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Icy and Sot Interview

Icy & Sot Interview: Iran's Street Art Siblings on Censorship, Activism & Advocacy
(designboom)
Icy & Sot's Archive

born in tabriz, iran in 1985 and 1991 respectively, street art siblings ICY and SOT began making work under less than hospitable conditions. initially influenced by the graffiti and stencils in skateboarding films and video games, the pair soon began making their own distinctive mark on the walls of their native city. speed and discretion often go hand in hand with creating unauthorised artworks, but this is especially true in tabriz where an unsympathetic and intolerant legal system often hands out charges much more severe than just ‘vandalism’.

at home with the realities of state wide censorship and more than used to their artworks surviving for less than a few hours, political dissent and social protest is a vein that has run through the duo’s work since the beginning. in 2012, ICY and SOT took a solo exhibition of their work in new york as an opportunity to emigrate, leaving iran and relocating to the thriving brooklyn arts scene. since then, the duo’s work has gone from strength to strength, expanding into an ever more diverse number of mediums while retaining its rousing and defiant spirit of resistance through art.

the issues with which ICY and SOT engage are far reaching, and include poverty, homelessness, women’s rights, gun control, and immigration. their most recent show, ‘human (nature)’, presented at thinkspace gallery in culver city, L.A., grapples with the all encompassing effects of climate change on the earth and human kind, and our collective responsibility to fight for the life of our planet. using sculpture, photography, stencil and more, the pair create gripping images rife with narrative that force the viewer to engage with both the inherent beauty and urgent message of the collection.

designboom: can you give us a bit of background as to how you got started? where did the first impulse to start creating work first come from, and how did you go about learning the craft of stencilling? do you remember the first stencil you made?

ICY & SOT: it all started with our career in skateboarding. we used to make small stencils and stickers and put them up around the city. at the time we didn’t know very much about the street art movement, but through internet (flickr) we got to know other international street artists and we became more interested.

we loved the simplicity and quickness of single layer stencils. since it was all illegal in iran we had to be really quick putting a piece up. we learned so many different ways of stencilling by just experiencing. we don’t specifically remember the first stencils, but the very first ones were stencils of punk bands and skateboarding logos, which we decorated our rooms with when were teenagers.

TXMX 2018 Submissions II

The artists edition of the TXMX 2018 uploads. Music by Hoopla, via the SF Public Library.
<<< Hamburg wheatpaste by Marshal Arts (TXMX photo)

>NEW< DHHG
>NEW< MTS
>NEW< Rude

btoy
F.P.T.
Holzweg (just one)
Liebsein (just one)
Marshal Arts
Mittenimwald
NOOB
robi the dog (just one)
rumo
stenc
tona
usp (just one)

Neanderthals Made Hand Stencils in Europe

By Deborah Netburn
Feb. 22, 2018
LA Times
<< Photo: A color-enhanced hand stencil from Spain’s Maltravieso cave, likely made by a Neanderthal. Photo courtesy of the University of Southampton.

A red hand stencil. A series of lines that look like a ladder. A collection of red dots.

These images, painted in ocher on the walls of three separate caves in Spain, are the oldest-known examples of cave art ever found. And new research suggests that all three were created not by humans, but by our ancient cousins the Neanderthals.

In a paper published Thursday in Science, an international team of archaeologists shows that each of the three paintings was executed at least 64,000 years ago — more than 20,000 years before the first modern humans arrived in Europe.

“This work confirms that Neanderthals were indeed using cave walls for depicting drawings that had meaning for them,” said Marie Soressi, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who was not involved in the study. “It also means that our own group, the one we call anatomically modern humans, is maybe not so special.”

For most of the last century, researchers have argued that our Neanderthal cousins were intellectually inferior to their modern human contemporaries — incapable of symbolic thought and possibly devoid of language. This, in turn, was used to explain why the Neanderthals disappeared from Eurasia about 40,000 years ago, not long after modern humans arrived there.

However, archaeological evidence revealed over the last two decades tells a different story. We now know that Neanderthals were sophisticated hunters who knew how to control fire, and that they adorned themselves with jewelry and took care to bury their dead.

5Pointz Artists Win $6.7m in NYC VARA Case

Decrying Real Estate Developer’s ‘Insolence,’ Judge Awards Street Artists $6.7 Million in Landmark 5Pointz Case

The ruling is a decisive victory for street artists.

