Domus Nova Ibiza Issue 2

Page 18


Urban in Ibiza

London may be the undisputed champion of urban culture, but once a year, bang in the middle of the summer season, Ibiza serves up its own slice in the shape of the amazing popup festival Urban in Ibiza (UII). The festival showcases some of the world’s most talented urban artists, musicians and designers. In fact, 2018 is the 10-year anniversary of UII and word on the street is it’s going to be a biggie. Paul ‘Dizzi’ Saunders is the mastermind and curator behind UII, as well as the award-winning London Westbank Gallery. We asked the man in the know to tell us about his journey so far – from London’s underground art scene to hitting a decade of UII and a little sneak peak of what we can expect at this year’s event.

“Urban was one of those things that kind of happened by chance. I’d been living on Ibiza for a few years but immersing myself in the urban art world back in London, going back and forth to shows. I’d started to buy quite a lot of art and selling some of it, buying for people, occasionally curating, trying to get first editions, that kind of thing. This is before Banksy. It wasn’t really a big thing then, it was a small group of people. To an extent you’d see the same people over and over again.

Over the next couple of years the event became bigger than the website. UII is a large-scale exhibition of artworks from prominent street artists, combined with live painting, interactive art installations and workshops from leading contemporary spray can artists. Add in amazing live musicians and DJs, plus urban designer catwalk shows and I guess we just found a formula that really worked. It became a date in everyone’s diaries and the rest is history.

Then I started to see a bit of an angle (that’s me all over) and started to get people to queue at shows for me. The extra hype meant that I could start creating a bit of a stockpile and add to my collection of first editions. At the same time, I started to notice that Ibiza really offered nothing in terms of urban art. Although the island is so creative and vibrant I felt the art hadn’t really evolved in that way. I couldn’t really get my head around it.

We never really did set up the website as I’d like but since then I’ve moved on to owning the Westbank, and it’s all relevant and connected anyway. In fact, this year we held the first Urban in London event at Westbank, which was a retrospective showcase of all the amazing past shows in Ibiza.

My initial thought was to open a gallery in Ibiza, where I could sell cutting edge, contemporary art – street art of the time, what I was selling well in London and really interested in. Then the financial crash happened, after which it was probably the worst time to think of opening a gallery, so I started to look at selling the art online. The idea was to do a big event to promote the website, invite some cool people and use it as a springboard to launch the online gallery. I’d started to look for a decent venue and bumped into a friend of mine on the plane who was looking at using the hotel Agroturismo Atzaro for another fashion event with Michiko Koshino. I went to visit the space, and we decided all to join forces and merge events. My whole concept was art, fashion and music anyway so it fitted perfectly. A few months in, Michiko backed out for personal reasons but by then the concept was up and running so I decided to take it on myself. I pulled in an up-and-coming fashion designer I’d heard of, and Dan MacMillan, who I knew and was already big in the art and fashion world. So we put the show together around that.

This year it’s the 10-year anniversary of UII, which is amazing because getting to a tenth event was more of a wish, than it seemed a reality, when this all started. Doing ten years of anything, I think, on Ibiza is a feat of its own. So, we’re aiming to do something a little bit special this year. We’ll be bringing all the artwork and fashion out early on in the season and holding a series of pop-up events around the island at the newest and most cutting-edge venues that suit the vibe and ethos of UII. That will run from late May to September. I guess it’s a bit of ‘out with the old and in with the new’. We’re in talks with some of the biggest names on the island, as well as someone really exciting in the UK to hold a major event in London linked with UII, which will be a first of its kind. As always, we’re aiming to lead the way with new concepts for our take on urban culture. As one door closes we’ll be kicking in another in our own inimitable style. Watch this space…”