Auspicious Victory – Hostile Body @ XCHC

I became aware of Hostile Body, an exhibition of digital art produced under the identity of Auspicious Victory, through somewhat cryptic social media buzz. I had recently been grappling with the rising profile of digital art through the lens of crypto currency, skeptical of the way digital art was being represented as PFPs and 8-Bit illustrations. But Hostile Body was presenting a much more considered, conceptual and interesting approach, layered in intense visuals and tied to reality in haunting way, it suggested the best of digital practice. With the exhibition opening approaching, I was fortunate enough to talk to Auspicious Victory and find out more about the concept…

How would you describe Auspicious Victory – is it an identity, an alias, is it something more conceptual? How has Auspicious Victory evolved over time?

Gender neutral and identity fluid (they/them), Auspicious Victory can be anyone or no-one. Auspicious Victory comes from Amarapura “The house of the immortals” and preaches simulation theory as fact. Part designer, marketer, performance artist, techno prophet, visual artist, and activist all in one. Auspicious Victory’s true identity is irrelevant as they will tell you. Auspicious Victory will eventually be “guided” by a collective of individuals who wish to support their cause, this format is a DAO, a De-centralised Autonomous Organisation, breaking new ground, with the crypto world coming together with the art world to create the first de-centralised artist.

Hostile Body is described as a “multi-sensory” exhibition of various digital mediums, how long has Auspicious Victory been exploring digital art and what approaches are most interesting to them?

Auspicious Victory in this simulation was given their first PC in 1983. They learned to code in BASIC, their first program was an animation and they have created digital art ever since. In the exhibition, there is a piece of artwork created in 1999 that has never been seen before. 

Auspicious Victory responds to stimuli of all kinds and likes to collaborate with other artists. Working this way brings new perspectives and builds community along the way. The approach they are currently taking is to de-centralise as much as possible.

Deep State IX 2 E, 2021, stretched canvas, 1200mm x 1700mm

The rising profile of digital art has been tied to the cryptocurrency movement, but that unfairly obscures the longer histories of digital creativity, what does Auspicious Victory see as the biggest benefits of digital art making?

Yes, crypto is responsible for a lot of things but digital art is not one of them. Digital art was made before Auspicious Victory even entered this simulation. Digital art is anything shown on a digital screen. It’s that simple. Whatever screen you are looking at, a media professional or artist created it. There is so much media to choose from at present that we don’t even notice art when we see it.

Wow, the benefits… there are so many, where do you start? The benefits for oneself are instant gratification but this can also become a distraction. Digital art is easily shared and can be much more affordable than traditional fine art. Also you can weave deep messages and interactive experiences into digital art. You can express yourself in ways previously unimaginable. It’s corny but true, with digital art the only limit is your imagination. Digital tools are much more accessible, soon to be a commodity/service and allow anyone using a digital device with a screen to make art. 

Hostile Body presents the experiences and extremes of chronic and mental illness, has it been conceived as a very personal story or a more universal exploration? What threads have come out most clearly and how have they been explored through the digital mediums deployed? 

Auspicious Victory’s experience in this simulation is not exclusively unique. The themes are universal. Auspicious Victory encountered trauma on their journey, from this they sensed emotional and mental injuries, the data could be called pain.

In many of the pieces, the floating objects represent an aspect of an extreme emotional state, both low and high. These floating objects are held in stasis effectively freezing the emotion in time to observe and interpret.

The mood is largely determined by the colour palette; sometimes warm, bright and vivid colours suggest the high of a hypo-manic episode and conversely the darker more turbulent palettes allude to darker states.

The abundance of colour and texture in these works are a facsimile for mental over-stimulation. 

The landscape quietly or violently makes its presence felt in the background, reminding the viewer and the artist that storms are always brewing. But as all things, these too shall pass.

Deep State VIII U, 2021, stretched canvas, 1200mm x 1500mm

The exhibition is to be staged at the XCHC, how much of a challenge was ensuring the venue could successfully host the range of art? How vital was it that the venue was right?

No challenge at all. Auspicious Victory is not alone, there is a team of believers investing their time into similar projects and crossing paths with those talented people has been serendipitous and has led to creative and practical solutions. Auspicious Victory is grateful and acknowledges those who have gracefully stepped into the fray.

The venue is essential as most galleries wouldn’t do what Auspicious Victory want’s to do. XCHC is the perfect venue for this show. It’s a flexible white box. It’s intimate. It’s authentic and connected to a vibrant creative community. And its not afraid to try something new.

 Hostile Body opens 9th September 2022 at The XCHC, 376 Wilsons Road. Details and limited tickets are available here: https://events.humanitix.com/hostile-body-exhibition?accesscode=IBELIEVE

For more information about Hostile Body, visit the exhibition website: www.hostilebody.art

Pener – Vacation from Reality

Pener arrived in Ōtautahi following a 30-hour flight from his hometown of Olsztyn, Poland. Since 2020, such long haul flights have become a rarity for many of us, the world seeming a more distant proposition, despite our enduring digital connections. Here in Aotearoa, our geographical isolation has provided a protective barrier as we have viewed the rest of the world from afar. Across the globe, our shared challenges have been experienced through distinctly different lenses.

