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Magazine ~ First Issue ~ March 15


By Vesna Parchet & Peter Sulo


Contents Welcome aboard the Minesweeper............................................................................................4 The Minesweeper Collective.........................................................................................................6 The adventure of The Minesweeper..........................................................................................8 History of the Vessel.................................................................................................................9 History of the project & the renovation...........................................................................10 Location.........................................................................................................................................16 The Community.........................................................................................................................17 The Undercurrents Gallery..........................................................................................................18 Deptford........................................................................................................................................19 New Italian Art..........................................................................................................................20 Sil Vicius.................................................................................................................................21 Mike Fedrizzi.......................................................................................................................24 Ilaria Guarducci..................................................................................................................26 Illustre Feccia.......................................................................................................................28 Freddy Roccia......................................................................................................................30 Moallaseconda.......................................................................................................................31 Events..................................................................................................................................................33 Alternative Press !....................................................................................................................33 Coming Soon !...........................................................................................................................35 Minesweeper Publishing...............................................................................................................37 The Minesweeper book (January 2014).....................................................................38 Halloween book (October 2014)..................................................................................38 Dédale (November 2014, printed at Art Space in Wembley)...........................39 The “Erotic Book”..............................................................................................................40 Beyond the object..............................................................................................................44 Minesweeper Mexico.....................................................................................................................46


Welcome aboard the Minesweeper This is the first issue of The Minesweeper Magazine. We are very happy & quite excited to present our activities, our coming projects & to involve more and more people. The Minesweeper Collective is an inclusive, independent art collective project hosted aboard a moored ship that attracts and brings people together who share an interest in alternative ways of living in the city. It is their adventure, spanning across almost two decades, that The Minesweeper Magazine is dedicated to present each month. While aimed at a wider audience, it is focused on the local life of a South East London neighbourhood: Deptford. The project finds its source in a shared desire to reclaim an unused and disregarded ex-Navy minesweeper for hosting creative activities and events. The magazine retraces the collectives' journey through the renovation and maintenance of the space – the challenges they faced and their process of cooperation. Over the years, the ship benefited from the direct involvement of over a thousand people who, at one point or another, needed a place to share ideas, skills and experiences, or to realise their own projects collaboratively, or simply to enjoy the unique features, atmosphere and exclusivity of the place. It is the Minesweeper's belief that, within the urban fabric of a neighbourhood, it is by working in partnership to develop different activities with motivated, interested and curious people, that creative resistance can be possible. Because it is the creation, or rather the creations – all forms of creation – that offer the ability to implement new ways of living: the artist is no longer a luxury producer, but an everyday craftsman able to explore and implement his practice in everyday life through support networks and the collaborative sharing of skills and ideas.

The Minesweeper Magazine will be a platform to disseminate the work and ideas of the many people who contribute to the project as well as to showcase all the different activities that take place onboard the ship and in other exciting venues. In addition, the history of the Minesweeper and the project's past and future which, as we know, update only in our very present. Feb 15


Screenprinted poster, A3, two colors, 40 numbered copies by Jude Kendall & Rodolphe Gauthier


The Minesweeper Collective www.minesweepercollective.co.uk

South of the river away from the trendy areas of London, Deptford is home to alternative artistic movements. A restored ex-navy vessel mooring (the Minesweeper boat) in the creek of Deptford is a self-titled art laboratory which has a printing and graphic studio built in the hull.

It is run by the Minesweeper Collective who offer artistic residencies, run various workshops (silk screen printing & comics), organise events (concerts, DJ-sets, avant-garde performances), design and print t-shirts, posters, logos & handmade books as well as a monthly Undercurrents Gallery under the wing of The Birds Nest Pub where Marlow must have had a pint or two of local ales back in the day. The boat is historically a military boat that has been rebuilt by the original crew of the Minesweeper Collective.The Minesweeper Collective works


on the principle of self-sufficiency, solidarity and working together: the essence of being part of a collective.

