Arte urbano para transformar: Boa Mistura at TEDxMadrid

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 09.10.2012

What drives you to leave the comfort of your house
at 3 a.m. to paint the city illegally?
You risk your neck, invest your time,
your money,
everything in order to
do something we believe is very important.
First of all, I'd like to introduce you to my colleagues:
Javier, architect,
Pablo, graphic designer,
Purone, advertising agent and illustrator,
There's Juan over there, he'll be playing the videos,
he's a Fine Arts graduate,
and I'm Rubén, civil engineer and plastic artist.
We all left behind our degrees and training
in order to connect with people, which we believe is the duty of every artist.
To move, surprise and inspire people.
A friend says, and I quote:
"Doctors cure,
Mechanics fix cars and artists
touch your heart."
We see urban art as a means to connect with people.
For us, the city is the perfect surface to perform on
for a variety of reasons. The first is
that there are no intermediaries.
There are neither critics nor galleries.
The artist-general public relationship is direct. Also, there is no audience segmentation.
Art on the street is for everybody, not only for those who go to a museum.
And the best thing about the city is that the scale is daunting.
The possibilities are massive.
If you perform in the city, however, you should do it with a purpose.
In order to make it part of the city, it must be constructive.
Throughout the years, with our work, we have
reached a conclusion that has become a maxim for us:
If our work does not improve the environment in which we intervene,
we don't carry it out.
Sometimes, you can restore public spaces by carrying out very simple actions
such as painting with white.
For example, we created this series of
portraits of urban artists, whose faces
appear, in a wink of metalanguage,
when partially cleaning the deteriorated surface with white.
As artists who perform in the city,
we have a responsibility to it, but we are also
responsible of the time in which we live.
Nowadays, words such as "crisis"
and "corruption" surround us.
These are very negative words which wear us out.
We want to reverse this process and enable positive
words to float around us. That's why
we paint "JOY"
or "Imagination makes us infinite".
We believe that the mark it leaves is very different.
There are always complicated cities, of course, like Madrid.
Madrid is full of thorns,
everything is difficult and complex here,
You need permits, there's a lot of bureaucracy, you have to express yourself...
Any freely given display in the city is quickly covered with gray.
But you can do art even with the color gray.
You can act like them and paint with gray.
You can leave a series of thought-provoking messages in the city, which
will make the viewer reflect upon the fact that they are painted with gray.
We wrote: "Madrid, I want you colorful"
"Life - (applause)
"Life can be a bed of roses".
Basically, a series of messages,
and of all these gray walls, the record time was
one week.
The one that lasted the least was up for 18 minutes
and Madrid's city hall now requires us to pay 6 thousand euros
in fines for painting "Sky-Blue".
Our - (applause)
We know our work is ephemeral
and we don't care,
not only do we not care; we believe it's that characteristic which makes it even more romantic,
more special.
Other times, our work lasts longer, as is the case of
Berlin. We painted a piece
called "Die Umarmung" (The Hug),
where two figures come together in an intimate embrace,
right in front of the Berlin Wall.
One of the figures bears the symbol of the East, and the other bears a tattoo of the symbol of the West.
They symbolize the encounter between East and West Germany and the two Europes,
which were divided until that moment.
We learned to conceptually link our work to the location,
making it more powerful. We painted this piece
on the East Side Hotel, located right in front of that piece of the Berlin Wall that is still standing.
When we explained all this to the owner of the hotel, before painting it,
He would ask us: "How much is this going to cost me?",
we would respond: "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It is our
personal tribute to dialogue,
to understanding. We want this to be our gift to Berlin."
And we paid for it out of our own pockets because we thought that made it even more special.
So we learned to reflect upon the specific space.
Since then, that concept,
that reflection in order to create something that made sense there
started gaining in importance, because our pieces aren't like paintings or other
works of art that you can carry from one place to another. They are fixed to a place.
So we thought:
Apart from being physically linked, if we manage to conceptually link our work
to a specific location, we'll make it even more perfect.
So, our work -
There's Hamar (Norway), for example.
An architectural studio called "Ecosistema Urbano" invited us
to Hamar to kickoff a process
that aimed to transform a parking lot into a square.
In order to develop this project, we drew inspiration
from the patterns on scandinavian
sweaters. For Norwegians, these patterns are like a national hallmark.
After interpreting these patterns and drawing inspiration
from those particular geometries, we painted the ground of the square.
In addition to modifying the public area, we managed
to modify people's perception.
We realized that this used to be a parking for them, but
once it was painted, it became a square.
It was only a thin coat of paint, but we realized it had worked.