For Pener (born Bartek Świątecki), this adventure to the bottom of the world provides an escape, a Vacation from Reality where he can explore a new landscape and find new inspirations away from his daily routines. As an abstract artist, Pener’s work is also an escape, his jagged, evocative compositions engaging the viewer in an internal exploration as they are immersed in a fragmented field of glass shards, shattering in our presence and suggesting some new path to follow.  A leading figure in an exciting generation of Polish abstract and non-figurative artists, Pener’s background in graffiti, and a longer lineage of the Polish avant-garde, inform his practice; the influence of geometric abstraction and deconstructed letter-forms are equally evident, deployed through sharp line work, overlapping forms and a sophisticated use of colour that is both intense and undeniably intriguing.

The ability of Pener’s paintings to speak to deeper, more purely emotional sensations does not mean they offer no reflection of our challenging contemporary environment. Indeed, these fractured compositions feel incredibly apt in light of our increasingly divided ideologies and vocal dissension and conflict. But Pener’s paintings do not agitate, they are reflective, ruminative, and ultimately they emanate a sense of the hopeful; as if after the break, piecing things back together is the necessary next step.

Before he crossed the tarmac and settled into the distraction of in-flight movies on his lengthy flight, I posed Pener a few questions about his hopes for Vacation from Reality, his experiences in Poland, the potential of abstract art, and why Poland has become a hotspot for non-figurative practice…

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With all of the turmoil of the last three years, what are your feelings as you embark on your first journey to Aotearoa New Zealand? 

Yes, this will be my first time in this part of the world. I am very excited and a little scared. The thirty-hour flight will be quite an experience!

What has life been like in Poland, and Europe more generally, throughout the Covid Pandemic?

It has been a strange time. It has been very difficult and emotionally complicated, probably the same for all of us. It’s hard to live in fear for such a long time and be constantly informed by the Government and television about more bad things. It has been a very strange time from a sociological point of view.

Has your art been an important coping mechanism? Have you found art as a vital part of your ability to make sense of all this?

You know, this is interesting because almost nothing has changed in my studio. For many years I have been trying to make painting a daily routine, make it something I have to do. I sometimes enter the studio just to clean it up. The studio is my asylum and my space. Throughout the entire period of lockdowns and online meetings, I worked in the studio and prepared new paintings.

Of course, there were no exhibitions and no trips to paint large walls, but it is only a matter of perspective. Last year I painted a few walls in my hometown. In the end, is it important that the wall is in Olsztyn or Dubai? I’m not so sure…

As an abstract artist, you have stated you start with an emotion and the process, and when I look at your work, I can’t help but feel it captures the anxiety and emotional fracture of contemporary society. Is that intentional or a result of our ability to read abstraction as we need to?

I often get the impression that the paintings are a bit like mirrors in which we can look at our emotions. My paintings calm me down and give me peace. Often, in the process of painting, I freeze in front of a painting. I look at it for so long that I stop thinking. It’s the same feeling as if you swim for a long time in the swimming pool or climb in the mountains and stop thinking about everyday problems. It takes you somewhere inside or outside.

Probably everyone has a slightly different interpretation of works of art – which is very interesting. Some people see specific shapes in them, others only feel emotions. I am very happy when someone interprets my paintings in a way that I did not know and did not notice.

How much does the process guide your end product? How do you understand when a painting is finished – or are they a constant work in progress?

It is very complicated and I don’t have a clear formula for it. I paint emotionally. I don’t really use a sketch, so I don’t know where the painting will lead me. Of course, after so many years of painting, I often know what will work or what I can do to close and finish a composition. But I prefer to be surprised by something new at the end.

Colour, in addition to line, is so important in giving your paintings their sense of space, energy and emotional qualities, how has your palette developed over time?

At the beginning I wanted to create the impression that the painting is not created by human hands, that it is mechanical, mathematical.

Over time, I have noticed my paintings become softer. Their structure is still geometric, but transparent layers penetrate each other differently. They have different feelings, they are softer, less dramatic.

The same thing happened with color. In the works for this show, the beginning was a grey composition on which I applied a color. It’s a bit like turning the whole painting process around. It is a very tight series of paintings, I think.

What is it with Poland that has ensured such a strong generation of non-figurative/abstract artists? Some from the world of graffiti, others from contemporary practice, what is the shared influence, if you can identify it?

It was probably influenced by many elements. Władysław Strzemiński’s Theories of Seeing or books by professor Stanisław Fijałkowski. In Poland after the war, the avant-garde painting groups referring to the works of Malevich or Kandinsky were very strong.

In my case, two things influenced me very strongly; my classic painting education at university, and the world of graffiti. Painting walls gave me a lot of freedom and confidence. The world of fine art gave me all the painting technology. I created a mix out of the two worlds, which is where I feel best, a world somewhere in between.

How enduring has graffiti been for you as an aesthetic influence? I can see some ideas of the dissolution of letterforms in your work, do you still feel like you are harnessing that influence, or is it more incidental now?

I am very strongly associated with graffiti, with the energy and aesthetics. My escape into abstraction happened very quickly, around 2003 or 2004. But all the time the base in all the walls from that period were letters, my name. I think they are somewhere all the time.

