BOOK A STREET ARTIST MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 / OCTOBER 2014
CULTURAL INTERVENTION SPACE • GALLERY • COWORKING • ATELIERS MEETING ROOM • EVENTS ROOM • YOGA • WORKSHOPS • ARTIST RESIDENCIES
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photography and architecture in the modern age
a journey through 20th and 21st century architecture by eighteen exceptional international photographers
25 sep 2014 â€” 11 jan 2015
Iwan Baan, Torre David, 2011 (middle, detail) ÂŠ Iwan Bann. Courtesy of the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los Angeles
BOOK A STREET ARTIST MAGAZINE ISSUE 4 / OCTOBER 2014 EDITORS IN CHIEF Guille Lasarte & Charlotte Specht firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Guille Lasarte MARKETING DIRECTOR Mario Rueda firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTORS Abby Martin, Janielle Williams, Moose, Leandro Bustamante, Francisco Oliva-Velez, Simon De Los Rios, Scott Rothstein, Saner, David Drake, Thomas von Wittich, Laura Colomé, Mark Rigney, JOS*, Andrew Meredith, Emily Randall, Enzo Buono, Francois Viguié SPECIAL THANKS TO David Stiehl, Vermibus, José Carvalho, Quideia, Mar Canet & Varvara Guljajeva www.pantamagazine.com email@example.com FOUNDERS OF BOOK A STREET ARTIST Charlotte Specht Mario Rueda www.bookastreetartist.com
Cover: art by Saner / photo by Elsa Reza
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS PANTA started out as a playful endeavor, and continues to be so, but throughout the past year we have fallen in love with making this magazine. To us at PANTA, it’s about being out there to engage and contribute to the conversation. The conversation that is the flow of ideas, the thoughts, the debates, the feelings, the theories, the beliefs, the concepts and the form that it all takes on the pages of this magazine. We want to play a role in independent magazine-making to help steer media away from the cosmetics that you don’t need and the celebrity gossip that will in no way make your life any better. We’re not fooling ourselves into thinking that we are changing the world, but our aim is to deliver stimulating and beautiful content that won’t make you feel inadequate, ugly or insignificant and will instead incite thought and creativity. Once again, we thank our wonderful contributors for making PANTA with us, and we hope to continue to fuel your inspiration and vivify your thoughts. We invite you to feed your soul with art.
ISSUE 4 / CONTENTS
Art as Activism Interview by Mario Rueda Art by Abby Martin
ARTIST AND ACTIVIST ABBY MARTIN IS LARGELY RECOGNIZED FOR HER OUTSPOKEN JOURNALISTIC CAREER. CURRENTLY HOST OF RT AMERICA’S “BREAKING THE SET”, ABBY IS ONE-OF-A-KIND WHEN IT COMES TO CRITICIZING THE “CORPOCRATIC” CULTURE WE LIVE IN. WE INTERVIEWED HER TO FIND OUT WHAT ROLE ART PLAYS FOR HER IN CURRENT SOCIETY AND HOW HER VIEW OF THE WORLD IS REFLECTED IN HER WORK. P: Abby, you are described as “vibrant, artistic, and outspoken”. Who is Abigail Suzanne Martin? Tell us about yourself. How did you become a journalist, and when did you become interested in art? A: In college I had a crash course on what US imperialism, militarism and globalization had done to the world over the past century. At that time the Iraq war was being sold to the public, and I became buried in anti-war activism and human rights advocacy. But I still blamed the Bush administration for everything. It wasn’t until I saw how the establishment cooperated across party lines to protect itself did I realize that media censorship is the crux - any message you have, no matter what it is, will never be heard unless you have a platform to tell it. From there I started Media Roots, my citizen journalism project, a hub of underreported information and collective of grassroots journalists, artists and activists to have a voice. My reporting at Occupy Oakland led me to the gig on RT,
where I felt like I could take my vision for Media Roots to an international platform. As a kid, I was obsessed with drawing comics. My grandparents had a ceramic studio in their garage and I have the best memories creating and painting different molds my whole childhood. I always grew up around a lot of art, but I never excelled in any niche. I tried painting as purely a catharsis for the political activism around 18 and kept it as a personal hobby until friends gave me the confidence to start showing it. Your art definitely has a very critical attitude towards politics and current society in general. At the same time it’s somewhat psychedelic. Definitely a very unique style. How did this psychedelic political art style develop? My brother introduced me to DMT when I was younger, which set the stage. Certain psychedelic escapades
ARTISTS CAN RELAY A MESSAGE THAT CROSSES LANGUAGE BARRIERS AND RESONATES WITH PEOPLE WHEREAS WORDS SIMPLY CANNOT.
definitely drove me to recreate those naturescapes and explosive imagery. I also grew up in SF, Berkeley, so being around the residual hippie era resonated with me. For the last decade, I’ve also been working on six collage books that are interactive diaries, so I started to become really good at matching images, colors and themes. It took a while for me to get my groove and technique though, and only in the last few years I became obsessed with collaging. I understand you started with journalism after your boyfriend enlisted in the military after 9/11. Since then you have been “more aware” of what is really going on in the world. You stated that you see art as: “a way to interpret the ugly truths in the world and reflect a better future”. Can you build up on this and explain how you think art can have an impact on changing today’s mentality and society? Nina Simone once said, “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times.” Artists have one of the most important tasks. Not only do they breathe life into the banality of society, but they convey culture - good and bad. Artists can relay a message that crosses language barriers and resonates with people whereas words simply cannot. You’re not forcing anything down people’s throats, you’re just making them think. Reflecting the most uncomfortable and darkest of truths in images alone is a powerful and necessary force.
