Last month, Roti presented a massive marble sculpture, titled New Ukraine, to the Ukrainian people protesting in Kiev, dropping it in the middle of Kiev’s Independence Square. You can read more about the sculpture over on Brooklyn Street Art. Last week though, Chris Cunningham posted the following video showing how the work was made and installed. The whole thing is quite inspiring.
I recently came across this video that does a really nice job of touching on a major issue being faced by a lot of mural festivals and mural programs: The potential that murals are rejected by the communities where the festivals take place. In the last year, two murals organized by Living Walls in Atlanta were removed after they proved controversial. While Living Walls‘ mural removals got a lot of press, this is an issue faced by all mural festivals, and definitely one worth thinking some more about. Is it better to go in and paint whatever and see what works and what doesn’t, or should artists work for the communities and paint murals largely based on the desires expressed by the people who will walk by the wall every day?
Living Walls, Altanta’s public art organization focused on work by street artists and graffiti writers, are released their first printed work this week. Living Walls Volumes focuses on their work with the French artist Roti and his experiences in Atlanta (the most famous experience being that the mural he painted was partially buffed by local community members who objected to the content). The launch party for the book is on Tuesday at Criminal Records in Atlanta.
I haven’t seen much of the finished product, but I’m really excited for Living Walls Volumes. The Roti story is a really interesting and complex one that deserves some serious consideration, the book looks really well designed, and I wrote the forward. So, if you make it out to the launch, leave a comment in this post and let me know what you think of the book.
Two things that I see as problematic interesting here:
The mural was painted legally and buffed illegally. I think that sort of speaks for itself.
The mural was buffed by some percentage of the local residents, and while other local residents support the mural, at least some of the signatures on the petition to save the mural are from people who don’t live nearby or even in the City of Atlanta. What right do we or Living Walls or GDOT have to say “We’re putting this mural here and you’d better like it.”? I think just going ahead and doing it is generally a much better way of putting up murals than months of community meetings. Once the mural is up though and if the community hates it, what should be done? I think it’s ridiculous to have a blank beige or grey wall in that spot rather than Roti’s beautiful figures, but I have never in my life had to drive by that wall on my way to work. Maybe that’s what people in the area want. That said, just because a few residents decided that they disliked the mural enough to go and paint over it does not mean that all the nearby residents or the residents of Atlanta hated the mural. And I haven’t heard any real reason why just going out and vandalising the mural was the step that had to be taken rather than holding some community forums to see what the general consensus was. I’m not saying that this mural should have been buffed (I signed the petition to save it) or that the angry activists who buffed the wall went about things the right way, but I think it’s worth thinking about, particularly, in this era of new muralism coming out of street art, how we can best balance the interests of the arts community and the local community. Thoughts?