BOOK A STREET ARTIST MAGAZINE ISSUE 9 / JUNE-SEPTEMBER 2016
A documentary that explores the courage and creativity of female graffiti and street artists from around the world.
NYC / ECUADOR
WWW.STREETHEROINESFILM.COM @ STREETHEROINES
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BOOK A STREET ARTIST MAGAZINE ISSUE 9 / JUNE-SEPTEMBER 2016 EDITORS IN CHIEF Guille Lasarte & Charlotte Specht email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR Guille Lasarte MARKETING DIRECTOR Mario Rueda email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Ingo Albrecht (Diskorobot), Marco Meyer, Mr. Fish, Infidelix, Camille Charlier, UC EAST, JOS*, Alexandra Henry, Maresa Harvey, Carolina Rossi, eL Seed, Stan Herd, David Tampellini, Jumoke Adeyanju, Denis Faneites, Dominic Braun, Stefanie Tendler, Bennet Cerven, Geordie Little, Clara Cabrera, Vidam SPECIAL THANKS TO Ashley McCaskill, Agata Swiezak, Pau Quintanajornet www.pantamagazine.com firstname.lastname@example.org FOUNDERS OF BOOK A STREET ARTIST Charlotte Specht Mario Rueda www.bookastreetartist.com
Cover illustration & illustration on inside front cover by Mr. Fish Painting on opposite page by Clara Cabrera (bookastreetartist.com/clara-cabrera)
LETTE R FR O M TH E E D ITO R S
We almost scratched the letter from the editors this time around. We were a bit tired of being forced to say something and this time nothing instantly came to our mind that we were urged to say. So instead of giving you some “this issue is about xy” blabber, we just wanted to leave this space blank. Anyways, PANTA issues don’t have themes. Our contributors have no limitations, no frames, no walls. Everything is connected on a more spiritual level, which doesn’t need specific terminology to be presented. But then it hit us: how arrogant are we to skip an opportunity to use our voice? We remembered a quote from issue 5 when we interviewed Herakut: “If you manage to grab someone’s attention, then please seize that moment to get your point across.” So here is our message: have a message, have an opinion and raise your voice loud and clear. Thank you for being a part of PANTA.
GOT SKILLS? www.bookastreetartist.com
ISSUE 9 / CONTENTS
ILLUSTRATION & STREET ART
DISKOROBOT Text by Charlotte Specht Photos by Marco Meyer Illustrations by Diskorobot www.klub7.de/diskorobot bookastreetartist.com/old-yellow
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There is a code that allows you to decipher Diskorobotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s illustrations. Decoding the meaning behind his abstract geometrical compositions reveals a deep look into the artistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biography. At second sight, his work is a dense interweaving of stories and memories of his life and the title of an art piece acts as a reminder note about a certain time in his past. The artist uses abstract forms and graphical fragments to compose these stories, be it on paper or on large-scale murals. The first substantial wave of influence on his artistic endeavors is a result of his active participation in the graffiti scene in the early 90s in his hometown of Halle Neustadt, a planned city in the east of Germany. This is when he officially began painting, while studying art at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design. He grew up amid a youth movement that used visual and linguistic codes only comprehensible to a limited group of people. Always perceiving music and language as heavily interrelated with graffiti and hip-hop, he soon dived into the use of linguistic elements and started regarding an expression not only as a description for an object or a state, but as a number of interpretations and reflections of a particular lifestyle.
Surrounded by modernism and not yet understanding the ideology of state-controlled art, new impulses were planted into his creative mind
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16 ILLUSTRATION & STREET ART
With an equally strong impact, the unique developments in his hometown shaped his artistic universe irreversibly: Halle Neustadt is abbreviated “Ha-Neu” by its locals which, spoken out, sounds like the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. While being two entirely different cities, there is a striking similarity: both serve as the exemplification of a “boom city”. Compared to 6.5 million inhabitants in Hanoi, 94,000 seems insignificant – however, not if you take into account that it was built in only 26 years from an open field in the middle of nowhere. Towards the end of the former German Democratic Republic, standardized grid-like architecture had made this astoundingly rapid growth possible. The government put great effort into modernizing Ha-Neu for the families of the workers in the surrounding chemical industries: the new socialist model city was not short of malls, a metro, an elevated railway and 5 to 22-storey skyscrapers. Anyone who grew up here and looked out the window was close to heaven. Ha-Neu became an urban icon of East German post-war modernism and a utopia of equal opportunities for all before the city lost half its population after the fall of the regime.
Diskorobot continues on an individual path, currently exploring his favorite tools: a feather pen and ink on paper
Art played an important role in the utopian city planning: functional architecture was to be disrupted by over 150 public art projects planned and paid for by the state. Huge, colored, futuristic murals were installed on facades of apartment blocks – one in particular was created by the Spanish artist Josep Renaus and left Diskorobot with an enduring fascination for the combination of colors and abstract geometric shapes. Surrounded by modernism and not yet understanding the ideology of state-controlled art, new impulses were planted into his creative mind. In his artwork “Renaus abstraction”, the artist remembers this crucial impression in his very own style and artistic language. Similarly, the events of autumn 89’ in East Germany inspired him to create “Herbst 89”, in which we get an insight into the emotions of the young artist faced with the fallen wall and an ubiquitous dazzling flashy feeling of “breaking out”.
In the aftermath, the number of inhabitants of his hometown shrank in half in less time than they had risen. A wave of unemployment and demolition of skyhigh buildings followed – a time the artist compares to the legacy of Detroit, a shrinking city with a growing subculture. “Newtroit” was born. At this time, around 1996, Diskorobot and some friends formed the artist collective KLUB7. By synthesizing their individual styles, they have developed their own group style that is both playful and handmade. Meanwhile, Diskorobot continues on an individual path, currently exploring his favorite tools: a feather pen and ink on paper. His ink drawings serve him as a base for his large-scale works on walls. The latest ink drawings show mostly abstract compositions of shapes and refractive structures. ∆
ARTIST STATEMENT www.clowncrack.com
erhaps the best way to describe who I am and what I do as an artist is to explain who I am not and what I try not to do as an artist. For one thing, I am not special because I can draw a horse, a vulva, a rutabaga or a Beatle in breathtaking detail, therefore I don’t assume that I deserve attention or reward for my ability to do so. Broadly speaking, I do not agree with the popular definition of what art is, namely, that, if blessed or cursed by the gift of longevity, it is a precious historical artifact that requires the context of chronology to have meaning or value, nor do I believe it is a unique object made special by consummate craftsmanship, immediate application as a statement of bold unconventionality or a piece of propaganda devised to reinforce some religious, political or cultural orthodoxy. Instead, I’ve always considered art to be an actual living language forged from the private
contemplation of individuals who are curious about how and why things function as they do – privacy being key to that contemplation for it is within the candor offered by the unflappable internal dialogue that can sometimes exist between heart and head when one is alone where the most honest deliberation over any thought or feeling can occur, chastisement or penalty of violent retribution from priggish or intolerant eavesdroppers never part of the equation. Specifically, art is the most audacious and most precise form of communication available to human beings, a truism that is marred only by straight society’s refusal to recognize it as such for to legitimize the unparalleled frankness of non-lingual forms of expression would be to forever minimize the perceived importance and overall effectiveness of bullshit as a political tool, a religious bludgeon and/or a manipulator of the public will.