In an interview to Peter Joseph you shared that according to the Center on Budget and Policy, more than 95% of school-aged kids are attending schools that have cut funding in the Arts since the most recent recession. Why do you think this happens in today’s society? Americans are taught that if we work our asses off we can achieve the ‘American Dream’. It’s bullshit. Work has totally consumed us and sucked the souls out of so many who don’t have the time, energy nor capacity to explore and appreciate art. This toxic mentality is reflected in our education system, which is becoming increasingly standardized. When multiple choice tests are the measure of intelligence, it’s squelching the creative half of the brain which could flourish with a little encouragement.
You said: “Language is limiting. Instead art is a window into someone else’s soul, and it’s also a window into your own.” Can you build up on this? My pieces are so intricate and time consuming, the emotional purge that goes into them really does feel like an extension of my soul. And when the viewer is looking, they are also letting their own mind and body reinterpret that image for themselves. Graffiti has always been considered underground but in more recent years, this form of art has become increasingly mainstream. Street art pieces are being sold in private galleries at very high prices, and corporations use street art to promote their brands and products. How can artists and artistic organizations prevent from falling into the trap of
ARTISTS HAVE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TASKS. NOT ONLY DO THEY BREATHE LIFE INTO THE BANALITY OF SOCIETY, BUT THEY CONVEY CULTURE - GOOD AND BAD. You said you’ve heard from many people that they wish they were artistic. It seems that we are conditioned into thinking that we aren’t artistic enough to express our thoughts and feelings via art. Why do you think this happens and how can we change this? Many things, but I think people are overworked and lack time for creativity. Whenever someone tells me they wish they were artistic I ask have you ever tried? Just because you suck at drawing freehand doesn’t mean that you don’t have a knack for charcoal, oil, watercolor, photography, whatever. Art is both seen as a poor and rich man’s hobby. Sure, it’s extremely tough to be a working artist in today’s society, but people also have this perception that you need a lot of time and money to get started, which isn’t true.
corporatization, while still being able to promote their work and live off their art in this system? Times are tough for artists and some of the only options are in advertising or marketing. I don’t blame artists for focusing on what will make them money, but I know a lot of graphic designers who are burnt out and lose the passion to dedicate to their own work. I’m totally turned off by the establishment art world, whether it be generic as fuck art littering high end galleries, just because it’s priced at 25k, Wal-Mart jacking Banksy prints critiquing capitalism with zero irony, or the shitty prints from stock catalogues cycled out at every condominium across the country. If businesses actually harnessed their communities and worked with local artists, it would offer so many more opportunities.
Street artists are most of the time undervalued, treated as vandals or beggars and it’s illegal in most parts of the world. Book a Street Artist and PANTA Magazine aim to revalue street art, while making cities happier and more colorful with public art. What do you think about this? I think it’s a beautiful idea. Every empty wall is an opportunity for an amazing piece of art. Anyone that has been to Valparaiso, Chile knows how magical a city full of murals can be. Can you imagine if more cities allowed such a space? It might make people smile, look up, get inspired and think a lot more. Would you be up for trying out street art and offering your art for free to the public? I painted a mural on the walls of my friend’s shop in San Diego, which was an incredible labor of love. Unfortunately a couple of months later it burned down. I would love the opportunity to do another one outdoors. Can you describe your art piece, “Killing Hope”? My interpretation of Obama’s logo is one where the stripes are spilling into a deep pool of blood, representing the carnage from his administration’s perpetuation of horrendous Bush-era policies like drones, indefinite detention and spying. It also symbolizes the death of the false “hope” that Obama’s campaign galvanized. But after years of disappointment, people are finally waking up to the fact that change won’t ever come through a top-down corporate marketing campaign financed by corrupt banks and bloodthirsty military contractors. ◆
For more info, visit www.pantamagazine.com
In this photo: British artist Paul Curtis a.k.a. Moose, in front of one of his reverse graffiti pieces
ES R EVE R I T IFFARG Text by Janielle Williams Photos courtesy of Moose
White trees and flowers sprawl along the brick surface of a wall that flanks a congested highway. They are like phantoms from pre-industrial times. Chalky rays of a spectral sun emerge from the center of a dusty road sign. Curly cursive letters whisper “Go Gently” from the side of the building, a reminder to slow down in a busy urban life. Mona Lisa’s eyes follow you as you pass a wall of graffiti with a to-go coffee on the way to work. Her beguiling smile is washed in subtle irony, perhaps because each of these works speaks for the triumph of creativity over ruin. The street art known as reverse graffiti is just that. It is a resourceful transformation from pollution to art. Reverse graffiti artists use stencils, high-pressure washers and other tools to rinse away dirt and grime to create images or leave meaningful text. It’s mesmerizing to watch a reverse graffiti artist in action. He or she places a stencil on a wall or on the pavement and bludgeons it with water, breaking through months or perhaps years of pollution until an image appears. Rather than imposing an image on a public space, this graffiti seems to bring out something on the wall that was hidden behind the dirt, dust, grime and faded paint. Reverse graffiti is a genre of street art that gained momentum in the 2000s with artist Alexandre Orion,
who covered a traffic tunnel in Brazil with his signature skulls by hand without the use of stencils, chemicals or water, and UK artist Paul Curtis, also known as Moose. Moose, the godfather of reverse graffiti and the artist who gave it its name, explains that one night he noticed a gravy mark on the kitchen wall of the restaurant where he cleaned as a teenager. When Curtis wiped the stain with a towel, he made a larger stain. That stain that “shined out of the wall like white spray paint” was Moose’s first inspiration. Moose says that reverse graffiti “reminds us of how dirty the world is.” Cutting through the layers of urban blight unpeels layers of irony within this brand of street art. Reverse graffiti reminds us of the unwanted byproducts of manmade activity but in a way also celebrates them. The unsightly becomes the artist’s canvas and every piece shows that the pollution of our own industrial excesses can be turned into a stunning display. Like all street art, reverse graffiti is visually intriguing and offers something for the viewer to chew on intellectually. Advertisers are obviously hopping on the train and taking advantage of this inexpensive means of influencing urbanites. Reverse graffiti is commercially referred to as “street branding” and is an appealing and cheap way to reach people in an environmentally friendly manner.