(the Minesweeper in 1956 as H.M.S Ledsham M.2706)


The adventure of The Minesweeper by Camden McDonald

The Mindsweeper (former name of Minesweeper project) was a project to renovate, equip and maintain a 110 foot wooden vessel moored in Greenwich as a floating and potentially mobile community creative space. The ethos of the project was to provide, facilitate and promote cultural, creative and ecological events and projects in the Deptford and Greenwich area with the broadest possible community inclusion.

(2002)


History of the Vessel The ship was built in Poole for the Royal Navy after World War II (completed in 1954) and did service on the Suez Canal.

(this is a similar ham class Minesweeper in operation)

It was subsequently decommissioned, passed around ; lost its bridge and upper structure in a storm ; was stripped of most of its remaining fittings wiring, plumbing and copper sheath – and abandoned on the Greenwich Reach of the Thames, where it suffered considerable rain damage (rain in cities is acidic and very bad for wood).


History of the project & the renovation The vessel was salvaged in 1999 by a group of friends who saw it had possibilities as a venue, and got together to invest their time and money in the project. The vessel was renamed The Mindsweeper, and moved to it's present location on Deptford Creek.

The front deck was plied over – to prevent further rain damage – and the main upper-deck/venue-space was constructed of steel and glass and roofed over.

However, the rear deck remained unprotected except for a tarpaulin covering, and suffered further rain damage.


(in 2012 start of the renovation of the damage due to the fire in 2008)


(New superstructure to support the new deck)

(the new floor being laid out)


(cutting out diesel tanks in aluminium)


(the superstructure for the new deck was built with the help of local shipbuilders)


Location

For the past ten years The Mindsweeper has been allowed to moor on the Greenwich side of Deptford Creek on a council warf leased by Brookmarsh Industrial Estate (workshops, car repair and M.O.T. garages) and opposite the Laban Dance Centre. This has made an ideal location for the rebuilding project. “Redevelopment� is approaching from the river. In 2012, with the addition of new members, The Mindsweeper changes its name to The Minesweeper with the creation of a business cooperative based onboard and the start of the renovation of the damage due the fire in 2008.


The Community The Local community is very diverse, Although Deptford and Greenwich are port towns and have a long maritine history, there are very few community resources on the waterways. There's the yacht club on the river and the Creekside Centre on Deptford Creek and that's about it. In 2005 two members of the project were awarded grants of £2000 each by Unltd. These enabled : 1) The development of the venue space – the purchase of lighting and sound equipment, a wind generator and batteries to power them, a piano, and a programme of events to promote the venue's possibilities ; 2) The preservation of the stern deck, and a start on it's restoration with ply and new decking. Some basic plumbing including a flushing toilet !


The Undercurrents Gallery www.undercurrentsgallery.tumblr.com

The Undercurrents Gallery is a Public Exhibition Space in Deptford leaving egos at the door since 2013. Bringing Fresh Art to the People. Out of the mainstream channel of official art giving everyone the opportunity to exhibit their artwork for free. The Undercurrent Gallery space managed by the Minesweeper Collective, is part of The Birds Nest Pub (32 Deptford Church Street, Deptford, London, SE8 4RZ)


Deptford Art, in the heart of Deptford, blooming no matter what the season... Deptford runs along the route of the Celtic track way, which was later part of a pilgrimage route to Canterbury from London and that saw the battle of Deptford Bridge, in which rebels from Cornwall marched through London protesting against punitive taxes back in 13th century. An influential playwright, Christopher Marlow, is buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of Saint Nicholas which features a set of skull and crossbones on top of the posts.

Stuffed with art studios and galleries, it is also proud of having The Albany Center with its theatre, a community arts centre with a tradition of radical community arts and music as well as a community run cinema.


New Italian Art December 2014 – January 2015 A recent exhibition at the Undercurrents Gallery was brought to you by fine art modernists coming all the way from Italy and was available for your preview until the end of January 2015. A group of Italian friends who brought with them enthusiasm, warmth and not to mention artistic passion. These sublime artworks, courtesy of Mike Fedrizzi, Sil Vicius, Ilaria Guarducci, Freddy Roccia, Illustre Feccia and Moallaseconda, present individual artistic styles and techniques. You will see caricatures, dreamlike visions, blasphemic, expressionist, abstract and surrealist works produced on paper and canvas using pens, markers, inks, acrylics, oil paints as well as screenprints and video projections.