ILLUSTRATION / MR. FISH 21
I was enhanced by the world whose inarticulate physics were precisely what gave me license to participate in the machinery of my very existence.
Artists know, for example, that there is no perversion or moral failure associated with picking your nose or scratching your ass and will engage in such activity within the private space wherein he or she creates his or her artwork without pause, whereas convention, best exemplified by the public space, will always seize the wrist and insist upon decorum, dutifully paralyzing one’s immediate need to breathe easier or to satisfy an aggravating itch, both literally and metaphorically. After all, wasn’t it Picasso who said, “Art is a finger up the bourgeoisie ass,” which, while having the desired effect of goosing the complacent stutopia into a moment of genuine alertness, should also be recognized as an important health screening proven to diagnose disease, save lives and, when administered regularly, to promote lifelong habits of self-evaluation and proactive self-maintenance, both literally and metaphorically? The definition of what art is and how I wished to spend my whole life interacting with it is attached to a very specific memory from when I was 14 years old. It was just after dinner on the last day of summer vacation in the Alabama portion of
MR. FISH 23
Southern Jersey, where the only black people I ever saw were sunburned Italians and the only culture to which I had access was an Encore bookstore that boasted a Robert Mapplethorpe book behind its counter and a miniature golf course that boasted an Eiffel Tower at its 18th hole. This was in 1980, just a few months before the gruesome murder of John Lennon and the even more gruesome election of Ronald Reagan into the White House, neither tragedy Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever completely recovered from, and my mood was rapidly filling with
a dread like wet cement as I looked to the horizon as it filled with storm clouds. With the first day of school sitting like a thug on the other side of sundown, thumping its great club of institutionalized disapproval of all that I ever hoped to become against its very dull palm, I was determined to yank my bike from the loud gewgaws crammed inside the garage for one last ride through the woods to the Ocean Acres Lake. There I planned on stripping down to my underwear and, for one last time before
Art for me was about communing with the wordless truth that lay beyond human comprehension, the idea being that listening to music is quite a different thing from sitting in silence and reading sheet music homework and curfew turned me into something so much less spectacular, to catapult myself from my bicycle seat and charge through the mosquitoes and the weeds and plunge myself into the water and press myself down into the cool slime of the lake bed, one of the larger rocks rolled over onto my belly, and to lay there in my diving mask and snorkel and watch the nighttime come from three feet underwater. The snorkel had been made using three separate snorkels, one roll of black electrical tape and a small piece of dirty Styrofoam that acted as the cartilage that kept the nostril of the whole contraption set firmly against the breeze above the water. Sucking on the sky as if it were an impossibly huge bong containing all the magnificent lies that made a 14-year-old boy feel as if he were no more accountable to the treachery of things than a piece of cherry smoke, I would lounge beneath the water near enough to napping to savor complete relaxation without sleeping through it, a living angel hovering weightless inside an atmosphere of
water and peering down upon heaven, pitying the souls there for not knowing the bliss of living inside meat so moved by both the buoyancy and confinement of flesh. The thunderstorm came maybe ten minutes after Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d set the rock onto my stomach and pinned myself, nude this time, to the muck clinging like green mucus to the floor of the lake. Tucked safely enough below the horizon of the water for the lightning to require hours of digging with a bucket to find me, I experienced what every great composer mustâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been searching for in the composition of his symphonies yet was never able to capture, largely because of the crappy visuals that polite society demanded he use when communicating his musicâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;namely, the image of one man waving a stick around above the heads of a large group of other men, and eventually some women, all of them dressed as an immense waitstaff. Occasionally there was permitted the added visual of actors behaving flamboyantly inside the magnification of jewel-encrusted
MR. FISH 25
opera glasses; however, small improvement, particularly when the actors seldom even sang, much less spoke, in the language or century of their audience. My symphony, on the other hand, was automatically relevant and began with a sky swelling dramatically into a fantastic bruise, heavy with the telepathy of a God weary of his own sweet understanding of everything and wishing that he could know less and explode into sand like a mountain aching to be touched by the bare feet of his own estranged children. This effect was followed by dainty water rings piccoloing in a flurry of O’s as lightly as tiny bells and leading ultimately to the sort of crescendo that one might imagine the conception of the universe must’ve looked like: static full of flashes of fire, physics in the throes of intercourse, nudity capable of no further lewdness, a nakedness stripped to the atomic level. It was a violence that poked such excitement into my soul that once it ended there was the sensation that I’d been
emptied, that my spirit had been pulled out of me, leaving me to gather, like collecting coins from a dark theater’s floor, memories of what my prior spirituality must’ve been, its value invisible to me. Twenty minutes after the storm I emerged from the water feeling incomplete, like a loose confederacy of dishonest recollections, or at least a ghost that had been stitched together so weakly that my very will to be seemed in danger of fragmenting inside the vibration of my own footfalls as I pushed my bike through the steamy air back to the garage, the chemistry of my insides stirred hard into a swirling cloud of undrinkable water. It was as if that by removing my voice from all conversation about the world I was finally able to recognize, with great humility, that the world was not enhanced by my excessively verbal participation in it, but rather I was enhanced by the world whose inarticulate physics were precisely what gave me license to participate in the machinery of my very existence.
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MR. FISH 29
I could finally experience the thrill of watching life proceed without the disruptive influence of my presence In my silence I felt not unlike the word fuck and that, in the face of reality’s illiteracy, I was suddenly permitted the grace of getting to exist merely as typeface against pulp, my obscenity made completely irrelevant by the indifference of the corporeal world toward the King’s English. In an instant, I felt as if I could mean so much more by meaning so much less than the bogus definition previously attached to me by the capricious folly of language. Like an emancipated slave allowed to suddenly become invisible inside a free society, I could finally experience the thrill of watching life proceed without the disruptive influence of my presence. By no longer adding my own voice to
the ceaseless blathering that constituted the cacophonous schizophrenia that was the public consciousness, I could finally feel as if I were communing with the wordless truth that lay beyond human comprehension like edifying bones beneath flesh. “Silence is the universal refuge,” Thoreau said, “the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts.” Thus, art for me was about communing with the wordless truth that lay beyond human comprehension, the idea being that listening to music is quite a different thing from sitting in silence and reading sheet music and trusting your literacy to convince you that you should be dancing. ∆
IN FIDEL IX
Text by Camille Charlier Photos by Alexander Kleis & Camille Charlier bookastreetartist.com/de/infidelix
Infidelix is a rapper from Texas who performs on the streets of Berlin. When I first met him around Warschauer, I immediately noticed his optimism and sincere passion for rapping. Born in Houston, Infidelix didn’t exactly plan on traveling across Europe and end up rapping on the streets of Berlin. During his college years, he was more into theater and creative writing: “That’s what got me into stage performing. I slowly started to write rhymes and that’s how my music happened: it just came out as rap”. He then started dedicating more time to rapping and finding shows in his hometown, but didn’t really have
much help and had to book his own tours and find his own ways of recording. He had his first overseas tour a few years later in Ireland where he met many local artists. Infidelix traveled to many other countries before landing in the German capital. He first flew to Spain with an idea in his mind: “I wanted to sell 100,000 copies of my CD. I wasn’t performing at that time, and I was so nervous to talk to people!” This shyness and difficulty in marketing himself was an obvious challenge in the beginning. “I had put myself in a country I didn’t know, with no money, and I had to figure it out”.