The transition from studio to mural practice seems quite fluid for you, but of course, it entails such different environments. How do you differentiate the two in your approach? Is the whole world a studio, or the studio an extension of the streets? Or do you recognise the difference?

It is one and the same, only the tools and the scale change. Sometimes a large wall requires a simplification of detail. On a large wall, I cannot achieve such a depth of color and saturation, but having such a huge space allows the gesture to look much better. I often repeat the composition that I paint on a wall on canvas in the studio and vice versa. At the moment, I see them as one and the same.

How did the decision, or opportunity to come to New Zealand originate? Obviously you have a luxury in Europe of relatively easy travel, New Zealand is quite a distance. What did you know of the country? Do you know much about our artistic cultures?

This is a huge logistical and financial challenge. Jenna and Nathan have done a lot of hard work for which I am very grateful. I have been working with Fiksate Gallery for several years and I do follow what is happening in New Zealand.

But I must admit that I don’t know much. I remember a few artists from my studies at university; Colin McCahon, Rita Angus and Ralph Hotere, who made a huge impression on me. Hotere’s work reminded me of the Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies, whom I love to this day. Last year I discovered Judy Millar, whose work I admire a lot. That’s about it, except of course, Flight of the Conchords and Taika Waititi!

To return to an earlier question, the title for the show Vacation From Reality can be understood in different ways, obviously referring to the experience of visiting New Zealand, but also due to the ability of abstraction to break from reality. But as I suggested, abstraction really allows reflection over a deeper sense of reality; emotional and visceral experiences. Do you reflect on that idea when you consider how your art affects and impacts people?

Communing with art makes us better, more sensitive, more delicate people. I have a lot of my friends’ work at home, and I am very connected with some of them. I have one painting by Krzysztof Syruć which I look at differently every time. At first it seemed terribly dark to me, now after a few years, it has given me so much good energy and became super colourful and positive. It’s amazing how we emotionally grow into certain colors and shapes.

What are your hopes for the way people will receive the show? What type of experience do you hope to create for people?

I am very curious about this exhibition and how it will be received. I hope the paintings will bring a lot of good energy and warmth in this rainy and cold time.

On a personal level, what do you hope to experience in Aotearoa New Zealand?

Rest and a lot of fun- that will charge my batteries!

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Vacation From Reality runs at Fiksate Gallery, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham until August 13th, 2022.

(The introduction to this text was re-produced in the catalogue for Vacation From Reality. Portions of the interview were re-produced on the Brooklyn Street Art website)

Benjamin Work and Brendan Kitto – MOTUTAPU @ Te Uru – Waitakere Contemporary Gallery

MOTUTAPU, a collaborative project by Tāmaki Makaurau artists Benjamin Work and Brendan Kitto, is the conclusion of a four-year exploration of the shared histories of Motutapu, or sacred islands, throughout Moana Oceania, including Tongatapu, Rarotonga and at the entrance to the Waitematā Harbour in Tāmaki. These sanctuary spaces, gateways for voyagers departing from and arriving at the mainlands, were where the lifting of tapu and making things noa (free from the restrictions of tapu) occurred, connecting navigators with their ancestors and kainga. For the artists, who travelled to three of the Motutapu locations and engaged with key knowledge holders, the journey became deeply personal, connecting to their own genealogy, centering on reconnection and reconciliation, joining communities across Moana Oceania through time and space.

The exhibition, built around the juxtaposition of Work’s evocative paintings (including the hanging Piha Passage and free-standing Mata Pā screens) and Kitto’s photographs of Motutapu ki Tāmaki Makaurau, Motutapu ki Tongatapu and Motutapu ki Raraotonga, is currently on show at Te Uru – Waitakere Contemporary Gallery (11 June – 11 September 2022), and includes the launch of an accompanying publication MOTUTAPU.

All photos by Sam Hartnett.

And That Was… June 2022

June, smack bang the middle of the year. We can see the path to spring and summer in front of us (OK, that might be optimistic, but from a strictly numerical point of view…). But the midst of winter does not mean there was nothing on – sure, the weather is a little bit more unpredictable and the mornings colder, but the tricks and treats keep coming. The last month has seen some interesting propositions and amazing opportunities, the chance to connect with a wide range of people and, of course, some awesome art…

The Little Street Art Festival Boost Ōtautahi Campaign

As you may know, Watch This Space is developing The Little Street Art Festival, a street art event with a different spin – spotlighting the smaller scale and great diversity of urban art across Ōtautahi. From small-scale paintings and stencils, to sculptural installations, craftivism and light-based work, the festival will provide a unique platform for local and Aotearoa urban creatives. But, to bring the Little Street Art Festival to life, it requires money! We undertook a Boost Ōtautahi fundraiser through June – and thanks to the generosity of our friends, whanau and networks, we raised $15,000! This is a fantastic building block for the festival – we are super excited!

JZA’s Street Signs

We have loved spotting JZA’s sneaky street sign alterations around the city. Bringing a smile to people’s faces, declarations such as ONE LOVE, ONE EARTH and more show how little interventions can provide meaningful impacts to our daily experiences.

