosyncratic method works, and what a world of hybrid thought will produce in our future.

Various & Gould. RABOTNIKI. Essay by Steven P. Harrington. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

The medium sized hardcover book features instructive and illustrative images of their collaged works placed illegally in the streets, created in studio, presented in the gallery, and in one case, Papier-mâchéd upon public sculptures of Marx and Engels. Intelligent, inquisitive, infused with riddles, the work is delivered with sincere scholarship and humor – even during the process of creation, public interaction, and mid degradation due to the natural elements.

Various & Gould. CITY SKINS. Essay by Jan Kage. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

Professor Young discusses V&G’s broken glass abstracts in the context of law reforms that have used the “broken glass theory” as excuse to demean and exploit targeted populations, and Phillip-Sohn looks at their recent bus-stop installation campaign called “Broken Screens” and he observes a fragile technology that, when shattered and inert, “makes us all too tragically aware of how dependent we’ve become on these devices.”

Various & Gould. FACE TIME. Essay by Toby Ashraf. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

Viewers get a greater appreciation of the tribe-like mentality humans possess just beneath the veneer of civility – the dry timber only waiting to be sparked into flame.  The “Wanted Witches” campaign placed 13 portraits of people who are framed as modern pioneers in respect to social issues. Painting them with phosphorus and encouraging you to light a match on them takes public interaction beyond the realms we’re familiar with. The carefully planned and executed installation on city streets powerfully presents the saint-like sacrifice of people who push ahead of us, sometimes burned at the stake as witches – whether literally or perhaps via a hostile media and politicized rhetoric.

Various & Gould. BROKEN WINDOWS. Essay by Alison Young. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.

Up to their elbows in paste, ink, paper, and possibility, at the root of much of V&G’s work is an examination of identity; its malleability, its fluidity, even its perceived relevance in societal strata. The through-line in many projects is apparent in its meditation of our flexible selves: Identikit interchanges personalities and keywords to present tensions and examine associations. St. Nimmerlein mocks the arbitrary power of declaring sainthood with fictional personas who surely don’t deserve it. Face Time is a Dadaist study that combines the likenesses and features of many into implausible yet familiar glitch-humans. The aforementioned and early Rabotniki mixes and matches bodies, parts, genders, classes, and identities in a handmade heart-conscious way.

Spread over a decade and a half many of these projects overlap and recombine, creating and reflecting a global evolution we are undergoing- a convulsive re-examination of nearly everything and everyone. The question they may be asking is, “What is the sorting method we will use to recategorize our social and political groupings?”

Using techniques that are reassuringly un-digital, the stunning power of V&G’s mission, even if subliminal, is its intuitive ability to explain our current state. With subtle nods to robotics, androids, AI, identity politics and our innate human creativity, the duo cannily constructs the present and predicts the future, with a sense of humor that we are going to need.

Various & Gould. BROKEN SCREENS. Essay by Luis Muller Philipp-Shon. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
Various & Gould. SAINT NIMMERLEIN. Essay by Ilaria Hoppe. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
Various & Gould. WANTED WITCHES / WITCHES WANTED. Essay by Anne Wizorek. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
Various & Gould. IDENTIKIT. Essay by Mohamed Amjahid. Permanently Improvised. Editors Various & Gould. Published by seltmann+sohne. Berlin 2019.
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Various & Gould: Broken Screens, Shattered Social Scenes

Various & Gould: Broken Screens, Shattered Social Scenes

“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.”

Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)

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.

Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)

“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.

Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)

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.

Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)

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.

Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)

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.”

Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)
Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)
Various & Gould. Broken Screens Project. Berlin. (photo © Various & Gould)
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Marx Turns 200 in Montevideo. 3 Street Artists Paint “After Marx” for Goethe-Institut

Marx Turns 200 in Montevideo. 3 Street Artists Paint “After Marx” for Goethe-Institut

Karl Marx had his 200th birthday this year, proudly rocking a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt.

