Sweet Toof is understandably upset that a recent mural project in Hackney, where he and the rest of the Burning Candy crew painted some of their best illegal street art and graffiti, intentionally avoided including local artists. You’ve gotta love this quote from Sarah Weir, who heads the charity that commissioned the new murals: “We unashamedly wanted to showcase the best international artists and transform this part of the canal into a destination for street art.” That might be the dumbest thing I’ve read all summer, except for course for arguments defending the NSA or calling for Edward Snowden to return to the USA. First of all, murals (while interesting) emulate street art and graffiti, but there is a distinct difference between legal murals by street artists and illegal street art by the same artists. I’m sure that on Vandalog I have referred to murals as street art for the sake of simplicity, but not in a context like this where the difference between murals and street art is actually quite important. Hackney Wick’s canal already is a destination for street art, in large part due to the work of Gold Peg, Sweet Toof and the other members of Burning Candy. Weir is trying to turn it into a destination for murals, most likely at the expense of street art and graffiti if the intense pre-Olympics graffiti removal efforts in the area are anything to go by. Mural projects and festival are awesome, but they are not the same thing as illegal street art or graffiti.
Israel Hernandez, an 18-year-old Miami graffiti writer, was killed this week when he was tazered by police. They were chasing him after catching him writing in an abandoned building. CNN’s coverage of Hernandez’ death was surprisingly fair. Their piece was framed as the tragedy that is clearly is, rather than a piece demonizing Hernandez for his artwork like you might expect from some mainstream media.
Klughaus Gallery is about to introduce Paris’ Peace And Love (PAL) Crew is about to the people of New York City with Palingenesis, a show with eight members of the illustrious crew. Like their fellow Frenchmen in the DMV Crew, the members of PAL fuse graffiti, illustration, and fine art. The PAL Crew of course includes the rising stars Cony aka Ken Sortais and Horfe, among others.
Palingenesis opens this coming Saturday (6-10pm) at a new pop up space for Klughaus on the Lower East Side (154 Stanton St. at Suffolk St.). The opening is sure to be a madhouse, so be sure to RSVP.
The fantastic Horfée’s recent solo show in London, Imaginarium, looks like a real hit. Hooked has plenty of photos of the show, and turned me on to a great video of Horfée made by Hypebeast in which he discusses the Imaginarium. Check it out:
Parisian graffiti king and PAL crew member Horfee‘s first London solo show, Horfee’s Imaginarium, opens later this month with Topsafe London at 4 Wilkes Street E1 6QF in Shoreditch. Horfee is one of the world’s most interesting and celebrated active graffiti writers, and he’s got a very promising gallery career developing. Horfee’s mad cartoons have a rare crossover appeal such that they can be appreciated by those familiar with his graffiti and the fine art world too.
Horfee’s Imaginarium opens March 14th (5-9pm) and runs through March 23rd. Email horfe @ topsafelondon .com to RSVP for the opening.
I can’t wait to see more from this show, but Topsafe London has sent over quite a healthy preview. More after the jump…
Note from RJ: We at Vandalog are excited to publish Tristan Manco‘s first post on the site, hopefully the first of many. Tristan is one of contemporary street art’s greatest champions and most-distinguished writers. Tristan curated by iterations of Cans Festival, worked at Pictures on Walls for half a decade, has written or in some way contributed to 8 art books since 2002 as well as numerous magazine articles in publications such as Juxtapoz. I’ve known Tristan for a couple of years, and he is one of the people whom I really trust when it comes to art.
Taking place in the 24-hour daylight of a Northern Norway summer on a small island town called Vardø north of the Arctic Circle – Komafest was always going to be a unique event…
Vardø is the oldest settlement in Northern Norway and in recent years has become depopulated with many buildings left empty, partly as a result of the collapsing fishing industry. The curator and organizer of the festival, the Norwegian artist Pøbel saw the potential of a street art festival to make a visual transformation of the town and to show the local people it was possible to make changes. While developing the idea Pøbel spent time getting to know the locals and with his unassuming nature and enthusiasm he began to gain their trust. Soon the public began to get behind the idea and offer up buildings for artists to paint on and volunteering to help in the organization. It became a truly grassroots movement rather than something imposed on the community.
The island, shaped like a butterfly, has an otherworldly atmosphere and is only accessible overland by a winding 3km undersea tunnel, which appears out of the ground like something out of a science fiction movie, but the real stars of the show are its traditional wooden buildings. Many of the wooden jetties, warehouses and buildings are abandoned, weather-beaten and in a state of beautiful decay. Although standing empty these heritage buildings all have owners who are often unable to afford their proper restoration. The idea of project is that the art that is created on them can awaken these buildings out from a coma, giving the festival it’s name – Komafest.
What I found inspiring about this project was the way the invited artists responded to the place. Each artist had some idea of what they might experience but in most cases their preconceptions soon changed once they began to speak to the locals and learn more about their environment. According to local fisherman Aksel Robertsen, Philadelphian artist Steve Powers had many ideas planned but scrapped them as soon as he began to meet the people and experienced the place for himself – all those encounters shaped his final murals; such as “Cod is Great” and “Eternal Light – Eternal Night”. The French artist Remed painted a mural on an old seafront warehouse, which took some of its imagery from the seascape but included the text Hellige Heks Fortuna, (Hellige Heks means Holy Witch in Norwegian). This references to witches dates back to the Vardø witch trials that were held there in 17th century resulting in many of the accused being burned alive at the stake.
Street Art Is Dead used to be a blog that mostly complained about the bullshit involved in street art. Now there’s a newish blog with that name that indiscriminately posts photos of street art despite quality.