Street Art Museums. Happy January
Rome street art vlog and more cool stuff, in your every-1st-of-the-month newsletter
I’m slowly emerging from the coziness of Christmas to wish you a happy new year and catch up a little. What have you been up to these days?
I’m in the countryside, writing much less than I would like to do, but it’s ok to rest for once. In January I will start working on a new street art book and I need to recharge my batteries.
In the past month I wrote about two different street art museums: Amsterdam’s STRAAT, with its marketing strategies and the well-researched collection, and Rome’s MAAM, an inhabited “NUNESCO site” at the opposite end of the street art museums spectrum.
They are not the first examples of street art off the street (fun fact: the first ever art gallery show with artworks by graffiti writers happened in Rome in 1979), but they represent, for me, two opposite answers to the question: is street art inside still street art?
At the end of this email, I’m also linking to an old post I wrote after visiting the Urban Nation Museum in Berlin, an institution with yet another feel, which comes from a completely different answer to that question.
It is, for me, interesting that street art museums stay well spaced along the spectrum even when their collections feature almost all the same artists. Through artworks that are just a few months older, the artists managed to adjust to the uniqueness of the museum, to their different answer to the crucial question. As for artists, therefore, they gave the same answer they do in the street: site-specificity.
If you want, let me know your opinion about street art museums and all the indoor and outdoor projects that aim at contextualising street art, like I also do in my writing. Do you feel we are adding something to the conversation, or rather are we leaving behind the spontaneity of the street? I have to wonder…
Until next month,
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Street Art Inside: The STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam
In 2018, I moved to Amsterdam to take part in an ambitious project: to turn a former shipyard building into the world’s largest museum of street art and graffiti. The STRAAT Museum eventually opened its doors in October 2020, and in this article is an overview of what you can discover there.
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MAAM, Rome’s Museum of the Other and the Elsewhere
The MAAM is not just a place where you can admire some of the best street art in Rome. Aside from being a museum, the MAAM is home to 200 people from different ethnicities. In 2009, they occupied an abandoned slaughterhouse located in the easternmost outskirts of Rome, which gave birth to one of the most interesting examples of cohabitation: the first inhabited museum on Earth.
New on Youtube!
Rome Street Art Vlog: Lungotevere, JB Rock, Ostiense, Montemartini
Handpicked by Yours Truly
Stuff I Liked This Month
What just happened in the street art world? Banksy released a T-shirt to raise money for the defendants of the four people charged with pulling down Colston’s statue in Bristol during a BLM manifestation in summer 2020.
To write my article about MAAM Museum, I rewatched the documentary Space Metropoliz (2011), which sparked the birth of Rome’s Museum of the Other and the Elsewhere. Here is the full movie:
Keeping up with the Street Art Museums theme of this newsletter, I’d like to recommend you the Art Talks series by Miami’s Museum of Graffiti. Here is a youtube playlist with the first 100 episodes.
Speaking of Miami, December is the month of the ultimate spraycation a.k.a. Wynwood Festival. Among the many great murals that have been painted this year, my favorite is a 10 x 60 meter long mural by the legendary graffiti crew 1UP (One United Power). In line with the festival spirit, this mural incorporates signature pieces, tags and tributes by several renowned graffiti crews from all over the world, from New York’s TatsCru to Miami’s MSG Crew.
“It is kind of a movie planet, we don’t know which planet it is, but it is a planet of the future – and there are all these Metro’s coming up out of the sand along with pyramids and street signs and figures.” - 1UP Crew
Another great mural painted in December is “Picudo Rojo” (red palm weevil, in English) by Spanish artist Gonzalo Borondo, which reflects on the theme of Anthtropocene (the significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems) by depicting a small coleopteran from tropical Asia considered an invasive exotic species, which has spread around the Iberian Peninsula.
“The arrival of this insect to the Iberian Peninsula is due to the importation of adult palms from Africa, bought for their low price. The intention of this insect is simply to survive, despite the havoc it wreaks on the habitats that host it and on which it feeds. The Blanca Park is remembered by its inhabitants with nostalgia as a place recognizable by its imposing palm trees. Today they stand perpendicular to the intervened wall as if they were a row of columns of an ancient temple.” - Gonzalo Borondo
This hilarious, lively tribute to singer Freddie Mercury by two great street artists who specialise in street interventions: the French OakOak and the Belgian Jaune. I love their collaborations, their styles truly complement each other.
On a lazy holiday evening I watched Don’t Look Up, a tragic comedy about a global crisis that exposes how disoriented and confused we became, because of our frustrated politicians, of a bad journalism based on clickbait news and polarization, and of our inability to see past our own nose (which, more often than not, is glued to a screen). Here is the trailer:
After visiting the museum in the vlog above, I added new photos to my article about Centrale Montemartini, which tells the story of this former thermoelectric power plant hosting an exhibition of marble statues from Ancient Rome (from the Capitoline Museums collection).
Last but not least, Australian muralist SNUG has just painted one of his terrific, hyper-realistic murals in Måløy, Norway:
Reply to this email to share with me what you liked this month!
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Connecting Artists and Art Opportunities
Open Call for Street Artists
*Paid Opportunity* The UN World Food Programme is looking for an artist to create a mural on their HQs in Rome (a surface of 130-150 sqm). Deadline: January 24. Info here.
From The Archive
The Urban Nation Museum and more Street Art in Berlin
Keeping up with the “Street Art Museums” theme of this newsletter, in this Berlin Street Art Guide you can find my review of Urban Nation Museum in Berlin.