Sil Vicius First of all let us introduce Sil Vicius, Illustrator and Tattoo Artist. Silvia also organises events in Italy such as “Inchiostri Ribelli” (an annual tattoo convention in Florence) and “Combat Comics” (an annual comics event held in Livorno). Sil Vicius exhibits a series of five drawings that attribute to a period of time that Silvia spent living in London three years ago. They are a mixture of colour and black and white, mainly using ink. The most striking drawing is a black and white portrait of a woman’s head thrashing and shouting with her eyes sticking out, tormented by the stress of modern life. Another drawing shows the myth of the modern man, a business man in a caricature style, called “leaking man”. Silvia said that “It is the product of the modern metropolis, killing himself for work, wasting his ‘real life’ trying to float in everyday life but in the meantime getting rotten inside”. It depicts a pile of faeces dressed in a suit and tie with languid eyes.


Silvia also exhibits a drawing that illustrates the English stereotype called “tea and punk”: a pair of Siamese twin nuns joined together while singing the song ‘Anarchy in the UK’ by the Sex Pistols.

Another of her pictures illustrates a scene that shows an old, frail and kindlooking grandma deceived by a bird; evil is always hidden by good.


Another drawing (previously published in the handmade silk-screen printed book, DÊdale) shows a minotaur in the foreground with a labyrinth in the background. The minotaur wears an ox mask with its mouth wide open with a man’s face sticking out, looking afraid.

All the drawings Silvia shows at the Undercurrents Gallery are made with ink which is her favourite tool. The two coloured pieces are made using ink and watercolour, her favourite combination.


Mike Fedrizzi Mike Fedrizzi is an Illustrator, Camera Man and Experimental Director of short films based in South Tirol (region of Northern Italy). Mike and Sil Vicius have both previously shown their distinctive styles with their drawings published in the screen printed book, Dédale. The Dédale book was carried out by the Minesweeper Collective in collaboration with Le Cagibi who are based in Lille, France and edited by Les éditions Solstices.

Mike exhibits a series of illustrations in black and white ink, enriched with delicate Manieristic hatchings (a particular graphic technique). These illustrations show infinitely repeated circular forms, psychedelic pipes and visions of alienated Indians and primitive symbology.


In Mike’s artwork we have the sensation of navigating through surreal geometry, Avant Garde language from the 19th century, an intensification of worlds and galaxies made of stone and Schiele-like hands and native people from almost distant lands. Mike has used two ways to present his artwork: ink on paper and live projections on the wall. In an interview Mike says that in his work he shows us a horizontal reality, where everything is connected but that they are so lost that they have lost their ability to relate to themselves. The black and white colours contrast the displaced balance of the chromatic contemporary excesses. Mike says that Art helps us to understand what we really are, moving threads of thought like an instrument capable of playing songs forever diverse.


Ilaria Guarducci Ilaria Guarducci is an Ilustrator from Prato (in Tuscany), currently studying at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence and forms part of the Florentine group, 400 Drops (a Florentine art collective that helps local artists exhibit their work). Ilaria’s work for this exhibition shows a very different style from the three colourful children’s book that she has published in Italy. She shows us a series of strong, primitively dream-like, expressionist, surreal prints, all characterised by the absence of halftones. The themes of her alchemic prints are raw and existential, a mood born from soul-searching and meditation. One of her works shows a monster trapped inside a vase and that is gazing at some flowers outside of the vase.


Another one of her works that stands out is of a heart extracted from a chest and in which small goblin-like faces can be seen on each end of the cut arteries.

Another print shows two children joined by a triangular shaped dress and on which the same triangular shape is repeated in an almost symmetrical pattern. The two children are looking above with an alienated and blank expression on their face.