It goes without saying that advertisers take a license to produce reverse graffiti in public spaces. For noncommercial artists, the legality of their work is ambiguous. Reverse graffiti on the one hand is cleaning and the service is provided to the city at no cost. The difficulty is that this free cleaning also results in non-commissioned art work on public space. Reverse graffiti leaves everyone with the question, is it vandalism if you’re stripping public space of dirt? Reverse artists continue to operate within this legal grey area even when they’re frequently confronted by authority. It’s a given that wherever there is a street artist, authority closes in like ants to sugar. As he worked on the tunnel in São Paulo, Alexandre Orion was faced with gun toting policemen. Orion deterred the police each time they came, explaining that he was washing, not vandalizing the space. Perspectives on graffiti are shifting, from visual defacement to being an instrument of positive social change. Among other eco-friendly street art like guerilla gardening (planting flowers or moss at road dividers and other areas in disuse) and yarn bombing, reverse graffiti is a means of positive activism. The uniqueness of reverse graffiti is that it gives by taking away. The reduction of pollution allows the essence of an urban space come to the forefront. The story goes that someone asked Michelangelo how he managed to sculpt David. His response was, “David was always there in the marble. I just took away everything that wasn’t David.” ◆
THE STORY GOES THAT SOMEONE ASKED MICHELANGELO HOW HE MANAGED TO SCULPT DAVID. HIS RESPONSE WAS, “DAVID WAS ALWAYS THERE IN THE MARBLE. I JUST TOOK AWAY EVERYTHING THAT WASN’T DAVID.”
LA MO DER NI DAD Graphic series based on the song ConstruĂ§ĂŁo by Chico Buarque
Illustrations by Leandro Bustamante Leandro Bustamante (LeA) was born in 1988 in Montevideo, Uruguay. As an industrial designer and illustrator, he has been developing work in the area of editorial illustration working for magazines, newspapers and book publishers, both local and international. In his work, he uses different materials ranging from pens, markers, ink and acrylic paint, as well as vector drawing software and bitmap. His style varies from geometric polygons to outlined single figures highlighting the rusticity, stains or errors that arise naturally in each piece. www.leandrobustamante.com
Wynw A DANCING PANDA A STORM-TROOPER DJ A TEENAGE BREAK-DANCER A GIANT NEON LADYBUG A FERRARI
t’s 9pm on a Saturday, and I’m standing in the middle of a street in Miami nowhere near a beach or a club. Art lovers funnel into human rivers on either side of me, barreling in and out of the 70 intimate galleries, air conditioning pouring out on to the streets. To my left DJ T.K.Lo is laying down the law dwarfed by a 20 meter dripping mural of a shark. The Bangor native sets up in a shopping cart and armed with a car battery, a speaker and a laptop, proceeds to deliver a barrage of irresistible house beats… and oh yeah, he’s dressed in a panda costume. “Pie in a jar!” shouts Tim Farver AKA “Papa Cherry” behind me. He sells cakes baked inside jars to “pay for his daughters wedding”. To my right, three gravity-defying teenagers cut through the viscous Miami summer air with their paper-thin limbs to the delight of a gathered crowd. Wynwood is an idea. An organized chaos of orbiting acts, art and sounds, delicately breathing life into an area historically occupied by abandoned warehouses and shy drug abusers. This is Miami’s first real foray into the world of urbanism, and it is a brutal success. But how did this cacophonic family come together? Just like the rich soil and temperate climate of Bordeaux is perfect for wine, the lifeless, bland walls of Wynwood became the perfect canvas for graffiti. Hindsight may call it obvious, but no one ignited the fire like the pioneering, catalytic real-estate mogul Tony Goldman. Tony saw potential in a barren wasteland of warehouses, and turned Wynwood into one of the world’s premier art locations. The spark in the haystack, the only unnatural part of this evolution has been its vertiginous speed.
or, the dark side of miami Text by Francisco Oliva-Velez Photos by Simon De Los Rios
Five8 & Omen514
WYNWOOD WAS WAITING OPEN-ARMED TO RECEIVE ANYONE AND EVERYONE. ARTISTS FLOCKED, ATTRACTED BY CHEAP RENT AND THE BEACH LIFESTYLE, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PART OF A MEMORABLE FLASH IN HISTORY.