A Quick Trip to Akaroa

I was also lucky enough to have the chance for a nice drive to Akaroa, where I presented a talk about the complexities of urban art to an enthusiastic crowd in an amazing venue, the picturesque St Pauls Church. The chance to field questions and share my passion for graffiti, street art and neo muralism with an audience keen to engage was a pleasure and ultimately stimulating. It’s funny the places you can find yourself…

Crossing Live to Australia

To add to the list of unexpected happenings in June, I was also lucky enough to meet up with Steve Jacobs and cross live to Studio 10 in Australia as the roving reporter toured the South Island. Over a lightning quick tour of some of the street art around Little High, we chatted about why urban art has been so important for the city…

Josh Bradshaw’s Things I Thought You’d Say, Or Don’t @ Absolution

It was great to finally see a new solo show from Josh Bradshaw, whose new creative direction is a far cry from his previous identity – refreshingly urban, punky and monochromatic, I’m onboard (and have been for a while). His show at Absolution was a perfect tonic for a cold winter evening, beers and chats in an intimate environment with fresh art to explore. Perfect.

What made your list for June 2022? let us know in the comments!

Showtime!

Things I Thought You’d Say or Don’t – Josh Bradshaw, Absolution, 3rd June, 2022

Josh Bradshaw’s first solo show in several years (and the first under his real name) gathered a crowd on Friday, June 3rd at Absolution in The Arts Centre. Things I Thought You’d Say or Don’t presented a collection of works that indicate Bradshaw’s new creative direction, explorations of the urban environment that utilise an array of materials and techniques, producing a punk-infused, anarchic and yet poised range of evocative images. A good crowd braved the chilly June weather on the night, buoyed by the art and, of course, the barrel of Double Browns…

A pair of disposable cameras allowed people to document the night…

Josh Bradshaw, right, with fellow artist Harry King from Absolution

There was a busy crowd throughout the night

Our pal, Beartrap drummer Mitch Barnard was all smiles

Only the finest drinks…

Do you have a show coming up? Let us know by emailing hello@watcthisspace.org.nz

Josh Bradshaw – Things I Thought You’d Say or Don’t @ Absolution

Josh Bradshaw has undergone a significant creative transformation over the last few years, leaving behind a recognisable and popular aesthetic in favour of a style that feels both more honest and meaningful – gone is the pop and in is a punk-infused, re-worked and confrontational body of work. This approach, drawn on the experience of the urban environment, manifests in techniques from collage and printmaking to three-dimensional constructions and spaces in between, reflecting a creative freedom and palpable physicality. His latest show, Things I Thought You’d Say or Don’t, at Absolution, is the first chance for him to present a cohesive collection under this new direction. We took the opportunity to catch up with the artist and find out more…
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How did this show come about? It has been a while since your last solo show and your work has undergone some significant changes, what has been the internal process to make work that is perhaps a better reflection of you?

I got lucky with Absolution having their planned exhibition for June/July fall through last minute so with short notice I put my hand up to fill that slot. It’s been three years since my last show I’m pretty sure. Funnily enough, the last one was at Absolution too, so having my first show under my real name, making work in a completely different style, it feels right to have it in that space. I think most of the internal processes in the early stages of the research, developing concepts, mapping out ideas and weaving the work together to create a full show haven’t changed for me at all, it’s when I start physically making the work that the differences start to show up. I don’t have to do any mental gymnastics or justify to myself any compromises of my original ideas or warp any of the work to fit a particular style that I used to feel trapped by. Now it’s a much more free flowing and natural process. I’m not limiting myself and the work can go wherever it wants and needs to, I’m just along for the ride.

What was the genesis this specific body of work?

This body of work, which is still ongoing, came about because of the perfect storm of how much time I’ve spent living and walking around the city over the last however many years, how my brain works when I’m falling down the rabbit hole of over thinking about how much of a backstory and future a padlock or brick or window of a construction site that I’ve just walked past could possibly have. The curiosities, attitudes, mysteries and visual elements that come from all of my interests that I’ve had my whole life, like skateboarding, punk music and compulsively having to make stuff, added in the mix is how you get to this latest body of work.

You are adopting a range of techniques, is that about seeking something, or just a reflection of creative freedom?

Both for sure, I really enjoy the act of the reveal of printmaking and repeatedly trashing and scanning things and all of the not knowing what’s going to show up when printed or not. The element of surprise often determines what techniques need to be applied or removed on the next layer. With this loose approach comes that sense of freedom which in turn encourages even more experimentation. It’s a fun, self-feeding cycle. The themes that run through the show itself are based off a wide range of scenarios and materials from the city, which lends itself well to using a bunch of different techniques also.

Josh Bradshaw, Collage #3, mixed media collage, 2022

Tell me about the title for the show, it is evocative, but when you think about it, it doesn’t quite make sense, or at least, it doesn’t read quite right…

I made a lot of this work in reference to not only how we view things ideologically but also physically. Down to that moment of hesitation where stop and go back for that little look through the fence or broken window. The title of the show is an example of that little double take you have to do to see what’s going on. Things I Thought You’d Say Or Don’t is the awkward, only partially seen, peer through the fence version of “The things I thought that the city was saying/showing to me or maybe what it wasn’t actually saying”.

Black and white is predominant, is that intentional symbolically or a result of the techniques?