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce,said the author of The Communist Manifesto, and to mark the bicentennial of the polarizing figure in Montevideo, Street Artists Various & Gould (Germany), Min8 (Uruguay) and Vince (France) created new artworks along the Avenida 8 de October and the walls of a former prison, now turned art space.

“The Goethe-Institut in cooperation with the French Embassy took the bicentenary of Karl Marx as an opportunity to discuss what remains of Marx today, and what we can learn from him,” says Katharina Ochse, the director of Goethe-Institut Uruguay. “The idea of inviting three artists from different countries was to obtain very different perspectives of people who have had very different experiences in their past with the ideas of Marx.”

Collectively the program is entitled „Después de Marx“, or “After Marx”

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

In Vince’s portrait of Marx you realize that the beard he sported is very modern and a bit bookish, perfect for the political theorist and revolutionary socialist of 2018. Supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement is a given, as you know he would be in the thick of thirty different socio-political initiatives on this eve of another economic crash. In another image of Marx posed with Engels, the two look like a couple of college bros with send-ups of modern novelty t-shirts.

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Roger Eychenne)

The Berlin based art duo Various & Gould took an abstract decontructivist approach to the German philosopher, a free-associative recombining of elements of his physical and his theories.

“Marx does not appear as a complete portrait with us – only in the form of his typical beard,” says Various. “The rest of the head is made up of more abstract fragments and industrial elements such as a chimney, a gear and an actual still existing landmark in Montevideo, an old gasometer.”

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Gould expands on their aesthetic answer to a complex character and symbol. “His profound scientific analysis of working conditions and production processes seems to be the core of his work. From this examination of relationship between man and work, we have been inspired to a metaphorical game with human elements and machine parts. And the infinity sign at the other end of the tunnel, in combination with gears, is a tongue-in-cheek symbol of never-ending work.”

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

For her part, Uruguayan graffiti writer and style experimentalist Min8, working comfortably here in her hometown in this South American capital, employed symbol and metaphor, combining the royal eagle and the lion, which she calls her personal totem.

Min8. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

“I wanted to represent the fight, the struggle, and the freedom,” she says. “It is a ‘must’ for me. You should always fight and sacrifice yourself for your goals.” Says Min8.

Min8. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

The murals are not without detractors however. Photos posted on a Facebook page called “Uruguay Primero” (America First, anyone?) feature a handful of protesters rather respectfully taping handmade posters over the works during the night – each deriding the figure for causing deaths, creating concentration camps and other oppression of the poor.

Image from “Uruguay Primero” Facebook page (photo © Nicolás Quintana)

A commenter on the page was in agreement with the protest, saying “After Marx left this capitalist system, which generated all that that the poster you put said it did. I congratulate you for the intervention.”

In street art terms, they may have “gone over” the works, but they didn’t permanently destroy them, while censuring the message. In an ironic turn of events, a video posted by the group was pulled down by Facebook – another form of censorship.

Presumably this kind of open discussion of ideas would appeal to those savoring the exchange of ideas and ideals, long after Marx.

 

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. Sketch. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

 

Various & Gould “Despues de Marx”. With Vince at work on his piece. Tunnel, Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Vince)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Min8 . Various & Gould. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Vince. Min8 . Various & Gould. Tunnel , Avenida 8 de October. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8 . Various & Gould. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Jessica Porley)

Various & Gould. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Jessica Porley)

Various & Gould. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

Min8. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Min8)

Vince. Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo. Montevideo, Uruguay. September 2018. (photo © Various & Gould)

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Monumenta: Large Scale Icon Celebrates “The Intelligence Of Many” in Leipzig

Monumenta: Large Scale Icon Celebrates “The Intelligence Of Many” in Leipzig

“Utopia is not dead!,” curator Denis Leo Hegic loves to exclaim. Maybe not, but it is elusive.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Viktor Frešo “Angry Boy”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You may catch a flash of Utopia here among heady concepts he entertains regarding iconization, scale, the elimination of tastemakers and gatekeepers, urban planning and architecture, art in the streets juxtaposed with art in galleries, or at the thumping of electronic DJs and darting lazers at the sweaty bumping house parties every weekend inside a cozy ex-storehouse for equipment.