Top: DMJC Crew; Bottom: Unknown
All actions have a reaction Wynwood exploded in the forgotten backyard of a city that hosts the principal fine-art fair in the world: Art-Basel. While Rembrandt’s and Picasso’s were being auctioned for millions, the most important art movement of the decade was taking place in Wynwood. Art-Basel remains a prohibitive event, only the “special” few have the means to attend. This bottleneck of access has inevitably left behind throngs of thirsty artists and aficionados. Wynwood was waiting open-armed to receive anyone and everyone. Artists flocked, attracted by cheap rent and the beach lifestyle, but more importantly the opportunity to be a part of a memorable flash in history. Tony was able to convert a sleepy art scene into a contemporary, kaleidoscopic dream by attracting graffiti artists of all types and walks. Who are they? Graffiti artists have always had a complex existence. The short history of the medium has caused a dismissal from older generations, labeling it as talentless and insignificant. Still, these very labels have propelled the art form to the forefront of contemporary art. Law-breaking bestows the brave standard-bearers a freedom that gallery artists can never know. What better cradle of creativity than the threat of jail and its cousin adrenalin? Bravery pays succulent dividends, shattering the shackles of cultural and social dogma that oft plague the mind. This creative freedom is exemplified in Wynwood, which presents a quasi schizophrenic arsenal of murals to unsuspecting tourists. No matter how you value art, it’s hard to ignore the fact that society has erected insurmountable social and economic walls that ostracize artists. But the brutal honesty of graffiti pulverizes all barriers, giving everybody the same canvas and the same chance. There are no favors, no tricks, and no advantages: just art. Wynwood went further, unconditionally inviting and even rewarding artists to formulate a
there are no favors, no tricks, and no advantages: just art.
paint and cement orgy. For many, street art is the only system of artistic expression and the only way to get out of difficult circumstances. One of the most striking art pieces in Wynwood, a 4-story building, has its entire façade plastered with alien symbols, a young child playing in the center. This is the work of “RETNA”- AKA Marquis Lewis, a Los Angeles native with African, Salvadorian and Cherokee blood. One of his main motivations was to offer his mother respite from all the suffering she had gone through. RETNA grew up a “…mix, (he) never felt like he fit in anywhere”. This led him to read extensively on the subject of language and people. His reading imprinted in him a sense of community with the human race which today he transmits through his art. He created a unique stylized language, derived from a mix of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Hebrew and Arabic. The diversity of the art at Wynwood is also staggering, especially as one looks under the hood. “Miss VAN” is a pretty blonde, herself a canvas of tattoo art originally from Toulouse, France but now living in Barcelona. A far cry from the clichéd name tags, her art focuses on baroque, female figures in suggestive poses. Her passion is to constantly seek the “emotion” of art, specifically through seduction. She believes women can be strong, mysterious and feminine at once. All her characters wear animal
masks. Ron English is another example. The 50-year-old Texan has used graffiti as a platform to leapfrog to other stages. The 2010 US Election saw huge mobilization in the artistic world. Ron English used his “POPaganda” to create the now infamous “Abraham Obama” campaign. Wynwood has given street artists the respect and name they could not get elsewhere. The more famous the artists became, the higher the demand for the area. Today, aside from the wonderful art, the neighborhood is home to some of the best restaurants and bars in Miami. Of course success always comes with a price. Rise and fall The duality of life dictates that triumph never rides alone. Indeed, while Wynwood was born of a forgotten corner of industrial Miami, its facelift and hipster invasion have triggered an inevitable gentrification. A victim of its own success, rents have started rising beyond the budgets of galleries and artists. Commercial shops have started to move in, tearing down the very art that breathed life into the area. It’s the 11th hour and what happens next remains to be seen, but, whether Wynwood continues as an artistic oasis or becomes a retail hub, the legacy and success of Wynwood as an urbanization model will live on. For the rest of us, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to experience the Dark Side of Miami. ◆
gods kings my personal
Text by Scott Rothstein Photos & sketches courtesy of Saner
It’s hard to think about contemporary Mexican artist Saner and not be reminded of the great Mexican innovators – Posada, Rivera, Kahlo, Siqueiros, Orozco, Bravo, Tamayo. Throughout the twentieth century, Mexican artists were extraordinarily passionate about their nation and while these men and women were sophisticated and fully aware of trends in Paris, Berlin and New York, it was always their home country that infused their art. It could be argued that few places are as culturally rich, engaging and diverse as Mexico. Even in this era of hyper-globalization, Saner remains, like those Mexican artists before him, profoundly grounded by heritage. While street art is seen as something relatively new and edgy around the world, it is a tradition in Mexico that started in the first quarter of the twentieth century. These early mural painters were as provocative as contemporary street artists are today as they too pushed boundaries, confronted authority and considered themselves revolutionaries. Saner lives in Mexico City, a place of raw energy and endless contradictions. When he talks about his home, he says, “Mexico is a surreal country. It has everything and nothing at the same time”. His art reflects this
MEXICO IS A SURREAL COUNTRY. IT HAS EVERYTHING AND NOTHING AT THE SAME TIME.
