Emptied cities. Happy September
Sardinian highlights and more cool stuff, in your 1st-of-the-month newsletter
how are you?
Here, Rome is about to get busier. Dog days are over, along with my annual romance with the city. We will fall in love again next August -when everybody and their car are away, and restaurant tables aren’t all over the (public) place.
You should know by now that August is my favorite month in Rome. I don’t even mind the heat -which, believe me, this year has been exhausting- because what I get from the empty city is extremely valuable -it’s actually how I recharge for the whole year ahead.
In August, I can walk along smog-free streets and finally take photos of street art without a double row of cars obstructing the view. I can say yes to impromptu pizzas with friends knowing it won’t take two hours to get there. I can hear the bus puffing two blocks away and, then, someone’s trolley rolling ever farther.
In the silent city, I can hear my thoughts more clearly, and this August, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Since I quit my job as the content manager of Amsterdam’s STRAAT museum, I’ve wanted to work on something new, but then, almost without realizing it, I slipped into my old freelance life made of writing assignments and street art tours.
I’m blaming Rome for it because life here is so (amazingly) overwhelming that, until now, I couldn’t sit down and connect the dots. In the empty days of August, however, I’ve done a lot of work to determine what I like to do (connecting with you) and what I can offer (providing bespoke traveling advice, creating personalized itineraries, and researching further off-grid + an insider’s perspective on the international urban art scene) and, although I still don’t know how these things will overlap in practice, I feel I made such a huge step forward only by setting the framework of my professional life, of what I want to do next.
Moreover, this week I’m researching for a speech I’m giving in October at Cagliari Urbanfest. Breaking down for an audience the work I’ve been doing with Blocal in the past 11 years will surely bring me new insights -perhaps even the missing piece of that puzzle that is my freelance life.
Until next month,
ps. Suppose you want to be the familiar face in the audience that makes public speaking more bearable. In that case, the conference is on October 7th -and October is such a fantastic time to visit Sardinia.
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Sardinia Highlights: three places you shouldn’t miss
1) Argentiera, urban art inside a former mining site
Among my favorite hidden gems in Italy is this secret place in Sardinia that mixes the two things I love to see when I travel: industrial archaeology and urban art.
2) The Murals of Orgosolo: Sardinian mural art at its best
Orgosolo Murals are the best-known example of mural art in Sardinia. Originated in the late 1960s to voice people’s feelings and opinions, this artistic phenomenon has no equal in Europe.
3) Macomer and its Muraghes Art Park
Some of the best street art in Sardinia can be found in Macomer, a small town in the Marghine region, well-known for its prehistoric monuments and its previous century’s economic boom that brought about an industrial revolution of sorts, only to be followed by a crisis that forced thousands of families to emigrate.
Depopulation is still a threat in Macomer, but things are turning around thanks to a group of youngsters who chose to move back and bring a renewed energy to the town by addressing local issues through public art and social sciences.
You somehow stumbled upon my blog and subscribed to the newsletter, but you have no idea who I am and how my blogging journey has unfolded so far? Here I share the ups and downs of my first 11 years of blogging :)
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Handpicked by yours truly
Street dispatch - August 22
»» Graffiti writers have often pushed their alphabet forward until the letters of their name turn into abstract figures. This is known as 'Graffuturism,' and one of the genre's most iconic artists is the Polish Pener, who has just completed an energizing mural in his hometown of Olsztyn.
The title -"Kaleidoscope"- made me think of my favorite toy as a child and the perpetual movement of the coloured objects tumbling inside it, which recalls the kinetic energy coming from Pener's graffiti years.
»» In July, Peeta realized an impressive Anamorphic Art piece in Pescara (Italy), but I was waiting for this making-of video by B4flight to write about it. Besides Peeta’s repeated shapes and unexpected perspectives, this short video shows the artist’s tools of the trade, such as the bubble level -a detail that had stuck into my mind since when I documented the day-by-day of his previous mural in Pescara in 2018, alongside the numeric codes he scribbles on paint cans ;)
Check out my article “Graffiti artist Peeta’s three-dimensional abstract shapes create a new rhythm in Montesilvano” to find out more about this fantastic artist.
»» Visionary Fam, a team of local artists from Gainesville, Florida, recreated Shepard Fairey’s popular anti-war design to raise funds for Ukraine. The “Can Art Help Fight a War” project was founded by the Ukrainian-American curator Irina Kanishcheva. I’m sharing this because I believe it’s essential to keep the conversation going -the war isn’t ended yet, and Ukrainians still need our help.
