Viva Revolucion, a dialogue with the urban landscape, presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, bills itself as being ‘the first international museum exhibition of street art.’
That it is. And so much more.
The tour around San Diego’s downtown and slightly beyond, crafted together with an accompanying pixel alien map, care of featured artist Invader, is an invigorating look beyond San Diego’s immediacy. It is a tour that leads to chance, pursuit and embrace.
More than just a tour of significant artists creating significant pieces of commissioned art, it is a poignant social and cultural map of the city that snugly navigates one through sites, perhaps unseen. In a time when the battle of what we read upon a city’s walls continues to pervade the daily dialogue of our policy makers and citizens, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has taken a risk that begs us, the reader of walls, to think more deeply about our engagement with place.
One may argue that the exhibition is typical of the gentrification of street art. Perhaps it is. The chorus of slander in response to the ‘blue bombing’ of Shephard Fairey’s Hillcrest mural perpetuates the idea that these craftsmen and women are selling out.
But street art’s roots sing of grandeur.
If we are seeing the gentrification of street art, in a fashion such as this, then bring it on. It’s a fitting metaphor for the harmony and hope that is implicit in the articulation of these artists.
The location of each artists work is a collaboration of ethics, aesthetics and empathy of place, space and structure. Each piece germinates a deeper understanding of the urban and communicates to the informed and the intrigued alike.
Paired with Invader’s GPS informed alien map, the works are an enabling framework of encounter, the recognition of reality and a road map towards saluting the secrets of a city.
Viva Revolucion provides an induced metaphor of street art’s diction of harmony and thought, leading us to ‘the other’ that sits, cuddled into conversation, within our streets and opening our eyes to another view of how we read the city.
peace of wall will be exhibiting as part of art san diego 2010 from the 2nd - 5th september.
the hope is that the participation of the book and its story in art san diego will generate greater interest and support for the inclusion of east timor's free art school, arte moris, in art san diego 2011.
many thanks to
and arte moris
and mariclaire sweeney
and tim forderer
and ann berchtold
and art san diego
some scenes from around san diego and viva revolucion.
it was all pretty fun and manic and cosy and jiggy with etson, alfeo and xisto taking on melbourne.
but now they're gone.
but their mural remains in hosier lane. and shit it's a worthy addition to an ever changing and awfully well appointed melbourne laneway.
with much love thanks hifives and heartbeats to those who made it happen in no particular order:
gabriela gansser at arte moris
mariclaire sweeney at large
martin hughes at affirm press
fiona hillary at signal youth art space
simon spain at signal youth art space
etson at ease
alfeo at ease
xisto at ease
andy mac at until never
kerry robinson at bizzness babes
miles hull at little creatures / white rabbit
jye glaskin at little creatures / rhite wabbit
the lovely southpaw bar
emma at home
and a listening options for farewells and fondness
Peace of Wall - Street Art from East Timor
May 8 - 29 2010
Etson Arintes da Costa Caminha
Alfeo Sanchez Periera
Zito Soares da Silva
6PM to 8PM Saturday May 8 2010
Zito Soares da Silva, Alfeo Sanchez Pereira and Etson Arintes da Costa Caminha, from East Timor’s free art school, Arte Moris (Art is Life) will paint directly on the walls of Until Never, and will be developing collaborative projects that will establish links between visual artists in Melbourne and East Timor.
On Saturday 8th May Zito, Alfeo and Etson will be painting a collaborative wall in Melbourne’s Hosier Lane, before opening Chris Parkinson’s photographic exhibition for Peace of Wall at Until Never, from 6:00pm.
the amazing etson, alfeo and zito have managed to descend upon melbourne from their home in east timor and will be joining us for the launch of peace of wall: street art from east timor, in melbourne on tuesday 11 may. the evening will commence at 7:30pm and will be held in the lovely southpaw bar, 189 gertrude street fitzroy.
etson alfeo and zito will be busting some very pretty shapes, and will be accompanied by bea viega, gil santos and guest djs.
Q: Did the graffiti grab your attention straight away?
It wasn’t instantaneous. I was working in film with a group of 50 or so students exploring ideas of nationhood and development in East Timor and noticed a lot of writing upon the walls. As much of my engagements in this period was with youth – who would be the main writers - I found the graffiti to be an interesting social aside in the context of the country, and so began documenting it photographically.