Illustre Feccia Illustre Feccia is an Illustrator and Mural Painter from Tuscany who has been living in London for the past few years and who is also a member of the Minesweeper Collective. He exhibits a series of unpublished expressionist canvasses and some illustrations on paper. One of the pieces is a large, frightening 1m x 70cm canvas that depicts a monstrous creature with four eyes, two vampiric teeth, a serpent’s body, wearing a clerical collar and with a crucifix hanging from its neck. In addition, the monster is accompanied by two red serpents set in a disarming, brutal and savage atmosphere; a desert of human carcasses, most probably eaten by the monster. The title of this piece is ironically called “Christian docility”; a provocative title that denounces the religious western world. His other canvasses are also disturbing and ‘grind-core’.


The canvas entitled “Devolution� is red and black and shows the portrait of a humanoid with a triple transfigured face and which represents primitive man, monkey and skeleton. This painting, like all of his other pieces, offers an opposing point of view to that of evolution.

The third canvas portrays a windy and rocky landscape depicting an almost electric and stormy atmosphere where we see two pylons in perspective and two monstrous metaphorphoses flying about in the sky: enormous freak with feet made of tree branches although one of which also a hairy four-eyed humanoid.


Freddy Roccia Freddy Roccia is from Bologna and lives in Deptford, London. He is a Street Painter (“Madonnaro�) and collaborator with the Minesweeper Collective. He has worked as an Artist not only in the UK but also in Spain. His love for street painting has led him to explore other ways of expressing his art, always using recycling materials; a classic example of this being the large, colourful and dream-like canvas painting that he exhibits at this most recent exhibition at the Undercurrents Gallery.

In contrast to much of the other artwork at the exhibition that are mostly in differing shades of black and white, Freddy’s piece breaks the mould using vibrant colours, predominantly a strong metallic sky-blue colour but also orange and yellow as well as black and white. It depicts a French anarchist with long hair and a beard, smoking a pipe that excretes orange-coloured geometrical solids. The composition is based on a balance of geometrical shapes on the left and darker colours at the bottom right-side. The anarchist represented in this painting could be a magical figure depicted from a fantastical dream where the smoke fumes colour the surroundings.


Moallaseconda Moallaseconda is a Designer and Mural Painter. He lives and works in Prato near Florence. He has always had an enormous passion for mural painting which spurred him on to start painting murals himself and which is still driving him forward in his work, participating in festivals and artistic collaborations. Last year, after a long experimental phase and after having created his own personal world (something between figurative and abstract, with characters inspired by eighteenth century Russians mixed with the alchemist world), he decided to completely eliminate the figurative part in order to feel more free and with less ties attached to what we see. From that moment forward, his own personal study of form and texture began. From there, he started work based on materials, on the study of materials and also on randomness and fortuity as well as bringing alchemy into his method of designing rather than actually within the drawings themselves. This study is in progress at the moment. The largest influence on this change or rather evolution is thanks to reading Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky, from which day forth became Moallaseconda’s ‘bible’. The art work he exhibits in the Undercurrents Gallery show a series of unusual drawings which are very colourful, mainly based on fortuity. These works do not represent a precise study of form. Instead it was his hand ‘scribbling’ colours that little by little created a form, drawings in the making, passing from one colour to another without a precise, deliberate juxtaposition but nevertheless always following a feeling.


Events Alternative Press ! (27 feb ~ 28 mar) Alternative Press is a collective of artists dedicated to encouraging creativity through self publishing, zine-making, and beyond. I am proud to be a part of their latest exhibition in collaboration with the Minesweeper Collective at the Undercurrents Gallery, The Birds Nest Pub, Deptford. It was a great opening night, the atmosphere was buzzing and I was pleased I finally got to meet fellow artist and Alternative Presser Amneet Johal. Big thanks to Amneet, Dimitri Pieri and everyone involved in putting the show together.

The following day I was back at The Birds Nest for the Alternative Press Zine Fair. Again, there was just a great, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, with lots of tea-drinking at the beginning, and perusal by zinesters old and new. For me, the absolute highlight was O Panda Gorgo's table - endless amazing zines, including work by Joao Sorbal and other publishers and artists from Portugal.


Later in the afternoon there was even an impromptu ukulele gig by Moxila. Another of my zine purchases was Anon #2, 'another collection of illconsidered scribbles' by Paul Ashley Brown. Mr Brown also has some damn fine drawings in the exhibition...go and check them out, the show is on until 26th March! After we'd packed up the Zine Fair the live music began and somehow Dimtri, Wallis Eates and myself managed to fill a sketchbook with blind drawings of each other and drawings of The Birds Nest locals. I am looking forward to the next event... Thanks Alternative Press and Minesweeper Collective!