perspective. In almost all of his works, masks cover the faces of his figures, suggesting a world where everything is not as it seems. Saner explains this metaphor by saying that we all put on a different face in different situations. Who is behind the mask, what role are they playing and why? Masks have always been particularly significant in Mexican art and culture. Examples can be found in PreColumbian art and even today masks are an essential part of festivals that take place in all corners of the country. However, Saner’s repeated use of this form suggests his connection to the mask is more personal than symbolic. Explaining this, Saner says, “I take the mask from the Mayan culture. But, I want to create my own interpretation, my personal gods, and my personal kings. It’s like a tribute in general of my roots.” Saner has been drawing since he was a child and studied graphic design at university. The first impression he had of a mural was a reproduction of a detail of José Clemente Orzco’s 1926 mural, La Trinchera, printed on Mexican currency. That modest observation changed his life and helped define him as an artist. Even in this small format, Saner was moved by the incredible power and potential of art.
The wall paintings Saner has completed are accessible and a bit playful. He has a seductive sense of color and creates intriguing imagery. In some of his murals there is a hint of violence, but it’s not necessarily menacing. Like the great Mexican mural painters, Saner is an exceptional draftsman. His sketches have a heightened sense of focus and expose the artist’s determined concentration. It’s in the drawings he renders that one sees his art in its most intense and raw form, as these works often suggest a kind of brutality existing beneath the surface or in plan view. Saner’s drawings also reveal his visceral connection to Mexican iconography as the world around him and forms from the past appear reconfigured and reinvented when he takes ink or pencil to paper. In contrast to the monumental murals, Saner’s drawings are intimate, defined by their details. These works demand attention and present a narrative informed by observation and cultural continuity. In recent years, Saner has traveled the world to paint walls. Beyond Mexico, he has worked in Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, Tunisia and the United States. He is part of a small army of artists who are transforming the international urban landscape and challenging assumptions regarding art in public settings. Yet Saner offers a point of view that is different from most of his contemporaries. In his work on walls, canvas, or paper, Saner shows that an artist can be both experimental and current, while at the same time deeply rooted in the past and legacy. ◆
Saner shows that an artist can be both experimental and current, while at the same time deeply rooted in the past and legacy.
NOVELTY Photography by David Drake www.daviddrake.co.uk
ADBUSTING with street art Text by Mario Rueda Photos by Thomas von Wittich, Laura ColomÃ© & Mark Rigney
rying to create a space for reflection, artist Vermibus collects and transforms street advertisements into art to cause people to meditate on the mental pollution they are constantly exposed to. The name Vermibus comes from “CAro DAta VERmibus” (flesh given to worms). It represents the dehumanization of models on ads after they go through the Photoshop process. For Vermibus, using public space is the best way to share his message with the community. “Outdoor ad panels, street furniture and billboards have become uni-directional conversation spaces. My work criticizes that”, explains Vermibus. Every advertising message affects our brain. As urban dwellers, we are hit with around three thousand publicity messages every day and this is without counting the ‘subliminal’ ads found in social networks and video games. When referring to street advertising, companies and corporations speak out loud, rather shamelessly, about its advantages: “Outdoor or street advertising is right next to the consumer. There is no way to avoid it. That is why its impact is many times greater than other advertising channels”(Malla Publicidad). Noise pollution is the excessive and disturbing noise that may harm human or animal activity. The same happens with excess of light, known as light pollution. Mental pollution, on the other hand, is much more harmful, yet we are barely conscious of its effects. “Both outdoors and guerrilla advertising are abusive publicity forms. It is mental pollution, and people are not fully aware of this. We are not investigating the long term consequences they have”, says Vermibus. One of the artist’s greatest concerns is the lack of regulation of public space when it comes to promoting products and services with street advertising. The use of public space is poorly regulated by governments and seems to be controlled entirely by the moneymakers. The aim of marketing messages is purely to serve the interests of power structures and they have the sole purpose of manipulating our choices. At the same time, street
MENTAL POLLUTION, ON THE OTHER HAND, IS MUCH MORE HARMFUL, YET WE ARE BARELY CONSCIOUS OF ITS EFFECTS.
ads often make you feel inadequate, ugly, not sexy enough, or that all the fun is happening somewhere else. With little interest in trying to understand what the public would really like to see on their streets, governments have given up control of our public space to whoever is willing to pay for it. According to Vermibus, the fact that street art is illegal while street ads are legal is just a matter of who can pay. “With enough money you make illegal things legal. If you don’t have it, the law will be against you. Publicity and advertising cleans the image of big corporations, promotes consumption, and keeps the capital flowing. Every artistic work or activist campaign generates costs, tarnishes corporations’ images and can potentially change the system. This is the reason why street art is illegal. Some people are not interested in these changes”, says Vermibus. In protest to the undemocratic condition of public spaces today, Vermibus transforms street ads into street art. Described as Voodoo Art by Florence Reidenbach (Berlin Art Link), the transformation process is more complex than one would think. First, he chooses the posters that he feels are more interesting to intervene on. Once they are in his atelier, he uses dissolvers to change the image (and thereby the message) and removes the brand name or logo. Then the posters – by then transformed from ads into works of art – are brought back and placed in the ad panels. The posters are taken from one city to another, always with a specific time lapse from the moment they are first removed to the moment they are put back. The process is called “temporary and physical relocation”, and is explained in his video “Dissolving Europe”, which you can watch on YouTube.