The lack of colour is a bit of the result of some of the techniques, like flattening out a collage with a black and white scan but I use it mostly to intentionally remove any of the context of the elements I use from the city. I feel that it encourages people to see something in a new light. Once you remove something from its intended purpose you can run wild creating a new life for that thing.

Do you make these works with the idea of exhibiting? I feel like they have a sense of fitting in various spaces/sites, like they don’t need white walls to exist, they have the practicality of punk in a way…

With the work being based on how we view our city and things from it, I think it would be just as interesting to see the work on a gallery wall as it would be to have it put up on a street wall or construction fence. There’s something satisfying about the idea of all the references and elements being taken and given new context and then being put back up in the city. I did however feel that it was about time to have a show again and as long as I got to present the work as a collection I was going to be happy. The black walls of Absolution is just the added bonus, I’m stoked they had the space open up for me.

Lastly, when and where do people need to be for the show?

The people need to be at Absolution on Friday the 3rd of June at 6-8pm to see the opening of the show. If you can’t make that date, the show is up for a few weeks and if you can’t make that either then feel free to just open your eyes the next time you are walking through the city, the exhibition has been on for the last 10 plus years…

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Things I Thought You’d Say Or Don’t opens 6pm, Friday, June 3rd at Absolution in The Arts Centre

For more of Josh’s work follow him on Instagram

Showtime! Jacob Yikes – Even in Darkness, Fiksate Gallery, April 1st, 2022

Jacob Yikes latest body of work, Even in Darkness, was unveiled at Fiksate Gallery on Friday, April 1st. The first solo show for the artist since 2018’s Bad Company (held at Fiksate’s former Gloucester Street premises), a reflection of the long road these paintings followed to realisation. A stunning collection of gestural, detailed, evocative and deeply resonant works, the crowd were enthralled by the incredibly honest, yet mysterious paintings. Drawn from the personal exploration of psychedelics to expand his consciousness and break his sense of ego, the paintings are an otherworldy experience…

All photos courtesy of Fiksate Gallery.

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Even in Darkness runs until April 30th at Fiksate Gallery, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham

Showtime!

This is the year that was – An exhibition of 2021 A.D. by PIM @ The Art Hole, Tuesday, 22nd February, 2022

The current Covid situation made the opening of This is the year that was by local artist PIM (aka Lost Boy) a small affair, so I only got down to the Art Hole a few days after the opening, but walking into the empty gallery space (a space which has a definite, unassuming charm) it became apparent that taking time and feeling immersed, experiences not always possible at openings, was the best way to explore this charming show.

The concept of the show was the artist’s completion of a drawing every day of 2021 (small postcard sized digital prints, also compiled into an impressive, limited edition hard-cover book), reflecting the interior and exterior world the artist has occupied throughout a tumultuous year. Presented in a large grid, the small works, with vibrant colours (an element often conspicuous from the artist’s chalk street drawings or stickers), unfurled a range of narratives, some playing out over a week or more, others re-occurring throughout the 365 images with call-backs. The protagonist, a proxy for the artist, experiences a full gamut of terror, befuddlement, sadness, joy and banality, often realised through an absurdist sense of humour. After several inspections, I found myself piecing narratives together, partly from my own associations, partly from the clues on display, but ultimately I became very aware that we aren’t so different you and I, we aren’t so different after all.

Do you have a show coming up? Let us know,. we would love to cover it in Showtime! Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz with the details!

Slap City presents The International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival, March 2022

Slap City has become a central part of Ōtautahi Christchurch’s urban art scene, and now they are bringing even more international flavour to the city with the first International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival in early March, 2022! The 8 day festival will feature a massive exhibition of stickers, paste-ups and associated works at Sydenham’s TyanHAUS, as well as public installations and workshops. With an array of artists from across the globe, it will be a brilliant cacophonous celebration of paper-based street art in all it’s glory! To get the lowdown we spoke to Slap City stalwarts and festival organisers and participants Vez, teeth like screwdrivers and Cape of Storms

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How did the idea for the International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival come about?

Vez: I had this idea since I moved here, I wanted to put more paste-ups around Christchurch, to bring in more international artists and turn it into an event. I had that dream when I first got here two years ago…

teeth like screwdrivers: I’ve actually got a page on my website that’s about doing the same thing. Originally, I wanted to cover one of the giant cans and make it a festival. But one night we were at Fiksate and we were having a few drinks…

V: And doing karaoke…

tls: Someone said something to us, I won’t say what they said, but someone said something to both of us and we were like, well, that seals it! It was an instant decision, right there, let’s do this…

You two hadn’t talked about it together, even though you both had the same idea?

tls: No, but we had both seen other shows around the world and put our own work into other shows around the world, and we knew Christchurch could deal with a show like this.

A paste-up festival is a great fit, firstly because of the amazing community around the Slap City scene, but also it is a perfect form to involve an even wider community, paste-up and sticker culture seems to be about networks and collaborations…

tls: Completely, especially if you put it under the heading of street art, if you look at other types of street art, they are based around not doing that, like graffiti is based around not collaborating.

Cape of Storms: Yeah, it’s more anonymous…

tls: And it is also about going over someone else, being higher or being louder…

It also requires a literal presence; you have to physically be in the place where you’re writing…

tls: Years and years ago, we used Flickr and maybe occasionally we would get contacts through that, but with Instagram the ability to connect with people anywhere in the world and instantly trade with them is part of why I like it, because it’s a positive thing all the time. There’s no negativity.