Coming Soon ! Next zine fair: at the Birds Nest, Sunday 22 March 2015

* The best way to... keep in touch with us, be notified of events, fairs, concerts, etc, is to join our mailing list on the website.


Next exhibition ! Drawn Closer


Minesweeper Publishing Why do we make books? Because it gathers everything we love and what we believe : • meeting and exchanging skills and pratices with the largest number, the most possible people from everywhere and from all walks of life; • the pleasure of art & craft, handmade, DIY; • the fun and enjoyment to learn new techniques (folding, binding, etc.); • the infinite range of possibilities offered by the book object: what is represented (text, image, layout, typography, colors, etc.), the object itself (forms and formats, folding, binding, pop-up, etc.); • experimenting and testing other economic systems. The book fascinates us because, in a very small space, it contains not only infinite knowledge, but, above all, sensations, feelings and intense emotions, renewed in their intensity every time it is read. The book is a talisman: it is the lamp of Aladdin, the Proust's madeleine, the weapon of a Voltaire, it is even the word of the gods! The book is a real magic: it makes images appear in your head that do not exist; the book transforms you: it is the philosopher's stone of the alchemist. Each book is both physical and inner experience. Thanks to Le Cagibi (who stayed on board the Minesweeper during January 2014, and following this with Rodolphe Gauthier who himself stayed on board for one month in October 2014, before joining the collective), we have gained and developed our technical knowledge, and then realised several collaborative books.


The Minesweeper book (January 2014) This first book was realised by Le Cagibi during their residence at the minesweeper with contributions from artists of the Minesweeper Collective. It is about the boat and its story, and has a really special shape, like a ship. A video is available here...

Halloween book (October 2014)

Sweet Nightmares was carried out on board the Minesweeper, in five days, during the one month residence of a member of Le Cagibi. It was both a recreative book and an experience.


DĂŠdale (November 2014, printed at Art Space in Wembley) DĂŠdale has a form and a content that merge. This is no longer the industrial book, like any other merchandise, reproducible on demand, introduced in a market that imposes its modes or its codes. DĂŠdale requires a very personal process of appropriation. The physical approach of the object is disconcerting with an original opening system which creates flips, echoes, and unusual reading directions. Number of drawings as many poems require taming: a process of appropriation of the object by the subject makes this subject an extension of the subject. That is to say that the book becomes a tool, a tool for understanding the world. We all have, at first (even we who designed it), a certain clumsiness in handling the book, like we are faced with a new situation. Even if it looks familiar, it is strange.

The reader is lost in the maze and must find their own way, that is also their own way of acting within the labyrinth as a symbol of Society as well as consciousness (microcosm of a macrocosm).


The “Erotic Bookâ€? 74 contributors, 5 languages, texts & images... But that's not all. With the Erotic book, created in collaboration with Le Cagibi & LittĂŠrature, etc. which annually organizes a literary festival in Lille (France), we want to experience the views, not on sexuality (not only), but on epiderma, sensitive, intellectual approach, this energy which is born in us, in the lower abdomen, to irradiate our body but also the body of the other, or even the social body. Eroticism is an inner experience. This experience is different for everyone, and - contrary to traditional patterns of logos - both unrepresentable and unspeakable. It can only be provided by itself, it is - say that as a common experience. A common experience, but that is not shared (that is to say, it is born in each instant, but we can not give it as given his bread or even his blood). The erotic experience against the spectacular falls. Against the society of the spectacle. It belongs in the shade at the corner at the time. It is projected by the stage (if not in a sal (l) e / dark room), it is not exposed in the coliseum or the agora. This book, we want to (and will) heterogeneous, referring to the various visions, sometimes almost opposite of erotic experience. Everyone, whatever their tastes and sexuality, will find something to move him, will invest his own experience.


Other pictures here...