It is important to say that before every intervention, there is always a complex on-site work process in order to find the best way to build the keys to open the chosen panel. With over a million advertising panels reaching more than 300 million people every day, JC Decaux is the largest outdoor advertising corporation in the world. According to the corporation’s website, their main advertisers are in the fashion and cosmetics industries, Louis Vuitton, Estēe Lauder, and L’Oréal being their top three clients. Naturally (or should I say, unnaturally), the images of beautiful models used in ads by companies in this industry are the most retouched ads you can find. “The representation of beauty in advertising is generally based on ‘eternal youth equals perfection’. This creates traumas and shame because you are supposed to achieve that, which is obviously physically impossible. Phrases like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” by Kate Moss, or “Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse” associated to James Dean, define our preferences. Achieving this kind of beauty has become more important than life itself ”, says Vermibus. Advertising creates unrealistic expectations. If someone doesn’t comply with the pre-established beauty standards, which are illogically based on airbrushing, then that person is not attractive to us anymore. They won’t catch our attention or excite us if they don’t mimic what the billboards present. Advertising is a main contributor to the world of appearances that predominates our lives, where images take the stronghold as authorities on reality. The interesting point is that even though we are well aware of the fact that most photographs in publicities are digitally enhanced, we still choose to invest our belief in their ‘reality’. Advertising changes our values, tastes, preferences, and even our way of thinking. In many cases you can turn off the ads, or change the channel to avoid them, but this becomes more complicated when they are fixed on outdoor panels constantly staring at you every morning on your way to work. Vermibus strongly believes that in order for public
ADVERTISING IS A MAIN CONTRIBUTOR TO THE WORLD OF APPEARANCES THAT PREDOMINATES OUR LIVES, WHERE IMAGES TAKE THE STRONGHOLD AS AUTHORITIES ON REALITY.
spaces to be truly public, they have to be democratic spaces open to conversation between the state, companies and citizens. “The city’s inhabitants should be able to use public space to express their opinion and be critical. Nowadays, even if you try to intervene in public spaces legally – that means by paying – you can’t just do whatever you want. You can only use that space to promote a product or service. Public spaces are merely for commercial use”, declares the artist. “I have a feeling that for many years art was made just for artists and for art connoisseurs. That the messages were focused on the artist itself and so not many people would understand it. Street art, or art on the streets, is breaking those established concepts. With street art, there is a more direct conversation between the artist and the public. On top of that, the message is critical, but understandable. It is public, and for everyone, and in many cases it reflects the intimate feeling of the artist, which is often a tough critic on the current system”, says Vermibus. While big corporations and advertising agencies will continue to invade our public spaces and bombard us with false promises, Vermibus will keep on destabilizing their plans by busting their ad spaces and bringing more art to more people. ◆
THE PSYCHEDELIC CHEF
Text & Illustration by JOS*
ingredients • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
burned tomatillo béchamel sauce frog legs vodka fried garlic flakes white pepper olive oil lemon peel flour holy basil water salt yeast goat cheese gouda cheese
for the crust • 2 ¾ cups of warm water • 2 tablespoons of olive oil • 1 x ¼ oz. envelope active dry yeast • 1 tablespoon of salt • 1 tablespoon of sugar • 8 cups of white bread flour (plus extra for dusting table)
for the sauce • • • • • •
60g of butter 1/3 cup of plain flour 4 ½ cups of milk 75g of gouda cheese ¼ teaspoon of salt good pinch of ground nutmeg
for the topping Marinate 8 frog legs in ½ cup of vodka, 100ml of olive oil, garlic flakes, chopped onion, very finely chopped lemon peel of 2 lemons, purple basil, salt and white pepper. Leave it all marinating together for 40 minutes, then fry until cooked. Leave apart while you prepare your pizza crust and white sauce. Make the dough. Give the desired pizza shape to the dough and spread the white sauce all over it, then spread the frog legs mix on top, plus A LOT of grated gouda cheese. Place into the oven on 400˚F and bake until cheese is melted (approximately 30 minutes). At the end, burn the skin of tomatillos and place on top of the pizza and sprinkle chopped purple basil. PEACE OUT!
