Covid-19: what is happening to street art?

Un'opera di street art a via Port'Alba, Napoli © Loredana Desiato /

A street art work in Via Port’Alba, Naples © Loredana Desiato /

If you are reading this article, you are likely to be someone who would walk in a museum or who has done so in the past. You are part of that target of people educated to recognize effortlessly and without asking too many questions that, once you have crossed the main door, what you will face in front of your eyes will be – there is no doubt – art. The reason is that the museum itself, or the gallery, in any case the institution, has already decided for us. Focus and gaze are guided by the previously defined conditions of use. Siegfried J. Schmidt would have said that the visitors hold the aesthetic judgment only and that they are just called to confirm the artistic judgment, namely the recognition or denial of the artistic nature of the work. It doesn’t work like that when we talk about street art.

Public, street, urban, site-specific art: however you want to call it, the act of naming it already suggests the essential connection with the city space, therefore the idea behind a type of art that exists outside the museums. Set amongst the urban fabric, the path of this kind of art is opposite to that of the works exhibited in the galleries’ confined spaces. Here, the tension of the audience towards the work is not expected, neither premeditated; instead, the work must break into the attention flow of the spectator, recall its gaze and conquer it within the chaotic «urban jungle». In other words: if in the first case the spectators went to the artwork’s house, in the second case it is the artwork that goes to the spectator’s home. Then it collides with an audience that is no longer a «type», a target, but rather heterogeneous and stratified, living on the city streets and possibly able to recognize the artistic nature of what is seen or, otherwise, not do it. This is an audience that is not content to accept, obediently, an artistic judgment, but who wants to express it.

But if a pandemic comes to empty the streets, what happens to public art? If there are no more eyes to conquer, nor the chaos from which to emerge, how does the (also political) identity of street art change?

Street art is then a mainly political language, as it overturns the hierarchies of the domain of art, depriving the institution of the privilege of validating the artwork. It is a type of art that exists above all – if not exclusively – in relation to the audience and its gaze: the artist’s aura is not enough to define its value. Finally, it is a kind of art based on conflict, because if it is true and holy that the spectators have every right to express an artistic judgment on a work that occupies the spaces of their «property» (the facade of their own building, the street that they cross every day to go to work, the neighborhood where they spend their free time…), it is also true that street art appears without first knocking on the door of the whole neighborhood, consequently accepting protests and attempts to intervene.

But if a pandemic comes to empty the streets, what happens to public art? If there are no more eyes to conquer, nor the chaos from which to emerge, how does the (also political) identity of street art change?

I asked more than twenty artists who sent me their thoughts.

You'll find the thoughts of:
Millo | MissMe | Manu Invisible | La Fille Bertha | Iabo | Göla Hundun | Iena Cruz | Neve | Fabio Petani | Alessandro “Dado” Ferri | FLYCAT | Alessandra Carloni | Giulio Vesprini | Coquelicot Mafille | Gummy Gue | Nico Lopez Bruchi x EDFcrew | Gonzalo Borondo | XEL | Ale Senso | Kiki Skipi | Andrea Tarli | Zibe (Nabla&Zibe) | Giulia “Noeyes” Salamone | Luigi Loquarto

Millo: «My works are reinterpreted in the light of the current sensations»

In foto, l'opera Handle with care (2019), di Millo, Casablanca

In the photo, the work Handle with care (2019), by Millo, Casablanca

«Personally, I am living this period of time devoting myself to concurrent passions and also to work on other supports. I am not living this quarantine as something immutable, therefore I feel as if I was simply put on hold, until the day I get back on a man lift.

«In the past month, thanks to the current situation, I have witnessed almost a greater attention to my artworks. The role of social media is to allow sharing with others what we want, so it happened that many of my works found a new destination. There have been several people who have published photos of my mural works on their profiles because those are in line with their current sensations and have thus allowed others to see, through their images, what is not currently open to the public.

«I don’t think you can no longer look at street art, at the moment the point of view has simply shifted».

web-ico |instagram-ico @_millo_ |facebook-ico Millo

MissMe: «It’s better to give courage to one than being seen by a hundred»

In foto, l'artista MissMe in posa con uno degli esemplari della sua opera-firma, The Portrait of a Vandal

In the photo, the artist MissMe posing with a sample of her signature-work The Portrait of a Vandal

«I believe it all depends on the original intention behind the art itself. I believe some are watching, depending on where you live. Here in Canada, we are still allowed to go for a walk. So even though there is very little, if not almost nobody in the streets, if your work is just seen by one, and gives them hope or courage, then it’s better than being seen in a normal circumstance, by a hundred».

web-ico |instagram-ico @miss_me_art |facebook-ico MissMe

Manu Invisible: «Virtual vision is not real experience»

In foto, l'opera Conforto. Tributo Covid-19 (2020), di Manu Invisible, Milano

In the photo, the work Conforto. Tributo Covid-19 (Solace. Covid-19 Tribute, 2020), di Manu Invisibile, Milano

«In the relation between context, user and work of art – the pillar of my creative process –, I believe that an important element is found in the “non-places” of cities. In fact, I happened to create permanent works in Piazza del Duomo in Milan, a context that is yes chaotic, but not dilapidated, and very close to the museum exhibition reality, in which the impact with the user is very close (due to the housing central bubble, in its own right, which creates a “neighborhood-like” perception).

