We are two photographers activists who propose artistic interventions in marginalized communities. We paste (fix with glue) original artworks -graffiti, stencils, photographs- on the walls of such communities.
What do you mean by marginalized communities?
Our actions take place in slums, homeless communities, areas where refugees or homeless are living in illegal situation. We look for places where people have been socially excluded and have become invisible to society.
Who creates the artworks pasted on the walls?
Besides the photos which are The ArtFabric’s authorship, we have a group of collaborating artists, most of them members of the project “Street Art Without Borders”*.
What kind of art and photos do you paste on walls?
We welcome all styles, languages, techniques and sizes. Thematically wise, we encourage artists to create works either based on our photos or on the social themes we are confronted. The support is preferably paper, for being cheap, light and easy to transport.
Even though The ArtFabric has a strong and comprehensive documentary photo work, the images we select to paste on walls are mostly portraits of the people we encounter. Printed in large format, the photos are also subject of interventions by other artists.
What is the purpose of acting in these communities?
Besides offering a different aesthetic experience to the audience we target, we expect to raise visibility and awareness of the living conditions of these groups. Through visual arts, The ArtFabric aims to tackle social issues that we consider relevant: homelessness, gentrification, social inequality, public space occupation, social frontiers.
Moreover, we are strongly driven by a somewhat naive (yet powerful) purpose: the smiles we get, the bubbles of joy, the possibility to dream.
Is what you do legal? Do you have authorization to paste on walls?
Whether it is in the streets or in favelas, whether “home” is a makeshift tent or an illegal shack, we always request permission from the people occupying those spaces. This is a way to legitimize their homes and acknowledge their presence. Even though we don’t vandalize private or public property, we are aware of the subversive nature of our work.
How do the interventions take place?
More than just simply bringing art to these communities, The ArtFabric is committed to creating a thread of dialogues, collaborations and connections between the inhabited space, the audience, the collaborating artists and the artworks.
These interventions happen in different ways. They can be more ephemeral and immediate when happening in the countries where we do not reside, or they can be developed over time, generating multi-layered artworks in the countries where we reside (France and Brasil).
From life stories, photographs, texts we write, videos recorded during our interventions, collaborating artists create artworks inspired by these experiences.
Find below a few examples of interventions performed by The ArtFabric.
Case Study I: “Home”, by Phillipe Herard
In a conversation with the French artist Phillipe Herard, we shared with him our experiences alongside homeless communities in São Paulo and Toulouse. We then proposed that Herard think about the thematic HOME: its symbolic meanings, the shelter, the home we carry within us, the absence of home. Feeling affected by the subject, Herard created a series of 16 artworks in paper, which were pasted in various communities in São Paulo, Los Angeles, Oakland and Tijuana.
Case Study II: “José Adriano” by Ebenholz
In one of the pasting sessions we performed in Paraisópolis, we were constantly followed by a 7 year-old inhabitant, José Adriano. Very curious and willing to interact with us, Adriano candidly posed for our cameras. The photos taken that day were sent to various artists. The German artist Ebenholz made hundreds of stickers from a picture in which José Adriano appears enjoying his popsicle in front of a pasting. We returned to Paraisópolis bringing the stickers; José Adriano burst with excitement, covering his body with the stickers, distributing them to friends and then sticking them on the walls. That day we took a photo of José Adriano holding the sticker in front of his face. Ebenholz created a real size stencil of this photograph, which was later taken to Paraisópolis. Unfortunately José Adriano had moved out from that community, which didn’t prevent his friends from rejoicing the sudden appearance of José Adriano on the walls of Paraisópolis.
Case Study III: “Sexy Girl Dream”, by Paddy
Throughout the interactions The ArtFabric enacts, it’s common that people share their dreams, fears, life stories, memories. In one occasion, we asked Darlan, a young man who lives in the homeless community of Vila Leopoldina (a group regularly visited by us), what his dream was. From his belongings, he took a single magazine page of a nude woman. “This is my dream”, he giggled. We scanned that page and sent it to the French artist Paddy, whose thematic usually revolves around nude women. Paddy created several stencils in larger format, which were taken to Vila Leopoldina. Darlan exploded in bliss when he saw his “dream” being pasted on his wall.
Case Study IV: “The couple”, by Celso Gitahy
We met Everaldo and Ana when she was still pregnant of their first child. They had been living in the streets of Sao Paulo for 3 years. In one occasion, we photographed them while they were napping in a makeshift bed. Everaldo was carefully holding Ana’s belly. The image was printed out in large format and pasted in the community. The Brazilian artist Celso Gitahy was inspired by this image and created a real size stencil of the original photo. When we brought the artwork back to them, it generated a lot of commotion among the individuals and of course on Everaldo. The couple had broken up due to a series of dramatic events. Still, Everaldo decided to have the work pasted next to his bed as a way to deal with his own issues. One week later we came back and found out the couple had reunited.
These are just a few examples which illustrate how the interventions can unfold. The ArtFabric believes in the creative and visionary potential of the artists and is open to spontaneous and provocative collaborations from them.
What are the next steps?
We want to develop our interventions in other cities around the world because we believe in the positive impact of visual arts on populations at risk. Besides disseminating bubbles of joy in those communities, we also want to raise visibility for those invisible populations, still developing collaborative art practices.
In order to achieve that goal, we need financial support and are now actively looking for various sources of funding.
In return, we will publish books, present our works and interventions in public presentations and exhibitions.
* « street art without borders » is a project started in 2008 which consists in pasting original artworks by artists from different cultures on the walls of cities around the world. After eight years, artworks of more than 450 artists originating from 38 countries have been pasted in 56 cities of Europe, North and South America and Asia. The original artworks of all types (stencil, acrylic, spraycan, charcoal) are produced on paper of all sizes. Once pasted, the artworks are photographed and the pictures sent to each artist and published on www.flickr.com/photos/urbanhearts
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED TO Marshall Astor , The gallery images are by www.MarshallAstor.com