What happens if you see frog legs that actually look like they where chopped off a human… I don’t know, maybe they just look cool to make a pizza with. My mouth was salivating like a caveman! The taste of vodka and the weirdness of the purple basil made me think of this mixture and this has now become my favorite pizza recipe. Dancing frogs into melted cheese who want to escape but feel better soaked in vodka like a vagabond feels on a moving train... why red sauce if you can have white… pure flavor, fuck tomato, it’s boring at this point! Give some smoky and sweet flavor with tomatillo instead, and goat cheese? Imagine a fight between a frog and a goat? I think it would be awesome, a frog could give very strong kicks, but maybe it would run away because of the smelly odor coming from the dirty hairy goat full of poop, anyways. From green long kicks to noisy bleating and farm smells, this has become my best appetizer for a Thursday night. “get fat, get drunk, have sex”
ART & TECHNOLOGY
WISHING WALL Text by Mario Rueda Photos by Andrew Meredith
An art installation that converts wishes into butterflies – this is what happened when a couple of curious European artists decided to combine their passions for electronics and coding together with art. The result was an installation that is being exhibited at the Barbican Centre in London until September and will soon travel to different cities around the world. Based in Barcelona and Tallinn, Mar Canet’s and Varvara Guljajeva’s story is not just a romantic one. Since 2009, it has been a career full of success stories. Their impeccable reputation as an artistic duo in the field of art and technology has given them the chance to travel the world to show their projects. They are the creators of works such as “Wireless Poetry”, “NeuroKnitting” (together with Sebastian Mealla, researcher at UPF, Barcelona), and more recently, the “Wishing Wall”. The latter was commissioned by Google and the Barbican Centre as part of the Digital Revolution exhibition this year. Initially, Mar had the idea to do something with wishes. “The Western world has these static ways
of making wishes”, says Mar. “Normally you would blow a candle, or toss a coin into a fountain. As soon as you blow the candle, the wish ends. It gets discontinued. There is no visual manifestation of your wish after it’s thought out. We wanted to change that. We wanted to make the wishing process less linear, and more interactive and visual”. That’s when the idea of converting wishes into interactive butterflies appeared. The Wishing Wall was born. The art installation is composed by two proximity sensors, a flower-shaped cone that serves as a microphone (where you say your wish), projectors, a laptop and speech recognition software. The sensors detect that someone is in front of the microphone and it gets ready to record. Once you start saying your wish, the microphone turns red and the system records and processes your voice. After the artists get the text from the Google speech API, the projected image on the wall shows the wish written in words. The words start spinning around, creating a cocoonlike animation. Finally, the digital butterfly is born.
NORMALLY YOU WOULD BLOW A CANDLE, OR TOSS A COIN INTO A FOUNTAIN. AS SOON AS YOU BLOW THE CANDLE, THE WISH ENDS. IT GETS DISCONTINUED. THERE IS NO VISUAL MANIFESTATION OF YOUR WISH AFTER IT’S THOUGHT OUT.
After the image of the butterfly appears on the wall, anyone can put his or her hand to have the butterfly land on it for a few seconds. Then it goes back on the screen and joins other butterflies – the other wishes. “Having a butterfly landing on your hand is something magical and it rarely happens. If you get it, you get it only for some seconds. We want to keep it like that. Even though this is high technology, we try to follow the rules of nature and be as similar as possible”, says Varvara. The metamorphosis of a butterfly not just mimics the life span of a wish, but also represents the digital era we live in. “In our age – the digital age – transformation of things and inventions happen faster than ever before. Today you can easily transform an image into a video, or a video into an image. Metamorphosis happens in many things with the aid of technology. At the same time, there are more than 18,000 butterfly species in the world, and there are probably as many different wishes as people in this planet. Wishes are as diverse as butterflies”, say the artists. In the Wishing Wall, the resulting digital butterflies are also very diverse. They come out in different shapes and colors. The shape is randomly selected by the system, but the color is specifically determined by the kind of wish you make. Based on the Wheel of Emotions – a revolutionary infograph that uses the color wheel to illustrate eight basic human emotions developed by psychologist Robert Plutchik – and findings on the emotional
values of words by Dr. Saif Mohammad, Varvara and Mar decided to color-code each butterfly depending on the words contained in your wish. Varvara and Mar are by no means trying to change the world with their Wishing Wall. What they are trying to do is explore the seemingly endless possibilities of technology by creating an interactive art installation, while causing people to be more aware of their own desires. “If you think about it, art pieces that incorporate technology are logically more interactive. For example, a person using the Wishing Wall has to talk loudly every time they say something into the microphone. Every time that happens, they don’t just interact and become part of the art piece, but also become more aware of their own wishes. On the other hand, if you look at kids going to a classical art museum, their interaction with the paintings is minimal”, says Mar. For the artists, being part of the Digital Revolution by Google and the Barbican Centre is not only significant in terms of the funding and visibility they are receiving, but is also a matter of having the freedom of working on their own projects under their own criteria, a recurring challenge for artists everywhere. For now, the couple will continue developing more art projects based on technology, coding and electronics while they enjoy their lives between Tallin and Barcelona together with their recently born daughter Nora. ◆
City Visions A season of films, talks and debates exploring modern cities around the world, featuring work from Wim Wenders, David Lynch and Youssef Chahine 25 Sep–8 Oct 2014
Tickets £8.50–11.50 barbican.org.uk
Image © Mitul Kajaria, India, 2014
chocolaty LOVE Text & Photo by Charlotte Specht
Once upon a time, there was a chocolate girl named Chocolatina. She brought joy to people and her creators perfected her skin, clothes and hair to look more and more like real chocolate. But she was a bit lonely and needed a partner, and that’s when the chocolate boy Bombito was born. When they first performed together, “it was like magic and the reaction from the public was amazing”. Chocolatina and Bombito come to life in as quick as 20 minutes, but the perfection of their shiny delicious appearance has taken a long time, which included any thinkable combination of color, texture, shine, photogenicity and comfort until the ideal mix was found. Another secret to their success might be that Chocolatina and Bombito are actually a couple in real life. “Without a doubt, it makes it easier, because we feel so comfortable playing these characters that they have become us”, says Katharina, who plays the role of Chocolatina. The Chocolate Couple is an act performed as a living statue that comes to life and tells the story of how Chocolatina and Bombito met, how they get along (or not), and how Bombito wins her heart. Luís, who acts as Bombito, says that “the best is when people think that we’re an actual chocolate statue until the moment that we move.” Most of them are astonished and say “I thought they were real!” It’s not surprising that their impeccable artwork has already crossed the Portuguese border and already been seen in countries like Belgium, Spain and Thailand. The Chocolate Couple is a perfect combination of stunning costume, dramaturgy, artwork and spontaneity with a high level of interaction with their audience. The cherry on the cake is the spark of real love that shines through in every one of their performances as Chocolatina and Bombito.
