With the Olympics kicking off this week, all eyes are on London. Taking advantage of the spotlight is Brandalism, a group made of 25 artists from eight different countries, who are using their art skills to showcase their stance against advertising and consumerism within their cultures.
The group is replacing existing billboards with photographs, street art, graffiti, and other forms of art that contain messages as their way to reclaim outdoor advertising in the UK.
We spoke to the group about how the concept came about, the kind of art work artists are creating, and if London residents are backing their concept.
See the gallery after the jump. (more…)
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y.t.f.l.i.n.s.t.o.n.e on Monday, Mar. 19th
Sometimes, as a hip hop fan and an artist in the information age, I feel like I’m being force-fed simplistic and blunt ideas of how my culture should be depicted. My first self-directed video is an attempt not just to break that cycle, but to find out if there’s an audience for what I do.
The song “Turtle Soup” was inspired by a slogan on a streetwear shirt made by sponsor at the time. The slogan said, “Slow motion is better than no motion,” and also had a visual of a turtle which fit well with my own ideology that patience is definitely key with any artistic profession.
The song depicts the ups and downs of being an urban youth: going through college, paying bills, coming into my own independently, and knowing that eventually, I’ll be able to support myself, and my community, as a result of the success of my music. And the video for the song shows the pursuit of this creative freedom.
A lot of music videos that are set in urban environments only show the rapper and his crew in the same boring settings, whether it be on the porch, or at the park, or in front of a liquor store. The imagery is the same, whether it’s a local rapper or a kid talking about his life and complaining that there’s not enough to do. That’s been done so much already, and it doesn’t open minds to other creative options in the community.
I decided to set my video in a thrift and salvage warehouse, because I wanted to show a more carefree and artistic vision of what our time can be spent on; from old school video games, to digging through vintage soul records, to messing around with stray golf clubs.
There’s also a graffiti backdrop in parts of the video, paying homage to the early connection in hip hop between visual and vocal artistry. It’s shot in the home of my friend who is so motivated that he tags all over his room, and uses different canvases to practice his art before debuts it to the public. We’re both willing to be broke right now so that we don’t have to compromise our artistic integrity for a quick buck.
Patience, usually, comes with honing in on the idea of having faith. I have so much faith in my talents that as I’ve started devoting all of my free time to them, I’ve begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as far as my dreams becoming concrete.
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I know you’ve probably seen the images on Facebook of “What People Think I Do.” An image containing six panels, each portraying what friends, loved ones, coworkers, and what society thinks they do. By now, it’s become a full-blown meme.
But the first one, “What People Think Contemporary Artists Do,” was created by artist Garnet Hertz. It started as a funny image that was only meant to be shared with his friends on Facebook, but Hertz says it was instantly liked and shared by others.
Turnstyle spoke to Hertz about this new trend, what he hopes to accomplish with this project and about other projects he has lined up.
Turnstlyle News: How did the idea for “What People Think I Do” come about? What inspired you?
Garnet Hertz: I saw a similar image with the caption “Role Playing” the day before I made my version. I had also been working on a proposal that week, and made the image to poke fun at that. When I made the image, I had just intended it to be enjoyed by my Facebook friends, many of whom are artists, curators and academics.
TS: When did you realize that this project was a hit?
GH: It immediately had 100 shares per hour, and I smelled that something was going on bigger than I had intended.
TS: I know you said when you first started this image you had no intentions of it going viral, but looking back at how popular this got, what are your thoughts?
GH: I’m happy that it became popular, but I’m a bit embarrassed that I’ve got so much attention for this.
TS: What do you hope to accomplish with this project?
GH: I was just procrastinating getting done a proposal – and all this press hasn’t help me get done the proposal.
TS: What are you working on next?
GH: My most recent large scale studio project is an arcade game cabinet from the 1980s that has been converted into a vehicle that actually drives.