«These thoughts make me think that, within the city, the mural work benefits from the impact with the user for a half, while the relationship with the viewer is built from other aspects, for the remaining 50%: cognitive processes which are activated in the vision of a mural work and which are closely connected to the context and the “first-person” nature of the experience. The virtual vision of the work is equivalent to a “reading experience”, which does not allow the same kind of involvement. In this period in which the public of street art becomes non-existent, however, social networks remain the last and only filter of interaction between art and users. It is therefore a form of “modified” street art, but conditions will change and return to normal».

web-ico |instagram-ico @manu_invisible |facebook-ico Manu Invisible

La Fille Bertha: «Art has become the guardian of the city»

In foto, l'opera Rifiorire e ricostruire pensieri (Rebuilding Thoughts, 2017), di La Fille Bertha, per l'Ordine degli Psicologi della Sardegna, Periferie esistenziali, Cagliari

In the photo, the work Rifiorire e ricostruire pensieri (Rebuilding Thoughts, 2017) by La Fille Bertha, for the Order of Psychologists of Sardinia, Periferie esistenziali, Cagliari

«In these times, urban art has certainly lost most of its interlocutors: the random and totally heterogeneous spectators who come across it in an unpredictable and uncontrolled way. Its users, who are then the users of public spaces, are now essentially unable to move freely in the urban fabric, consequently their possibility of encountering these works and productions is essentially reduced, if not almost entirely absent.

«All these works are projected in my thoughts and in my imagination. They are melancholic and romantic images, of depictions as dozing in desolate cities. Although vaguely nostalgic, these images of suspended artworks are beautiful: they have become guardians of cities, spectators of this suspended time.

«I like to think about the fact that I am always there, even now that we no longer inhabit the streets as before, mainly unspoilt, protected, but at the same time exposed as always to their ephemeral and changing nature, to more or less accelerated erosion. No one observes them, fewer spectators can contemplate them, yet they are there, as they have always been since they were born, with changing conditions, changing seasons, changing in their consideration within society.

«At the moment, urban art is also reduced in its production, if not nearly absent: nobody looks at it but nobody produces it, it is also dozing in this sense. It will be able to be reborn in new forms and new productions as we will have the opportunity to re-inhabit the spaces. In the meantime, the works are there, they live and coexist on the walls without haste; they are still present even for those few passers-by who can still observe it. Urban art lives its own life».

web-ico |instagram-ico @lafillebertha |facebook-ico La Fille Bertha

Iabo: «Everything has changed before Covid-19»

In foto, l'opera War Brands (2018), di Iabo, Napoli

In the photo, the work War Brands (2018), by Iabo, Napoli

«Given the emergency situation that keeps us forced at home, it is currently difficult for those who work exclusively in the open air to bring street art “indoors”. The street artists themselves are born on the streets and need to be devoured, observed and consumed by everyone, analogically speaking. If we remove this factor, the “pieces” have no reason to exist: they remain alone with the cities and without the most important element, the audience.

«As far as I’m concerned, everything has changed for me already some time ago. From ex-writer to street artist, by your definition, all my experience in placing images in the urban context – with a certain communicative terrorism and stylistic imposition – has shifted over time and has transformed into digital, being consumed mainly through social medias and the web in general. Interestingly enough, today I think it is more important to impose oneself on the web than on the street. The perception of images in people’s eyes is changing radically and rapidly, just at the speed of a click».

web-ico |instagram-ico @iabo |facebook-ico IABO WORLD

Göla Hundun: «My work is enhanced, now that we can think about our impact on the world»

In foto, l'opera Causa prima (2017), di Göla Hundun, Bruxelles

In the photo, the work Causa (Cause, 2017), by Göla Hundun, Brussels

«Regarding my work, there could be no better time, as what drives my art is precisely the return of the nature to the city. My walls are nothing more than hymns to the re-homogenization between the space regulated by human dynamics and that of the needs of other living species.

