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The 10 Best Street Art Books of 2018

Berlin-based specialized bookshop and gallery Urban Spree releases the list of the “10 Best Street Art Books of 2018“, a compilation of this year’s best titles. Although purely subjective, it reflects several trends playing in the book market:

 

– a renewed focus on the works of the pioneers of the 1960-70s through an academic approach;

– an increase in artist monographs which put more emphasis on their studio works;

– we have entered the era of “post-graffiti”

– but vandal graffiti and underground street art resist well the assimilation;

 

The list of the best publications of 2018 comes in no particular order.

 

1° John Divola: Vandalism

One of the most striking books of the year, “Vandalism” singles out itself by the sobriety of its approach.It consists of a black-and-white photographic series shot over 2 years in the mid-70s by the American photographer John Divola. Divola travelled across L.A. in search of vacant and dilapidated properties in which to shoot his project. Armed with a camera, spray paint, string and cardboard, the artist would produce one of his most significant photographic series, painting abstract constellations of graffiti-like marks, ritualistic configurations of string hooked to pins, torn arrangements of cardboard, and photographing it.

Vandalism” is not per se a “street art book” but rather a photobook crossing over both genres. The best example of a crossover book would be Bruce Davidson’s “Subway“, a series of portraits shot on the gritty NYC subway in the 70s where graffiti abounds but is only a sub-context, not the main topic (unlike Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant’s vernacular documentary photographic oeuvre whose main purpose is to specifically document graffiti).

 

Published by MACK Books, UK, in April 2018

Embossed paper-bound hardback

120 pages, 23.5 cm x 23.5 cm

Buy it here

 

2° Rafael Schacter: Street to Studio

“These are artists who are thus not slavishly reproducing their exterior practice within an interior realm but who are, rather, taking the essence of graffiti – its visual principles, its spatial structures, its technical methods, its entrenched ethics – and reinterpreting them with the studio domain,”writes Rafael Schacter in his introduction of his book Street to Studio.

We have entered the post-graffiti era. At a time where the graphic codes of street art are permeating most spheres of culture and entertainment, street artists have simultaneously enjoyed the favor of galleries and collectors and therefore have strongly developed their studio practice, when it was not in their ADN since the begining. What comes out is a blended space, where the artist works on both surfaces, the wall and the canvas, oscillating between different scales, the large and the intimate. Is this becoming a new paradigm in the art world?

The book introduces the concept of  ‘Intermural Art’ – art in-between the walls – to reflect that transition and has the merit of putting the emphasis on more conceptual players in the game (Brad Downey, Ian Strange, Boris Tellegen…) rather than usual suspects.

 

Published by Lund Humphries in July 2018

Edited by Rafael Schacter with a foreword by Carlo McCormick

Hardcover, 218 colour illustrations

224 Pages, 27 × 24,9 cm

Buy it here

 

3° David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake At Night

Beginning in the late 1970s, the American artist David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, and activism. Largely self-taught, he came to prominence in New York in the 1980s, a period marked by creative energy, financial precariousness, and profound cultural changes. Intersecting movements—graffiti, new and no wave music, conceptual photography, performance, and neo-expressionist painting—made New York a laboratory for innovation. Wojnarowicz refused a signature style, adopting a wide variety of techniques with an attitude of radical possibility. Distrustful of inherited structures, he varied his repertoire to better infiltrate the prevailing culture.

Wojnarowicz’s work documents and illuminates a desperate period of American history: that of the AIDS crisis and culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But his rightful place is also among the raging and haunting iconoclastic voices, from Walt Whitman to William S. Burroughs, who explore American myths, their perpetuation, their repercussions, and their violence. Wojnarowicz, who was thirty-seven when he died from AIDS-related complications, wrote: “To make the private into something public is an action that has terrific ramifications.”

 

Published by Yale University Press in July 2018

Hardcover, 384 pages

160 color + 100 b/w illustrations

Buy it here

 

4° BLU: Minima Muralia

Italian street artist BLU is one of the few street artists refusing to compromise with the art market, unwilling to translate his brillant art onto canvas, staying true to the origins of the movement – an underground, non-monetized, ephemeral, illegal & outdoor art practice for which the context and the meaning are the most important elements.

While Banksy excels in subverting the codes of the art world, BLU refuses them and strikes back, erasing the murals he painted to fight their monetization (Bologna, Berlin).

Minima Muralia” presents each mural painted by the artist during the last 15 years, more than 200 walls.

 

 

Published by Zooo Press in March 2018

288 full color pages

17×24 cm, lay flat swiss binding

Buy it here

 

5° One Week With 1UP

Which brings us to the last frontier within the realm of the urban arts: graffiti. “One Week with 1UP” is the second published book by and about the legendary Berlin-based vandal graffiti crew 1UP.  This time, the Kreuzberg crew embarks NYC-based legendary documentary photographer Martha Cooper and Berlin-based photographer Ninja K. in a series of underground actions, through tunnels, rooftops, featuring high pressure fire extinguisher tags, roll-downs, roll-ups, street bombings, whole cars and backjumps in a first-hand account.