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Whitney Henry-Lester on Tuesday, Jan. 24th
By Whitney Henry-Lester
Fereshteh Toosi is an interdisciplinary, Chicago-based artist who works with art you can interact with. While designing a community garden accesible to people with disabilities, she began her latest project: Garlic & Greens. Inspired by her interest in growing food and cultural migration, Garlic & Greens aims to capture soul food stories in Chicago. She also teaches art at Columbia College Chicago. Turnstyle contributor Whitney Henry-Lester spoke to Toosi about her new project and the documentation of soul food.
How do you describe yourself as an artist and the art that you like to make?
I collect and recombine sounds, words, images, and actions. I’m interested in migration issues, social geography, and sustainability. I enjoy exploring the history and people of a particular place, and I like working with other people and I like working outside of traditional gallery spaces. Sometimes the work I make doesn’t seem like art, and that’s ok. I don’t really care if it’s understood as art or not.
How did your interest in art begin?
I get a lot of satisfaction from taking material meant for one thing and using it in an unusual way, transforming it into something unexpected. My art education was in a liberal arts context, and as a result I’ve always been focused more on concepts and ideas than on purely technical explorations.
Tell me about the ARCHEWORKS Garden project and how it evolved into Garlic and Greens.
GARLIC & GREENS began at Archeworks, a multidisciplinary design school in Chicago. Our collaborative team was designing for a site at the north end of Chicago’s Washington Park. The garden project we developed was called INSPIRE! Gardens for all. At Archeworks we were developing a multi-modal project that included a toolkit to help groups who wanted to create dynamic, accessible community gardens for people with disabilities. Among other things, we wrote gardening tutorials for people with stroke-related disabilities and designed outdoor furniture for a high school located on our site. The team was full of amazing people and ideas and they all played a role shaping GARLIC & GREENS.
GARLIC & GREENS was motivated by my perspective on our design dilemma. I was bothered by the fact that none of us on the design team were directly connected to the culture and history of this black neighborhood where our project site was located. There are a lot of ways to do good socially-engaged, participatory design, but ultimately, the best design happens when the users can play a direct role in developing creative solutions for their own community. Designers have a lot of power, and it’s hard to find ways to distribute it. We need to be mindful that the people and history of a place are its strongest assets. I really felt like race and cultural difference was an elephant in the room that we needed to address head on. GARLIC & GREENS my best idea for solution using the skills I had with audio and oral history.
So what is Garlic & Greens?
GARLIC & GREENS offers public programs on migration history, food heritage, social justice, the arts, and disability studies. There were two events scheduled in the summer of 2011. Phase One of the project focused on the production of free public events showcasing the work of artists and community experts, Phase Two of the project focuses on collecting and sharing food and migration stories. The final product will be a multi-media art experience accessible for people with visual disabilities and their allies.
Why are you focusing on food? Are you telling food stories or people stories or a community stories? How do they intersect?
GARLIC & GREENS focuses on food because of how the project evolved from a community garden design initiative. At Archeworks, we were doing a bit of landscape architecture, and with that you get to choose the plants. We threw around ideas about what it would mean to have a soul food garden: okra, garlic, beans, yams, collards, turnip greens, kale, et cetera. That’s when I started thinking about the cultural connections between gardening and the personalities and histories of the people who garden. Gardens are very personal, they’re curated spaces where you get to grow things that you like or that are important to you. If you don’t like eating okra, you’re probably not going to grow it. Or you may decide to grow it because it’s an interesting tropical-looking plant that has a devastatingly beautiful flower.
People grow foods that are connected to their homelands and the places they have lived. Unlike commercial farming, gardens can reflect not only the climate of the place, but also the desires of the growers, their tastes, and cultural backgrounds. I wanted to create a way to address this cultural aspect of gardening while focusing particularly on stories from African American residents who live in the neighborhoods around Washington Park. Since our team was focusing on issues around accessibility for people with disabilities, a multi-sensory approach seemed like a way to go about it.
I’m an enthusiastic edible gardener, and I like interviewing people about their lives, so the two elements came together naturally for me. The stories are about food, but they are more about people’s attitudes to food…I want to talk to people about what they do know, and also to use the interviews as a way to hear about the cultural histories of foods that are important to people as part of their family traditions.
