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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

 



No More Crew: Jan Kaláb, Pasta Oner, Michal Škapa

NO MORE CREW

KALÁB / PASTA / ŠKAPA

A strong trio. Grew up together. Long-standing friendships. Shared experience. Rocket engines. Parallel beginnings. Trajectories that have diverged over time, but remain firmly connected, consecrated by the code of graffiti. The No More Crew brotherhood.

An exhibition built around the confrontation of its participants – a trio of friends, all distinct figures, and not only in terms of the Czech art scene. The mutual confrontation comes at no risk. Jan Kaláb, Pasta Oner and Michal Škapa are equals. What they share is tenacity, ambition, drive, vigor, audacity, humor, and every now and then also a wall, as well as mutual friends and their common age. What distinguishes them is their approach, form, tools, the venues of their solo exhibitions, the locations of their respective studios, and the number of their children.

With the soul of an architect, Jan Kaláb easily conquers the third dimension not only in his murals, but also in his canvases. He has grown to embrace the painter within, and although his forte is the creation of objects he has been chiseling away at geometric abstraction, discovering spaces interior and without, regardless of the clichéd expression “that’s been done.”

The same could be said of Pasta Oner. It is possible to cite the clearly visible sources of inspiration, identify the specific paraphrases. Yet one must also take into account the force and accuracy with which he mirrors the conservative Central European mindset. How spot-on is his commentary on the bad habits of consumerism, or the directness with which he tackles the large format through his short post-pop messages.

 

Michal Škapa, by contrast, works with the moment of replication, the multiplication of a graphic element, with a hand patently the descendant of an expert graffiti artist. His style is ornamental, rhythmic, abstract and concrete at the same time. He is the draughtsman of his canvases, the transmitter of symbols, creator of expansive mural-format comics with unsettling subject matter.

The exhibition No More Crew at Urban Spree Galerie presents a trio of disparate and yet splendidly and mutually complementary artists. Their work defies being simply the result of the overused epithet “drawing on street art”, and at the same time any confrontation with their work requires such a label. Space, place, city, symbol, sign. Something for everybody.

 

Biographies:

Michal Škapa (*1978) alias TRON belongs to the most expressive wave of Czech (Prague) writers with many achievements to his credit. He is engaged in countless graphic activities with the magazines “Free Magazine” and “Upstream”, ranging from festival visuals, books, CD covers for bands, web design, and the creation of original fonts, to the design of posters and invitations to arts events. His graphics projects of the recent period include Names Festival, Kick the Shit! Bitch!, OBR, the Thick-skinned Moviegoers’ Festival for the Aero Movie Theater, IFP, visuals for the Bigg Boss label, etc. In addition to computer graphics, who also produces drawings and airbrush works. He brings his vivid imagination to bear on graffiti and visual effects. Member of CAP, NUTS, DSK a TOYZ!

www.834.cz

 

Pasta Oner is one of the most original figures on the Czech contemporary art scene. Ever a creative mind, Pasta Oner has, in the recent years and in keeping with his graffiti and street art roots which go back to the turn of the millenium, focused on asserting himself within the system of independent and publicly funded galleries. He weds pop-art to cartoon, transcending both categories.

Although he touches, at the core of his philosophy, on the principles of post-production, Pasta Oner stands apart from the current trend of post-conceptualism and blazes his trail in the Czech art world as a media-savvy and widely known, if slightly controversial artist.

The work of Pasta Oner presents an original, ironic commentary on contemporary popular culture. Pasta Oner’s traditional themes of obsession with money, sex, religion, luxury goods and the consumerist notions of beauty are translated into new contexts characterised by the technologisation of life, the increasing speed of information and the short attention-span aesthetics of today’s culture. It is into this world, of which Pasta – like all of us – is a part, that he brings his engaged art.

www.pastaoner.cz

 

When Jan Kaláb was born in 1978 in Czechoslovakia, graffiti was not to be seen in the Eastern World. In the nineties, as the country was opening itself to western influences, he became one of the pioneer of the local scene, and founded an iconic crew, the DSK. Sleepless nights around train yards, light tubes at police stations and above all hard work on his style: he went through all the classical steps of a writer’s career. Through Europe, he made a name for himself as Cakes. Next step to the Hall of fame: New York, where he made a big impression by painting whole cars in 2000, alongside with Key and Rome. Around the same time, he found a new way to push his own limits and under the name Point, he sculpted and installed huge abstracts letters in the streets and on the walls. This was another form of graffiti, in daylight, and without a spray, but truthful to the spirit of competition and innovation of the urban scene. Those sculptures lead him to abstraction, a path he’s been exploring through canvas from 2007, using acrylic painting and brushes. In the meantime, this admirer of Kupka graduated from the Academy of fine Arts of Prague – becoming the first Czech writer to do so.