»» Speaking of Shepard Fairey, you have until November to visit the retrospective show “Eyes open - Minds open” at Lotte Museum in Seoul. (and if you go, send me a pic!)
»» One more from the East: the Brazilian twins Os Gemeos painted in Ishinomaki City, Japan, as part of the excellent program of the Reborn Art Festival, an event born to bring new life to the area devastated by the 2011 Earthquake.
Ps. loving the Miyazaki reference next to the left ear of the main character ;)
»» The Argentinian mural artist Milu Correch is back in Italy. She has just kicked off her summer tournée with a mural for Stramurales festival in Puglia.
Speaking of Milu Correch, I documented her creative process at the Appartengo festival in Stigliano (Italy) last year. Read the article on the blog -if you haven’t yet- to learn more about this incredible artist. (also, you might want to check out how do I look in a mural ;) )
»» Let’s stay in Stigliano, where this year’s Appartengo festival welcomed the English street artist Phlegm and his surreal characters. On Instagram, the artist wrote that here, for the first time in his career, he managed to move away from aerosol.
“All line work here is just brush and black paint. From now on, I plan to paint like this every time.”
»» One more exhibition you should be sending me pictures from: street art pioneer Blek Le Rat’s latest works are on show at the West Chelsea Contemporary gallery in New York City. Blek Le Rat is one of the first street artists ever: he began hitting the streets of Paris with his stencils in 1981, inspiring thousands of street artists ever since -Banksy included.
In fact, the Black Le Rat VS Banksy diatribe has been going on for years, and Black Le Rat himself has shown two opposite opinions, going from this:
“People say he copies me, but I don’t think so. I’m the old man, he’s the new kid, and if I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it. I feel what he is doing in London is similar to the rock movement in the Sixties.”
“When I see Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats, of course I see immediately where he takes the idea. I do feel angry. When you’re an artist you use your own techniques. It’s difficult to find a technique and style in art so when you have a style and you see someone else is taking it and reproducing it, you don’t like that. I’m not sure about his integrity. Maybe he has to show his face now and show what kind of guy he is” - from the documentary Graffiti Wars.
»» But let’s step away from this controversy and focus on the power of art. To celebrate his new exhibition, Blek Le Rat left a new piece in the streets of New York:
»» I've just discovered a great street art podcast made of long-form, in-depth interviews (really, I'm wondering why I hadn't stumbled upon it before!) It's called Street Art Unearthed, check it out:
»» Getting into graffiti means stepping into the magic world of typefaces. Graffiti writers deconstruct the alphabet and create it anew through the styled letters of their personal tag. This is why I believe you would like this youtube video on the history of typefaces as much as I did (and btw, struthless is one of my favorite creators)
»» The last link is one for the nerd ;) You can now find online all the conferences of the “Urban Creativity” symposium, which took place in Lisbon last July. All videos are saved on their facebook page, check it out.
Stuff I write when I’m not here
Open Calls for artists
Today (September 1st) is the last day to apply for the Art Book Salon SPRINT Milano 2022. If you have published independent art books (photography, illustration, comics, poetry, texts, graphic & typography, writing), you can get a table for free at this independent book fair (happening in November)
One more opportunity in Milan: you have time until September 5th to submit your poster designs to BASE Milano for their upcoming event “Cavalcavia.” The ten finalists will receive 500€ each and their posters will be showcased in the streets of Milan.
Yet another opportunity for poster artists: you can send your designs to Italy’s Paste Up festival (happening in Naples in September) until September 3rd.
Monochronicle (the public art platform behind the “Can Art Help Fight a War” project mentioned above) is looking for a mural artist for a public art project in Gainesville, Florida. This is a paid commission, and you should apply before September 5th.
Barcelona-based urban center B-Murals is looking for three artists to paint three medium-size murals in Prats de Lluçanès. Applicants must be resident in Catalunya, and apply before September 4th.
I’ll tell you once again: Gallery No. 32 is taking submissions of outdoor sculpture for their 3rd annual Winter Sculpture Park. Apply before September 18th.
You can apply to the prestigious Arte Laguna Prize until October 31st. Besides a specific section dedicated to Street and Urban Art, the Venice institution also welcomes applications from painters, photographers, video artists, sculptors, performing artists, designers and graphic artists.
A story worth reading -if you haven’t yet
Published in October 2015 from Skopje, Macedonia
My best friend’s big, fat, Balkan wedding
I met the other invitee from Italy at Rome airport. The reunion was joyful, as it always is when we meet again to bring back the crazy years spent living together in the Balkans. But this time we had one more reason to celebrate: our friend, with whom –during the years- we have shared some amazing Balkan experiences, was getting married.