1UP is the ultimate modern graffiti crew in the 21st century: large, everywhere, powerful, fearless, defiant, invisible.

 

Self-Published, Berlin, 2018

A project by Martha Cooper, Ninja K. and 1UP

English/German, 144 pages, 31 x 22 cm

Buy it here

 

6° Klone: “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”

Klone is an Ukrianian-born, Tel-Aviv based street artist, a pioneer of graffiti in Israel and a visual artist who was the first to exhibit at Urban Spree and one of the reasons why we did the space in the first place. I stumbled upon his fist published book – “Don’t Sleep”– in 2011 and was so moved by its personal content, poetry, freedom, that I wanted to meet the man and work with him.

8 years later comes Few Moments Ago I Was Here“,  looking over those past 8 years of exhibitions, mural projects, installation, and animations.

“Few Moments Ago I Was Here” is an artist book. By this, we mean a book which is mainly thought, designed, created and published by the artist himself. We always try to get as many self-published and artist books in the bookshop because they are precious and unconventional. Of course they are difficult to source, as we can get our hands only on a small stock, they sell out fast and we need to replace them but we can’t get enough of them.

 

Self-Published, Tel Aviv, November 2018 (Hell No Publication)

Limited edition of 500 copies.

Softcover. Full colour offset print on Munken lynx paper.

Buy it here

 

7° Ian Strange: Islands 2015-2017

Continuing on the self-publication mood and echoing John Divola, the Australian artist Ian Strange  publishes “Islands 2015-2017”, a photographic monograph documenting his interventions on American suburban homes, in the wake of Gordon Matta-Clark or David Wojnarowicz.

Through photography, sculpture, research, found artefacts and drawings, “Island” reflects on the home through the metaphor of the desert island, a place of personal sovereignty but simultaneously entrapment. “Island” interplays the monumental with the intimate and intangible. Exploring the icon of the home as a deeply vulnerable object and personal vessel for memory, identity and aspiration.

 

Self-published

Limited edition of 400 hand numbered and signed books with a concertina print

25 x 34 cm

Buy it here

 

8° Jan Kalab: Point of Space

“Point of Space” is the first published monograph of the Czech graffiti and visual artist Jan Kaláb, covering 25 years of his urban and studio creations, through multiple art forms (paintings, 3D graffiti, bombings, sculptures, installations).

Jan Kaláb started as a pure graffiti writer and achieved fame under the monikers “CAKES” and “POINT”. From there, his practice evolved to murals and studio works, sculptures and canvases and this evolution, patiently documented, is fascinating to follow.

The book was edited by the artist himself with texts by the czech art critic Petr Volf.

 

 

Published by Trafacka/Trafo Gallery Prague, in November 2018

320 pages

Hard Cover, 25 cm x 32,5 cm

Texts by Petr Volf and book design by Jan Novák

Buy it here

 

9° Swet: Book of the Year

 

One of the last published books of 2018, “Book of the Year” is a comprehensive monograph encompassing 1 year of walls by the danish graffiti writer SWET.

A graffiti “tour de force”, all the walls depicted in the book were painted in 2017 and amount to over 300 wall pieces, almost one per day, all of them documented in the book, including some sketches.

The book is bound with a piece of a canvas specially painted by SWET for this project and each book has a different binding, which also highlights the precise work of the dutch artisan publishing house Chemistry Publishing.

 

 

Published in November 2018 by Chemistry Publishing

First Edition of 500

240 pages printed on Munken Crystal Rough

Cover embossed with green linen, 24 x 28,5 cm

Buy it here

 

10° Russian Urban Art: History and Conflict

Street art books are usually more about photographs and visual documentation than text. Few history books actually exist on the graffiti and street art movements, let alone about a peripheral movement such as street art in Russia.

It is therefore the merit of the Russian artist and curator Igor Ponosov to examine the power of street art in Russia by exploring its historical background, extending from the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, to the non-conformists and the actionists of the 21st century.