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You can have a refugee standing next to someone who hates refugees but they won’t even realize what’s going on because they’re enjoying the same music together at that moment.
After Spain, he went back to Ireland, then traveled to Scotland, England, the Netherlands, France and finally Germany. He keeps a very clear memory of the first time he performed on the street: “My very first street performance was in Amsterdam. I was nervous and convinced that people wouldn’t like it. It worked better than expected and I was able to save money and buy my equipment within days.” Being brought up in a conservative environment, pursuing this life wasn’t easy. At first his family didn’t accept it, but with time they came around to the idea. “Now, they’re on my side. They see that I’m 30 and happy with what I do, they also understood that they couldn’t change me anymore.” Berlin welcomed Infidelix, where he has been living for three years now. “It’s a place people come to, not a city people get stuck in. There’s a real pursuit of creativity here in Berlin. When people say that they’re involved in something, they really are.” He sees that the main strength of the city is its people: “When you live here, you deal with different mindsets and cultures: it opens your mind and takes you to the next level.”
Starting to talk about his style of music, he admits that he didn’t listen much to hip-hop before he started to rap. He sees a real change in this culture: “Hip-hop used to be a lifestyle, now it’s become a fashion: people dress hip-hop but they’re clean.” Infidelix has dirty hands, holes in his pants and is not afraid of sitting on the ground next to the Warschauer Strasse U-Bahn station, one of his favorite spots. “That’s real hip-hop, I’m dirty because I’m out there working and my music is not driven by money”. He likes repeating that “Straßenmusik ist echte Musik”: street music is real music. “Before coming to Europe, I was scared that the world was a really bad place. In the US we’re told that we’re the best and that the rest of the world is a joke.” From busking, he’s learned about staying motivated and dedicated to something, and also realized
that he could change little things in people’s lives: “I’ve gotten e-mails from strangers saying that my music made their day brighter.” It also brings people together and closer: “You can have a refugee standing next to someone who hates refugees but they won’t even realize what’s going on because they’re enjoying the same music together at that moment. In this crazy world we live in, it’s really good to see that.” “Busk Life”, the name of his newest album, involves more than just street music. “To busk” also means to pursue a goal. His goal is to find the right people to collaborate with and release more albums, hopefully improving with each new album. The main lesson that he takes from busking is that “life is precious and in the end, you don’t need to be grumpy and negative.” ∆
UC EAST ARTIST STATEMENT www.facebook.com/uceast
In 2006 I decided to leave high school because I felt the urge to free myself from the strict discipline prevailing in the Japanese educational system. Along with older friends, I started going out to clubs at a young age. After a short time, I found myself going to clubs every weekend, as the music was filling a void that was essential to my existence. Soon, the consumption of music was not sufficient for me and I realized I needed to start producing my own art. I’ve been painting since I was very young, and found a strong correlation between the club scene, dancing, and the activity of live painting. I found instant pleasure and fulfillment in live painting and have not stopped since I began. During my phases of experimentation, I became fascinated with the lines of the human body, its movement and its familiarity. I create my live
paintings alongside music and also draw inspiration from the location they’re created in. The music and the place are more important than the paintbrush and the surface that I paint on; without them, the work does not exist. In March 2016, with the chill of winter still lingering, I came across Yamamoto-Seika – a studio and gallery situated in an old abandoned rice cracker factory. The peculiar atmosphere of YamamotoSeika inspired me to create my most recent artwork: Mube. In a sense, the building itself is what made these works, and I let the atmosphere of this location guide my hand without questioning it. If the location changed, or the season changed, or I changed, then the artwork also changes. Mube represents myself in the moment of creation and reflects pure and honest feelings. ∆
UC EAST 41
UC EAST 43
THE PSYCHEDELIC CHEF
Mayo de Canard Recipe & illustration by JOS*
THE STORY GOES LIKE THIS When you’re a chef, you become an arrogant bastard and you start to think that you can handle a knife like a ninja and that you have the power to say that something tastes like shit (even though it’s normal food and you’re just being a dick) and you tell yourself that you’re about to experience the best food ever. All this makes your life as a simple eater in your hours off work the hardest moments to decide what to eat. That’s when you become a solitary bum sitting on a park bench eating a crappy ham and cheese sandwich and flushing it down with a beer and belching like a beast. I’ll always have that “bum sandwich eater” inside me and that’s why I like to eat alone. I’m the envious kid that doesn’t want to let you use the other Nintendo remote and always wants to be Mario. But then you return to reality and you once again become that kind person who asks, How would you like your sandwich? And I always hope that the answer will be, SURPRISE ME! Fuck yeah! Now that’s my thing, not to be told without mayonnaise or without onions. That’s when I look around me and see sharp knives ready to give the best performance of the day
slicing grapes into halves where the cut is so clean that there isn’t a single splash of evidence. Strawberries that follow the color palette perfectly are the sweet and slightly acidic ingredient that make sense to mix with red onions that with the help of my knife in my right hand are stripped of that dry brownish skin and are ready to be submerged into a bath of melted duck fat or, as my girlfriend says, that CANARD that has been violently stripped from its liver, a vital organ that high society people gloat over slices of expensive bread. And since we’re already working with vital organs, why not tear the heart out, that organ where they say that love is stored, and it may be the touch of magic and bitterness in my potion to seduce the palates of people I don’t know and will never see again, but there is a bit of me on their tongue and digestive tract, the duck and I have now become one. My hands pounding and crushing garlic and peppers that now do splash everywhere and leave evidence of a blow that seeks to tear out all its flavor on the wooden board, showing its wounds and scars that were created by the cuts of different dancing knives. Thanks garlic, you’ve given us the best of you.
1 duck heart 1 duck liver 100ml white vinegar 2 branches of tarragon 6 purple grapes ¼ red onion 2 garlic cloves 10 white pepper grains 5 strawberries 120g duck skin 300g duck fat Salt
Massage the boiled fat along with the other ingredients, letting heat do its job, removing the shininess from the grapes, the sugar from the strawberries, the aroma from the onion, love from the heart and the other ingredients that shyly add their notes of flavor. In a large pot, melt the duck fat and without breaking the boil, add the crushed garlic and white pepper, grape and strawberry halves and the remaining ingredients. Leave cooking for 45 minutes over very low heat. Once cold, blend everything together until you have the texture of mayonnaise. This is my mayonnaise. It is my gift to you. Get fat, get drunk, have sex!
Text by Maresa Harvey & Guille Lasarte Photography by Alexandra Henry www.streetheroinesfilm.com www.alexandrahenry.com
Giving a voice to the leading ladies of the street art scene
Since its beginnings, street art has been a maledominated scene, but over the last years, an increasing crop of female artists are asserting their talent around the world. It’s not just about the painting itself. It’s also about your ability to survive in the urban jungle. Fences, walls, ladders, dogs, police – they’re all obstacles that any street artist, regardless of their gender, have to overcome. “You have to become familiar with the nature of working in the street if you want to make it,” says Mexican street artist Fusca. It’s rough, dirty and risky – all adjectives describing an activity more frequently associated to boys rather than girls. So are women underrepresented in the graffiti world? To attempt to answer this question, we have to talk to and get to know the female players of the scene and see what they have to say about it. And that’s where Alexandra Henry comes in.
