Last year, Marco Sueño launched the inspiring and hopeful public art project AFUERA. This initiative arose from the need to uplift the souls of communities utilizing art as a means to connect and recuperate spaces that, because of a wide array of reasons, are found abandoned and unattended. In 2012, AFUERA was launched in Cerro de Pasco, a community that is radically affected by industrial scale mining.
This year, AFUERA directed its attention towards Pisco, a city once known for its beautiful colonial architecture and coastal culture, is now facing the biggest urban decay it has ever experienced due to an earthquake that occurred in 2007. Not only have many architectural patrimonies disappeared, but also the city’s identity is at risk, affecting people and their sense of belonging and importance in a national scale. Many projects have been proposed and approved by the central government, but the results of said projects are yet to be seen.
This is where artists, community organizers and the public connect to re-engage with a city whose identity is rapidly disintegrating. I invite you all to visualize the scale of help and need that exists in Pisco and become part of the change that this city so desperately needs. Here is AFUERA’s Indiegogo campaign, I encourage you all to donate and share it to help make this project a reality.
Spaik has been working on big and small scale, legal and illegal murals throughout the past few months. His experimentation with themes of cultural relevance such as: intimacy, nature, education, social mobility continue to be apparent in his two latest works.
Since moving back to Bogota, I’ve found a true pleasure in looking for a character that pops up in the most unexpected spots; he is everywhere and I take my hats off to Saga Uno and his efforts to conquer the city, cause he knows damn well how to do it. So this is my very quick introduction to Saga Uno and the ever evolving and traveling Salsaman.
Pastel recently finished a wall in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What I like of Pastel’s work is how it references so neatly and effortlessly his influences in archetectural studies and demonstrates a hightened conscience of lines, shapes, and the richness that can expressed utilizing the absence of colors.
Last month, I wrote about the emerging movement of street art events and projects in South America, the different social dynamics that create a variant dialogue towards street art and community involvement in activities that promote cultural development and accessible art for all. I now present you Elian‘s mural for PUENTE, a public art project organized by Kosovo Gallery in Córdoba, Argentina. Elian took the initiative of challenging ways of creating public space by using street art as a tool that changes urban environments. He says that PUENTE “seeks to reclaim city spaces that are out of condition through the street art, improving street lighting, keeping the space clean, fixing access for people with disabilities and other things related to the environment.” PUENTE will be an on going initiative that will bring many artists from Argentina and other parts of the globe to participate in creating safer places for everyone.
I can’t believe it’s been over a year since anyone on Vandalog mentioned Cuellimangui. In my opinion, he is one of the sickest artists working from Chile(originally from Spain) at the moment and it’s rather surprising to see how underdocumented his works are. I hope you all enjoy this psychedelic trip with Cuellimangui and keep your eyes open for more trash-wave bubble gum visions from Chile to you.
Last year, while I was working with Living Walls at Miami Art Basel I had the pleasure of talking to Elian about the politics of graffiti, art, and public space. I was intrigued by how he presented his world and relationship with street art in Córdoba, Argentina. I decided to pick up where we left off a few months ago…
Laura: Let’s start with the basics, shall we? What influences and inspires your work?
Elian: My influences exist in everyday events, ordinary moments; one can grow from what’s reachable.
Laura: We spoke once about the difficulties of maintaining an art movement in a city like Córdoba, why do you think this phenomena occurs, what characteristics does Córdoba hold that puts it in this situation?
Elian: The characteristic that puts Córdoba in this situation is mainly due to cultural politics. Córdoba is a city that has always been traditional and conservative in terms of artistic expression, and like any second (or third) city in a country, state funding don’t necessarily go towards promoting subcultures or developing movements; the state’s budget goes towards cultural tourism and known entities like museums, cultural centers, historical districts, cultural patrimony, etc. But, I love being having the ability to break those parameters, it is not an easy task; on the upside, it gives room to do self-realized work without the dependency of any outside governmental entity, or any organization or business. And I prefer it that way.
Laura: What’s new in the street art movement in Córdoba?
Elian: Street art in Córdoba, like many cultural and artistic movements, is totally unpredictable… At times it grows and then suddenly it slows down. For now, artist that develop their skill in public space, or graffiti writers, or simply emerging artists and those who are self-taught, have been given more opportunities in spaces that traditionally were not available; for example art galleries, cultural centers, etc. On a personal note, I believe that the opening of Kosovo Gallery has pushed this phenomenon towards artists that have crossed the street in their line of work; the gallery has offered a space where more attention is brought to this form of expression.
Laura: Tell us about your process, what do you look for in a wall? What do you see in a space before you tweak it up?