«At this moment, as humans are confined in their housing boxes, the other animals have found the urban space ready to welcome them. A new usable, silent and welcoming area, free of exhaust gases and the ultra-speed of cars. The mission of my murals was thus paradoxically accomplished by losing the human users of the same. I hope animals can benefit positively from my outdoor interventions, especially those that incorporate nest-houses for birds or other animals.

«I hope that this moment of quarantine is received both by the entire population and by the leaders of economic and political power as a moment to think on our impact on the world, on what is necessary and what is superfluous, on what our position towards the world after the Covid-19 pandemic should be, so that we human beings can finally coexist in harmony with other species and with the world, abandoning once and for all the pyramid scheme that sees the human at the top. This conception that led us to the historical moment we are experiencing today».

web-ico |instagram-ico @golahundun |facebook-ico Gola Hundun

Iena Cruz: «Creating a mural is not the same if there is no interaction»

In foto, l'opera Hunting Pollution (2018), di Iena Cruz, quartiere Ostiense, Roma. Il murale è realizzato con un particolare tipo di pittura, in grado di assorbire gli agenti inquinanti presenti nell'aria

In the photo, the work Hunting Pollution (2018), by Iena Cruz, Ostiense neighborhood, Rome. The mural is made with a particular type of painting, able to absorb the pollutants present in the air

«I think that nowadays street art is seen more than ever. For years now, thanks to social media, street art has become increasingly popular and accessible to everyone, simply by sitting on the sofa in your own home. It no longer matters where a mural is created, because in the end it will always be posted on Instagram, Facebook or even Google Art & Culture, allowing everyone to see it from anywhere in the world.

«I happened to speak with friends from Milan who complimented me on my latest work, which was carried out in the Milanese city. When I asked them if they had seen it live, some people replied that they hadn’t done it yet, but had seen it on Instagram. So, street art is still looked at by everyone, as it is no longer necessary to go out on the street to do it; live consumption remains necessary to appreciate its colors and dimensions, but this is not a necessity for everyone.

«What has definitely changed during this lockdown for us, mural artists, is obviously the limitation of not being able to leave the house and, consequently, not being able to paint in public spaces. Even if we find the possibility of making a wall on the street, we still lose one of the most beautiful sensations of when you make a wall in a public space: the interaction with people who stop, observe, ask questions and eventually turn into new acquaintances or friendships».

web-ico |instagram-ico @ienacruz |facebook-ico Federico Massa Iena Cruz

Neve: «With today’s emotions we weave tomorrow’s works»

In foto, l'opera Leucosia (2017), di Neve, Castellabate (SA)

In the photo, the work Leucosia (2017), by Neve, Castellabate (Salerno)

«I have always considered art as a dialogue between what the authors experience and channel and their audience. Street art is no exception, it simply addresses a wider and diverse audience, but at the moment even museums are closed, so art in general suffers.

«In the current circumstances, a good artist has the duty to live the present intensely in order to be influenced by emotions and to be able to portray them later. The existing walls and paintings still live in the documentation, but the future ones are being woven now. For too many years, emotional stagnation has forged works that are too cerebral to become immortal.

«Art does not lose meaning if no one looks at it, it is the audience that is penalized for not being able to use its cathartic action. The walls continue to speak even if nobody listens to them. The dialogue is interrupted only when the artwork is empty».

web-ico |instagram-ico @neve._ |facebook-ico Neve

Fabio Petani: «This pause allows us to stop and reason»

In foto, l'opera Silicon & Arum Italicum (‘O sciore cchiù felice, 2018), di Fabio Petani, Parco dei Murales (INWARD), quartiere Ponticelli, Napoli

In the photo, the work Silicon & Arum Italicum (‘O sciore cchiù felice, 2018), by Fabio Petani, Parco dei Murales (INWARD), Ponticelli neighborhood, Naples

«In this historical moment, our field has certainly been living a decisive setback, just as in all sectors. Of course, we are all respecting the directives and therefore our work, not being of primary necessity, is postponed until a later date.

«Something I am glad to realize is that this forced break allows me, and other artists, to stop and think and study the work at best. It seems trivial but, with the chaotic and hectic times we were used to, moments to reflect and make the critical point of our work were not so many. Often from March to November I am on the road for work: between travels, murals, works and design, time was always limited. Now we stop forcibly, but it is not an irremediable bad thing, although we hope that things will improve as soon as possible.

«In the meantime, numerous social and charitable initiatives are being created from the union of urban artists, linked to the creation of sketches or charity auctions, with direct donations to hospitals and healthcare institutions».

web-ico |instagram-ico @fabiopetani |facebook-ico Fabio Petani

Alessandro “Dado” Ferri: «Let’s consider the unlived street art as useless»

In foto, l'opera Without Frontiers (2019), di Dado Ferri, festival Lunetta a Colori, quartiere Lunetta, Mantova

In the photo, the work Without Frontiers (2019), by Dado Ferri, Lunetta a Colori festival, Lunetta neighborhood, Mantova

«Street art, as a public or decorative art, as an artistic object or message, loses the user, therefore its audience and its value, just as the frieze, the decoration, the adornment and any decorative or functional accessory lose their meaning. Likewise, the streets lose the function of uniting, together with their character of frenzy and movement.