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Alexandra Henry is an American photographer and producer who has been documenting female street artists around the world, particularly in North and South America, for some time now. She began to document the graffiti scene in Los Angeles about fifteen years ago and for the past three years has been working on a project entitled Street Heroines. What began with her taking photos with film cameras developed into a documentary about female street artists in which she interviews over twenty ladies to get their insights on the movement and shows them in action on the streets of their cities. Alexandra grew up in Virginia and New Mexico and headed to LA for college at the age of 18. From there, she spent a year abroad in Italy, then moved to London for another year, traveled through Europe, made some stops in Brazil and LA again, before finally making New York her home in 2008. Raised with the impression that graffiti was vandalism and essentially a crime, Alexandra’s curiosity about the movement grew the more she traveled and the more she saw how it was
developing in different places around the world. The connection between artists, their cities, their histories and traditions in society – these reflections were what drew Alexandra’s interest to street art and what keeps her evolving her own work as a documentarian of it. For many years, Alexandra got to know circles of male street artists around the globe. There was no particular reason why she kept meeting male artists – it just seemed to be a boy’s game. But one fateful afternoon in New York back in 2012, Alexandra met female street artists for the first time. This was a game changer for her perception of the street art scene and what eventually initiated Street Heroines. Explaining the beginnings of the project, she tells us: “I think it was sort of a culmination of: alright, I’ve been documenting graffiti and street art for years now and I don’t know if anyone cares, I wasn’t even really showing my photos to anyone, but for me it was interesting. It became this way to understand the cities that I would visit and it was sort of a whole other language written on the streets.
STREET HEROINES 49
Raised with the impression that graffiti was vandalism and essentially a crime, Alexandraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s curiosity about the movement grew the more she traveled around the world. Opposite page: TooFly This page, below: Fio Silva
There was this place in New York City where I used to take pictures and see who was there, just to see the art, which was 5 Pointz. A warehouse that was demolished last year, but that was a great graffiti Mecca. And so I was there just to see what was happening and I ran into these two girls that were painting a wall together and it just struck me as something I had never seen before. With all of my trucking around the world, noticing graffiti and running into people or seeing people paint, I had never really noticed any women doing it. That just shifted my whole perspective and approach to graffiti.â&#x20AC;? This chance encounter was a defining moment for what she would do next. One of the women she met was Miss 163 from the Bronx and the other was Txar from Spain. The two were painting together but had in fact only just met that day, having been connected through Facebook by mutual graffiti friends. Alexandra become absorbed in their conversation, as they explained what it was like to be a woman in the scene and what was going on in the underground. Miss 163 told her about
STREET ART / STREET HEROINES 51
an all-female graffiti festival in Lima, Peru, so, naturally curious about it all, Alexandra headed down to Lima in 2013 to document the festival. It was here that she met other amazing artists, including TooFly, a talented street artists as well as a leading organizer of female street art festivals [read more about TooFly in PANTA 8]. She then realized that there were, just like their male-counterparts, ‘big’ female names in the graffiti world – Lady Pink, Miss Van, Fafi – all these more established artists belonged to a generation that was influencing the next. But the more Alexandra delved into this world, the more she realized that while many of these female artists were actively involved in organizing all-women street art events to support the female graffiti community, others preferred their art to speak for itself without emphasizing their gender. In the film, a Puerto Rican artist by the name of Nube talks about questions surrounding gender and artist recognition in street art, stating that it’s not so much a competition between male and female artists, but that the tendency is for men to work with men and women to work with women.
52 STREET ART / STREET HEROINES
A lot of people who find out about my project don’t even know that women are painting murals or doing graffiti or participating in the street art movement.
Alexandra expands on this explaining: “I think the steps TooFly has taken to become a community organizer and what Nube is saying, is that there has to be more opportunities created for women. It seems the only way those opportunities come about is when they are created by other women.” Documenting the female graffiti scene plays a key role in giving these women a voice by offering a platform to promote their work whilst educating the audience on the topic. “A lot of people who find out about my project don’t even know that women are painting murals or doing graffiti or participating in the street art movement. So first off, that’s a huge – I don’t know – compliment for my project. If I can expose someone who never knew that women were involved in this, that this community even existed. Then if you can talk to someone who can name a handful of street artists and then throw in a female name – that would be another, I guess, compliment to the project,” says Alexandra. Beyond its educational value, works like Alexandra’s also serve to connect the artists themselves. TooFly met other female artists through Alexandra and vice-versa, which led to collaborations, such as the Warmi Paint festival in Quito [read about it in PANTA 8], and these all-female festivals end up being like reunions for the artists. “It’s really kind of fun and nice to know that through my work, other women are being exposed to other amazing female artists out there too and they are collaborating and doing projects together.”
Mural by TooFly
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On the other side of the coin, many female artists, like Brazilian artist Magrela, don’t see their gender as a barrier and actually prefer not to be recognized by virtue of being a girl. “I don’t want to be known purely for being a woman or for my beauty or for my body. I prefer to be recognized for my art. That’s what’s most important to me.” The subject matter of Magrela’s art raises another theme in Street Heroines, which is the nature of street art itself in different parts of the world. Magrela’s murals often depict sad women that transmit a sense of pain, seemingly arising from their female condition in contemporary Brazilian society. As street art becomes more and more commodified and commercially-friendly in the US, we can see a sharp contrast between the essentially social and political art on the walls of South American cities versus the places, like New York and LA, where the mainstream is gobbling it up. “In South America the street art has a tendency to be more organic and carry a stronger socio-political message than the street
art in the US these days. I think organization of public art at the community level is important, especially in marginalized communities, however when developers and the money men are the organizers who leverage the artists’ work, the message is weakened. The discovery is less impactful. Spontaneity is eliminated. The adventure of urban exploration becomes predictable. I believe that graffiti and street art is a reflection of any given society and being that the US is a capitalistic country it’s almost no surprise that free art left on the streets would be swooped upon by the vultures of corporate America.” Revolutionary street art tends to arise when there are more social and political maladies in a given society, but street artists, like the rest of us, need to pay bills. “I do know that lots of Latin American, and international artists for that matter, set their sights on the US as a place to gain recognition and in turn be commissioned for work. Artists have to survive! The evolution of the movement feels like it is at a crossroads right now, caught between commodification and revolution.”
STREET HEROINES 57
Opposite page: Mural by Fusca This page: TooFly Lexi Bella & Danielle Mastrion
Graffiti and street art are a reflection of any given society and being that the US is a capitalistic country itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s almost no surprise that free art left on the streets would be swooped upon by the vultures of corporate America.