V: What I also like about paper-based art is it’s really inclusive. With graffiti, not everybody has got the skill to do it, including myself, but with paper-based art you can just collage or you can take things out of magazines or you can draw, or you can work digitally, there are loads of different ways you can produce work, so everybody can contribute if they want to…

CoS: I feel like with paper-based art, its more towards the art side, rather than the tagging thing, so people who don’t feel comfortable with that element of street art, it’s still something where you can have integrity about where you place your art. It’s transient. It’s not going to be there forever. It’s going to dissolve with rain and water or a little bit of elbow grease, but it still has the same effect…

tls: We’ve all kind of come to an agreement, whether consciously or subconsciously, that we’re not sticking it on people’s houses or businesses, you know? Personally speaking, I’m an older dude, I’ve got three kids of my own and if they see my art on the street, I don’t want them to go, why have you stuck your art on that?

A Cape of Storms paste-up in central Christchurch

But at the same time, you don’t want them to not know that you are doing it, right?

tls: Exactly. They always see my pencils and they always comment on them, but they’re not seeing them on people’s houses, they’re seeing them on derelict buildings, or council electrical boxes, because they are boring and they need paint or stickers or something! I’m probably speaking for you guys, but we kind of had a subconscious agreement that we’re not destroying shit, we’re adding to it.

CoS: It is financially accessible as well, it’s not as expensive as buying loads of spray cans.

tls: It might be low impact physically, but not in the messages…

Not visually or conceptually…

tls: I will argue that any one of us who is putting up 1000 pictures of whatever it is we are putting up is going to have an equal impact to anyone tagging…

There’s also the really interesting longer lineage; revolutionary posters, political posters, advertising, sloganeering…

tls: Yeah, I found a picture other day, it was in Paris, an advertising hoarding and it looks like what we’re doing, but it’s a hundred and something years old! It looks exactly the same as what we do…

The Victorian Street in the Canterbury Museum has a fence that is covered in pasted posters…

tls: Because wheat paste was cheap and easy, posters got your message across for free essentially!

CoS: Graffiti writing is beautiful in its own way, but this is maybe a little bit more accessible to people that aren’t so into graffiti necessarily. It’s got a sense of humour, like Vez’s spoons are there to bring joy to people, to make them think, this is so out of place, let’s not be so serious about life! Christchurch can be quite a dull and flat and miserable place…

tls: No! I can’t believe you said that!

CoS: But it’s the people and the sense of humour and the unexpected juxtaposition, that’s why we do it, we can put something funny out there…

Two of Vez’s iconic spoon paste-ups

It’s a lovely juxtaposition, from the seriousness of signs and the coercion of advertising…

tls: And tilt slabs! That is why it doesn’t feel so quite so awkward. We’re not fighting that, we are just putting stickers and paste-ups up on streets covered in stickers and paste-ups, they’re just from McDonald’s or Coke. I’m not political in that sense, it doesn’t justify what I’m doing, but it just makes me go, I’m OK with this because I’m surrounded any way, we’re just adding our own take to what’s already there.

We did a massive sticker and paste-up installation at Spectrum in 2014. At that time, the local paste-up scene definitely didn’t have the numbers it has now. We had artists contributing from quite faraway places, but Slap City has such a larger network, I’m really looking forward to the breadth of work. Where has work come from and which artists are you most excited for people to see?

V: I’ve written a list… There is work from the UK, USA, France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Spain, Finland, Slovakia, Australia, Canada…

tls: In terms of who we are excited about, I’m going to go first because I’m so stoked about this big piece by The Postman. They are a collective based in Brighton in the UK. I’ve been asking them for a long time because I’ve put Björk pastes up all around the city and when I saw their Björk one, I was like, I need one of those! So, I hassled them and they were like, yeah, we’ll send one to you. It’s huge and I want to take it home, but I’m not going to! I would like a photograph, can I put it out there now? Me standing in front of that please with a big smile on my face! I would love that! I love their stuff, it’s phenomenal. They are a good example of paste-ups as a legit art form. They do everything from whole streets in Shoreditch in London to millionaires’ houses, they do everything. They also work with the artists that take the photos they use to get permission. They are ace!

An example of teeth like screwdrivers’ Bjork paste-ups

V: A lot of the people that have sent paste-up packs are people that I trade with quite regularly, so I’m most excited about seeing the work of locals, like Jen and Dr Suits, because I don’t see that many of their paste-ups. I know they’ve been doing it for a long time, but I’ve only seen Jen paste up twice! I’m just super excited to see what some of the people here in Christchurch create and just to have us all together in one space…

CoS: We went with her to do that giant head on the side of that building in town, and we were like, there she is in action!

tls: For people coming to view the show, they won’t know a lot of these artists as well as you do or I do or any of us in the crew do, because we’re always in cahoots and collaborations with them anyways, we’re seeing all their feeds constantly, but if there’s someone coming here for the first time, they’re going to see Vision or YAYA for the first time, and they are going to be like we were when we first saw them, that’s amazing!

