In this photo collection, colleagues from the Goethe Institutes in Montreal, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, Toronto and Washington, D.C. took photos of street art in their respective cities. We have sorted our discoveries into thematic series. In the beginning, we started the blog with a series of our favourite pieces, followed by works by German artists in our cities. In the course of time, however, new ideas were added, which are presented here in loose succession. Apart from city specials and current topics, #artbits also contains relevant articles on artists that we found particularly interesting.
Liquid, flowing, cold, warm, volatile, almost always hard to grasp, valuable but cheap(free in Montreal), sometimes too little or way too much, clean for cleaning or terribly dirty, leaded chlorinated salted distilled evaporated and therefore or nevertheless predestined to get its own series in our Artbits blog: Water. 💦 The mystical element that everyone likes but only appreciates when it's missing. Stories about water can be fun, funny, tragic or informative - and so our little series about the liquid element has become just as diverse - with contributions from Canada, Germany, Mexico and the USA.
Black Lives Matter Fence in Washington's Foggy Bottom | © Various artists, Photo: Mike Macguire
...from an Artbits perspective
The project Shaping the Past of the Goethe-Institut is about ways of dealing with the past: What are the social effects when monuments and memorials are charged with history? Is it possible to reshape the current culture of remembrance with alternative and innovative approaches? But there are also modern monuments, as this year's Black Lives Matter fence in Washington, D.C. was able to impressively demonstrate: an ephemeral monument of the present. And the Artbits team found two more great examples of a shaped past, presented below.
Television - This parallel world, both hated and loved, has shaped the last century, bringing joy and sorrow, stupification and enlightenment, suspense and relaxation to the masses. It has turned ordinary people into larger-than-life heroes and shrunk important personalities into patsies. Very real history was reinterpreted and utopian futures were dreamed of. Their protagonists are better known than some world leaders and are part of public conversation like neighbors or colleagues.
The suspicion that the reality you serve up is not what it claims to be will grow.
Theodor W. Adorno
The old post office site in the Berlin district of Spandau has - at least temporarily - become a place of the arts. This was made possible by the fact that the site was given over to associations such as "Neuen Urbanen Welten" (New Urban Worlds), whose activities on the site were aimed at reviving Spandau's cultural scene and bringing together creative people of all kinds. The abandoned and derelict premises of the Alte Post were used, among other things, as a shooting location for music videos and as a venue for events, and the old parcel hall on the premises was rebaptized “Urban Art Hall”, a space dedicated to Street Art. Mostly local, but also international artists were to present themselves here legally and in a creative, exchange-oriented environment. And that's what some of Mexico's best street art artists have done, and this series showcases some of the best pieces. In October 2019, New Urban Worlds came to an end, with the creation of offices, condominiums and other commercial spaces. But the story contionues: The Neue Urbane Welten is already looking for new premises!
#artbits pretty ugly. Looking for the unsightly within the familiar we found some nice and notably nasty artbits. But what is ugly anyway– isn’t it always in the eye of the beholder?
Street art is everywhere and speaks to everyone. It is full or void of color, loud or calm, gaudy or subtle and sometimes more queer than straight. Our new series Queer as Artsy Folk is about queer street art - by queer artists with attitude, mission and goal. Whether Homo Riot confronts the public with their homophobia or Hugo Gyrl sends the militantly encouraging You Go Girl through the continents - queer street art has many exciting facets. A few of them we show here.
The ubiquity of street art and the inexhaustible number of public walls, columns, telephone booths, subway trains, the fact that public space is exactly that – public – encourages (forces!) its use as a political medium. Street art as a means of protest, as an expression of dissatisfaction and demands for or against prevailing circumstances is as old as it is itself.
Not only since Banksy and other superstars in the political art scene has street art served a higher purpose. Our bloggers have devoted themselves to this phenomenon in this series - as always without the claim of completeness or representativeness. That would be impossible simply because of the large amount of great, relevant, exciting street art – and it wouldn't be fair either. That's why we've made a very personal selection to take a look at this world of political art – artivism in Los Angeles, Mexico, Montreal, New York, and Washington, D.C. – and to take a closer look at the world of political art.
Montreal from spring to autumn, that means festival season: for the past 5 years, solidly embedded between the Experimental Dance and Theater Festival Transamériques and the Montreal International Jazz Festival there is the international street art festival MURAL. Its visibility makes the festival one of the major events of the year - it takes place on the boulevard St-Laurent, the so-called "Main", one of the principle arteries of the city, the demarcation line between its eastern and western part and even without a festival one of the most dynamic streets of the metropolis. The organism MU ("Transformer Montréal en Musée à ciel ouvert" - Montreal becomes an open-air museum) also contributes to the city's diversity of exciting street art. In our Montreal city special, we present some of the works that have been produced over the last few years at the MURAL festival or with the support of MU.
Originally from Germany, Lord Jim lives with his wife and sons in Los Angeles where he also does the most damage.
His photos and musings on street art have been published in numerous books and articles. ( Most notably Stay Up - Los Angeles Street Art with author Jim Deichendt / Shepard Fairey Inc. by Jim Deichendt / Banksy - You are an acceptable level of threat by Carpet Bombing Culture, etc.) His sizable Street Art photo collections can be found on his Flickr pages. Lord Jim thinks that Banksy smells like soup.
Through the years, he has worked as a portrait photographer, documentary filmmaker, and graphic designer. He watches hundreds of films each year and has attended major festivals such as the Berlinale, Cannes, and Sundance. He is also Director of the San Joaquin International Film Festival, which he founded in 2008. An avid traveler, he has been to 60 countries around the world.