«It is on the border with the useless that the deepest sense of street art is revealed. Instead writing, the mother of all that is street art today, never needed an audience, but a scene; it does not move to create beauty or to seek functionality or a reason to exist. The condition for which the “graffiti” stands is given by the language and the play of the composition of the shapes. What makes a language virtuous is not its beauty, but the practical and creative act of communicating.

«I think it could be useful to exercise and share a language as if it was a game, therefore to live the condition of the street not as a user but as a “player”. I invite everyone to consider street art as useless if it is not attended and if it becomes an unlived place, an office where nobody works. Let’s go back to the primary sense of things: street art without the noun “art” remains an empty street. Game and participation make art linked to the street a way to create a poetics that collects the signs of being together».

web-ico |instagram-ico @dadoferri |facebook-ico Dado Ferri

FLYCAT: «People enact that urban art survives with their energy»

In foto, l'opera Magnificat (2019), di FLYCAT, Milano

In the photo, the work Magnificat (2019), by FLYCAT, Art building, Milan

«I start by specifying that I am part of the movement called writing, consequently my work focuses on the attention for the letter-element. As a writer, since the time when I was working in hiding with my PWD crew, there was never so much importance given to the question that the work (piece) created had to be seen by many people. Specifically, I have always focused on my research and on the emotional impact that my work could have had on myself and therefore on my artistic and personal life.

«I don’t look at Milan as a depopulated city. People are there and you can feel it through the energy they give off. Yesterday I had to go out to the supermarket and I looked at the windows and balconies of the houses around my street: even if I didn’t see people, I knew they were there, and this – being aware of it! – was important to me. Every artist owns a unique energy, each to varying degrees, that makes them capable of subverting the order of things, at least philosophically, if not spiritually. Art cannot be stopped, but it can be regenerated: for this reason, I believe that the close relationship between my urban artistic expressions and the underlying architecture does not die in the absence of an observer, but rather nourishes on that evocative energy that it is hidden, like the people at the window.

«Urban art has always been for a few people, for those who go beyond that wall! Since well before the quarantine, our movement is at the center of an isolation, determined by the desire to maintain a certain independence from the so-called “intelligentia” of art. Nobody can claim the right to impose his own vision of art: the involuntary spectator must be able to pronounce his judgment, be it positive or negative, towards any urban pictorial intervention.

«Many tend to incorporate writing within an “academic” definition of street art, but for me the street has nothing to do with art. Street has to do with survival, with pain and the beauty behind the pain itself. I didn’t choose the road as a school of life, I ended up there, but I accepted it anyway; with it and in it I grew up. One of the substantial differences between the writing movement and street art lies right here: in accepting the rules of the game and, if you can, also changing them. I believe, in part, that I did it».

web-ico |instagram-ico @flycat_y1_thenewscriba |facebook-ico FLYCAT

Alessandra Carloni: «Street art now shared on socials send us thinking about the future»

In foto, l'artista Alessandra Carloni in posa con la sua opera Cuci la ferita (2019), Baronissi (SA)

In the photo, the artist Alessandra Carloni posing with her work Cuci la ferita (Sew the wound, 2019), Baronissi (Sassarri)

«The question is fully centered, because normally this would have been the period of urban art festivals, of public or private invitations for the realization of murals all over Italy. This work is of course interrupted in the period we are going through.

«Right now, street art cannot have that relationship with the territory and the public where its main purpose normally resides, which is to leave a message, to raise the cultural and urban degradation of some neighborhoods of the city or the faith of some abandoned hamlets.

«However, and especially in recent years, urban art has also been one of the most shared forms of art expression on social media, making it almost an art of costume and fashion. From this point of view, even in such a dark and still period like the present one, the language of the wall can continue to survive precisely through social media, with images and photographs taken both by professionals as well as by people around the world before the global quarantine, thus potentially becoming a further tool of sharing in this moment of closure, in which we feel the need for inputs and images that remind us of tomorrow».

web-ico |instagram-ico @alessandra_carloni |facebook-ico Alessandra Carloni

Giulio Vesprini: «Culture will have to start again as the central engine of the country»

In foto, l'opera E N D (2019), di Giulio Vesprini, Eternelles Crapules Festival, Moutiers (FR)

In the photo, the work E N D (2019), by Giulio Vesprini, Eternelles Crapules Festival, Moutiers

«Institutional and independent exhibition realities, circumscribed and confined in a specific physical space, experience today an absolute void that never happened before, as much as “urban museums”. Urban objects made to be lived in a continuous exchange between inside and outside turn into desert lands. Suddenly, one finds himself deprived of that culture made up of presence, perhaps often even taken for granted. The works of urban art remained orphaned of their best audience, the spontaneous, casual or sought-after-one; in other words, it lacks all that democratic aspect that this discipline possesses in comparison with others. Thinking that there is plenty of painting unnoticed, no longer accessible to the stealthy gaze of the beholder, weakens the message very much.