 

 

Self-Published, Moscow, June 2018

Edition of 500

Hardcover, 20 x 15 cm, 96 pages, English

Buy it here

 



Giardini di Mirò – Rise and Fall of Academic Drifting

GIARDINI DI MIRO’

Rise and Fall of Academic Drifting
PERFORMING LIVE IN BERLIN

Warm up: AGATA NON SOGNA dj set

presale: 10 euro at Wale Café, Hobrechtstrasse 24, 12047 Berlin
on-line KOKA36 / at the door: 13 euro

www.giardinidimiro.com
www.42records.it

Giardini di Mirò

One of the most important albums in the history of Italian independent music is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary with a special tour, unique and unrepeatable, and for the first time “Rise and Fall of Academic Drifting” is reissued on double vinyl limited to 300 copies from 42 Records. The fate of the underground music is written that born discs and thought to be little more than a private matter in the life and career of the musicians who composed and recorded them end up representing a collective historical moment and mark deeply an era to become cult absolute.
“Rise and Fall of Academic Drifting”, the first album of the Giardini di Mirò, falls perfectly into this description.
Published for the first time in 2001 by the label Homesleep Bologna, at the dawn of what we commonly call Italian independent scene, he has achieved some very novel results ­ and perhaps never replicated ­ for an album almost entirely instrumental and characterized by the desire to look well beyond national borders.
So, after almost fifteen thousand copies sold in time, and hundreds of concerts in Italy and Europe behind, the Giardini di Mirò decided to propose it again to return to live in their entirety on stages some of the most important live Italian and European clubs.



“Toys” by Canemorto and Marco Proserpio

After the success of Amo-Te Lisboa, which premiered in Berlin at Urban Spree in November 2015, Canemorto is releasing a short sequel movie together with director Marco Proserpio.

Whereas Amo-Te Lisboa was sending out the boys back to the street to paint, Toys ironically signs the triumph of the contemporary art world, a universe where easy money and robbing wall paintings becomes a routine. The film focuses on the recent debate about the controversial exhibition Street Art: Banksy & Co: L’Arte allo Stato Urbano and the stealing of Blu’s wall-paintings in Bologna.

Toys contains indeed a unique exclusive interview with Camillo Tarozzi, the Italian restorer who made the discussed removals of Blu’s works, filmed by Marco Proserpio in January 2016.



Serbinale – Festival of New Serbian Arts and Culture

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Serbinale is a Berlin curated 4-day Festival of New Serbian Arts and Culture, spanning 3 locations: Kino Babylon, General Public Gallery & Urban Spree

Urban Spree Gallery hosts the events of the 3rd day (August 31st) as well as the Serbinale party.

Program: 

19:00: Paneldiscussion: OstFrauen / with:

Tanja Ostojic, a conceptual artist who constantly questions international and national political decisions and gives feminism a provocative voice.

Danijela Pilic, a best-selling author, journalist and fashion blogger

Stereotype: Eastern European women want at any costs to come to Germany. They are feminine, blonde and sexy. Marry German men. For money. Google entry for „Eastern European Women“ results in countless dating services. This shows very clearly what kind of image eastern european women have in Germany.

The problem: this pictures distorts the image of many Eastern European women who live in Germany and are successful, independent and beautiful, but are not „for sale.“ How do they deal with these clichés?

We want to consider lifestyles, question the ideas of identity and belonging, and thus make a strong Eastern European woman visible.

21:00: Vernissage: Side Effects

Urban Spree Gallery presents an exhibition of the new serbian art scene of graphic design, illustration and visual arts.

noticeBiskoteka: http://biskolart.tumblr.com/

Bratislav Milenkovic: www.bratislavmilenkovic.com

Jovan Trkulja www.petergregson.com/blog

Lazar Bodroza: www.metaklinika.com

Mane Radmanovic: www.maneradmanovic.com

Milica Pantelic: www.panteliceva.blogspot.com

Nenad Trifunovic: www.metaklinika.com

 

Sretan Bor: www.cargocollective.com/sretanbor

Stefan Unkovic: www.stefanunkovic.com

Zeljko Loncar: www.zeljkoloncar.blogspot.com

 

 

23:00: Serbinale Party

DJ Sets:

 

Tijana T
Tijana Todorovic is a Serbian multi-talent living in Belgrade, who is locally and internationally recognized as a vocalist, DJ and TV presenter. Tijana has a decade long career in making music TV shows in Serbia during which she has established herself as an influential figure on the new Serbian music scene. Between 2003 and 2008. she was also a spokeslady for the famous Exit festival and was also an author and presenter of Exit-related TV shows. Tijana is also a DJ and a regular vocal contributor for Abe Duque.

She has played worldwide in such places as Robert Johnson/Frankfurt, Watergate/Berlin, Space/Ibiza, Goa/Madrid, Elysee Montmartre/Paris, Les Nuits Sonores/Lyon, Cassero/Bologna, Roof/Moscow. She also hosts parties in Belgrade bringing her international friends to join her on the decks. These parties have introduced Sascha Funke, M.A.N.D.Y, Heidi, Damian Lazarus, Gebruder Teichmann among others to Serbian capital.

Jenne Grabowski 

. Even Drones / DNP Music Berlin
. The Dusty Cabinets
. Tour DJ of The Whitest Boy Alive 2012
. Publishing JB. Magazine

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