Beyond the object Not to mention the adventure of the Minesweeper for perhaps ten years, making books focuses on economic or even political topics. 'Political' in the original sense of the term means to say the registration in the "city" or, as we say today, our way to live in the "urban fabric" : How to live in the city ? And thus - at least initially – how to live in the city with the monetary postulate? How to live in the city by changing the economic data that most people accept but at the same time criticize? For us, the problem is less extensive, though equally important: •

What value does the book have ?

What value, above all, has a book-object ?

How to escape the economic constraints while suitably living through our production?

For when we present a book that we made with our hands (and perhaps, one day, we will also make our own paper, inks, etc.), it is not just a personal satisfaction we exhibit, but in particular an object whose value is not defined by the market and can not be. Why? Let us have a look for a moment at the technical issue, and then we will understand all the issues of our (cre)activity. We don't want to practice the theories, but to construct theories throught the practices. Because you can not "blame for all the ills of the world the 'multinational' or 'neo-liberal' economists“ and then continue your own personal existence in the categories of money and labour without daring to question them for fear not to seem reasonable” Anselm Jappe wrote in The Adventure of the goods, for a new criticism of the value. So, let us not look reasonable ! We exchange two commodities according to a common value. But this exchange value is problematic since nothing defines nature: to exchange goods, it is necessary to agree on a factor that defines its value. It is the role of money. But the "rate" of exchange shall be calculated on a common data, and this data is the "work". The value of each commodity depends on the amount of work that was required to produce it.” But although it is not known the real work, the one who is accomplished physically (by its "arduous"), it is a “work” considered abstractly, the abstract labour (a work defined by economists, not by the real


time and the real arduousness). "The merchandise is then unity of use value and value, as well as the concrete work and abstract labor that created it." Or - and this is where it all gets interesting - "any change in labour productivity then assigns the value of the goods�. But the goods "book-object" is sprained this pattern. By the simple fact that we refuse to bring it into that pattern. Not because it would be art (if one wants to deny the current definition of art, which is that of the institutions), but because nothing that traditionally defines the exchange value is applicable here: no production followed and no time computable work. It is for us a way to connect people, to enjoy ourselves and have a good time. The prize is decreted randomly or arbitrarly according to our needs in that moment... When people buy our book, they don't purchase only an item, they participate in our adventure. * Making books is in the willingness of individuals who do Minesweeper to live differently in the city. The books are proof marks, clues and symbols of what the Minesweeper collective is today (in my very personal opinion) and that which it is slowly moving towards: a holistic practice of resistance and creation at the heart of London. And we will continue this exciting experience.

(credit ~ Vytautas Unsane)


Minesweeper Mexico Chapter One

by Joe Fur Long ~ A false sense of Paradise. Arriving alone in Mexico with little else but spare clothes and pens on September 1st 2015 was quite a shock from the human and stress overload that had been life in London squatland for the last few years, especially the fact that I didn’t speak any Spanish and look about as foreign as you possibly can coming from the British Isles (ginger beard, blue eyes, London swagger, skanking to salsa, you get the idea‌).

Upon arriving in western paradise I quickly realised that sticking out in this way is perfect for attracting the wrong attention, and even though there are of course huge benefits to learning from experience a whole lot of things go mysteriously wrong fast when you get close to a few of the experienced locals of Tulum and learning the Caribbean version of streetwise is a hairy experience. With the intention of coming to this land and smashing it artistically in every way, living and renting rather than youth hostels and moving ever 5 days, as


well as promoting the epic Minesweeper Collective was a great talking point though, and before long, once I got used to the attention and had my rented bamboo house looking fresh, I stuck my neck out to see what I could hustle up in this quaint mosquito shit party village. The vibe here was very unusual split between local indigenous Mayans and the new population of this very young community, turfed out of their land by big money developers and false promises of future work and security, excited by or ignoring the waves of international travelers arriving form the south for one last party before flying back from the hellish resort hole of Cancun, crossed with the wealth of the cocaine trade passing through to the resorts of the north. I blended in as a slightly apart joker, chatting in horrific Spanish who spent most evenings in the bars never stating exactly where he lived or who he knew there. It's not the best look though and after a sneaky robbing from a little local worm and genuinely getting my life threatened by a coke-fuelled Colombian madman with no one around who knew me, I decided to get back to the reasons why I came here and stop trying to fit in with this random selection of drunks, nutters and genuinely nice but fast leaving foreigners. Scene set let's get back to the art. Using the alone time to explore new styles, from shading to subject matter was what I imagined and decided was going to be the best I could get out of the situation not seeing much of an art scene in the area.


