Redox for Galleria del Sale: Second weekreportage by Claudia Puddu
Photos by Beatrice Schivo and Claudio Valenti
The second and last weekend of events at the Galleria del Sale looks more demanding already; nine artists, several walls included in this venture, shocking heat and untraceable bicycles.
As I arrive at Ponte Vittorio in the late morning, I see from a distance Beatrice and Claudio, the two photographers of Redox, analyzing the place with the purpose of finding the best spots for shooting. While a one horse shay passes me by, I reach the desk of Urban Center, the organization in charge of the event, that includes its artistic director, DANIELE GREGORINI, as the artist that will realize his work by the cycling lane.
Some of the artists are already at their positions, with rolls and white paint in order to work on the background. I decide to wait an hour before asking for the interviews; I learned that the best moment is when they take out the tobacco and start rolling a cigarette.
The walls dedicated to MARCELLO MARINELLI, BILLYANDALEX, BOF, NEEVA and EISENAUER are one against the other, divided only by the road where now cars are passing by at high speed, honking, screaming through their windows, or just trying to take a look at the sketches.
I am observing the different artists around me: MARCELLO MARINELLI starts with a precise detail-oriented work, and BOF, followed by his assistant, Takeshi Kenzo (wearing a beautiful coverall with “your girlfriend is staring at me” written on it), is doing well with the preparatory drawing. This weekend there will be a guest from Berlin, too: BILLYANDALEX, ready to draw while the guys from Urban Center, climbing on little stairs, are keeping on removing old posters from the walls.
ENEA, from Sassari, is going to work in front of the stadium and while he is painting I get acquainted with his dog Nanà, a quiet diva looking for cuddles. A man on his forties joins us and shifts from one artist’s spot to another; his name is Giampiero, and he says that he used to steal but not anymore, and that he used to do drugs but not anymore.
Walking to SKAN’s position, I am pretty impressed by the vision of the three walls painted last week, whose presence could only improve the view of the zone. SKAN doesn’t release any interviews, but I keep staring at his work and the way he blends very precisely the colors for more than half an hour , and in the meanwhile I count the number of the spray bottles placed on the stair: nine.
In that moment on the Asse Mediano, a car stops and the driver shouts at the guys from Urban Center; he has bags full of cold drinks and ice with him.
My talk with ENEA begins, starting with his experience inside the collective EX-Q, then he says that street artist realizes his works wherever he feels like doing it and without any permission, most of the time.
A few moments later I am able to interview a very helpful BILLYANDALEX, who says that she doesn’t feel represented by any category, and that those labels so strict shouldn’t exist.
MARCELLO MARINELLI on the other hand, started as a writer, but he inherited from his mother the passion for painting.
Friday ends with my cameo as a wall cleaner: armed a with putty knife, I help the guys of the Urban Center to remove old posters. While I am at it, I mentally curse everyone that complains about graffiti, street art, murales or whatever the hell they want to call it, when they don’t say a word about illicit ads that, I or even better the organizers can assure you, are damn hard to take off.
When I come back, Saturday afternoon, not only the walls are perfectly clean, but NEEVA and EISENAUER are at work, BOF has already finished and goes away after an informal chat, and MANU INVISIBILE is painting too. I approach his wall, looking at the area below from a bridge; in spite of the rush of getting the hundreds of things to do that stressed me out, the view forced me to stop there for several minutes. I find myself staring at something strikingly beautiful and indefinable around that insalubrious canal and the stadium that stands out, in those many bridges, in the Arena Grandi Eventi where Caparezza is going to sing in the evening.
When the moment of decadent beauty fades away, I am near MANU INVISIBILE who shows me his sketch, amazing me with the vision needed in order to to realize the whole thing. He also tells me how often people try to found out his identity and his gender. According to his vision, the word “graffiti” is incorrect, as “writing” would be more accurate, and street art can be defined as an illegal activity, which does not leave out a certain sense of respect for the others and for the monument itself.
We keep talking, and a man who is passing by for an afternootaken run starts insulting us, yelling to get out of his way (I’m sweetening this), even if he had to invade the whole work area to do so. Despite this little provocation, the event goes on peacefully and in a jovial mood, eating fruits and speaking about light painting.
There is a lot of curiosity around us from the people happening to be nearby; they stop to see the drawings, make comments guessing what works is yet to complete or not, and there are critics too, that compare the works of the event with Banksy’s. The Urban Center’s desk is near the stop of the bus number 3, and the drivers often slow down to take a look around.
During the last interview, NEEVA and EISENAUER take turn to answer my questions: EISENAUER generally focuses more on the interaction with the surface she is working on, while NEEVA doesn’t hesitate when he recalls his beginnings as a writer, adding that he was not very skilled at making tags, and that he later shifted to muralism, which is very popular in Sardinia’s towns. What makes street art, in his opinion, is the adrenaline induced by its illegal side. Making this practice legal, would change the nature of the street art itself.
This weekend is over, everything is getting back in order, and in the light of this experience I could only feel enriched.
Now I can be sure I know more about the graffiti world, which are very influenced by hip-hop and are based, substantially, on the creation of a tag and his reproducibility.
Another thing that I know now, is how most of the artists that were here on this event came from the graffiti world, but felt the need to evolve and change into something more complex and mature. All those three field, however, are interconnected, and it is not rare that one single work is often labeled as “street art”, or as “murales” with a strong lettering component. What they share is the desire of showing their art in an unconventional way, in order to be free to express themselves without being disrespectful and having the authorizations that can turn their passion into a real job.
Whoever defines this a mere vandalism should stop, think, and try to understand more this part of citizens that loves not only tagging around the city, but using this form of expression to start an artistic and personal evolution, learning by themselves how to requalify the urban space, covering all the grey that takes over the cities, and bringing their art in front of everyone’s eyes .
While I am walking for the last time on the cycling line, I feel very blessed because I had the chance to see, during day time, people that usually work at night. And I didn’t just see them, but I talked to them, I interviewed them, and I got to know their vision of the world they live in, filling a gap I had about this subject. Observing with the eyes of someone willing to understand, is the only way to go beyond first impressions, and I hope that as many people as possible will do that, thanks to Galleria del Sale.
Whoever thinks that these are just vandals, should see the respect that they have in approaching a wall, while they analyze it, color it and then look at it from a distance, almost with a tender gaze.
They call it street art, they call it graffiti, they call it wall painting; but at the core of all I think there is only freedom, nothing more.