The bitter will simply call this reinvigoration of a former metal works factory by Berlin’s Wandelism collective a tool of gentrification for its new real estate owner, but that kind of reductive criticism overlooks the cultural evolution that often is spirited by large multi-tentacled environments such as these.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Viktor Frešo “Angry Boy”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Functioning as a large laboratory of experimentation that has entertained large crowds since late summer, Monumenta fosters thousands of conversations and strategies about art and culture and technology and the shifting geo-political future we will need to be prepared for it. It is almost as if the only preparation that we can hope to depend upon during increasing times of increasing complexity will be collective tribes like these, and ‘the intelligence of many’.

So here’s Jan Kuck melting wax and pouring it into light fixtures which, when turned on, will melt the wax again organically onto a pile of mirrors below – a curious kinectic sculptural installation you may call Wahnsinn, or madness. Kuck can easily mount his work at international art fairs, and he has – but this place affords an unquantifiable jolt of the D.I.Y. energy that powers artist spaces in big cities throughout Europe. Outside in the yard with his canvas leaning against the wall, Berlin’s Dino Richter is fastidious and attentive to detail with his sharp knife slicing through layers of tape, peeling off pieces to produce an intricately tight design evocative of circuit boards and ice cream pops.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. The Monument-of-Many Installation. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Hosted on the post-industrial grounds of Pittlerwerke, 36,000 square meters of former machinery factories presents one sixth of that for a wide-ranging exhibition of urban, contemporary, graffiti, installation art, music, performance, talks and workshops. The spaces are generous, even holy in their scale; a conceptual big tent that gives room to a seriously considered eclecticism of artists and artworks that all somehow capture this moment before the abyss.

Here you’ll find one of the original Cologne “Neue Wilde” (Young Wild Ones) who also became known as a painter of the “Mülheimer Freiheit“, Hans Peter Adamski, his large abstractions only meters away from a fire extinguisher triptych by a current united graffiti power on city streets across Europe, the 1UP Crew. You’ll also see Berlin public/street art duo Various & Gould with an empty skin sculpture of Marx and Engels while Berlin art trio Innerfields creates machine guns of papier-mâché.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Dr. Molrok. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Ghanaian born, Vienna based painter Amoako Boafo brings one of his elegant figures of masculinity to a large canvas while down the hall Señor Schnu reenacts a sculptured scene of police brutality with a teen in a hoody half-submerged underfoot in murky water. Don’t forget the one hundred artist suspended installation of monuments-of-many flanking Viktor Frešo’s naked giant “Angry Boy” who may unhappily remind you of a certain president.

How do you begin to connect the dots here? Perhaps it’s more about opening the spaces between them for yourself.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Dr. Molrok. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta is part exhibition and cultural fair; a ‘happening’ of sorts; a surprisingly ego-free environment for making art that you can immediately put on display and have conversations about with an eclectic mix of art fans and peers. The multi-member team of artists and producers and writers and media makers have created a nether space in transition from its industrial past to an inconclusive future, creating the kind of environment where artists are rather liberated from presupposition. It feels like the result of a positively reductive process that strips away artifice and reminds us what the raw creative process is – and where it may go if given room and respect.