What are you asking people?
I ask people where they live and where their people are from. Has their family lived in Chicago for many generations? When did they move here? I also ask them to describe a favorite family food tradition or a cherished family recipe. I ask the person to describe its preparation in the kitchen. I’ll ask the person how they learned to cook, and who in the family does the cooking. Who carries food traditions in the family? I’ll also ask them to define soul food. I don’t really go through a list of questions one by one, but these are the topics and questions I focus on, while allowing the conversation to evolve as things come up.
Have you defined what “soul food” is?
The question about defining soul food has been a favorite of mine as most people have expressed a sensibility that goes beyond race or geographic location. In an interview with 10 year-old Malik, we hear a young person struggling with the assertion that black people eat a certain kind of food. He seems uncomfortable (rightfully so) with the notion that people of different races should claim ownership over a particular food at all.
I like the connections that are emerging from the definitions that people have shared with me during the interviews. Soul food can be defined in a lot of ways, but it is often traced back to West Indian, Caribbean, and African influences. It’s southern American cooking that is often connected to African American traditions. Some of these evolved from the inventiveness of people who were slaves, who had to make-do with what little they had, taking advantage of every part of the animal and creating flavorful, filling food from limited resources. But this doesn’t begin to cover to what soul food really means. Soul food refers to comfort food, home cooking, and cooking from the heart. It’s food that is prepared from scratch with care and love. In that sense, every culture has a type of soul food.
What have you learned from the project thus far?
I’m learning how to be a better ally for people with disabilities. The first step was educating myself about the diverse ways ability and disability are defined. I’ve learned that we need to work on better design for people with disabilities. This includes products but also how to create events that are accessible and how to design cities and communities that are inclusive. I’ve also learned more about the history of domestic migration in the U.S. Though I knew about it before, I’ve learned more about the details, specifically with black Americans movement within the U.S. Some people call it the “Great Migration”, but in GARLIC & GREENS I refer to it in the plural, “Great Migrations”, because it happened in waves and it continues. Recently I’ve read some stories about how some black people are moving back to the south, and I’m curious to look at the numbers in a few years, to know how this rates as another wave of the migrations.
There is a focus on visual impairment with this project. Why?
When I was at Archeworks, two members of our team had stroke-related aphasia. In order to communicate with them, the group relied on written communication, such as real-time transcription of conversations. Aphasia impacts one’s ability to produce or understand words. It is not related to loss of vision, but this factor prompted a consideration of how garden programming would necessitate communication in multiple forms: audio, tactile, written, and experiential. During the research and development phase for GARLIC & GREENS, it became clear that adjusting the project’s physical infrastructure would not be adequate to becoming fully accessible. I began to see a need for connecting the traditions of vegetable gardening to cooking traditions through multi-sensory approaches. Considering the people who have been participating in the project, GARLIC & GREENS has been making a special effort to reach audiences with low or no vision because African Americans are at a higher risk for sight loss from glaucoma, diabetes and hypertensive retinopathy. The good news is that these diseases can be prevented with a healthy diet and regular access to health care.
What will the final product be?
The final product will be an interactive project about food heritage. I’m still working on the details, but I know it will be a hand-made, limited edition multi-sensory documentary package that includes audio, tactile and aromatic elements.
All photos by Fereshteh Toosi
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Using a typewriter to create a document can be annoying, since you’re likely to constantly use white out and readjust your paper. Can you image panting with a typewriter? That’s what artist Keira Rathbone does. Rathbone is a painter out of London who has been using her 1960’s typewriter to paint.
She substitutes letters, numbers and symbols in place of brush strokes giving her final picture a pixel effect. Her paintings vary from landscape, to different objects, to portraits. Check out the video above for a glimpse into her process.
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2011 marks 100 years of International Women’s Day!
In March 1911 over a million women and men in Austria, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland came together to mark the first International Women’s Day. It was a remarkable display of solidarity for those fighting discrimination and campaigning for the most basic of women’s rights – to vote, to work and to be elected to public office.
