In our times, to receive a letter – I mean the one hand written – is an outdated and rare event. The japanese design studio eding:post and the botanical shop neo-green collaborated to try to bring back people to this practice and, at the same time, closer with nature. They created the leaf letter, a leaf-shaped postcard.
This idea was born from the old japanese postcard: in fact, the term “hagaki”, letter, is said to find its origin in the world “ha”, leaf. Indeed, in ancient Japan people use to get leaves as paper and send their messages folding the leaf as a letter.
Neo-green and eding:post have brought the old hagaki practice in our times, turning it into a modern and original writing paper. To set down our thoughts on leaves seems indeed less cold than writing them on a screen, so, next time, even if delivering times are going to be longer, we want to give nature a chance.

Images taken from www.designboom.com

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What would McGyver do with tape? Probably he would save the world from a disaster. Instead, New York based artist Aakash Nihalani makes it his paintbrush to draw on the street. Using tape he builds geometric shapes, mainly isometric rectangles and squares, in order to show us the hidden geometry of the city, and of course to give it a touch of color and surprise.
His illusionistic, fluorescent drawings pop up from walls, sidewalks and windows, crawling upon the city’s structures and shapes, playing with any scenario which got chosen.

The great interaction between tape and its framework doesn’t end up within the city corners, involving people as well in the role of actors and part of the whole composition. Finding one of these installations is a face to face with the hacked side of the city, the one where street artists play and urban actors, like Aakash Nihalani, show us their truth, and that is probably why he points out that “people need to understand that how it is isn’t how it has to be”. He explains his work in this video, have a look!

Images taken from www.aakashnihalani.com

Two weeks ago, we took part to a workshop leaded by Jan Vormann, artist and creator of Dispatchwork, a nice, colored urban “hacking” practice which consists in filling holes in stone or brick-made wall with hundreds of lego bricks. It was a nice afternoon and we had the chance to talk a bit with the artist about this practice. He came to know very well the pieces he handles and can easily fix whatever kind of hole he finds with a fine, superior technique. It is interesting to notice (or maybe to remember) how much craftsmanship these small bricks need to be wisely combined, but it is even more to learn how to interface them with reality.

Building worlds made entirely out of lego is a reminiscence of our childhood but using them to “fix” wall in a urban hacking practice sounds kind of more grown-up game, maybe closer to contemporary street art practices, but in a reversible way, since legos can in any moment be removed, dismantled and turn back to their original shape. That is why we believe it is an of course more ephemeral, but also somehow less arrogant technique, to color and play with the city.

Photos by The G. Canyon in a Crack

We thank Jan Vormann for the time he spent sharing with us his art and his technique.

“Mr. Brainwash is a force of nature, he’s a phenomenon. And I don’t mean that in a good way.” With these words, the universally known street artist Banksy promoted in 2008 the first solo exhibition of Mr Brainwash. After seeing the movie Exit through the gift shop, we could not agree more with what he said. Once heard the story we came out astonished about Mister Brainwash’ ability, but not the one for making art, but for his extremely delicate taste for business. Not bad for a “mentally ill person with a camera” (cit. by Banksy). We tried not to write about this movie because too many people already did, but in the end we gave up, because the show was very nice.

Exit through the gift shop is a documentary about the strange evolutions in the life of a french filmmaker: Thierry Guetta, who found himself to be, all of a sudden, a famous street artist. The story provides an overview of the street art panorama, including some of its most popular protagonists, like Space Invaders, Shepard Fairey (we’re partial to his amazing work), and mainly Banksy, director of the movie.

As we read, the documentary wants to launch a critique towards the actually market-driven street art world, as the title underlines, but this critical vein is not what we noticed first. We were indeed much more involved by the funny story of Thierry, a character who would amaze any director without needing to act.

Even if we usually don’t freak out for him, it is time to give Banksy a chance, so please get out through the gift shop.

Later, we found online the complete documentary Beautifull Losers. Another story and another style. Maybe not that much fireworks but the same good feeling.

For some strange, lucky reasons, I manage to get into the opening of the XII International Architecture Exposition of the Venice Biennale 2010. Outside shiny models and drawings, in between the non-architectonical offer (which remains the most friendly to me), I got impressed by the nice work presented by the serbian pavilion, which possessed a special, playful ability, to involve people in its game.

Under the direction of the curator Jovan Mitrović, pavillion of Serbia shows two different installations, ideas of the collective Škart, born in 1990 at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade.

The first one, See-saw Play-Grow, chooses the see-saw to explain the concept of architecture as a meeting place (the main theme of the whole Biennale): the see-saw teaches a child to relate with the others, since it doesn’t work if you use it alone.

The second project, Plant-o-biles, was conceived starting from these few verses, written by the serbian poet Vasko Popa:

My wife who I would do anything for

Told me once

I would like to have
A small green tree
That would run after me
down the street

The installation consists in a series of simple objects mounted on wheels, carrying soil, plants and flowers. The nice mobile disposals create a sort of  little garden moving in old pots, which is supposed to be carried by people, promoting a sign of friendship with nature.

Photos by Christian Bonin

Plant-o-biles reminds us other similar projects, like Moving Forest of NL Architects or Mobile Garden of the artist Tattfoo Tan, which we already discussed here.
For sure Serbia won our gold lion.

In may 2010, in Amsterdam, the garbage collectors decided to strike, in order to protest against the low salaries. The result of their action were streets full of trash bags and a postcard city transformed into an open air dump. In this circumstances, art took part in the city life, rendering the trash into something original and concealing its typical ugliness with a colored show. The artist Jesse Limmen decided to give a touch of color to the rubbish hills painting them with spray cans and creating an unusual splash of colors.

Images taken from http://web.me.com/jlimmen/Site/Kleuren_-_Vuilnis.html

It is interesting to notice that, not so far away, in Spain, in the city of Barcelona, lives an artist who uses garbage as the raw material of his art. Francisco de Pajaro uses the everyday rubbish found on the street to create particular and colored art works: he puts together pieces of different things (from old tables to doors, from monitors to refrigerators, from shoes to chairs, but also suitcases, simple cardboard boxes or garbage bags) and he draws on them, paints or writes his thoughts. Most of the times we can recognize his work for a small text which goes together with the work and says “El arte es basura”, literally “Art is trash”. In technical words it is true, his art is trash, but in a larger meaning this approach to art is, we believe, what is most far from trash. The tough message he leaves us suddenly reveals the strong, deep meaning of making art out of garbage, claiming without shame the origins (and the end) of his work to the frivolous mood of the more touristic streets, often far from the reality of the City.

Images taken from http://www.franciscodepajaro.net/2009/11/el-arte-es-basura.html

It is always nice to discover an original guerrilla gardening project: Head Gardner, created by  Anna Garfort, turns milk plastic bottles into funny colored faces and re-uses them as boxes for plants. The bottles are then hanged up on street lamps or road signs. We believe it is a cool, alternative way to bring some green in our cities.

The artist uses to work with natural material, such as tree leaves or moss, and she integrates her art passion with urban ecology and sustainability, creating green ephemeral installations mostly in public spaces. As an example, we can mention the projects Change and Rethink, in which she sends messages writing on railings with thorns and fallen leaves. She makes our streets speak through natural and living elements: this is what we call a nice, accessible way to make art.

Images taken from www.crosshatchling.co.uk/