Curators Denis Leo Hegic and Jan Fielder created the environment in the moment, on the spot, and with some audacity. They also smartly partnered with a selection of sparkling seers including contemporary gallerist and manager Isabel Bernheimer, visionary ringmaster at Urban Spree Pasqual Feucher, the storied collector Marc Omar, and Berlin Art Society’s Michelle Houston.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. WENU. Detail. “Divide et Impera”. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Uneven and happily unfinished, the collection of experiences launches a sense of unified eclecticism; a multi-storied series of Lo and Hi, fine art paintings, installations, sculpture, photography and electronic media that create a collective chorus of possibilities on the cusp of the next crash. In a odd world of flattening hierarchies and spirited inclusionary programming the two principal architects of this future vision suggest a re-ordering that brings the street directly into the cathedral and ivy covered hall.

BSA spoke with Monumenta curators Denis Leo Hegic and Jan Fiedler about some of their preferred ways of seeing art and the thrill of mastering an enormous iconic industrial space for exhibiting artworks from so many disciplines and perspectives.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Various & Gould. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: You spoke in your presentation during the Momenta Talks program about the concept of space and emotion when considering how to mount an exhibition. What part does emotion play in the experience of an art installation?

Jan Fiedler: Emotion is one of the central aspects while being confronted with art, and the perception of the artwork changes with the emotions you are going through while being in contact with said artwork. When you are sad, a painting or sculpture will trigger different feelings than when you are in a happy mood. Also the quality of an artwork really shows, and it may “force” you to feel a certain way.

It is interesting to observe how certain artworks can move people from different cultures, countries and backgrounds in the same way. It really shows that the language of art is universal. Especially the old masters can evoke these, mostly holy, emotions, even in faithless people. If we talk about these paintings, then we have to keep in mind that the eyes they were created for were the main source for evoking religious feeling. The ears were useless in Mass, since the sermon was held in Latin, a language most people did not understand, and the eyes went on a journey, trying to find a foundation for their faith in the art that was displayed in the churches. So they were painted in a certain way, to evoke exactly these feelings.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Rocco and his Brohters.“Dezernat 52”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

These paintings hang in museums today, robbed of their original context and surroundings, but still are powerful to trigger feelings. And that applies to every artwork you want to put on display in an art show. You have to dedicate a certain amount of time to every single piece, feeling the emotional impact it has on you and arrange it in a way that highlights its qualities in the best way. So an art exhibition is in the best case a carefully arranged Orchestra that takes the visitor on an emotional journey.

Brooklyn Street Art: “The Intelligence of Many” is a phrase that was central to the formation and execution of Monumenta. Is this a model for curation that we may see in the future?

Denis Leo Hegic: Yes. It is not only a model of curation, it is a model of cooperation in different fields in a successful modern society. The information, which we have to deal with in every aspect of life, has reached such a great level of complexity, that working TOGETHER in a selfless way and profiting from the intelligence of many individuals involved is the only concept that can bring a true (and important) change.

Even if the world does not appear like that in this moment, it is actually the case that the era of self-centered egomaniacs is over. And that´s the good news.

In terms of curating something which we call “Urban Art”, there is absolutely no other way of doing it. This form of art is rooted within and powered by (urban) communities and the spirit that arrives from them. One can fake this credibility just for a limited time. The intelligence of many is the counter concept to the stupidity of one.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Rocco and his Brohters.“Dezernat 52”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about the cathedral quality of the initial hall at Monumenta?
Jan Fiedler: The “Church”, as we call the entrance hall of Monumenta, is a nickname that has its origins in the unique architecture which resembles a Basilica – is a very special room, which from a curatorial point of view demands a large amount of attention. This is especially so because it resembles a church, a place where there is only room for one god. We decided to dedicate it to the Monument-of-Many, the visions of one hundred different artists.