CoS: I’m keen to see some of our younger Slap City members or people that work on their own stuff and don’t necessarily always paste with us, alongside all these other guys that are really well-seasoned. I can’t wait to see their growth. I’ve grown so much, because of Vez really, she invited me to the first Slap City and I helped hold the bucket when she put up all the YAYA stuff around town, so that was my initiation and from then I’ve been hooked and just seeing other people get that joy from the show will be amazing.

A Slap City collaboration featuring international artists, including YAYA, Vision and more…

When you’re getting work from so many sources, you often also get an insight into the stories behind the artists. For instance, we had a 6-year-old, who drew robots in New York and pasted them up with his dad, send work in, there was someone who sent work from Iran, and just to get it out of there was a big deal. Have you had any interesting stories come up?

tls: We are not getting stuff out of Iran, but honestly, I’m getting people trying to send stuff to New Zealand and we are not on the list of places to send stuff to for a lot of countries at the moment. There was one person, they sent it to someone else in another country, because then that person could send it here. You wouldn’t ever think that would be an issue.

A selection of the sticker frames set for the International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival

I guess you can get around that by sending a digital file as well…

V: I’ve committed to printing for about three or four people who have struggled to post stuff. It keeps people included.

tls: We don’t need to have the physical person here to do it, although [Australian artist] Tweet is saying she’d love to try and get across, you know people are keen and if the borders were in the right place, we’d probably have a few Aussies coming over.

V: Tweet is in Melbourne, we’ve swapped a few packs, and we’ve developed a friendship, we chat regularly, not even just about art anymore. She’s really keen to come over for the festival and help us out…

tls: Panty Baggers and Larf’n [from Dunedin] were all talking about trying to get up. So, there are Instagram friends sending their artwork and they want to come up…

CoS: When we take photos and put them on Instagram and tag our international friends, it always feels like there’s a great sense of wow, look at us up in New Zealand!

tls: There is a sense of New Zealand being so far away, it is like: I made it to all the way to New Zealand!

CoS: There is a feeling of pride at their work making it all the way to this little island and look at what these people are doing for my art down there…

tls: It’s great! If you think about a street artist in the traditional sense, as someone who is doing pieces on the side of a building or murals, they have to be where their art is, but any one of us can say our art has been shown in numerous festivals around the world. There was one in Athens a couple of months ago. I’ve never been to Athens, but there on this stairway going up from the bottom floor to the mid floor of this building, there’s a giant pencil!

CoS: Vez sent a parcel to Captain Eyeliner in New York a while back and I snuck in some stuff just because I was there as she was packing the envelope and I got my stuff put up in New York!

tls: Some people are like that with New Zealand, like New Zealand!?! Hobbits!?! That’s what they’re thinking, because to the majority of the world, that’s exactly it, we’re on the other side of the world, so to have all that stuff here, in the ether, is pretty exciting. The audience won’t just be the hundred people we get through the door on the night, most of the audience will be online, on Instagram.

Another Slap City and friends collaboration

What have you got happening alongside the exhibition?

tls: Sticker trading is part of what we do. So, all the work that’s coming to us, Vez is doing an amazing job tallying it up and getting the return addresses so that at the end of the festival the leftover stickers will get sent back out to the people who sent stuff to us. It’s a trade like you do already, but instead of a trade with me and they just get a pack of my stupid pencils, its a trade with maybe a hundred artists from around the world that they might never have come across or might never have traded with.

V: I’ll also encourage all the Slap City people to put stickers in as well when we post packs back out.

tls: We’re also going to jazz up some of the spots in the city that we already use, so people can go and have a wander and explore the city as well, like the old Two Fat Indians spot and the Ao Tawhiti wall. It’s not legal, but they don’t get touched too often. We will include the bollard Bloom’s just done [The Paste-Up Project] as well, because that’s us too. We’ll include [New Regent Street bar] WILKO because we did a whole wall in there a few months back…

V: We are going to have an interactive map.

tls: It’s going to be beautifully created by Cape of Storms. This festival is trying to highlight what we do in terms of creating artwork via paper, both in a gallery-style setting, but also by directing people to be more observant in the real-world setting…

Bloom n Grow Gal completing her Paste-Up Project installation on Manchester Street

It’s an important part of events like this, to further instill the city’s reputation as an urban art destination, right?

tls: Street art capital, right? Lonely Planet said so! As a group, we have such a wide range of artistic endeavors, but we’re all tied together by a bucket of paste and a brush. We have people who come along and just draw smiley faces…

CoS: And we have some people working for weeks and weeks, spending months perfecting something. Or somebody like Lost Boy who listens to our conversations and cartoons what we’re chatting about and then pastes it up! I was saying something about how you should never microwave a sausage, because it’s not good, and he drew a cartoon strip about it! It was hilarious!

A Lost Boy paste-up

tls: Sometimes, I’d say relatively regularly actually, we’ll meet up somewhere and the meeting is more important than sitting down and drawing. It’s knowing that you’re just checking in with everybody and having a good week and is everything alright and we’re all good. I might draw two pencils on a piece of paper and that might be it. Other times I might sit down and not talk to anybody and draw 50, it doesn’t matter. We’ve had people come in for one session and we never see them again. We’ve had a kid come with their dad…

CoS: That kid was so shy, but he was so happy to be there.

tls: We’ve also had kids come along on walks and freak out because they get to put a sticker on the side of a wall. We’re not molding it into one thing. It just is what it is.