Elian: In regards to my work, physical structure is essential. Since I began to paint in the streets (approximately 10 years ago) my preferences have gone through many incredible transformations. Before, I preferred a space with a lot of visibility, a clean wall with a perfect surface. Currently I appreciate a lot more a wall that has been dishonored through the passing of time, crumbled by neglect in a neighborhood. Also, spaces that offer a variety of naturally occurring textures, walls made out of a particular material, molds and other architectural factors that generate movement with the geometry that I offer in my works. Selecting walls will always be attached to the richness of the work; today a wall in perfect condition does not say much to me.
Laura: What’s your preferred platform to execute your work in?
Elian: I feel that this is connected to the surroundings. Today, I want to work in a place that is missing something, a peripheral neighborhood. I want to be able to transform the mood in a plaza, to be able to affect a person’s day to day life in a positive way… Places where electoral (political) façade doesn’t necessarily reach, those communities that the state ignores.
Laura: What’s your next move? What should we look forward to in your work?
Elian: As far as Elian goes… what you should expect is constant mutation, change. I think that what interests me the most about art is exactly that curiosity that is ignited; learning and searching towards a deeper theory and craft.
The world of street art has changed dramatically in the past decade, so much so that there is a rigid culture of how to do street art, where to do it, and how it is organized. Some tradition remains of clandestine artistry and evasive messages found plastered in urban centers all throughout the world, but we have culminated a new practice of presenting street art in a more organized, institutionalized form: the street art festival.
This somewhat new phenomena in the movement of street art has exposed new audiences to this form of expression and many that had previously associated graffiti, street art, public art with illegality and rebellion, are currently beginning to see some street artists as artist with merit, some admiration, who are worth the visibility of the streets. I believe this shift in public opinion about street art arrives with the creation of street art festivals popping up in every hemisphere. Street art festivals appeal to cities because it beautifies them and a city that takes part in any dialogue that involves art, culture and discursive action is a city that is partaking in modernity and resourcefulness (another word that I am using to substitute the otherwise very well known systems of capitalism and neoliberalism…) Before you assume that I am against street art festivals or that they serve to sell an idea of art that is very far removed from the origins of what street artists intended to do in the 70s in subway trains, I confirm that I see a lot of positive shifts when cities participate in street art festivals. Maybe I am biased after working for a non profit that puts together a yearly conference and concepts throughout the year, but I can assure anyone and be a witness to the progressive changes that art can bring to a community that has traditionally separated art from public knowledge and participation. Elitist practices are shaken up when a group of young dreamers get together and create more noise in the art community than their local modern art museum, this seems to be important and a pretty damn good use of grass roots tactics and a flavor of elusiveness (cause let’s face it, street art festivals don’t satisfy everyone and we gotta work with some mastery of vagueness to put up murals that scream cultural codes that are otherwise ignored.)
Based on my experience it has not been easy to participate in festivals, it is the hardest job you can think of in the art world. Little to no pay, blow up mattresses (if we are lucky), sleep deprivation, and nasty weather, but it is the best experience I have been a part of. But it never occurred to me, despite all the roadblocks and sweat, blood and tears, just how plausible it is to program and direct a successful festival in the United States, I could not imagine with honesty and certainty how different it is in other places…
That is until I spoke with Entes &Pesimo last year when they began planning Latir Latino. It appeared difficult to me mainly because some of the decisions that we took when organizing the conference, could not happen in places like Lima. Decisions like rejecting corporate sponsorships or work with big brands to aid our mission are some that are limiting when working in different societies with more restricting economic options. So okay, means are tougher to come by, donations (and its culture) are hard to make when people have barely anything to get by and disposable income does not exist… These were the tactics I was familiar with and none of those worked for Entes & Pesimo, but they successfully launched Latir Latino, along with a documentary.
This year, the pair launched Latido Americano and in order to avoid some of the corporate aspects of a festival, they decided to work with the city of Lima and its downtown municipality to create murals in the heart of the city. Their intent to create a festival in Lima, in South America, focused on creating a new wave of movement that comes from within, creating from the periphery that is South America, and to maintain more influence in the many faces of street art and the festivals that usually occur in the United States and Europe. Since then, many other festivals have taken place and many more are in the works… So I decided to give a special focus to this new wave of Latin American street art festivals, they are occurring at an incredible speed and I promise to keep you all up to date…
I want to share with you the first installment of this series that will show the happenings in South America, while also introducing new contexts from where these festivals are held. This will be a space to discuss and watch all the creativity and formation of a new influence in street art: Latin America.
Pastel aims to create a commentary on a the current existence of man and space, to reflect on how these two have been separated and one can no longer see the reflection of the creator and the space that was built to be lived in.
As a result, the lack in what it means to inhabit, live in, to dwell does not refer to the lack of dwellings. The main absence is due to a need to find the essence of inhabiting, to learn how to inhabit, to live in.