But there is a reason why churches and cathedrals have such an effect on the spectator, because they play with scale and the tools of iconization. We used the exact same tools, but not to promote one singular idea, but to present a grumpy baby, the symbol of hope and future, where nobody can be certain how it will turn out if it grows up. This again is one of the aspects of Monumenta; To let go of total control and to give artists the freedom to unfold their creativity.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Señor Schnu. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. HNRX “Paradoxism”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Play with art. Guillermo S. Quintana on the floor with several artists on the boards. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Play with art. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Les Enfants Terribles. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Les Enfants Terribles. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Les Enfants Terribles. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. NASCA. “Cruz”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Jan Kuck. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Jan Kuck. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Ron Miller. “Gun-Geisha”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. 1UP Crew. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Marina Zumi. “View Insight”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. NeSpoon. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. KNS. “Where Is The Scene?”. This piece wasn’t commissioned but rather illegally painted during the opening days of the exhibition. The organizers of the exhibition decided to keep it in place instead of buffing it. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. SNOW. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. The organizaers. Standing, from left to right: Niklas Jedowski, Sabrina Markutzyk, Jan Gustav Fiedler, Denis Leo Hegic and on the floor Dorian Mazurek. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many is currently open to the general public in Leipzig, Germany. Click HERE for general information, schedules of upcoming events, directions etc…

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Street Artists At Munich Museum Present the Portrait, “IMAGO” Curated by Elisabetta Pajer

Street Artists At Munich Museum Present the Portrait, “IMAGO” Curated by Elisabetta Pajer

From cave carvings in Angoulême in western France 27,000 years ago to your daily, perhaps hourly selfie on a cell phone today, our desire to depict the figure is as much a reflection of the artist and their times as it’s sitter.

A new show at MUCA Munich (Museum of Urban Contemporary Art) opening today invites 30 primarily Street Artists to choose a significant reference portrait of any historical time, country of origin, or artistic movement and interpret their inspirations into a portrait.

Whether drawing influences from Vermeer, Courbet, or Lucien Freud, each artist ultimately represents their own life experiences in their choice of subject and the technique of portrayal. Perhaps that is why curator Elisabetta Pajer has asked each of the artists to give us a statement with their work to help put it into context. Pajer tells us that she looks at the collection of works and the statements create a ‘harmonic mosaic’ of these figurative and written testimonies.

“These artists have sought out inspiration from many mediums that portraiture finds itself interpreted within,” says Pajer. “Taking their themes and inspiration from classical paintings, sculpture, film, theater, photographer, interactions, culture, religion, and science. Exhibiting a great understanding of the complexity of self-reflection with art as the catalyst.”

We’re pleased to be able to present some of the artists and their own words here.


Andreas Englund

Andreas Englund. Tripping. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

TRIPPING
Media: Oil on canvas
Size: 116 x 90 cm
 
-Statement
“I chose to tribute my artwork to the ‘‘Portrait of a smoking man’’ by Anders Zorn 1860-1920 – Swedens most internationally acclaimed artist. Born in my home region and very inspirational when it comes to his sketchy technique. By doing my own version of this masterpiece with my superhero, I have learned more about ‘‘the great Zorn’’ and his technique.”

Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper. Futura 1983. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

FUTURA 1983
Media: Archival pigment print
Size: 50,8 x 76,20 cm

 
-Statement
“This is a 1983 photo of Futura, a legendary New York City graffiti writer, with a classic can of Krylon spray paint. Thirty-five years later, Futura is still spray painting and I am still taking photos of graffiti writers.”

Icy + Sot

Icy & Sot. Under The Water Light. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artists)

UNDER THE WATER LIGHT
Media: Stencil spray paint on canvas
Size: 91,5 x 123 cm
 
-Statement
“This portrait is part a series we created reflecting on the relationship between human and nature. Nature plays a big role in human lifespan, but nowadays people have distanced from nature. With this work, we want to show humans closer to nature and pay a tribute to it.”