«Perhaps, we are realizing how important and decisive the culture of the project is for a country. We can see it from the amount of artistic content shared on the web by the world’s greatest museums, from the many art events that fill our days: the web becomes more culturally inclusive, distances are shortened and interesting initiatives are discovered to satisfy this need for art and culture, not necessarily dealing with the virus.

«Street art is born in a precise context and it is there that it must be lived, realized, criticized, observed: in the street and on the street. The web can momentarily cover the blank space generated by the current crisis, but following aseptic photographs or virtual tours of painted walls from within a screen cannot last long. We need to be aware that the Internet will not be the exclusive solution: the desire to escape and take back urban spaces is very much felt and I hope it will turn into a new consciousness, so as not to make the same mistakes again. We will go back on the streets and we will necessarily make it renewed, more focused on what is necessary. We will have to support with more strength the high value of culture, that should no longer stand among the options of a country but be the core engine of the social and economic life of a civil society».

web-ico |instagram-ico @giuliovesprini |facebook-ico Giulio Vesprini

Coquelicot Mafille: «We have a new gaze, we’ll have to try to keep it»

In foto, l'opera Le vent tourne (Il vento gira, 2019), di Coquelicot Mafille, Parigi

In the photo, the work Le vent tourney (The wind turns, 2019), by Coquelicot Mafille, Paris

«I cannot tell whether street art has changed because nobody can behold it at the moment, I rather think that this new situation has changed the artists themselves. As far as I am concerned, during this period I did not feel like going out and spontaneously painting in the city, as I did before the confinement. It is because, first of all, I shifted my mental and emotional priorities to something else and something less than actual creation. Secondly, although I told myself that the situation was absurdly perfect – empty streets, deserted city – to make urban art, I did not have the burst to exploit it. Out of respect, of caution, of good taste.

«I believe that having experienced the enlarged and amplified space and time of the city in this period, the fact that outside our homes the world continued to exist without our actual presence and that we ourselves started crossing the streets with a modified intent, brought more attention to our gaze. I have always used to look up towards the sky, to notice terraces and roofs, but in the empty city I was able to dwell on details I would not have caught when in confusion and noise. Urban art, in this context, manifests itself more evidently, it has a whole stage all to itself.

«In the case of virtual fruition, the casual aspect and that of personal research, or that of “hunting” and discovery for certain art lovers, is missing. There is always in fact a game between the artist who inserts a piece in the urban context and the one who will find it. Walking through the desert streets, we will have noticed details we have not seen before and it would be interesting to keep this kind of look even when the streets will fill up again. When we can finally go out again, we will take back the streets and it will be interesting to see the transformation».

web-ico |instagram-ico @coquelicotmafille |facebook-ico Coquelicot Mafille

GummyGue: «Street art remains in the collective imagination»

L'opera Playground (2016), di Gummy Gue, parco Carlo Carrà, Alessandria, in una foto di Ugo Galassi

The work Playground (2016), by Gummy Gue, Carlo Carrà park, Alessandria, in a photo by Ugo Galassi

«This particular moment we are experiencing has turned our cities into urban deserts. The streets we walked every day, the corners, the facades, the squares, have taken on the appearance of a still and silent scenario, wrapped in a metaphysical atmosphere. Everything seems to have stopped due to the effect of a spell and what nourished and inspired urban art appears to have suddenly vanished. The shop signs and windows have gone out and the flow of people has stopped with them. The subway wagons, where it all began, where the graffiti adventure began, have stopped.

«It is difficult to relate this artistic expression with a health emergency, because not only the streets are empty, but also the museums, theatres, cinemas. Everything that is meant by communication, meeting, sociality and cultural exchange has interrupted. We can try to make similarities and imagine the effect that opening a curtain on an empty scene could have.