I had fun, confronting new problems such as unstoppable sweat drips falling on my work, tropical thunderstorms knocking out power and flooding the house, the terrible relationship between humidity and paper, all the while hanging about and feeding up my newly adopted black cat Kiwi who was without doubt my best mate in Tulum. Don’t forget I’m on the Caribbean coastline. Spending half the day with cocktails in the sea and on the clear white sandy beaches created some distractions, however having it so unbelievably large in this gangster fashion actually became normal so as the weeks rolled on with growing discipline some real new pieces started bouncing off this laid back life after the grim drudgery of my last year in London. I was a month in, rolling around daily in flip-flops and swimming shorts with cocktails in the sun and drawing all night which relaxed the situation and gave me time to make some moves. I made it down to Belize which was hilarious as well as on the way getting me to my first mural, for accommodation in Bacalar, a lagoon formally overrun by pirates near the border and away from glam fashionable drug abuse of north Caribbean Quintana Roo. Now winding down a three story staircase in a guesthouse called Casa China is a new resident 10 metre Chinese dragon which looks rude if I say so myself.

For those reading who are wondering who it is telling you this random story and why its in the new format of public exposure from Minesweeper, my name's Joe, I’m 27, I’m one of the co-founders of the Minesweeper project and spent a year and a half on the renovations of the boat from 2012 and setting up


the Undercurrents Gallery with the crew at the Birds Nest. I’ve been churning out obscure illustration under the name of JOEFUR for ten years now and have been pushing Live Art on the underground occupation and party scene for longer than I expected I would be, moving into festival madness with Happy Slap Boutique Body Art Performance at Boomtown Fair and drawing designs for cash in many corners of the UK party and Live Music scene. All this as well as Crack Festival in Rome for the last 6 years I’m trying to continue the international residency part of the Minesweeper Project after having guests such as Le Cagibi from France, Cane Morto from Italy and La Rata Rey and Lucia Revilla Silva from Mexico City – it's these guys who invited me to Mexico – and trying to encourage others to do the same. I’m now focusing on combining what I see as modern surrealism with socio-political illustration. Travelling and art production are intertwined, leading to an explosion of inspiration and ability from being the new guy in town on a mission with no ties. This is what I needed. This is why I’m here. And it’s going pretty well so far from this mountain I’m currently writing from in January 2015.


Anyway back to October. The Tulum mural was a defining moment in my journey in, and eventually out of the Caribbean. The opportunity came from a beautiful girl and great friend managing to convince her boss to give the seemingly slightly deranged but confident new local English artist party head the random two metre wall space outside their bar in the center of town, in the doorway from Europe, US and Australia to North Latin America. The place where the cheapest flights land, the weirdest of tourists and loners mix, and the highflyers lounge buying up all in sight. Of course this is how I saw it, see saw it as a space that needed filling and gave me free reign to do what I like as long as I finished it. This was an opportunity to let it all out, and a lot had built up inside me about the state of this part of the world. I wanted to capture what I thought about the whole affair. The fact that the heavily defeated population of the local Mayans have been isolated from their deserved land by another wave of foreign interest, the fact that everything from a sacred waterhole to an ancient ruin has been sold off and exploited to the point where its original beauty only serves to contrast the ugly nature of its new surroundings. The overpowering presence of Americana from the Chevrolet, Coca-Cola selling purified (not mineral) to buying an island nearly for the a modern plantation for the production of cane sugar for the new Coca-Cola Life, to the 7/11 pumping out hot dogs and Lucky Strikes at all hours to the sale of corn production (corn being the fundamental grain of the whole of Meso-American civilization) to Monsanto by the new government. The fact that many of the local or travelling ‘alternative’ population were not focusing or doing anything collectively to challenge any of this, no boycotts, instead lapping it up mystified by cheap cocaine, out of place hallucinogenics and blonde girls with 3 day time limits. The way that music is the pulse of everything, good and bad, for business and pleasure as well as being the fun mask shielding the reality of this rape scene from those who have the most potential to influence it. I also wanted to bust some gritty UK urban linestyles too because it had been a while so I excitedly and gratefully got to work. The most profound moment of my trip so far was when after 5 days of cautious brushwork, again dealing with the storms, mosquitoes and skin melting heat, (attracting praise, confusion and the occasional bout of hostility from the never ending flow of passers by) was when, nearing its completion, groups of the local Mayan builders, most of whom cannot read or write Spanish and are isolated from all that is around them except the construction sites and jungle fringes of my neighbourhood, started to stare and point to the subject matter I’d carefully chosen, as well as the Mayan symbol meaning “It happened like this…” that was the pretext to the stories in the unburnt codexes that I had hoped would grab their attention. They were looking at me and back at the piece, going up close and touching it, stopping work and debating with each other in Mayan