March 8th is celebrated in countries around the world, with thousands of events held to honor women. It’s a time to celebrate, and also a time to reflect on the status of women today.
“Of the approximately 50 million people displaced from their homelands, about 80 percent are women and children. Of the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1 a day, 70 percent are women. Among the chronically hungry people in the world, 60 percent are women,” reports Maryam Roberts in her article, “War, Climate & Women.” (read full article here)
And the problems don’t stop in the so-called “first” world. During the past weeks in the United States, Republicans have proposed legislation that constitutes an all out war on women. They not only want to reduce women’s access to abortion care, they’re actually trying to redefine rape. In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life. Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are proposing a spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens. You can read more here.
Enough is Enough! Patriarchy is a worldwide problem even in the 21st century. Women around the world are paying a heavy price for the political decisions made by men in power. This International Women’s Day, lets have the courage to call out patriarchy and put an end to it.
In honor of this important holiday, I designed two posters to inspire those working to organize women around the world.
To check out Favi’s latest work inspired by the struggles of women around the world, click here.
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East L.A.-based artist Sand One is only 19 years old, but her star is fast rising, both among eminent street writer colleagues and within established high art circles. (She participated in Art Basel Miami last fall). Her “hugemongous,” coquettish “Sand Girls” are popping up on walls and trucks around Los Angeles, often solicited by the owners of those canvases. The eye-popping cartoon characters are borne of hunger; they represent tough women struggling with poverty, as well as Sand One’s own artistic ambitions as a Latina from the hood. As you’ll read in our interview below, the artist is an ebullient mix of fearless, youthful firebrand and thoughtful, fast-maturing chronicler of a changing L.A. Some of her voluptuous, feathery-lashed strivers appear in the slideshow below, and you can find others here.
Nishat Kurwa: Tell me about where you grew up. Was there street art around you?
Sand One: I am from East Los Angeles, California. It’s a Hispanic area, mainly Mexicans. And we Latinos love crazy colors and art.There is a lot of artistic freedom in the areas where I live so I has definitely been a great place for me to grow as a street artist.
NK: What are the sources of the independent spirit that you draw upon for your art?
SO: Seeing all the magazines, movies, and websites related towards street art motivated me to run buck wild on the streets of L.A and just paint for my own self-satisfaction.Then once I realized others were noticing, that motivated me to paint even more. I’m not alone, the streets have eyes. Ha! Scary. I like being on the outside and driving to different cities, so painting is a great excuse for me to be outdoors.
NK: What was the very first piece you threw up, and how has your art changed since?
SO: My first piece of a character wasn’t even a piece; it was a window painting job at a beauty salon in East L.A, then I couldn’t stop painting cartoons! Then it was newspaper stands, corn carts in all the ghetto hoods, trash cans and now I went crazy psycho traveling to Mexico, Miami, Puerto Rico, Arizona and I even went on a road trip just to paint in San Francisco. The only person that was brave enough to jump in my bucket was my little 17 year old apprentice DGar. I slept in my car,took my moms EBT card, took a box of water and soda. And painted lots of taco trucks in exchange for food. So I was a bum for a week. Things like this keep me sane! There’s no need to be snobby or cocky, not showering for four days will surely give you a wake-up call.
NK: How did you develop your artistic voice and differentiate it from the people you modeled yourself after?
SO: There is rules, status and all these levels to an artist. I thought it was just like, “Let’s paint and have fun.” But now I see all these regulations. I guess I just grew as a person, artist, woman and my mentality has changed, it has opened to a wider thinking, I see more than what the average person that lives next to me even sees. Painting has allowed me to travel, mingle with higher social classes, develop business skills and the image that I present of myself to the masses. I am still myself,occasionally profanity spills out of my lips; but before, I would be dirty and full of paint, I had painting shoes and clothes. Now I have a rule: no paint on myself at all! I paint without getting nothing dirty: clean shoes, clothes, hair. I look like I’m going out on a date! I feel better, before I was soo grimy!
NK: Can you tell us a couple of songs that have been the soundtrack for you when you work?
SO: All this songs make me paint and sing my vocal cords off.