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Alexandra goes on: “Now that we are in an election year in the US, with a maniac racist running for president, the art tends to be more revolutionary, and rightly so.” Urban space, politics and context are factors intrinsic to the very nature of the art itself, something that’s interesting to observe in the wide variety of female artists that are part of Street Heroines. At the moment, Alexandra is raising the funds needed to complete the documentary. Some bits and gems of the film can be seen on www.streetheroinesfilm.com, but she depends on the generosity of donators to her Kickstarter campaign to be able to finish it. It’s not often that you can get such meaningful insights into what it’s like to be a woman painting on the streets today in different cities around the world. These incredible women who are putting themselves out there to be part of the dialogue, as well as creating amazing networks of support for younger artists that are just starting out, are certainly worth listening to. After all, they’re the ones out in the jungle. ∆
This page: Lady Pink & Alexandra Henry Lexi Bella Opposite page: Zel DidiRock
To find out more about Street Heroines and/or to give your support, please visit the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kickstarter page: http://kck.st/28kTVBh
NINA ROSSI ARTIST STATEMENT www.behance.net/ninarossi
I was born in Italy and have been living in Germany for the last two years. After studying humanities in Rome, I decided to focus on visual art and to make it a significant part of my life. That’s how I ended up studying illustration in the challenging and inspiring city of Berlin, since decades a magnet for creatives from all over the world. Working here brings many possibilities to a young illustrator, from getting to know and collaborating with many other young professionals to creating an extended network in an easy-going environment. That being said, so many creatives in one place brings tremendous competition, but I find that those who have something unique to offer are going to be highly requested and get many opportunities. If you’re not scared to take risks, seek a personal style and work really hard, competition will be just a stimulant in your professional life. The relations that occur between humans and their environment and the organization of spaces and surroundings deeply affect social behaviors: this is what I explore in my work. In an urban context, social and political structures are complex
and hard to organize. We relate to an economic system in which the most accessible goods are the ones that make us feel sick or make us overspend – cheap fast-food, overpriced bio stores, objects and services coming from work exploitation and cheap labor, vitamin-pills that are cheaper than fruits and vegetables. I’m not a pessimistic though, I also think that there is beauty and love here, and there are always alternative ways to choose to live your life in an urban space. We wish we could be closer to nature and to the real essence of things; at the same time, our detached environment fascinates us: we created it following our deepest instincts, the ones that paradoxically brought us so far away from nature. Mysterious, beautiful urban creatures populate many metropolises. Colorful and elusive figures move around and crowd my drawings. They all cope with this controversial environment: they investigate, enjoy and also relax. All of these creatures come to life with simple drawing materials: ink and colored pencils on paper. ∆
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art & the community Interview by Mario Rueda Photos courtesy of eL Seed elseed-art.com
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ii ie invited the up-and-coming street artist eL gSeed to ihave a small chat with us about his work, its meaning and his latest project in Egypt. Not because he’s up-and-coming, but because eL Seed is one of the street artists of our time who regards his works as community projects with the aim of having a positive impact on society rather than as individual masterpieces that serve merely to fuel his own career. In this sense, the French-Tunisian artist is an authentic artivist who strongly believes that painting on the street democratizes art and that the role of street art is to engage the public in a conversation. He uses Arabic calligraphy in his murals to transmit messages of hope and inspiration and holds that the story behind each work is more significant than the work itself. For his latest piece in Egypt, eL Seed worked alongside his team and the local residents of one of Cairo’s most marginalized and segregated communities. The resulting artwork is bold and beautiful, but its main strength derives from the story behind it. What kind of family environment did you grow up in? I was born and raised in France, in Paris in 1981. My parents are originally from Tunisia, so I feel Tunisian and French at the same time. My father immigrated to France in the late 60s and my mom in late 70s. My father was a worker at a Renault car factory and my mom used to take care of the kids at home. I come from a low income family, but I think that my parents made sure that my siblings and I went to school, got a degree and got a good education. Actually, I have a Master’s degree in Business, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, so I used to be a consultant. I quit my job a few years ago to follow my passion, which is art. I’ve been paining since I was a child. This is what I do the best and I feel useful in a certain way. I’m happy that I followed this path. How did you get involved in arts? I’ve been painting since I was a kid. I was never encouraged to follow art. When you grow up in an Arab community, you’re encouraged to become a doctor, a businessman or a lawyer. I ended up steering away from that path. So far, it hasn’t been easy because you don’t have a stable income. However, it’s very nice to be your own boss.
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How important is the message behind every work? Basically, I’m trying to make sure that every piece I create is relevant to the place that I’m painting at. I don’t want to be a selfish artist and just paint for my pleasure. I really want the piece to belong to the community where I’m painting. I need to make sure that what I’m writing is somehow coming from them. That means that the piece that I would paint in Paris, the US or in South Africa would have to be different from each other. This is very important to me. How important is it for an artist to have a clear story, vision or mission of what they want to accomplish with their art? For me having a clear story and a clear vision is important. I guess that as an artist you have the responsibility to bring people together with your art. I’m trying to bring people together as well as entire communities, cultures and generations. It is our responsibility to create social cohesion. If I don’t know what I’m doing or if I don’t know where I’m going, it’s difficult to convey a message that brings people together and creates social cohesion. It’s important to say though, that most of the time the vision that the artist has of his or her work is not clear from the beginning, it tends to change over time. When you build a project, you might start with an idea that totally transforms into a different idea because of different circumstances. A good example is my most recent project in Cairo. The idea I initially had about the Zaraeeb community and what I wanted to do there changed completely after I visited it.
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Why do you think governments are still very closed to having artists doing more art in public spaces? Even though in the last years there is more support, it’s still very controlled and many times restricted or even prohibited. It depends on the country and obviously every time that you’re going to criticize the government with your art, using public space as a canvas is not allowed. As an artist, I try to avoid authorities and governments. I try to deal with the local communities instead. I’m kind of a “partisan” – like a participative democracy where everybody is part of the process. I believe that artivism is very important. Most of the times I don’t get permission from authorities, I just ask the community where I want to paint.
What do you think about artists that travel the world painting here and there spending a couple of days in each city and not really connecting with the local community? Why is this important to you? For me connecting with the community and having a story to tell after you come back is really important. I think it’s a selfish act to come, paint and then leave. For many street artists, the mission is to go and spread their painting all over the world. To be honest with you, at some point I was kind of on this mission, to have my work in as many places as I could. But then, I started losing the purpose of the whole thing. There is no point for me to go to Egypt and not connect with the people there. There is no point for me to paint in a Favela and
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As an artist, I try to avoid authorities and governments. I try to deal with the local communities instead.
not connect with the local people of Rio de Janeiro. This is also a way to immortalize the piece, because at the end of the day, your painted piece on the street will be destroyed or damaged with time or somebody will simply paint over it. The only thing that will remain is your own experience. That’s why it’s important to me. Why did you self-fund the project in the neighborhood of Manshiyat Nasr (community of Zaraeeb)? The full art project was self-funded because I didn’t want to have to serve any agenda. I didn’t want brands to come and sponsor the project. I think it’s something deeper and sometimes when you have a sponsor, he has to follow a marketing target. I’m trying to avoid that. I’m trying to work as much as I can selling my canvases and sometimes doing commissioned work so I can do my own projects. The only part where I received help is on the movie to be released by the end of 2016, which is produced by the Barjeel Art Foundation – an independent, United Arab Emirates-based initiative established to manage, preserve and exhibit the personal art collection of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi. Take us through the process of a creating a new project such as the one in Cairo. How do you come up with the initial idea? Actually the first idea came in April 2015. I was sitting at home thinking that I needed a new challenge. I remembered about Manshiyat Nasr and decided to go there. I went there with “humanistic intentions” of beautifying this “dirty place”, but rapidly my understanding of the place totally changed. I realized that those people weren’t living in the garbage but from the garbage and that’s exactly when the artistic intervention or “wall process” started. I knew that I wanted to do an anamorphic piece, so I went there with three members of my team and reached the Saint Simon monastery. A guy working for the church welcomed us and initially thought we were coming to visit the church during the pilgrimage, but I told him that I was an artist and had this crazy idea to paint their neighborhood. I went to the rooftop of the cafeteria and took a picture of the area from above and I thought, now I have to convince each person of this neighborhood, each owner of the houses I want to paint. The church guy told me that I didn’t have to convince everybody, just the priest, father Samaan”. Through a Polish guy called Mario, who has been living in Egypt for around twenty years, we got a meeting with the priest. He was very interested in the idea, but concerned about what I was going to write.