Swoon

Swoon. Thalassa. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

THALASSA
Media: Screenprint on paper with coffee stain and hand painting with collage mounted on board
Size: 123 × 138 cm
 
-Statement
“The name Thalassa is Greek word for ‘‘ocean’’, a primordial incarnation of the sea that is not often personified. Thalassa is said to have given birth to all tribes of fish in the sea. She is the pull of the sea that comes from inside the salt water in our blood. ‘Thalassa was originally created for New Orleans. It was the months after the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf in 2010, and this body of water that I’d loved since I was a child was in peril. As I drew Thalassa surging up from the water I felt her rising like a wake up call, one reminds us of our inseparability from the sea. When I stand in front of the ocean, the word that always appears first in my mind is “mother”. For me there is no mistaking the sense that the sea is our first mother.’ ”

Borondo

Gonzalo Borondo & Diego Lopez Bueno. Selfie Elvis II. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo © Blind Eye Factory)

GONZALO BORONDO & DIEGO LOPEZ BUENO
SELFIE ELVIS II
Media: Acrylic and plaster on wood – Plasma TV 50’’- Video on loop – 16:9 Digital – Color
Size: 7 panels each – 120 x 70 x 1 cm + 1 TV
 
-Statement
“Inspired by several passport photos found within the Marseilles “Marché aux Puches” (FR), Borondo and Lopez Bueno have designed an installation project with the title “Selfie Elvis II”. Imagination is the basis of the multimedia work with self-portraits of a man recalling the contemporary “selfie”. There are dozens of frames describing human aspects and obsessions. They have been digitally elaborated and assembled in a video by López Bueno. Borondo portrayed Elvis with acrylic on wood and applying gypsum, then scratched with sharp instruments. Faces appeared by subtraction, the absence tells about an ancestral and intangible dimension, wondering about its existence. Is Elvis looking at himself or us in that picture? And what about our images, do they look like us or they are just our dreams? Elvis is not there, Elvis is still there.”

Addison Karl

Addison Karl. Kamassa. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

KAMASSA
Media: Bronze, edition 1 of 10
Size: 30,48 x 20,32 x 15,24 cm
 
 
-Statement
“Portraiture in context to sculpture and form – referencing the masterpieces from both European Classical and Neoclassical time periods. From a culture l mirror of taking inspiration from Gods and Goddess of the ancient world, my sculpture’s subject is focused on a contemporary Chickasaw Elder. Using portraiture as a means of Cultural Preservation but equally re-appropriating classic sensibilities of art history to a Native Cultural narrative. “

 


Various & Gould

Various & Gould. Trigger (Rokhaya Diallo). IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artists)

TRIGGER (ROKHAYA DIALLO)
Media: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 200 x 140 cm
-Statement
“Our portrait of Rokhaya Diallo refers to an iconic work by Nikide Saint Phalle: The artistically revised film still “Daddy” shows the artist pointing a gun directly at the viewer. Even almost 50 years later, her eye and the muzzle of her rifle leave no doubt that she is serious about it. Anyone who sees the work feels immediately like coming into the firing line.
In our painting, the French journalist and film maker Rokhaya Diallo takes the place and – freely recreated – also the pose of Niki de Saint Phalle. Thus, an early feministic, vigorous artist of the twentieth century is followed by a modern, committed internet feminist with no less strong verve than her predecessor. Both women are even the same age at the time of the illustration. Only instead of the rifle, Rokhaya Diallo relies on her very own “weapon”, the hashtag. At first glance, it may seem more harmless than a rifle, but in times of #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo it can be an even more powerful tool.”

 


Fintan Magee

Fintan Magee The Removalist. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

THE REMOVALIST
Media: Canvas and acrylic on wall installation
 
-Statement
“The portrait has been ripped off the canvas and dragged across the ground and projected onto the wall. The artist has destroyed the canvas and made the portrait ephemeral, rendering it worthless and unsellable. The work comments on the commodification of artwork and the uneasy and paradoxical relationship between artist and the financier of his artworks. With street art becoming increasingly commoditized and contributing to gentrification this work doesn’t aim to make any grand statements on how art should or shouldn’t be produced, only highlight the illusionary, absurdist and contradictory image the art industry presents of itself.”