Ambitious by Jay Z
Gettin’ It -Too Short
Get Money-Junior Mafia
Dreams -Fleetwood Mac
I Just Want to Be Your Everything -Andy Gibb
Take it Personal-Gang Starr
NK: Have you been recognized by the art establishment and is that something you feel strongly about one way or another?
SO: Art and graffiti are full of constructive criticism. Daily I am bombarded with various points of views. Thick skin is all you need, it helps a lot when nonconstructive comments come your way. I guess you just have to have a strong mind, man or woman…do what you love to do, don’t let one negative comment shatter your ambition. I love painting,being on the streets and eating street vendors’ junk food! I have showcased next to established artist whom I look up to. This makes me happy, it reassures me that I’m climbing the art world ladder! When my artwork is purchased by collectors or individuals that follow my work, gosh, I go crazy deep inside. A little adrenaline speckle inside of me starts running like crazy inside of my brain!
NK: How has L.A. changed since you were a kid?
SO: Well…elotes and tamales went up. Now they’re smaller and not a dollar anymore. They’re two bucks or $1.50. Nose rings and belly rings got more expensive. Food stamps don’t come in a booklet, now they are given in credit cards. I can’t go to stores and buy clothes with food stamps :) Guys are all taken, they don’t cruise the boulevard. anymore. New bums have filled my streets, the ones I knew are now gone. My mother is aging. My body is changing, and I’m changing. L.A grew for me, there is much more than the 10 blocks I knew only of.
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Do you remember Aubrey O’Day from Danity Kane? If you don’t, it’s not surprising — her career was short. She was the girl that got fired on national television by Diddy during the hit show Making the Band. Since then, O’Day has appeared on several magazines including Playboy. She’s also starred in the Broadway musical Hairspray. Despite that, her career still went down hill.
I saw her perform over the weekend and there is no doubt the girl can sing, but does she still have what it takes to make in the music industry again? Going back to her roots, she’s giving her music career one more push on her new show “All About Aubrey” in which she tries revamp her career.
It’s not surprising she’s using the reality show platform to re-launch her career. I mean, she ain’t the first, or the last, artist to use reality shows as a way to edge back into the industry — or better yet, to show a different side, given that her last reality show was surrounded by drama.
I wonder if Diddy will tune in.
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Making it easy for people to download or buy music is extremely important for bands and independent musicians. Making that process easier is a new website called Bandcamp.
The San Francisco based site allows artists to have better control over their music and distribution. Artists can sell their music, track what songs are fan favorites, keep tabs on where their music is being downloaded, embedded, and shared.
According to Jennifer Elias, Business Development at Bandcamp, the site is, “a do-it-yourself site where artists can quickly and easily upload their music and sell it direct to fans.” To date, the site boasts that in the last 30 days, artists have made $514,128 thousand dollars using their services.
The ability to build your site and make it manageable is one of the reasons why artists like international singer/songwriter Ceci Bastida have made the move from Myspace to Bandcamp. “It’s sort of a clean page that looks good and it does what it’s supposed to do, just sell or stream your music and [merchandise]… nothing else”, Ceci said. “There isn’t any spam or ads that distract you.”
Ceci began her career at the age of 15 as the lead singer, keyboardist, and songwriter for Tijuana NO. In 2000, she joined the band of top-selling Sony/BMG recording artist Julieta Venegas, singing back-up vocals and playing keyboard.
Launching her first solo album, she joined Bandcamp in hopes of reaching audiences outside of the United States. “As soon as I uploaded my record, a few minutes later someone from Norway bought it,” Ceci said. “Before I had my account, you could only buy my music on iTunes and Amoeba [in LA]. And people who don’t have a U.S. account can’t buy it so this makes things easier. Plus, you can also get the physical copy so that’s great.”
Over the years, MySpace has undergone multiple changes, from logo to layouts. But artists like Ceci, aiming to reach a music profile’s full potential, are tired of the changes that only make it difficult to manage their site, leaving her and other artists fleeing in droves to a new, more prosperous place to distribute their music.
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