Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sao Paulo Street Art Experience

I have been a fan of graffiti for a long time. Since the 80’s I’ve been interested in urban culture with a special passion for graffiti. I am in no way an expert in this realm but I have enjoyed taking friends and family on graffiti hunting excursions in every major city that I visit.

I have long taken pride in opening my friends’ eyes to the art that can be found on grimy street corners and dilapidated buildings (not to mention the sewer, though I’ve never toured one of those). Sao Paulo is one of my favorite cities for street art, its graffiti is brimming with colorful excitement and wonderful storylines.

Concept: To share my experience of standing on the streets of Sao Paulo in front long expanses of wall covered with graffiti, I would like to create an outdoor installation in New York that features the sights and sounds of Sao Paulo.

Mechanism: I have not finalized the vision for this project so here is an overview of its initial form and processes.

The source material for the exhibition would be created during my trip to Sao Paulo from late December through mid January. Assets will include pictures that can be stitched together to create continuous renditions of bombed walls, sounds from each location will be recorded to capture the happenings and mood of each locale, and videos of interviews with local residents and artists.

The interviews with residents would focus on their perspective on this art form. The interviews with artists would also encompass an exploration of their inspirations from the streets and other media such as music, video, art, design, etc.

All of these assets would be used to synthesize two separate experiences. The installation would be designed to re-create immersive life-sized experiences of the graffiti. There would be two to four separate locations that could be set in the same space or spread throughout the city. For maximum effect the audience will be surrounded on two sides by video screens projecting specific locations in Sao Paulo.

Each location would feature art and sounds from specific neighborhoods coupled with Brazilian artifacts and delicacies such as street foods, beverages, signage, and even garbage. I would also like to explore enabling the audience to interact with the photos by casting shadows, or by touching the panels to leave imprints and their own “graffiti” on the pictures.

The online experience would feature all of the pictures and sounds from the installation. They would also be able to view the new “graffiti” added to the panels by gallery visitors. Videos that feature the interviews and other behind the scenes content would also be featured online, uploaded through YouTube or another similar service (blip.tv, vimeo, etc).

A short list of ideal locations for this installation idea in New York include: roofdeck of the New Design High School, the lobby of the AIC Center (unlikely unless I take the big screens class), Bar 89, Rooftop Films (summer only).

Why Sao Paulo? I have to come clean and admit what most of you all already know: I am biased towards this city because I am originally from Sao Paulo and my family still lives there. It is also interesting to note that graffiti culture has thrived in Sao Paulo for a long time. Recently graffiti outnumbers outdoor advertisements in this city, since outdoor ads were banned a few years back (within city limits).

Next Steps: To create the my full vision will take several months of planning, however, I would like to do a mini trial run during my trip to Sao Paulo in December. Here is what I got take care of before I take off: enroll my cousin to join me on this project, contact the Choque Cultural gallery in SP to make initial contact, map out neighborhoods to scout for project.

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