After that, we got involved in a very special project
in South Africa. A gallery owner invited us
to Cape Town, to his artist-in-residence program called
"A Word of Art", to carry out a piece on the walls
of a town called Woodstock. It's a run-down
town on the outskirts of the city, it's dangerous,
it's a complicated place, but living there
the first few days, we realized Mandela had left
an important mark there. We have never heard the word
"inspiration" more times than we did in South Africa.
So, we wanted to contribute to that deep process
of change that is occurring in South Africa
and paint a series of walls, portraying icons
and positive statements to inspire young generations.
A neighbor gave us the key, he said:
"You never know where the next
Mandela will appear nor what could have influenced him to be who he is."
We also had the chance to travel around there,
well, it's in the outskirts of Cape Town,
a township with three million inhabitants.
It's a huge ocean of shacks
and people live there under very difficult conditions.
A cycling club was created there...
The founder began training three kids, and at present
he trains three hundred. This cycling club called
Velokhaya became a source of oxygen
for that community, because it's a place
where kids not only do sports,
but they also learn values like teamwork,
discipline and a profound sense of belonging to a community.
This inspired us and we thought: "Let's get them involved,
let's get the instructors and the kids to paint together
with us." Something that seemed
mundane at first, was actually a turning
point for us. We realized that through participatory art,
people not only modify their environment
but also the way they interact with it.
For these kids, their cycling club wasn't
just any club anymore. It was the cool spot in town.
And they were proud because
they had painted it.
This blew us away. We were amazed and we realized
we had to repeat and multiply
these types of experiences. We saw that
our work could have a social component
and that it could be a tool for change in communities.
We don't know how we'll do it
because South Africa was an altruistic project
that we paid for as well.
We're always on the edge but we
know exactly want we want to do,
which is to use urban art as a tool for change
or a dynamic tool in these kinds of communities.
A project we called "Crossroads".
Fortunately, the second stage arrived soon
and occurred in Brazil, in January of this year.
There in Brazil, specifically in São Paulo,
in the outskirts of São Paulo, in a place that is already magical due to its name,
it's called Brasilandia...
We were lucky enough to meet Dimas there, who
opened up the doors of his house for us and invited us to live
with his family, who treated us as if we were five more sons
and became our own family, the Reis Gonçalves.
Living in Brasilandia was a really special experience,
we got to understand the favela, it's a fascinating place.
People live very close to each other,
this makes their relationships very intense, and
its architecture, which appears to be chaotic and disorganized,
holds a very special beauty for us, we think it has a vast potential.
From our point of view, these hills are tremendously beautiful.
We never had a preliminary idea for this project either,
we wanted to see what the place had to offer, breathe the area.
We realized that those alleys, which are a distinctive
element of the favela's urban fabric as they link the upper
area to the lower one, - well, we saw that
even though they represented the veins that articulate and
enable the neighbours to access their homes,
they were dark and dirty places.
So, we thought: "Let's bring in some light.
Let's bring in light and color."
We thought we could make use of anamorphosis
and put some -
well, it's a technique where, from a specific angle,
the passerby can observe how
everything comes together. That abstraction flattens out
and suddenly something magical appears. In this case, a word.
We painted the five words that we thought
defined Brasilandia,
modifying the alleys. This one is "Beleza" (Beauty),
"Firmeza" (Strength),
"Amor" (Love),
"Orgulho" (Pride).
I'm not sure if you got to see "Doçura" (Sweetness). But
the best thing of all was working side by side with the neighbors
of those alleyways. This can all be
summarized in an experience that we filmed
a documentary on (15 minutes long), you can see it online.
It's called "Luz nas vielas" and it was a very complete project
for us, because it brought everything together,
we modified the public space
in order to link the location with those
words that represent the mirror of Brasilandia,
and more importantly, we got the neighbors to feel
proud of their streets, because they had painted
them, they had cleaned and transformed them
into a colorful box that they were proud of.
We always say that we come back from
these trips with more than what we left there, however much we paint.
The truth is, we come back feeling more complete,
more full of light and full of strength to keep fighting
in order to make the impossible possible. Now, we wish to
perform urban art on a large scale.
We don't want to transform a few alleys of a particular favela,
but the favela as a whole. A town, a city.
And improve the ties between the people and the places where they live.
We chose a life that, as we like to see it,
is like a rollercoaster: it's full of exciting
moments, vertigo, fast and furious slopes and
slow and tough up-hill inclinations,
you feel you're never going to make it because you don't
have a steady income or anything else to hold on to.
But as occurs in all rollercoasters, once you get down
you're shaking, your hair stands on end
and all you want to do is ride on it again.