ONE SONG AT A TIME Text by Emily Randall Photos by Enzo Buono & Francois Viguié “A Native American Musician once asked me why I wanted to start Playing For Change. I responded by saying: ‘We live in a world that walks over homeless people on our way to work like they don’t exist, we have way too many starving children and warring nations. What is there to remind us of the power of the human spirit? As a human race we come together for birth and we come together for death, but what brings us together in between is up to us. Stop and listen to the universal language of music and bring that positive energy with you everywhere you go...” (PFC Co-Founder Mark Johnson). Mark best explains the moment that sparked Playing For Change: “About 10 years ago, I had an experience in NYC that opened my eyes to the power of music. I was on my way to work at a recording studio, and in the subway station I witnessed two robed monks painted all in white. One of them was playing guitar while the other monk was singing in a language I didn’t understand. I witnessed a subway platform full of people so captivated listening to this music that no one got on the train. Some people
were smiling while others were crying, but everyone was connected through this music. I got on the train and headed to work and I thought to myself the greatest music I had ever heard was on the way to the studio and not in the studio.” This was the birth of the idea to bring the studio to the musicians in their natural environments all over the world. In order to truly unite and inspire the whole world, we’ve included as much diversity as possible in our project. In 2005, PFC Co-Founders Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke created the concept of Songs Around The World by uniting together musicians from different countries and cultures to perform on the same track. After traveling across 5 continents with cameras and a mobile recording studio, we released a version of “Stand By Me” featuring over 35 musicians from 10 countries who had never met in person. Since then, this video has been viewed over 120 million times online. Because of the reaction and support of musicians and people all over the world, we’ve been able to continue this work and grow the movement.
THIS WAS THE BIRTH OF THE IDEA TO BRING THE STUDIO TO THE MUSICIANS IN THEIR NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD.
Songs Around The World Albums Our albums of Songs Around The World each take roughly two years to produce. Our most recent one, PFC3, features 185 musicians from 31 different countries! Released in June 2014, the album includes performances from Keith Richards, Andrés Calamaro, Toots Hibbert from Toots & The Maytals, Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo from Los Lobos, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Keb’ Mo’, and Taj Mahal. Additionally, one of the songs was produced by Jackson Browne, who says that traveling and filming with PFC was “one of the most gratifying and stimulating experiences of [his] life.” The Playing For Change Band Throughout our travels, we have met some unbelievably talented musicians, many of whom were performing mainly on the streets. We decided their voices and talents needed to be heard, and who better to represent this movement than them? The PFC Band consists of 11 musicians from 8 different countries. They serve as an example of what happens when the world transcends its differences and creates music together. As Congolese PFC Band member Mermans Kenkosenki explains, “there are people who play music for the fame, for money, and there are people who play for the love of it.” This band brings that love from the streets, to the stage, and to the hearts of the people. Playing For Change Foundation The musicians and the communities we visit invite us in their homes, play us their music and share their stories with us. At the start, we asked the people how we could give back and leave the communities better than we found them. This is why we started the Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF), a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive change through music and arts education. PFCF has since begun nine music schools and programs throughout Africa and Asia. The programs include free classes in dance, instruments, languages and musical theory, all taught by local qualified teachers. Keb’ Mo’ once said to us, “the important thing in life is to create inspiration and let it take care of itself…” We believe this is the case with the Foundation. Perhaps one of our students in Gugulethu, South Africa could have gone on
to be in a street gang, and now, with the opportunities provided at our music school, he or she may become the next Nelson Mandela or Miriam Makeba. Playing For Change Day In response to the enthusiasm of those inspired by Songs Around the World and the mission of PFCF, we created PFC Day in 2011 as a way for everyone to become involved. Communities gather as musicians and fans from all over the world perform on stages, street corners, schools, yoga studios and cafes, all with the goal of bringing music into the lives of young people. Last year, we had over 300 amazing benefit events in 56 different countries, which raised over $150,000 for the Foundationâ€™s music schools and programs. PFC Day 2014 falls on Saturday, September 20th. To learn more and participate, visit www.pfcday.org. The Future of Playing For Change Through our music, videos, band, and the PFC Foundation, we unite and support artists around the world, resulting in a synergy that has captured the attention of over 250 million people worldwide. We will continue to grow this movement across the globe and show the world that no matter how many things in life divide us, they are never as strong as the things that bring us together. This is the power of music. â—†
NO MATTER HOW MANY THINGS IN LIFE DIVIDE US, THEY ARE NEVER AS STRONG AS THE THINGS THAT BRING US TOGETHER. THIS IS THE POWER OF MUSIC.
PANTA - Book a Street Artist Magazine - Issue 4 / October 2014