This time around, the film stars the writers Avoid, Smells, and Wolftits playing alternative versions of themselves in a post-apocalyptic dreamworld. The trio, fueled by beer and weed, spend their days searching out the next spot to catch a tag and chasing traces of the God-like writer UFO. Other writers, mostly members of 907 crew or closely associated with the crew, make cameos too. But what makes Wastedland 2 a must-see is the immersive installation that accompanies some of the screenings, where Shirley and his team transform venues into mini-Wastedlands. Attendees get a film screening, plus an art exhibition to set the vibe.
Between two projects launching at Creative Time and preparations underway for two major personal projects (more on one of those in just a moment), Vandalog has been pretty quiet lately. Taking a step back has allowed me to get excited about all the good things happening in street art, graffiti, and public art over the last month or two, and there’s lots more goodness still to come in through the fall. So here’s a bit of a round up of what I’ve been working on, the great things some friends of Vandalog are doing, and all the interesting stuff that people who I were were my friends are doing.
Over at my office job at Creative Time, we just launched Doomocracy, an immersive artwork by Pedro Reyes. Basically, it’s a haunted house in Brooklyn, themed around the state of American politics. I’llet the folks at artnet News explain. I’ll just add that I am consistently amazed by the epic projects that the production team at Creative Time is able to pull off. Tickets to Doomocracy are free, but right now they’ve all booked up. You can sign up here to get an email if we release more tickets.
Simultaneously, we’ve also got the Creative Time Summit coming up in DC next week. Dozens of amazing speakers coming together to talk about art, social justice, and the state of democracy. And tickets to that are still available. See you there?
In January, I’ll be returning to Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia to curate ALL BIG LETTERS, an exhibition about the tools, strategies, motivations, and innovations of graffiti writers. It’s an honor to be curating a show at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, where I worked for almost four years while I was in school there. More info on ALL BIG LETTERS as that approaches.
Wooster Collective is releasing a book to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their historic 11 Spring Street exhibition. Although I missed the original 11 Spring Street, I’m looking forward to celebrating the project with this book.
Luna Park, one of the most important photographers of contemporary street art and graffiti, is releasing her first book. (Un)Sanctioned: The Art on New York Streets will launch next month as part of the 10 Years of Ad Hoc Art show at Brooklyn’s 17 Frost Gallery, and you can pre-order the book on Amazon. This is LONG overdue. We all know that there’s a glut of generic street art and graffiti photography books already on the market, but (Un)Sanctioned seems likely to be an essential purchase on par with Trespass, Subway Art, and Stuck Up Piece of Crap.
Led by Jordan Seiler and Thomas Dekeyser, the workshop will cover the history and philosophy of ad takeovers (the topic of Dekeyser’s PhD research), as well as the tools and techniques that Seiler has spent the last 15 years perfecting and sharing.
I’ve attended one of Jordan’s workshops before, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. It will be fun, and you’ll see just how easy ad takeovers can be. The more people who know how easy it is to open up ad kiosks, and have access to the tools to do it, the better.
WOW! It’s been way too long between posts! I feel bad that I’ve not been sharing all the goodness that is Melbourne over the last few months, so here’s a catch up of what I’ve missed and other cool stuff happening in and around Melbourne. Also my New Years resolution for 2015, more posts on Vandalog! 🙂
Streets and Walls
There’s never a shortage of new stuff going up in Melbourne, here’s a selection of some of my faves snapped by Melbourne’s finest paintspotters over December. In summary – Lister was in town briefly, he painted and did a few ad takeovers, some super fresh graff by some local and visiting legends. My faves are Jack Douglas’ monster, Senekt’s fluro body parts, RASHE’s pieces, a couple of dope Putos pieces and of course the absolute burner by Bales and Skale.
Over the summer, TurtleCaps, an artist originally from Queen, New York but now based in Montreal, organized a massive transformation of an abandoned building in the center of Montreal. “Cabane à Sucre” (“sugar shack”) was an open-air street art gallery. At the beginning, the goal was to produce something that would be set apart from other street art events in Montreal but inspired by (as at hinted in the title of the project) Hanksy’s “Surplus Candy”. Originally, the project was meant to be low-key. It was done in a private courtyard without permission. Midway thru, TurtleCaps realized that the project was the perfect platform to give visibility to some artists that get shut out of galleries and festivals because, “they are not considered cool or famous enough.”