Q: When did you decide it was something to be documented and explored?
As I started delving deeper into communities and in all my spare time talking with people about it and making connections which were leading me in all sorts of directions – both socially and geographically – I really started seeing the value in the commentary in what was being expressed. I’d had a strong interest in graffiti before I went to East Timor, and what I was seeing materialising on the walls really, for me, reinstated its value in the sense of a narrative. Through the documentation, I became exposed to a number of different groups – from martial arts groups to small community arts groups – and really found it a fascinating gauge of the feeling amongst people who, I guess, had remained voiceless for much of their contemporary development.
The diversity in the expressions was fascinating, also. There were very territorial assertions, political commentary and haunting images of ghosts, skeletons, gargoyles and so on that really, for me anyway, seemed to breathe and be indicative of the country’s traumatic history. As well, of course, proud proclamations of peace and development that seemed to nod towards a desire for harmony in the country.
When the social and political crisis that fractured the fabric of the country emerged in 2006, the writing upon the walls took on a far more sinister appeal, as well as being directly political and aligned with the varied parties involved in the country’s functioning at that point.
As I continued documenting throughout this period it became evident that I was capturing a fairly interesting and “grassroots” feeling that was permeating the country. I realised that this transition, also, in the context of what I had documented thus far was really a media for the marginalised and a form of communication that was, and could be, accessed by all.
Q: How and who did you interview to gain an insight into what the graffiti means to them?
Everyone I could talk to really. When I first started documenting, the most obvious people were members of the various martial arts groups. I held a lot of interviews with them that were interesting, but were really providing them with a mouth piece to assert their gangs name and ideology, as well as facilitating them to further enforce their territory. As the project moved forward, I was interviewing various communities, artists, youths, poets, community leaders, as well as people who would stop and wonder at what it was I was taking a photograph of. A lot of the Timorese, in these instances, were kind of perplexed but enjoyed laughing at the strange white boy photographing their walls. These encounters would also elicit a grave reality of the country to. An exchange that sticks in my mind is between myself and a man outside his home who was asking why I was taking the photo. When I said I was documenting the writing on the wall, he asked if people would see the photo. I said I hope so. He then asked that “if people see the photo of my house, will they fix it?”
I developed some very strong bonds with a range of people that allowed me great access to, I guess, a lot of areas and people that many other foreigners wouldn’t necessarily have access to. This was hugely important, as the questions I developed over the four years were really about eliciting both emotional and somewhat analytical responses to the work, so, in this way, and with the demographic I included, I’m hopeful that the process and the content is as balanced as possible.
Q: Another thing I wanted to ask you about is the idea of the broken window theory. Could you explain how the broken window theory applies to graffiti in East Timor or East Timor in general?
I don’t really subscribe to the theory myself. I think what I found provoking, though, is that in the framework of East Timor, if you’re going to suggest that graffiti and vandalism stems from somesort of initial vandalism – eg the, or a, broken window – then that initial vandalism in the country was a scorched earth policy implemented by retreating Indonesian soldiers and miltia and a fairly systematic genocide that killed in excess of 250, 000 innocent Timorese people. That’s a fairly fucking broken window.
Q: The variety of the graffiti seems apparent in the background you have given me. It is understood that East Timor has entered a period of relative calm. Are trends in prosperity and stability apparent in the graffiti?
I think the trends are more about hope. There’s certainly a conscious movement amongst some of the graffiti artists in the country today to be painting what they want to see. The graffiti in the country, though, is quite reactionary also, so in that sense it reflects current understandings and feelings. I’m hopeful, though, that through the creative use of graffiti that the country may be able to realise the dreams and ideals that are being painted on the wall, whilst also referencing contemporary realities and history that are also evidenced through the graffiti.
Q: Graffiti has been seen as a way of making a statement, whether political or artistic. Do you believe that graffiti in East Timor means more than this to the youths who create it?