Eileen Kinsella, February 12, 2018 (Artnet)

In a dramatic conclusion to a landmark case, a judge has ruled that a New York developer must pay $6.7 million to a group of graffiti artists to compensate for painting over their work without warning in 2013. The decision represents a decisive victory for street artists in a case that pitted their rights against those of a real estate executive.

The artists sued the developer, Gerald Wolkoff, for violating their rights after he whitewashed their work at the famous 5Pointz art mecca in Long Island City to make way for condos. A jury ruled in favor of the artists in November, but it remained up to a judge to determine the extent of the damages.

In a 100-page decision handed down today, Judge Frederic Block awarded $150,000 for each of the 45 works for a total award of $6.75 million.

“5Pointz was its temple, though it can never be replaced, this judgement is a monumental step for our culture and our art form,” Jonathan Cohen (also known as Meres One), the former director of 5Pointz, said in an email to artnet News. “Judge Block’s decision will change the art form perception for generations to come.”

Judge Block had harsh words for Wolkoff and the 2013 whitewashing episode in particular. He wrote: “If not for Wolkoff’s insolence, these damages would not have been assessed. If he did not destroy 5Pointz until he received his permits and demolished it 10 months later, the Court would not have found that he had acted willfully.”

TXMX 2018 Submissions

TXMX (his archive), Stencil Archive's longest and most prolific collaborator, has sent his annual stack of photos to add to the site. His general photos are easier to check for duplicates and upload. Here is the first part of his photos, from Hamburg and Spain. In the coming weeks the rest of TXMX's stack, attributed to Hamburg and other artists, will go up with other fresh updates.

Stay tuned, and deep thanks (as always) to Mr. TXMX!

Masters of the Pochoir

Masters of the Pochoir
A tour d'horizon, by Paul Zwartkruis (Netherlands)
For The Writer's Drawer
<<< Hand movements with the pompom at the Jacomet atelier

Pochoir: “the most versatile and luxurious reproduction process in modern time"
John Bidwell, curator of the Graphic Arts Collection at Firestone Library

Picasso, Braque, Van Dongen, Miro, Matisse, Dufy, Léger, Modigliani, Rouault and many other artists worked in Paris in the first half of the 20th century. They asked other people to make hand-crafted illustrations of their work – pochoirs. The artists had rediscovered this technique, which is of Japanese origin. They thus added an unparalleled quality to contemporary colour illustrations.

Pochoirs are highly realistic, manual reproductions of works of art. But it was not the artist himself who made the pochoirs. The technique was far too complicated. In about 50 specialized workshops in Paris female colourists produced these gems, which are characterized by a marvellous vibrancy of colour. Various templates, brushes and paint (water-gouache, silver or gold paint) were used in order to achieve this effect. For a simple pochoir, some figures or texts were cut from thin metal foil or plastic. These stencils were then placed on paper or some other surface. Nowadays, street artists such as Banksy and Vhils frequently use this reproduction technique when creating their art.

RIP Lord Hao (France)

In the early years of Stencil Archive, Hao (Stencil Archive here and 2004 interview here) began submitting his stencils from the streets of Paris. He supported the project, and was also excited to be part of the 2009 Stencil Nation book project. I never got to meet him in person, but knew that he was inspired by DIY, ska, punk, Pacific Island culture, and the lowbrow Los Angeles art style.

What I remember most about Hao is his enthusiasm, encouragement, and anticapitalist belief that stencils are for the streets, free for everyone to enjoy. He kept a low online profile, didn't seek gallery exhibits or even notariety beyond the Paris streets. He also inspired others to get in on the stencil fun, which is how I only recently found out about his death around 2012/3.

Staying in touch with him was difficult. At one point, he friended me on Facebook, but used an alias. He sent me a PM telling me that it was Hao from France. Eventually I lost touch with him again.

Sadly, I will finally get to visit Paris this summer, but I will not get to meet Lord Hao. As soon at the tickets were booked, I searched online to try to figure out a way to find him, and I only found a few memorial posts about his passing.

So here is a belated farewell to an artist I admired, both for his talent and his kindness. Rest In Paint, Hao. You are missed!

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