«Street art has extended spaces of creativity and can continue to be watched through photographic and editorial documentation and mediatic diffusion, it will certainly not be a tragic moment like this to extinguish it. Even if it is a temporary art form, subject to the natural degradation of surfaces, it is a sign that persists and remains within the collective imagery. One can only wait for the calm to return».

web-ico |instagram-ico @gummy_gue |facebook-ico GummyGue

Nico Lopez Bruchi x EDFcrew: «This pause allows us to take care of the relationship with the citizenry»

L'opera La via si fa andando (2017), di Nico Lopez Bruchi e Umberto Staila x EDFcrew, ITT Marco Polo, Firenze, in una foto di Vittorio Marrucci

The work La via si fa andando (The way is done by going, 2017), by Nico Lopez Bruchi and Umberto Staila x EDFcrew, ITT Marco Polo, Florence, in a photo by Vittorio Marrucci

«We do not believe that street art will change. As many other cultural and artistic activities, it is undergoing a forced stalemate, but this regards exclusively street performances. On the web, where street art has always found its second life, activities are just increasing. Most of the users of street art, absurdly, have been on the Internet since always. It is totally normal, since to enjoy a work of art it is often necessary to travel. How many of us have seen Leonardo’s The Last Supper live? We have certainly all got to know it before on books and today on the web. This applies also to public art.

«The way we see it, it can be an important occasion to stop once in a while. We have time to think, to deepen and increase style, technique, ideas, messages. Public art is only undergoing an induced phase of study. Having more time to take care of relationships, we are all more active and close now than before the quarantine. For those who, like us, care very much about the social aspects of art, the relationships with the territory that hosts our interventions, and always look for the citizen and institutional participative involvement, this is also a time to get closer to those who support us. In this state of health emergency, art can try to support people with contents that enhance beauty and stimulate reflection. Street art has since always been this too.

«Drawing is itself a form of isolation comparable to a meditative act, a way like another to investigate outside the borders of life, of the streets, of one’s own walls. When done well, art also leads the beholder into a state of consciousness that is far from the most rational one, close to the instincts that this society skilfully tries to repress in each of us. If we continued to make good art, we will continue to grow and make others grow as well.

«Street art has not changed in a month of stopping, it will probably only undergo improvements. Artists who do it with love, strength, care and solid intention will grow; those who are doing it just for the need of belonging or in a distracted way, for fashion and with little love, will probably shift quickly to something else».

web-ico |instagram-ico @elektro_domestik |facebook-ico Elektro Domestik Force

Gonzalo Borondo: «Public art will reborn from the desire to reinhabit spaces»

L'opera Mites Terram Possident (2018), di Gonzalo Borondo, Malegno (BS), in una foto di Davide Bassanesi

The work Mites Terram Possident (2018), by Gonzalo Borondo, Malegno (Brescia), in a photo by Davide Bassanesi

«I believe that what we call street art today has not changed much in this period, since it has being to be seen through social media much more than live. We do not know what will happen at the end of this quarantine, but I want to be optimistic and think that public art, art in public spaces – not street art, from which I make a distinction – will experience a rebirth, perhaps due to the destabilization of the market, above all to the desire to re-live public spaces.

«Who knows if, after this, art in public space will acquire more value or if people will become “agoraphobic” instead, preferring to have only works of art at home. If we were to stay in our homes all our lives, public art would probably no longer make sense, but human beings are always creative and would find other ways to share freely and for free their creations. For example, I am currently working on an exhibition that will be entirely set up in the public space, with the advantage of being accessible at all times and safely, since there will be no risk of contagion, because it is not a closed or crowded space. We hope it can actually be experienced».

web-ico |instagram-ico @gonzaloborondo |facebook-ico Borondo

XEL: «It’s hard to virtually reproduce the feelings related to the territory»

In foto, un'opera di XEL, stazione Eav di Sorrento (2019)

In the photo, a work by XEL, Eav station in Sorrento (2019)

«The urban scenario during the quarantine is more like a museum: the way of looking is undoubtedly different and even the act of looking itself is a free choice to a lesser extent than before, but I think that the political sense of street art has changed long before this dystopia. The one related to the quarantine is not the only change that street art has faced in recent years, although it is a completely different fact in comparison with everything we have seen and experienced before and it undoubtedly makes urban art temporarily silent. This is inevitable for a form of expression that appears in urban contexts and where the context itself acquires a fundamental importance in the valorisation of the work of art.

«Hypothetical virtual tours, like the ones sketched for museums and art galleries, may prove to be less efficient in the case of street art. Partly because my point of observation – as a creator, as a street artist – is closely linked to the moment of realization: to the smells of the place, to that social fabric or to those days spent on the site during the work. Therefore, a whole series of sensations directly linked to the territory, that are inside that painted wall and that could not be on another wall. This is what I find difficult to virtually reproduce. But I will be a romantic myself, that’s for sure.