VHILS

VHILS. Matta. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

MATTA
Media: Bas-relief carving on plasterboard mounted on metal structure
Size: 181 x 120,5 x 34 cm
 
-Statement

“Resorting to a bas-relief carving technique, applied here to a free-standing structure of plasterboard, this piece is a homage to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, which became a major influence on me after I first saw it at an exhibition in Portugal, in 2002. Matta-Clark was one of the first artists to look at the urban space as a space of creation and reflection on the human condition in the contemporary times we live in. Those are the considerations I try to translate in my own work too, reflecting about the human condition in the contemporary times we live in.”


Andrea Wan

Andrea Wan. Being Of Light. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

BEING OF LIGHT
Media: Ink on paper
Size: 50 x 70 cm
 
-Statement

“Fascinated by the lively and dynamic landscape in the paintings of native Canadian Artist Emily Carr, I chose one of her most renown works, Indian Church (1929) as the subject of reinterpretation. Seemingly more accurate than a realistic approach, Carr’s abstraction of nature elements not only communicated to me that nature is vast and subliminal but also ever-changing in form and expression. The white church which stands calmly in the midst of the mystical environment inspired me to personify the subject as a being who is in tune with all that’s around her.”


DALeast

DALeast. FIII. IMAGO. MUCA Munich. (photo courtesy of the artist)

FIII
Media: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 100 x 80 cm
 
-Statement
“A still moment of Fiii standing in the windy land, which is existing inside the transitory gathering of the particles of the magical net.”

IMAGO: A History of Portraits opens today at MUCA Museum of Urban And Contemporary Art. Munich. Curated by Elisabetta Pajer the show runs until November 2018.

IMAGO is a show dedicated to the history of portrait: over 30 artists from five different continents are invited to pay homage and interpret a portrait in their medium of their choice. IMAGO aims to lead visitors through different artistic eras, helping discover the international history and evolution of the portrait.

Artists include:

Jef Aerosol
ASKEW ONE
Borondo
Vesod Brero
Martha Cooper
DALeast
Paola Delfin
Anna Piera Di Silvestre
Andreas Englund
Evoca 1
Ricky Lee Gordon
Hubertus Hamm
Handiedan
Icy&Sot
Addison Karl
Know Hope
Klone Yourself
Fintan Magee
Mario Mankey
Marco Mazzoni
Antony Micallef
Miss Van
Nychos
Sepe
David Shillinglaw
Søren Solkær
Sten Lex
SWOON
TelmoMiel
TWOONE

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Various & Gould: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

Various & Gould: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.

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Intellectual adventurers with a penchant for public experimentation, the Berlin-based duo Various & Gould anchor their vivid-hued dada-pop hybrids in study and observation – and a willingness to actively question conventional assumptions. Originally predicated on the language of poster graphics, in periodic forays in public space, V&G become performers, clue-givers, even academic re-skinners of existing sculpture when their new idea takes fullness. Today we learn how their own natural observational practice and innate creative curiosity about art on the streets leads them to new discoveries and sources of inspiration.


VARIOUS & GOULD

When we discovered this work, we thought at first it was a nicely cracked window of an empty storefront.

We were on our bikes and just after we had already passed it and were waiting at the red light, we glanced back: ‘Did you see that window? What was it: broken, scratched, painted? Let‘s have a second look!’

When we turned around we saw these delicate graphic lines. And we understood this was an artwork. Now the detectives in our curious artist minds awoke and we were wondering how this was made.We came to the conclusion it might be the left over borders from stickers, applied to the window stripe by stripe.

We really enjoy the intriguing yet unobtrusive appearance of these works, of which we have discovered more since. It took us a while to find out the artists name: Birgit Hölmer.

We haven’t met her though. It‘s so striking that public art can still appear in new forms and surprise you!

Various & Gould. Art work by Birgit Hölmer. Berlin, Germany. March 8th, 2017. (photo © Various & Gould)

 

Various & Gould

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