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You see what’s going on in the world and try to make sure that your work has an impact, that it can create social change and can change the mind of one person or a community at large. This is, I think, the point of what I’m doing.
How do you research the idea? Because my work is based on writing messages using Arabic calligraphy, I spent almost three months reading books and researching online about art in the Coptic community (largest ethno-religious minority in Egypt). Then I found an amazing quote by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria – a Coptic Bishop from the 3rd century, who said “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first”. After a few months, I went back to Manshiyat Nasr to meet again with father Samaan to tell him what I wanted to write. At the same time I also started to work on the logistic: who will ship the paint from France, who will be part of my team, securing the lift and so on. I think everybody thought I was crazy. Even my team thought that it was crazy. When I look at it, I think that it was a bit crazy, but it was honestly the most amazing artistic experience that I’ve ever had in my life. What kind of local people do you contact to make it happen? You just reach the place and try to find someone local that can help. I think that’s the key. Thank God that in every place I’ve been to, I found the right person that opened the door for me. I'm grateful for that. How many drafts do you create per project? Actually, there was only one draft on this project. I made the sketch of the final piece just one week before we started in February. In the actual moment of painting a big project, how many people participate on average and how do you engage/motivate them? Most of the people in my team are friends from my childhood, so asking them to come with me to such a project is fun for them. Normally. For this project, however, there were many things that were not that
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fun: working crazy hours, from the early morning to the night, a lot of noise, dealing with the fear of standing on a manual lift and the smell around us (there were pigs and garbage close to where we were). There were a lot of factors that didn’t make that project easy, but the fact that the people of Manshiyat Nasr were so amazing and so welcoming makes you forget about all these challenges. The fact that you have a team of friends working on a project and they know how important it is for you helps them engage better with the topic. It was amazing to see how the community of Zaraeeb, Manshiyat Nasr, came together and invited us – the team – as a family. There were tears in our eyes and in their eyes. I feel like we gained a new family. When you bring people to such a place for a project, at first they don’t really catch or understand what’s going on, but step by step, when the art piece begins to “appear”, everybody starts becoming astonished. It is a kind of awakening that pushes you and the team to go further. To be honest, if I hadn’t had a team like the one I had in Manshiyat Nasr, I wouldn’t have been able to make
it happen. It’s not a personal project, it’s just a personal initiative. It is actually a collaborative project. My team, the community and everybody else who were behind it. I’m proud of it and everybody is proud of it. I’m proud that it was a common work, not just one person, and that’s the most amazing thing. After finalizing the project, is there a marketing/ promotion process on social media and the Internet? If so, how is it? Together with my team we plan the content on social media. We’ve already made posts about this project. Now we’re making a small pause for a few days. I would say in two or three weeks, we’re going to repost about the lighting. Nobody knows about this, but we used fluorescent paint, so we lit up the place with black light and there will be a post about that. Then we’ll communicate about the book, which is coming out in October and the film in December. This is how we plan ahead, but in the meantime I have other projects. That’s how we try to juggle between all of this.
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How can street art and its freedom co-exist with the commercial projects that many times follow rules and have limits? It depends on what you mean by commercial project. I know that sometimes you have to take on a commercial project to get income. Sometimes I accept commissioned work, depending on the freedom they give me within them. I think that’s the main aspect when I consider something like that. I don’t want people to put their rules on me. I did a collaboration four years ago with Louis Vuitton and it was great. The only restriction that they gave me was the size of the scope they wanted me to design. They didn’t tell me anything at all. That’s why I accepted. After Louis Vuitton, I got a lot of requests from big brands around the world, but I’m not always interested. I can still consider new collaborations, but the last time was four years ago. Since when and why are you politically-aware of social issues? I think that when you grow up in France with a foreign background, you’re aware from a young age that you’re,
I would say, different in a certain way. People make you feel different. The funny thing is that I started doing calligraphy as a quest for identity. I needed to go back to my roots, so I first learnt Arabic and then I discovered calligraphy and then, later on, I brought it to graffiti. I started to paint graffiti in the late 90s and it was just a hobby. But bringing Arabic into it later on, almost 10 years ago, was for me like a call of trying to find out where I’m coming from, to discover my Arabic origin and ironically the French side of my identity. I was rejecting it for so long when I was a kid and a teenager. The Arabic calligraphy made me claim and totally accept the French part of me. I think the calligraphy and Arabic script and getting into my Arabic roots made me aware of social issues, specifically concerning people like me, a son of immigrants. Later on, you see what’s going on in the world and try to make sure that your work has an impact, that it can have the ability to create social change and can change the mind of one person or a community at large. This is, I think, the point of what I’m doing and I hope I’ll be able to keep doing this. ∆
art & earth Interview by David Tampellini Photos courtesy of Stan Herd www.stanherdarts.com
Artist by passion and the son of a farmer, Stan Herd is a man with a vision. He has been deemed the “Father of Crop Art” for his massive creations that sometimes take up more than 160 acres of land. Herd has been mastering his art over the past 40 somewhat years and his conceptions have no limit. He creates his masterpieces using the fields as his canvas with the use of local crops and modest agriculture techniques. His unique craft, which includes everything from recreations of Van Gogh’s paintings to commissioned advertisements, are best viewed from the air to fully appreciate their beauty. He has created works all over the world and has inspired many to follow in his footsteps – or rather his tractor tracks – and design their own masterpieces throughout the world. Herd is continually inspired to move on to the next big project, yet maintains a humility characteristic of a man who loves what he does.
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What inspired you to create this kind of art back in the 70s? Like most young energetic artists in the late 60s and early 70s, I was a part of the counter-revolution that was taking place in America and around the world. Young people were gathering on college campuses to discuss the excess that we observed in the post WW2 consumerism of our parents generation. We quit cutting our hair and we quit spending money on new clothes and we saw that we could change the world with art, music and film, embracing a more communal lifestyle. After a year on campus at Wichita State University studying the ‘isms’ of the day – from Abstract Expressionism to Pop and Dada – I decided to return to my agriculture roots to make my statement on the fields of my youth. I wanted to try to integrate the experience of the independent lifestyle of people who lived on the land with what was transpiring in the larger cities with everybody working for the Man. The land would become my canvas.