In mid-August he called his close friends up and invited them to paint a dilapidated building hidden in the heart of the city, just for fun. As rumors of the project spread, more and more artists stopped by to join in. According to TurtleCaps, “It was incredible. Credit goes to everyone who took time and money out of their busy schedules to bring this building back to life before its inevitable demise to gentrification.”
That’s how 45 street artists and graffiti writers, but also illustrators and fine artists, collaborated over a 12 days span… doing their art in a 3 level courtyard. “I’ve made some good friends in Montreal, so a cool part of this is throwing these multiple artists that may not know each other, into the same space. To have a fine art painter rocking a wall next to a street bomber and they’re both having a good time, well that’s what it’s all about.”
Of course this is not the first time artists have taken over an abandoned building. The difference here is that TurtleCaps brought in a variety of artists, some that have nothing to do with street art and were painting on walls for the first time. Whether you paint full buildings, are famous in LA or known in Europe, if your work was lacking passion, the “unknown” artist right next was going to show you up. All-stars, ego nor press meant anything for those 12 days in the courtyard. It was just about the art, not fame or money, and that may be why it was such a success.
When I asked Jason Botkin about “Cabane à sucre”, he said, “I consider it a very special project. Its impact on Montreal’s underground art community (including a vastly diverse pool of voices) may not be understood for some time yet to come. I love how it’s drawn so many together, in a very personal and somewhat private way. Above all, I’m impressed by the efforts of TurtleCap to make this an amazing experience for all involved, in a spirit of extreme generosity and inclusiveness. I’m very touch and inspired by this project that he so clearly poured his heart into!”
According to Kevin Ledo, “Cabane à Sucre was a great excuse for me to jam in the same space as a whole bunch of amazing Montreal artists, doing their stuff without restriction. Graff writers, street artists, illustrators, and fine artists, side by side, the result is glorious!”
For Laurence Vallières, “TurtleCaps’ Cabane à Sucre is a group of friends who came together to talk, eat, drink a beer and paint! I ended up there by chance, one evening of ultimate creation. I borrowed a brush and some colors and set to work. I met new people and shared my artistic visions. Some were painting on a wall for the first time. TurtleCaps chose the artists based on his friendship more than his artistic tastes, and the result is impressive. There is nothing more communal and underground than that.”
Alex Produkt shares the same feeling. “It was a fun opportunity to paint in a cool hidden courtyard and hang out with a bunch of other Montreal street artists in close quarters, drinking, eating, painting, laughing together.”
Lilyluciole has a very personal vision and interesting analysis on the project. “I agree with the approach of TurtleCaps and I think some of the press has misunderstood it. Highlighting the exclusive featured works by announcing that you will never see this show was bad information from some journalists. Instead, we must speak of the desire of the organizer to create a unitary project. I wanted to join this idea. I think it was generous to offer this possibility of collaboration to artists who do not often or never get to meet. There were graffiti, street artists, sticker addicts and even artists who have never painted outside. This attitude goes against the trend of some Montreal’s people who create divisions such as those between graffiti and street artists. That makes no sense. In fact, I think it’s totally out as this art expression does not require contempt or violence. I hope other initiatives such as this one will continue to emerge in various forms.”
Artists involved: Adida Fallen Angel, Alex Produkt, Alysha Farling, Andy Dass, Anna Van Stuijvenberg, Antoine Tava, Axe Lamine, Bonar, Citizen, EtherTFB, FiftyTwoHZ, Futur Lasor Now, Fred Caron, Grazyna Adamska-Jarecka, HoarKor, Homsik, IAmBatman, Il Flatcha, Jason Botkin, Jonathan Himsworth, Kevin Ledo, Kizmet, Labrona, Laurence Vallières, Lilyluciole, Lina Kretzschmar, MAbstrakt, Mc Baldassari, MissMe, Ms. Teri, Okies, Pascale Lamoureux-Miron, Philippe Mastrocola, Stela, TurtleCaps, Tyler Rauman, Valerie Bastille, WaxHead, X-Ray, and EnMasse featuring Cheryl Voisine, Cyndie Belhumeur, Jeremy Shantz, Julien Deragon, Laurence Sabourin and Raphaël Bard.
