Live arts correspondent Bella Todd on the hottest happenings in the global cultural calendar this week, including the biggest graffiti project the UK’s ever seen, street art in Belgium and al fresco dance on the Southbank...
THE MAIN EVENT: See No Evil
It’s the most ambitious permanent graffiti project ever to take place in the UK, so no prizes for guessing the location of See No Evil, which will be painting Bristol red (and blue, and green, and etc etc etc) this week. The Georgian city isn’t just the spiritual home of Banksy - although, this being a blog about street art, we are of course journalistically obliged to mention the internationally renowned satirical stenciller, whose 2009 exhibition Banksy Vs Bristol Museum attracted 300,000 visitors, whose individual works sell for up to 200k, and whose provocative art film Exit Through The Gift Shop made its UK TV debut last weekend.
Banksy aside, Bristol’s street art scene is crawling with talent, from well-known names such as Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja to the entirely unknown graffers responsible for, say, the recent spate of zeitgeist-capturing anti-Tesco murals. Graffiti in Bristol is so widespread, and so widely respected, that the city council have discussed putting work to the public vote before spending taxpayer’s money on scrubbing it off or painting it over (like, duh, etc, but a major breakthrough nevertheless).
But it’s still taken 12 months of negotiations and planning to pull together See No Evil, a massive celebration of the art of graffing in which some of the world’s leading street artists will paint the facades of ten multi-storey buildings along Bristol’s Nelson Street. Bristol-raised, London-based graffiti legend Inkie is at the controls. And among the big names are New York aerosol muralists and original subway crew Tats Cru, and LA’s cultural documentarian El Mac, who recently painted one of his huge, lifelike portraits in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (watch his video of the event here).
We’ll be able to see their work going up live over six days before the entire street turns into a permanent exhibition centered around the already iconic Westgate Building, which was designed by Battersea Power Station and red telephone box dude Giles Gilbert Scott but has been unused for two years.
Even if you agree with critic/professional pompous bastard Brian Sewell that graffiti isn’t really art - or, and you’d be likely to get more sympathy for this one, feel that this most guerilla-style of expressive modes has no business being organized into permanent exhibitions - See No Evil is a bloody good excuse for a free party. Check out the official site for details of the three-night long music programme (supplemented by beat-boxing, break-dancing and pop-up galleries) put together by Team Love.
BEST OF THE REST
- The National Theatre’s excellent outdoor Watch This Space festival continues with Dance Week, a programme of al fresco dance ranging from witty site-specific vignettes to incendiary tango and including the Avant Garde Dance company, whose Taxi! is a fusion of parkour, hip-hop and contemporary dance inspired by the journey of a London cabbie.
- The largest mime festival in Europe, Warsaw International Mime Festival kicks off on Thursday, featuring some stunning non-verbal work by the likes of St Petersburg’s piercingly beautiful stage sorcerers Derevo, and (almost) no men in unitards pretending to be trapped in boxes.
- Acrobats, dancers and clowns from Australia to Argentina will be making their way to Chassepierre in Belgium’s Semois Valley this weekend for The International Street Arts Festival, where highlights will include colourfully-suited Swiss ensemble Da Motus!, whose dance performances use the surrounding scenery and architecture, and French brass trio La Fanfare d’occasion, whose very physical gigs are part world dance music, part comedy pile-up.