Saturday, February 23, 2008

3 x Border Crossings

Border Crossings is a hobby project I've been fooling around with for over five years. While travelling, I've collected more than 2000 photos of street art from different cities, from South-America to Asia, from Africa to Europe. Project has been exhibited a few times, most recently as a part of Lens Politica-festival. In the exhibitions the pictures are printed on small stickers. Stickers a popular and tragi-comically controversial form of street art in Helsinki - people have been punished with ridiculously heavy sentences for sticking little pieces of paper on public walls.

At the Border Crossings-exhibition people can pick their favourite pieces of street art, in format of handly little stickers, and do what ever they want with them. Stick them on the fridge door - or spread them out to the local streets and make the project into a sort of international street art exchange. Although I don't really like the term street art and I would like to include more traditional graffiti into to the project, it's hard to do justice to bigger pieces and productions on such a small scale, so the collection consists mostly of stencils and smaller works.

As a little peek into the street art-culture in South America, here are a few pictures I've collected along the way. With an exception of Brazil, the best street artists on the continent are probably found in Valparaiso, Chile. The city has taken admirably open-minded stance to the graffiti and people are painting the streets of the cerros, the residential districts on hills around the port, in broad daylight. This policy reaps beautiful profits - unfortunately my camera got stolen in the very same city and I only have left the smaller stencil-pictures I took with the crappy camera of my cellphone. But they are pretty interesting too and also provide a few insights into the political issues in the country.

Click here to see the photos from Valparaiso (Flickr)

The street art in Brazil comes in numerous original styles. The bigger productions are as colourful as the country itself and are excecuted with a skill and grace of a capoeira-dancer. Pictures from Santa Teresa and Lapa-districts of Rio de Janeiro can only give a pale idea of what the huge pieces really look like.

Click here to see the photos from Rio de Janeiro (Flickr)

Yet there is also another, highly original style of graffiti in Brazil. Pictures from Curitiba, the capital of the wealthy Paraná-state, include some examples of this style. These pieces are extremely crude, brutal and minimalistic tags, painted in huge size and in highly inaccessible and visible places. In Sao Paulo I've witnessed whole highrises painted in this fashion, from rooftop to the street level. I love the unique, rune-like typography and the certain back-to-the-roots-brutality of these works. There's little style, they are all about spreading your name, getting up - often very literally. Primitive, tribalistic painting meets the concrete futurism of Oscar Niemayer.

Click here to see the photos from Curitiba (Flickr)

Download the illustration in wallpaper-size (direct link)

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