CoS: It’s also not a session where you necessarily need to bring anything, and you can take away whatever you want from it. I feel like I do a lot of my cutting out, rather than making my collages, which requires a lot of space and a lot of focus. I just get the energy that I need. Also, the confidence of being in a group is important, going out on your own is quite daunting.

tls: That’s the thing we do differently, there’s safety in a gang. We haven’t got patches, but we go out and there’s a couple of spots on Manchester Street where you don’t want to be hanging around by yourself at 10:30pm at night on a Wednesday, but when you’ve got a group giggling, laughing and joking, it makes light of the situation, for sure.

CoS: It also gives us the opportunity to mix our art together in the streets, so we’re not individuals, it becomes a collective thing…

V: One of the nicest things we’ve done is where we take over a whole box and we collage it…

CoS: It’s everybody’s work all at once. It’s so instant, although sometimes people don’t want it to be too chaotic!

A beautiful bird paste-up by Slap City member Salsa Stark

We were talking about the other events…

tls: Oh shit! Yes! So, you’ve got workshops, on the Wednesday after the opening night, it will be similar to what we do already, and we might do one for younger people beforehand. We have the ability to share stuff on the wall here, we have the ability to play music here, we have the ability to do lots of things, which is why we are having it here at TyanHAUS.

How did that relationship with TyanHAUS start?

tls: I judged a youth skateboard competition that was run here on a wet day a while back. We were going to run it at Two Thumbs Brewery, but it was too wet. So, I came down to help Jack [from local skate brand DuckEwe] to judge. I was looking at this big wall and I thought we could cover that! The guys from TYAN were like, yeah, sure, go for it! We did a few workshops here where I drove my car inside and we lay down on the nice clean floor. We talked to them and they were keen to host this festival, so we said yeah let’s do this! Now it’s almost here…

It is going to be a busy time with Flare Street Art Festival as well…

V: We talked about cross promotion, but I feel like everything’s happening at the same time, so people that are interested in street art are going to find out about both…

It is awesome to see these two things overlapping, speaking about the same culture, just from different perspectives…

CoS: I imagine the audience is going to be the same, so I hope that people check out both shows. We’ve done a few of the graffiti workshops at the giant cans and that was awesome. This cross section across the two events is great, with some really big names in graffiti and we have some really big names in paste-up culture, as well as a lot of people that are virtually unknown…

tls: We had to force Lost Boy to get on Instagram, because we wanted to tag him in posts. But he is also totally fine with just coming along and drawing his drawing funny pictures about shit we say. He’s actually got an exhibition opening on the 22nd, its fucking grand! Along with the paste-up show, there will be a Hello! I am the Show exhibition with members of Slap City. It’s not specifically about paper art, but it is connected…

How can people find out more? How can they make sure they don’t miss out on anything?

V: It’s all on our Instagram account, we’ve got a Facebook event set up as well and we are going to get posters printed and pasted up.

Who is supporting the festival?

tls: We’ve got obviously TyanHAUS on board, they’re amazing, we’ve got Hello, who is doing our lovely art show, Karma Cola are doing drinks and there’s talk of a beer and wine sponsor, we don’t need much else. It would be great if there’s someone out there who makes wallpaper paste, hook us up! Or people who can print some stuff for us, hit us up on the Instagram page!

Is there anything else you want to add?

tls: Come along!

CoS: Participate! Do the workshops! Support local artists!

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Follow Slap City on Instagram and Facebook for more information about The International Paste-Up and Sticker Festival. The Festival runs from March 4th to March 12th at TyanHAUS on Carlyle Street, Sydenham

Showtime!

InHAUS: Exhibition @ Tyan Haus, Friday 28th January, 2022

I was intrigued when I heard Sydenham’s Tyan Haus (a collaborative DAO experiment, but let’s leave that explanation for another day, it’s a little bit complicated…) were presenting Aotearoa’s first ever NFT exhibition. NFT’s have been an unavoidable emergence in various fields depending on your interest; either as an artist offered a new platform to sell your work, as a crypto investor, or a digi-phile always looking for new digital trends. Not without complexities, there is still a lot to sift through (we hope to dive into that in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!), but as an event, InHAUS was energised and packed with an enthusiastic crowd (t-shirts with various crypto currency logos were more ubiquitous than your normal art show attire of black-on-black). While I am not sure if this is the future of the art world, or even if physical exhibitions are the best format for NFT art, I cannot deny that there is big-time buzz and InHAUS most definitely captured that excitement…

It was a large and enthusiastic crowd at Tyan Haus on Friday night, who rapturously received the evenings speeches as a celebration of the potential of NFTs…

While many pieces were displayed as traditional printed works, such as the contribution from Christchurch graffiti legend Ikarus…

 

There were also digital works displayed on large screens…

 

 

Including one of Askew Ones Digilogue studies…

And Dean Johns 8-bit study Coffee and a Girl

Our mate Ghostcat was intrigued… miniature NFTs anyone?

Do you have a show coming up? Let us know,. we would love to cover it in Showtime! Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz with the details!