«Personally, I consider it more important that an artist has things to say, no matter how they perform their art. Once this temporary phase is over, everything will be a little different than before: I hope that this diversity will turn into an improvement».

web-ico |instagram-ico @xel_artist |facebook-ico XEL

Ale Senso: «We should not let the algorithms choose art for us»

In foto, l'opera Germogli d'inverno (2020), di Ale Senso, Brandeburgo

In the photo, the work Germoglid’inverno (Winter shoots, 2020), by Ale Senso, Brandenburg

«I wonder if, beyond the insiders, the colleagues or the few lucky ones who live near the works of art, someone has “really” enjoyed street art and not only looked at it, more or less distractedly, scrolling through the posts on Instagram (even paradoxically being in the immediate vicinity of the work itself).

«One thing is the live enjoyment of the street art work with the context in which (and, hopefully, for which) it was created and another thing is how it makes us feel to watch it on a screen through the lens of a camera that chooses the point of view and the colour temperature for us, adding – why not! – some nice effects. Just as it is very different to stumble into a work of art on our way or to have fun by looking for it and to find it, instead, comfortably there on our own screen where it arrived carefully selected by a cold algorithm unable to distinguish a work of art from a tender kitten rolling on the parquet, but which measures the spread of the same through a range of sharing, if not hard sponsorships, in a virtual universe, open and free in principle, but often scene of the failed recognition of the work’s author in favour of the post’s author, if not even a place of concrete censorship.

«Digital media have profoundly changed everything, both social aspects and art – and particularly street art – even before this emergency. Street art has not changed, the only difference is that for the moment we cannot produce new works of art».

instagram-ico @sensoale |facebook-ico Ale Senso

Kiki Skipi: «Art talks about its own time»

In foto, l'opera Un ponte di incontri (2019), di Kiki Skipi, Manufactory Festival, Comacchio

In the photo, the work Un ponte di incontri (A bridge of encounters, 2019), by Kiki Skipi, Manufactory Festival, Comacchio

«I find the starting question interesting because it pushes me to ask myself a lot more, like: right now, is street art missed by the audience? What kind of audience? Are people, now that they do not see art, realizing its importance and value?

«In my opinion, the question is not whether street art is changing or not. Street art is definitely absent, because artists are locked indoors like everyone else, but I do not think there is a change in their intentions. Art follows its own time and speaks of the time in which it lives: lately, I have seen loads of initiatives in which, by making available their works, it is possible to give a contribution to the many charity collections that are organized in this period, in support of hospitals and families in difficulty. Those who take part in these initiatives are street artists, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers… This makes me understand that the only important thing is that there is solidarity and the desire to make art; because there is a need to make art and support art».

web-ico |instagram-ico @kikiskipi |facebook-ico Kiki Skipi

Andrea Tarli: «You free yourself from the institutions’ long arm only by making illegal art»

In foto, un'opera di Andrea Tarli, Comunanza (2019)

n the photo, a work by Andrea Tarli, Comunanza (2019)

«I don’t think no one looks at street art in times of a pandemic. A big part of street art comes from the Internet and from social networks. Those who know a mural do not necessarily have ever seen it live and, in times such as this, there’s even more time to document themselves and maybe to plan the next trip for those who wants to. The big difference will concern the production of new works, this is for sure, but for those who look through the net there is still much to discover, given the exponential production of the recent years.

«It is clear that, in moments like this, the socio-political meaning of street art changes or, at least, is suspended. The comparison with museums could be appropriate, but there is still a difference: museums are closed, street art works are open! On the other hand, a parallelism with a monument or a beautiful square would be more adequate than the one with museums: the Colosseum is there, but who sees it? It is a period of suspension for everyone. The usability is, of course, limited to your neighbourhood or a little more, but this is a temporary situation and it will hopefully end in a few months. This time will not be enough to change the arte de rua.

«However, it must be recognized that in street art, the institutions have had a hand in it for some time. In many cases they already function as sponsors, filters and censorship, gradually transforming it into urban Neodecorativism, just to limit as much as possible the conflict on which it should be based. You will not be saved unless you make it (the graffiti, ed.) illegally. Perhaps, after this situation, the desire to colour and redevelop the neighbourhoods will be felt even more, but I want to be honest: much more than any mural, I miss the sea right now».

web-ico |instagram-ico @andreatarli_art |facebook-ico Andrea Tarli

Zibe (Nabla&Zibe): «Commissions stop, art does not»

In foto, il tributo ad Alan Turing e Rosa Parks (2016) realizzato da Nabla&Zibe

In the photo, the tribute that Nabla&Zibe made to Alan Turing and Rosa Parks (2016)

«The question assumes that, as far as street art is concerned, a change has taken place during the period of the Covid-19 emergency, but we have to take a step back and understand what “street art” really means. This became just a profession for some people, but it actually was, is, and should be a state of mind, a reason of living, an attitude, an outlet, a way of expressing oneself. Then, if one’s able to make a buck, chapeau!