Jan Kaláb had his first solo exhibition in 2008 in Prague. Others solos took place in Romania, Argentina, Germany or in the United States.

www.jankalab.com

 

Škapa, Kaláb and Pasta often exhibited together (for example: 2009 –Storage, Prague, The Chemistry Gallery, 2011 – Boutique, Prague, The Chemistry Gallery, 2011 – Can You Dig It?, Brussels/Belgium, Pragues House) and they organised shows or met many times together at group shows (2008 – City Celebrities, Brno, Moravská galerie in Brno, 2008 – Names (streetart festival), Prague, Trafacka, 2010 – Metropolis, Shanghai/China, EXPO 2010, Czech pavilion, 2010 – Corners, Shanghai, Beijing/China, Source, 2010 – Metropolis, Prague, DOX, 2012 – Possessed by the City, Prague, Galerie hlavního města Prahy – Městská knihovna).

 

No More Crew

A solo group show by Jan Kaláb, Pasta Oner and Michal Škapa

Opening Reception on Thursday, May 18th at 18:30

Exhibition: May 19th to June 11th,

Tu-Su: 12:00-19:00

press enquiries: diana@urbanspree.com

gallery enquiries: galerie@urbanspree.com

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An evening with Katherine Isbister: How Games Move Us – Emotion by Design

A MAZE. presents in cooperation with Berlingamescene.com a surprising summer talk appearance by Katherine Isbister at Urban Spree Galerie.

Katherine Isbister is Professor of Computational Media, and core faculty member in the Center for Games and Playable Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was the founding research director of the Game Innovation Lab at NYU, and a founding faculty member of the NYU Game Center. Isbister has written several books about game design, such as Better Game Characters by Design, and most recently How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design, published by MIT Press.

Isbister’s analysis shows us a new way to think about games, helping us appreciate them as an innovative and powerful medium for doing what film, literature, and other creative media do: helping us to understand ourselves and what it means to be human.

Description copied from https://mitpress.mit.edu/how-games:

9780262034265_0This is a renaissance moment for video games—in the variety of genres they represent, and the range of emotional territory they cover. But how do games create emotion? In How Games Move Us, Katherine Isbister takes the reader on a timely and novel exploration of the design techniques that evoke strong emotions for players. She counters arguments that games are creating a generation of isolated, emotionally numb, antisocial loners. Games, Isbister shows us, can actually play a powerful role in creating empathy and other strong, positive emotional experiences; they reveal these qualities over time, through the act of playing. She offers a nuanced, systematic examination of exactly how games can influence emotion and social connection, with examples—drawn from popular, indie, and art games—that unpack the gamer’s experience.

Isbister describes choice and flow, two qualities that distinguish games from other media, and explains how game developers build upon these qualities using avatars, non-player characters, and character customization, in both solo and social play. She shows how designers use physical movement to enhance players’ emotional experience, and examines long-distance networked play. She illustrates the use of these design methods with examples that range from Sony’s Little Big Planet to the much-praised indie game Journey to art games like Brenda Romero’s Train.

Pay what you want entrance fee: 1-5€



Rusconi & Hildegard Lernt Fliegen Live in Berlin

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RUSCONI sind Stefan Rusconi (piano, synth, vocals, space echo & sound preparations), Fabian Gisler (double bass, guitar, vocals) und Claudio Strüby (drums, percussion, vocals, glockenspiel & tape). Seit Ihrer Gründung in Zürich haben sie während über 300 Konzerten ein fast telepathisches Verständnis füreinander und die Kräfte der jeweiligen Musen entwickelt. Wild wird von Komposition zu Improvisation gewechselt, elektronische und analoge Instrumente durcheinander gemischt. Scheinbar divergente Einflüsse, wie Miles Davis und Aphex Twin, Radiohead und Paul Bley sowie Sonic Youth und Nils Wogram schmelzen zu einer Musik die ohne Zweifel ihre eigene ist.