Yes. I think, in a number of instances that it is about hope and the future and it’s, quite literally, about trying to paint that future. I think it is also an extension of ideals of what it means to be free; or what freedom has enabled people to engage with. I think this is hugely important too because it is very much an exploration of ideals and desires in an independent state, as opposed to the struggle of a conflicted society to simply survive.
a couple of lads from arte moris baucau are in melbourne for an exhibition of their work in box hill. it's at the box hill community arts centre and is well worth a visit. i had fun walking through melbourne with them and, whilst they didnt get the chance to paint themselves, surprise, surprise, they found some of the city's tangled, and beautifully painted laneways the perfect place to pose.
yahya lambertz is a photographer and artist residing in dili, east timor.
he is originally from indonesia. whilst his country's military scorched east timor, he remained peacefully committed to the independence of the country.
for yahya, each craft informs the other. he has established an art school, sanggar masin (salt of the earth), that provides classes to students and opportunities to pursue scholarships in indonesia.
he's a very gentle, yet passionate fellow.
'through this period of independence, timor has wanted to move forward. it is not just journalists, not just parliament and not just the government that are going to carry timor forward. every person has to be included. those that write graffiti must also shout and campaign about how timor is to move forward. what is not right? then graffiti must express what is not right. what is right? then graffiti must express what is right.
'graffiti gives people the power to participate. it is a wonderful way to collaborate across communities. wonderful. artists can enter communities, talk, get to know communities and, together, they can move forwards.'
a couple of kind, and rather eminent, individuals have generously contributed some words of endorsement towards peace of wall. in no particular order:
t r i s t a n m a n c o (art director | author | designer)
'with admirable dedication chris parkinson has produced an evocative piece of photojournalism - capturing an important moment in east timor's history through its walls... this book alerts us to the cultural value of graffiti and street art for public expression, rehabilitation and community building.'
d r j o s e r a m o s - h o r t a (president of east timor | nobel peace laureate)
'all graffiti, as chris has demonstrated, is at least an act of therapeutic expression for young people, a release, and a vehicle that enables the voiceless to be heard. in a country in which personal storytelling is still one of the most important and populare means of expression, i treasure all of the voices equally and i share in the beauty, and the pain, of what i see. i hope that you, too, will see what i see.'
a n t h o n y l a p a g l i a (actor)
'deeply moving and beautifully presented, the raw expression here tells the harrowing and inspirational story of east timor.'
a selection of images from peace of wall will be exhibited in the fotofreo festival, fremantle, western australia from march 20 thru april 18.
the images are part of a group exhibit entitled growing pains: timor leste 10 years on. it will be held in the moores building contemporary art gallery.
fotofreo is a month long international photography festival held every two years in fremantle, western australia.
the fotofreo 2010 festival will be comprised of a series of photographic exhibitions curated by fotofreo inc in dedicated venues including the fremantle arts centre, the western australian maritime museum, the moores building contemporary art gallery, and the fremantle prison. the festival will also host evenings of audio visual projections, panel discussions, lectures, conversations between professionals, a series of forums and lectures, floor talks, book launches, screenings of films about photography and a number of workshops including 3 run by photographers of magnum photos.
so if you're in the neigbourhood, do pop down.
the kind folk at affirm press have published peace of wall: street art from east timor. their website has more information on their publishing quest to influence by delight.
the book was designed and typeset by the lovely racket.
links to their respective websites can be followed beneath the words click click.
arte moris (art is life) is one of those places in our world where hope resonates and the future is cultivated. the shared spirit that shapes its community is boundless in its vision. its compound is, at once, family, commune, art school, music school, theatre school, life school, permaculture school and a place where tradition and history meet the present and mould a culture of a peaceful future. knowing the people behind this vibrant community has been a privelige. the following images have been taken, compiled and supplied by arte moris with the supervision of alfeo sanches - dear friend and funny man. the images are from june 2008 - june 2009. it would appear that we are only just seeing the beginning of something highly poignant in the post-conflict and post-colonial discourse of east timor.
"through these words - the words that we write - we don't write words about division and separation. we just write words about peace. we write, like, how can we strengthen unity in east timor?"
"in timor, because of the indonesian occupation, we never did anything like this. for those of us that enjoy painting, we didn't see foreigners doing it. noone came and said 'this is good work coming from timor.' this work simply came from within us and it was something that we wanted to express. it's like an expression of liberty."