«The big commissions – as it should be – are not done: the brands, and partially capitalism itself, are still. But those who do the “graffiti” – which is the most essential, truest part, the one that really generated this farce called street art – do not stop. For work, it happened to me to go out and see that some people have never stopped [making graffiti], not even one day: the ones who can continue to give their contribution, to draw on grey walls, without needing sponsors or something like that, uniquely driven by passion.

«I do not agree on saying that no one is looking at street art right now. There is plenty of homeless people around in Milan; people who do not go to galleries and museums, but who are at the moment the “masters” of the city, along with runners, police forces and other small realities. They see it, but first and foremost it is the people who make it that do it and that is what really matters. Street art should be done first and foremost for ourselves and not for the others: that comes from itself».

web-ico |instagram-ico @nablaandzibe |facebook-ico Nabla and Zibe

Giulia “Noeyes” Salamone: «Street art has never been more useful»

In foto, l'opera Ci siamo oggi (2020), di Giulia "Noeyes" Salamone, a cura dell'associazione Rosso Tiepido, Montale (MO)

In the photo, the work Ci siamo oggi (Here we are today, 2020), by Giulia “Noeyes” Salamone, curated by the association Rosso Tiepido, Montale (Modena)

«Street art, urban artistic decoration, becomes one with the structures or the walls it covers, it is part of the overall landscape. I therefore believe that it has somehow “saved” the streets from that retro-futuristic vision that is often imagined or represented in historical times of catastrophe and desolation of the cities.

«The most important thing is that street art remains there, in the street, and that it is never regarded as a museum work. Empty cities must not be enough to make the two forms comparable, nor can we have measure of an authentic relationship with street art in the virtual world, where nothing is as tangible and enjoyable as in reality, not only works of art (for example, I am thinking of human relationships).

«I really do hope that at a time like this we can better understand the meaning and the usefulness of public art. And I hope that the colour that those few who move, for work or other duties, encounter on the streets will give them a thought of hope and positivity. This is the main reason why I go around carrying my art. Regardless of current event, the world always lives dark moments somewhere and the beauty of art helps».

instagram-ico @giulia.noeyes |facebook-ico Giulia Salamone Noeyes

Luigi Loquarto: «Online use limits the gaze to only one part of the street art phenomenon»

In foto, un'opera di Luigi Loquarto, stazione Gerolomini (linea cumana), rione Terra, Pozzuoli (2019)

In the photo, a work by Luigi Loquarto, Gerolomini station, (cumana line), Terra neighbourhood, Pozzuoli (2019)

«I think that urban art, both legal and illegal, remains suspended in this moment in history. Most of the time, behind an urban intervention there is a design phase or, if not, surely a critical reflection of the direction of its research. Therefore, I am personally taking advantage of this moment, in which the restrictions that we are subject to in order to protect public health do not allow us to go out, to analyse my objectives and continue my research in the studio.

«Urban art, even when commissioned by an institutional subject, or in general by a mediating subject, cannot be compared to the art found in museums and galleries. This is because in an urban context, or public otherwise, a scribble on the wall is fortunately recognized as worthy of space as a painting by a well-known artist. What makes the difference is the (non-economic) value that the collectivity can attribute to one and the other.

«When studying urban art, one should not only look at the imposing works, which most of the time are the result of a curating very similar to the work done in a gallery: urban art is more. It is mainly made up of spontaneous interventions, which seem suggestiveto some (including me) , while associated with degradation to others. But it is from these that one can discover new languages, new themes, new ways of making art.

«The virtual fruition of a work of art in an urban context through photography risks to become misleading if we limit ourselves to just immortalizing the imposing works on the facades and decorate them with the epithet “street art”. In doing so, it certainly conveys the viewer’s gaze and attention to something that is only a part of the phenomenon».

web-ico |instagram-ico @luigi_loquarto |facebook-ico Luigi Loquarto

Translation from Italian to English by Anna Scassillo and Eleonora Panciroli. Supervised by Lucia Liberti.

About author

Lucia Liberti

Lucia Liberti

Lucia è nata nel 1996 e porta il nome della santa convenzionalmente considerata "la protettrice della vista", eppure è costretta a indossare un fastidioso paio di lenti a causa della sua miopia. Studentessa DAMS, è un'aspirante critica e un'attivista per Amnesty International. Il suo amore per il cinema è paragonabile solo a quello per i diritti umani. Ha conosciuto poche persone interessanti e visto un numero non sufficiente di posti affascinanti. Vede un futuro migliore (ma deve essere la miopia).


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