„History Sugar Dream“ macht mächtig Freude und beweist (wenn man denn einen Beweis benötigt), dass Innovation und Experimentierfreudigkeit nicht nur zugänglich sondern geradezu wahrhaftig abenteuerlich sein kann.

TEXT von Hanspeter ‚Düsi’ Künzler, Februar 2014, London

HILDEGARD LERNT FLIEGEN ist keine Band, sondern ein Sturm. Man kauft ein Ticket und erwartet ein Konzert, doch was man bekommt ist ein theatralischer Anschlag auf das Musikverständnis, eine Dada-Party, eine einzige Aufregung. Bandkopf Andreas Schaerer lässt seine sprudelnde Fantasie mit Vollgas aufs Publikum los, und das feiert das Schweizer Sextett wie die Rettung der Kunst vor sich selbst. Das namenlose Debütalbum schlug ein, der Nachfolger ebenso, und die Band tourte mit ihrer Mischung aus Jazzrock, Tarantella, Zirkus-Blues, Swing und Oper durch halb Europa, Russland und China. Der Drittling von Hildegard lernt fliegen “The fundamental rhythm of unpolished brains” setzt dort an wo die Band aufgehört hat. Gewitzt setzen die Schweizer ängstlichen Biedermeiern frische Ideen entgegen, stürzen sich als Sandkorn ins Getriebe des Gleichklangs. Die Band lässt Konventionen hinter sich, erhebt Nonkonformismus nicht zum Dogma und zeigt bei aller Präzision umwerfenden Witz. Für Hildegards hinreißende Frechheiten weiß Andreas Schaerer eine griffige Formel: „im Jazz gibt’s kein richtig oder falsch!“ Eine ewig zappende Gruppe – ein famoses Chaos!

Mehr Infos hier:
http://www.hildegardlerntfliegen.ch/

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New Exhibition: El Segundo. Instinctive Travels to the Haupstadt

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On May 30th, 2013, Studio Lukas Feireiss and Urban Spree Galerie hand the keys to the City of Berlin to 2 Rotterdam-based visual artists, Baschz Leeft and Janjoost Jullens, for an all-Berlin themed conceptual exhibition, together with Selfcontrolfreak and Studio Spass.  The vernissage will be followed by a DJ set with Rotterdam based Beatnologic, aka Beatno, aka The Gaslamp Killer Killer.

Berlin: capitol of creativity, libertine playground of Europe. Is it truth or myth? A gift or a burden?

Berlin rooted curator Lukas Feireiss invited Dutch artists Baschz Leeft and Janjoost Jullens to co-host an exhibition examining the most prevailing myths on the Hauptstadt. Merging backgrounds in societal research, design, interaction and street culture El Segundo provides a thorough but humorous view on this city of arts, activism, immigrant entrepreneurs and omnipresent pink pipes.

From one city to another the exhibition features works from all Rotterdam based artists:

Baschz Leeft is an omnimedial visual artist, designer and curator with a profound love for mass and sub cultures. Also founding father of Rotterdam cultural breeding ground and gallery SingerSweatShop. www.baschz.com

Janjoost Jullens is a researcher, writer and art director who uses arts to put societal issues in new perspectives and to fuel innovations. Did a street inspired Tedtalk on new simplicity. www.studiowolfpack.com

Selfcontrolfreak is an internationally known experiment on interactive video that explores choice and control in interaction. Also the maker of the interactive motion picture Order. www.selfcontrolfreak.com

Studio Spass is a design team that deliberately avoids being trapped into corners and fixed formulae, and values Spass in the design process. Winners of a Silver European Design Award for an arts festival poster campaign. www.studiospass.com

 

El Segundo. Instinctive Travels to the Hauptstadt.

Curated by Studio Lukas Feireiss @Urban Spree Galerie.

Vernissage on May 30th, in the presence of the artists.

Afterparty with DJ Beatnologic

Exhibition from May 31st to June 21st. Tu-Sa 12:00-20:00

 

Urban Spree Galerie

Warschauer Str. x Revaler Str.

10245 Berlin

 

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Kindly supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the City of Rotterdam.