If you’re in Atlanta, I hope you’ll come out and support, not just because I would love to see a packed house for the panel that I’m on (although that would be nice), but because I love Living Walls and Living Walls has made me love Atlanta. This is going to be a great conference.
Some recent works by Shepard Fairey and Os Gêmeos have caught my eye, for essentially the same reason. These sculptures go beyond the typical artwork or even installation artwork in that they do not simply create a situation or depict something, but rather act as objects from another reality, transported into our own. This isn’t something completely new to art, but it’s certainly atypical.
Two works by Fairey in the show The Insistent Image stand out to me. Both are bronze sculptures, and each is based off of a separateprint by Fairey from 2007. The prints are interesting enough, but these sculptures bring the ideas in each print to life. While I’ve heard other people describe these sculptures as a bit corny, I think they do their job. Both pieces look like the sort of ridiculous thing that an eccentric fascist dictator would really put on their mantlepiece or dining room table. By taking these ideas from 2D to 3D, Fairey has transformed them from essentially political cartoons into something almost real. Despite their absurdity, these works are much more powerful and disconcerting as bronze sculptures than 2D illustrations.
Also of note is a participatory piece by Os Gêmeos that is part of their show A ópera da lua at Galpão Fortes Vilaça in São Paulo. The text in the piece, though not easily visible in the photo below, reads “Retrato família” (“family portrait”). Essentially, the artwork is an invitation to take a photograph beside an Os Gêmeos character and with a backdrop straight out of Os Gêmeos’ world, but also easily recognizable as a sort of vernacular photography setup. In many ways, the piece reminds me of Alyse Emdur’s Prison Landscapes series and the photography it is inspired by. While Os Gêmeos’ work indoors and outdoors is often in some way about bridging the gaps between their dreamworld and our reality, this piece takes that idea to an extreme. By taking a photo in this artwork, viewers become a part of Os Gêmeos’ world in a way that simply observing or taking your picture with most of their other artworks, however impressive the installation, sculpture or painting may be, does not allow.
These works do not attempt to depict something. They attempt to realize something, and something unfamiliar at that. Even Dalí’s surreal paintings and sculptures are mere references to another reality, not that reality realized in our own. These works by Fairey and Os Gêmeos at least attempt to realize the unfamiliar, the surreal. When these works succeed, it’s as if each work has been teleported into our world from an alternate universe, rather than made in an artist’s studio, or perhaps as if being around them (at least in the case of Os Gêmeos) temporarily transports us into that alternative universe. These works are artists’ surreal visions made real, or as close to that as we are likely to get. I think that’s great.
This year at Wall Ball, Mural Arts will be honoring their board chair Joe Goldblum and M. Night Shyamalan, but I think the most interesting honoree is Shepard Fairey. He will be receiving Mural Arts’ first annual Tony Goldman Visionary Artist Award, named in honor of the late Tony Goldman. It’s exciting to see Mural Arts selecting Fairey to be the inaugural recipient of this award, a major signal that Mural Arts is continuing to expand the kinds of artists and public art they are interested in.
Still playing catch up on my posts, so here’s my favourites from February. Lots of great stuff yet again in February featuring works by Melbourne’s local talent and a few from our many interstate and international visitors.
To start off the month AllThoseShapes brought us some great bits and pieces, including this great paste from Lucy Lucy, another neon piece from Straker (loving this new style of his), some more rad stencils from Akemi Ito, this apt piece by Spie with an angry gorilla commenting on taggers in Hosier and Rutledge lanes (2 of Melbourne’s most tagged/capped lanes) and a couple of slaps from MIO, who is killing it at the moment with stickers and lots of throwies around town.
I’ll be speaking about two main themes: 1. How the communication technologies from zines to books to the internet have affected the street art and graffiti that we see on walls and 2. How street art and graffiti are closely linked to hacking and net art. That will be followed by a Q&A, which I’m really looking forward to.
So if you’re in Philadelphia, I hope you’ll stop by SPACE on Thursday, April 10th. The event runs from 6-8pm. The talk is free, but you can RSVP here.