What message do you look to convey to people? I think my message and my art are more about catharsis for myself than trying to convey something to people. My heroes are artists, musicians, filmmakers and people who did not quietly follow the path. Humanity’s evolution depends on innovation. I admire most those who gamble to innovate... to break from tradition and to reveal old truths in a new and profound way. That’s my goal I suppose. What is your underlying passion for your art? Is exposure an important part of it or do you seek something else? Exposure is nothing but fuel for further innovation. I am shallow that way. I believe that what I’m doing with my earthworks is for the betterment of humanity or I wouldn't be doing it. If nobody sees it or reads about it I would still do it, but my future success depends on connecting with people. Doing work that is ‘positive’ for humanity lets me sleep better at night and it puts me in contact with brilliant folks who think the same thing. The Tribe!
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What’s the relationship between your work and the environment? In terms of sustainability and the methods of growing your crops, how do you decide what resources to use? Some years ago, I was honored to speak about my work at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, the think tank group of sustainability guru Wes Jackson. Current agriculture practices are depleting the farmable land in much of America in a very detrimental way, with reliance on pesticides, herbicides and overt plowing (top soil loss). We either turn it around or we end up in a slow decline to dust bowl days. Wes’s science is about turning that around. He says, if you’re life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough. What do you think about the circumstance that in order to pursue your art, it sometimes means having to take commercial contracts to sustain it? This is the struggle of my lifetime. I thought when I was thirty that I could finally find the support for the true art – the artworks (earthworks) that would be embraced by enough people bent on positive change for the planet, that I would be able to finally walk away from using my skills to sell beer. With my Brazil and China projects, I think I might have finally scaled that precipice. It’s looking good. How did you become involved with projects for Sir Richard Branson and Donald Trump? I am a huge risk taker and I embrace a challenge. The project with Trump VPs back in the day was kind of like “counting coup” (Native American term for touching the enemy without losing for life/reputation). I knew Trump was an over-the-top capitalist so I thought it would be cool to try to get on his land to create a work on my own accord, talking about my views and beliefs and so forth. I pulled it off and Chris Ordal, a young filmmaker from South Dakota, made a movie about it called Earthwork. I met Trump twice. He was very nice… he paid me nothing, I paid him nothing. It was a coup. I had no idea he would turn out to be the guy who would bring the GOP to its knees.
He paid me nothing, I paid him nothing. It was a coup. I had no idea he would turn out to be the guy who would bring the GOP to its knees.
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I’m still betting that this whole thing is a farce. He can't possibly be that hateful and ugly. I predict he will announce in the next couple of months that this was all just a way to show how hateful the heart of the GOP actually is. I hope this is true (laughs). He didn’t seem like a hater to me and I’m a pretty good judge of character (although maybe not!). Sir Richard is one of my heroes – I pushed my way into the ‘around the world flight of Steve Fossett – and got to hang with both of them a bit. A rich guy that actually cares what is going on in the world. I hoped that we would keep in touch but he’s a hard guy to reach. I’ve never been successful in ‘chasing’ people – whether it’s women or wealthy scions. What pieces do you see yourself creating after the “Women of Brazil” campaign? More recreations of famous artists such as Van Gogh and Da Vinci?
I hope I’m finished with knock-offs of other famous artists – even if they are heroic to me. My son is 25 and the lead singer of Psychic Heat. I told him that from here on in, I’ll just be creating “My art” on the land. No more big commercial works. He laughed and said – yeah – you said that 12 years ago. He is a true artist... way more disciplined and smarter than I am. He will very likely never compromise his ideals. I did... and I am unapologetic about it. But, the future is mine… and he is with me. I will attach to his idealism and regain my youthful embrace of the power of Art. Looks like we will be traveling to China next month. How did your art evolve? Did it get richer in detail or larger? In America, larger is important – look at the truck stops in the Midwest. We’re the fattest nation in the world. My art hopefully has evolved in its refinement,
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message, spirituality and purpose. In the end, you have to live with everything you have created, for good or bad. The next ten years will give me the opportunity to tip the balance. Have you found you have “perfected” your art form? Definitely. I like to think of myself as a bit of a Renaissance Man. I have worked for 20 years with Kevin Willmott (Chiraq/Spike Lee) as associate and ex-director of a number of Kevin’s films (two in Sundance). I’m helping my son’s band by providing him a studio for the development of the band. My life is about perfecting my art and that depends greatly on the relationships that you create.
At the center of this art form is the collaborative nature of the work. At its best, the Earthworks become platforms for community involvement
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How do you decide on what personal art pieces to create? What drives your decisions to create works like “Ibn Battuta”? Ibn Battuta has been viewed by 25,000 people and the idea of a “Muslim Visionary” earthwork should be, in my humble opinion, something significant. No one pays attention to it. I have to admit I was kind of surprised that it was not embraced. The idea that Muslims (in Andalusia) along with Christians and Jews, worked together for a couple of hundred years to evolve music, math, science and technology is astonishing… my project suggests that might be possible again. A blueprint for the future. But it went nowhere. How many earthworks have you preserved from all of your work? There are a handful – the Haskell Medicine Wheel, the portrait of Amelia Earhart, Prairiehenge on the Red Buffalo Ranch. But I don’t concern myself much with permanence. It’s about the process.
Speaking of which, what is your artistic process… do you look at a field from above? Do you sketch with pen and paper before? After conceptualizing the subject, I usually begin to create small organic loose sketches. In that process I’m hopeful to see something that speaks to me as a viable earthwork. Sometimes it just doesn’t appear. Once the site is selected, obvious factors such as soil, existing crops and drainage are taken into consideration. The designs are often located in air traffic patterns so juxtaposition of the image for best viewing and backlight (for film and photography) come into play, especially on the commercial images created for a client. I have a lot more freedom when I’m creating a work for my own passion. Once I arrive at the aforementioned sketch, I usually create a gridded working sketch to take to the field with annotations regarding plantings, etc.
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How do you make sure you know where to cut the crop, how does orientation work in this huge fields? The grid might be one inch to 20 ft on the field, with flags marking the coordinates on the sketch. We use simple math to set up the grid off of one straight line (fence row, etc). The grid allows me to carve, mow or dig a simple ‘sketch line’ into the ground to ‘find’ the image details or at least the outline and general look of the piece. In the old days, I would have to travel to the nearest airport and rent a small plane to fly over to assess the success of this initial effort. In the last two years though, I simply
contact my nearest drone pilot to hover and grab a shot. I liken the earthwork approach to pulling prints in a multicolor lithograph. I look at the retrieved images and determine what’s working and what’s not. Then I begin to choose subtractive or additive ways to bring the image to fruition. Etching into existing vegetation, carving into the soil (bas relief ) or planting wide varieties of grain crops, vegetables, grasses, groundcovers, flowers and other plants adds to the mix. We imagine you don’t work alone and you get a lot of people working on the field. How many people do you need on average? At the center of this art form is the collaborative nature of the work. At its best, the Earthworks become platforms for community involvement, gardeners, horticulturists, farmers, artists, history and film students, along with building relationships with journalists, photographers, filmmakers (my work has been the focus of over 30 documentary films – some at high school level and a few award-winners at festivals), including you all! My work is created to be seen, viewed, reacted to, to influence (hopefully) to educate (ideally) and most importantly, to force ‘me’ to learn about the world in its creation. ∆
spoken words Poems by Jumoke Adeyanju Illustrations by Denis Faneites
Nisamehe Nimesahau rangi ya ukoloni na mfuko ya maafa sokoni nisamehe. Walibadilisha jina lako kutawala shina lako nisamehe. Damu ya upotevu katika mshipa wangu umesikia maumivu yangu nisamehe. Bado hatujapata uhuru kuwa mweusi leo ni vurugu nisamehe. Dawa ya kufanya leo iko sawa sina, wallahi wametuleta madharau lakini ukiendesha hewani mwambie shetani inatosha jamani! Ubinadamu hamna damu yetu yameibiwa yani tangu umezaliwa laana. nahofu tu kufa kupona. Usisahau rangi ya ukoloni na mfuko ya maafa sokoni na kuishi kuishi kuishi.