dialect then slapping me on the back and shaking my hand. Some just stared from across the street, what they were thinking was a mystery to me, but they were though. It meant more than any other who stopped that week, I realized then the sheer power of the mural in this country – the fact that all barriers, language, class, and race are surpassed by the stroke of a brush and the respect of the piece as something more than a cool image or decoration for a dubious development project. A real statement for all to enjoy, discuss and believe in, and not be replaced. This was what I need to happen for me, and the big fish in a small pond that was created from this achievement started to enjoy a hell of a lot of royal treatment, with pretty much all you can imagine from a tropical part paradise falling at his feet.

An exhibition came from this, a collective show called “No More Plastic!� pointing out the savage destruction of the reefs and delicate ecosystems of the Caribbean by the slob trash nature of the rapidly growing society who live as well as holiday there. Representing Minesweeper in these environments showed me the fortune we have in London and even though so many liberties are being taken away from us there is still so much left that can be used to connect and unite creatives and communities. With the additional confidence arising from this, finally a conscious group dynamic like what we aim for at Undercurrents (as well as my last rental payment ending and high season of US tourists coming around to fill the beaches and send the prices skyrocketing) I knew my newfound small-town fame and comfort had to come to an end. My good friend Raf


who I live with in London had recently arrived to escape the vacuum too, after nailing it with web design in Soho and we decided to buy a car, a 1989 VW Jetta with a new engine for 15000 pesos from a mechanic called Carlos who owed a local wizard I knew a favour. Having someone I could trust around changed everything, and made my personal achievements of my two months alone there resonate more, realizing I had never been alone before now. Its not about bodies around you, it's about those who know you and can notice your previous habits and limits changing, revealing these details to yourself in unspoken ways I can’t express in words.

Meanwhile, an alarming story in the news was filtering through the country. 43 students from the state of Guerrero had gone missing following a demonstration. In a country with a famous modern phenomenon of disappearances, fingers were pointing at local governors, mothers were crying in despair and faces were being covered as a new wave of direct action was gripping this historically revolutionary, yet heavily nullified and repressed nation. One morning I awoke to find out a piece of bone had been found in the local Guerrero rubbish bins, and details had emerged from the local cartel of a


collection of young men had been handed over to them for disposal by the local municipal police force under the orders of the local governor on the night of the demonstration. “Its going to be a new revolution, guey” a drinking companion explained to me that night while keeping half an eye on the gaggle of French girls who had just fallen into the bar. “It's terrible news”, I said. He looked at me with half a smile and an expression that could only be ‘Is it?’. “Things need to change here amigo… Now everyone’s watching…” . I realised I was here in interesting times, and soon after I packed my bags, said my goodbyes and was on my way east to who knows what…

To be continued...


~ Minesweeper Collective ~ March 2015 internsweep@gmail.com www.minesweepercollective.co.uk

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Minesweeper magazine ~ first issue ~ march 15  

Minesweeper Collective's Magazine A collective adventure & much more in South-East London...

Minesweeper magazine ~ first issue ~ march 15  

Minesweeper Collective's Magazine A collective adventure & much more in South-East London...

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