All posts tagged: Xabier Anunsibai

Bayonne Diary, From Alban Morlot’s Point of View

Bayonne Diary, From Alban Morlot’s Point of View

Here in Basque country you can casually drive between Bilbao (Spain) and Bayonne (France) as if you were just heading out to the shopping mall to buy new kicks. The signs of course are in multiple languages (Spanish, French, Basque) and there is much more political street art in these towns- addressing topics like fracking, racism, women’s rights and amnesty for political prisoners.

With an atmosphere that is more politically charged than other parts of the world, you can quickly forget it when you see so many rolling green hills dotted with puffy round sheep and old white farm houses along the highway.

1UP Crew (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Arriving in Bayonne we were happy to see many of the medieval small streets still boast Gothic-style cathedrals, a cloister here, the occasional castle there. It’s a walkable city with centuries of history, conservative cultural values, and a cool Street Art festival from the last few years called Points de Vue. Co-Founder Alban Morlot obliged us with a tour of the city and a multitude of murals produced over the past few years (You can read here our article of the recent 2018 edition of the festival with exclusive images from Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer).

Pantonio (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Headquartered in the public/privately run community center/gallery called SpaceJunk since the early 2000’s Alban and director Jérome Catz have been organizing shows here and in Lyons and Grenoble as their interests and network of artists has expanded. The two met when Catz was better known as a celebrity snowboarder organizing an art show for a sponsoring brand, and Marlot attended the show as a self-described “groupie”.

With a common interest is providing artists a platform and complementary abilities with funding and collecting, the two have gone on to mount shows and festivals in their organic path through the lenses of “board culture”, graffiti, Street Art, Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism.

Shows and exhibitions over the last decade and a half have included artists such as Lucy McLauchlan, Adam Neate, Will Barras, Jeff Soto, Laurence Vallières, Robert Williams, Robert Crumb, Isaac Cordal, Vhils, C215, Slinkachu, Ron English, Zevs, Shepard Fairey, JR, Lister, Augustine Kofie, Beast, NeverCrew, Monkey Bird, Daleast, and Seth.

A topic close to our heart for a decade, they also began a new film festival for there 2017 edition of the Grenoble Street Art Fest.

RNST (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Headquartered in the public/privately run community center/gallery called SpaceJunk since the early 2000’s Alban and director Jérome Catz have been organizing shows here, Lyons, and Grenoble as their interests and network of artists has expanded. The two met when Catz was better known as a celebrity snowboarder organizing an art show for a sponsoring brand, and Marlot attended the show as a self-described “groupie”.

With a common interest is providing artists a platform and complementary abilities with funding and collecting, the two have gone on to mount shows and festivals in their organic path through the lenses of “board culture”, graffiti, Street Art, Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism. Shows and exhibitions over the last decade and a half have included artists such as Lucy McLauchlan, Adam Neate, Will Barras, Jeff Soto, Laurence Vallières, Robert Williams, Robert Crumb, Isaac Cordal, Vhils, C215, Slinkachu, Ron English, Zevs, Shepard Fairey, JR, Lister, Augustine Kofie, Beast, NeverCrew, Monkey Bird, Daleast, and Seth. A topic close to our heart for a decade, they have also began a film festival for there 2017 edition of the Grenoble Street Art Fest.

RNST (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As we walk through a very windy afternoon that kicks up the new construction dust that coats this neighborhood by the river, Alban talks to us about the suspicious embrace of locals and politicians of his work, the various working personalities of artists for the festival, the creation of a new currency by the Basque community, the tradition of socialist bars and political activists in the neighborhood, and his own connection to graffiti that began when he was hanging out in his hometown of Pau as a teenager with other skaters.

“We would listen to music, smoke a blunt, and skate all day. At some point graffiti became my culture,” he says of those times that formed his character and informed his aesthetic eye. “I don’t think I realized it at the time when I was a teenager but by the time I was 25 I said to myself ‘this is my culture’. I know I’m not the only one to feel this way but I knew that I wanted to share this experience and make it visible for other people in my generation.”

Jaune (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Walking and riding in a car to see murals, small installations, illegal graffiti, and formally approved artworks, you may wonder how this organizer and curator looks at his position in an evolving urban art scene that has witnessed the arrival and departure of many over the last 15 years. He says that his work has always centered on the artists, and that despite the chaos and change, this may be why he perseveres.

“My job is to know the artist and learn where they want to go and what their context is,” says Alban. “Afterwards I let them express their hearts without any conditions because I want them to have the maximum pleasure to produce their art. This way you receive the best from them.”

Jaune (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You may wonder where this philosophy comes from, and ask if he always felt this way.

“I think I just love artists so much,” he says. “People at Space Junk often ask me if I am an artist and I am not. I just consider artists to be very important in our lives and in society and I think we have to put artists in the middle of the system and not like they are just observers. I think artists belong in the center of society and I think people have to learn again how to listen to what they have to say. The way they present society is a very different point of view that helps us to understand who we are, who our neighbors are and help us to drive together.”

Our sincere thanks to Alban and Jérome for their work and hospitality and we hope you enjoy some of these pics from Bayonne.

Jaune (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Oak Oak (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pixel Pancho (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Isaac Cordal (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Isaac Cordal (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Isaac Cordal (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Deuz (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Arepo (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Veksavan Hillik (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Veksavan Hillik (photo © Jaime Rojo)
C215 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
C215 (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Dourone (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Mantra (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Xabier Anunsibai & Sebas Velasco (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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