The Return Returning to you was easier than returning to myself Yellow sugar canes and fresh baklava you tasted you said And I could sense your tongue was full of spikes But I got use to you not noticing the blood that spilled because of you because of me returning.
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To the dust you’ve become I am bleeding blood that is not mine I am bleeding blood that is yours I’ll be bleeding blood that is not mine I'll be bleeding, bleeding bleeding ’til ya gone And if time is set I’d wish to vanish in your arms Only your arms will set me free And you’d be the air that once belonged to me Your tears shall water the seeds my parents implanted in me The flowers then shall make you laugh so loss is easier for you to bear. Across the streets of unity We shall overcome We shall overcome We shall overcome Someday You’d start to pray that all of these stupid questions from what are you to where you from looting our people’s mind making them turn only to drown in the shedding of blood of innocent sisters and brothers killed by the living entity of racism that all of these atrocities may surrender to the dust you’ve become.
Jumoke Adeyanju - aka Jumi - is actively engaged in the hip hop scene as a dancer and cultural advocate in Zanzibar and beyond. Based in Berlin, she successfully hosts the events POETRY MEETS Hip Hop and POETRY MEETS Soul. She has been on stage at various occasions in Germany, Tanzania and New York performing her poems in English, German, Kiswahili and Yorùbá. The renowned polyglot was listed as one of the top 10 Berlin poets to look out for in 2016 (The Culture Trip).
MUSIC & PERFORMANCE
Music to the Streets Text by Bennet Cerven, Stefanie Tendler & Geordie Little Photos by Stefanie Tendler www.berlinstreetmusic.com
Thousands of tourists pour into Berlin every week to witness the culture of a city heralded as the creative metropolis of Europe. Street music in Berlin is like street art in Berlin – it brings artists, it brings tourists, it brings color – it belongs. Buskers have become as natural and as integral a part of today’s Berlin as galleries in Paris or tourists in Prague. From the professional musician playing for rent, to the young performer seeking a stage to launch a career, the streets of Berlin are filled with a wide array of artists. But it seems to always be on edge, teetering between fully-fledged anarchy and over policed autocracy. Busking in Berlin is possible but not officially allowed, at least not amplified. It’s known to the people who make
the rules but not recognized as an honest profession. A convoluted cycle of regulation and relaxation keeps the community constantly in flux. Nothing ever goes too wrong, but nothing ever seems right either. It remains in a revolving state of equilibrium. So we started Berlin Street Music. We wanted to give street musicians a voice. We wanted to bring people together and create a community. We wanted a flow of ideas and to start a conversation. But most of all, we wanted street music to be recognized as a legitimate activity within the city, rather than a shady pastime that may or may not be allowed depending on the day and the chance of passing or mood of the Ordnungsamt.
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We started as three (two of us street musicians) and began by organizing some events and a photo campaign with musicians and fans holding a sign with the words, “ich bin für Straßenmusik” (I support street music). We quickly realized how much support there was for buskers from both the tourists and local residents. Our online and offline presence began to grow rapidly. This was something the city needed. We started to be contacted by musicians wanting to be a part of it or by fans trying to track down their favorite street bands. Busking advocacy groups like Busk NY, Keep Streets Live UK, the Busking Project, or Dublin City Buskers started to ask us about collaborations, and street festivals and venues came to us looking for musicians. We had radio, print and TV press interview us and run stories on the importance of street performers in Berlin. They saw it was something significant, something worth fighting for. Street music has the power of bringing people together. We wanted to show the city that the street music community is willing to give something back, to enrich the society and use its talents to improve the very fabric of the city. Berlin has seen a massive influx of new faces over the past few years, some seeking refuge from a troubled homeland. In 2014 we launched a side project called “Berlin Street Music 4 Refugees” by which we wanted to open a dialogue between migrants and the residents of Berlin. We cooperated with the Berliner Stadtmission and Give something back to Berlin and organized multiple festivals at one of the temporary shelters in Moabit. A number of street performers were gracious enough to donate a piece of their work and we published a compilation album entitled Musical Bridges to support Berlin-based refugee organizations.
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Our aim now is to become more political and really start to help the musicians we have come to represent.
98 MUSIC & PERFORMANCE / BERLIN STREET MUSIC
We have accomplished a lot in the past few years, but feel that our greatest challenge still lies ahead. Since our inception, we have welcomed another four members to help us move in the right direction, we’ve developed and maintained a strong relationship with the many artists around this great city, and we’ve continued creating the partnerships we feel are necessary to establish ourselves as a legitimate organization. Our goal now is switching from building our platform and getting our name out there, to one of really trying to make some changes. Our aim now is to become more political and really start to help the musicians we have come to represent. We have started to hold open Town Hall meetings in the hopes of creating a unified street artist community. We’re looking towards creating and maintaining a sustainable street music culture in Berlin. Not just one that allows buskers to do what they want, but one that benefits the city, the businesses, the people, the community and the artists. A thriving street culture, especially in a place like Berlin, where the gritty underground art scene has been a major catalyst for growth, is necessary for the continued evolution and development of our city. ∆
We wanted to show the city that the street music community is willing to give something back, to enrich society and use its talents to improve the very fabric of the city.
VIDAM ARTIST STATEMENT bookastreetartist.com/vidam
My artist name “Vidam” is Hungarian and means “happy”. In my images and through my characters, I want to transmit the feeling of happiness in life. Sometimes it happens that the characters in my paintings don’t seem happy. However, just like any other soul on this earth, rest assured that they pursue the state of happiness. I was born in Budapest but raised in Germany. Since 2004, I live and work in Berlin. It was not only my study of design that brought me here, but also the curiosity to live the crazy “big city life” of this culturally rich metropolis. Besides design, I fell in love with electronic dance music at a young age. I couldn’t wait to leave my tiny village of 400 inhabitants behind to immerse myself in the world’s heart of the international techno scene. After finishing high school, I packed my bags, eager to jump into the deep end.
Nowadays, I’m an artist and an illustrator, I run a design company called “Peachbeach” and am one of the members of the happy artist collective “The Weird”. I am interested in a variety of different fields – beyond design and music, I’m into science, philosophy and literature. The diversity of impressions running through my mind make it difficult for me to focus on a certain style. This is the reason why I love to experiment and constantly try new possibilities of expression. I attempt to divide these experiments into periods. During a specific time frame, I focus on one new stylistic device or theme. Originally my images were quite cartoon-like until I tested architectual and more abstract approaches. Now I’m back to painting cartoon characters again. Who knows what will come next? ∆
102 ILLUSTRATION / VIDAM
106 ILLUSTRATION / VIDAM
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