Things we loved in 2011

2011 was a great year for urban art in Buenos Aires.

Hundreds of remarkable pieces were painted throughout the city, and the year seemed to be filled with inspiring projects and spectacular exhibitions.

We couldn’t even begin to pick out favourite individual pieces, so here are some of the collaborations we loved in 2011.

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The transformation of the Konex

Back in early January Tec, Pum Pum, Jaz & Fede from rundontwalk created a spectacular collaborative mural on the towering walls of the Konex cultural centre.

Whilst each artist has a distinctive style and approach they were able to work together to fill the space with a host of surreal characters, including giant stencilled marsupials, smiling cats, lion masked wrestlers and a fairly terrifying looking gaucho on horseback.

We spent spent three days filming with the artists, and created an album of photos documenting one of the largest murals ever to be painted in the city.

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Plaza Zinny

Nestled in the quiet back streets of Palermo Viejo lies Plaza Zinny – a small, walled plaza at the corner of Gascon & Gorriti.

Plaza Zinny was not a place of outstanding beauty. The walls of the plaza hinted at a mural which may have been painted many years ago, but had long since been covered by several hundred layers of political graffiti and the tags of local graffiteros.

Mart saw the potential in the space. He had grown up in the barrio, and knew people on the local council who gave their permission for him to paint there. And so one weekend Mart joined Jaz, Ever & Poeta and took on the huge walls surrounding Plaza Zinny.

Through our relationship with Sinteplast we were able to provide paint for the project, and the local council provided scaffolding. But ultimately the project was lead by the artists. They put their time, money and talents into the project and created something beautiful for the barrio.

We documented the process in a photo album you can see here.

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The Turbo Parade

Turbo was a much loved institution in Buenos Aires – one of the few galleries which supported street artists and provided a space for them to exhibit their works.

The closure of their Palermo gallery marked the end of an era, which they saw off in style in a raucous costumed street parade through Palermo Hollywood.

The event captured the spirit of Turbo and the “buena onda” of the scene. Artists, friends and family joined together to parade through the streets in costume, on bicycles, waving flags and playing instruments.

It was an amazing party, and a reminder that its not just the art – its the artists and their spirit that makes Buenos Aires truly special.

Read more about the parade here.

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Pop Up Gallery

The concept behind the pop-up galley was a great – a group of urban artists stage an intervention in an abandoned period building in Las Cañitas, transforming it into a  gallery / installation for one weekend. But with Red Bull hosting the event, it could have easily become a cynical youth marketing exercise.

Fortunately, the event proved to be a huge success. The building was remarkable, the art stunning. Branded presence was  discrete and kept to a minimum. The project was lead by artists, and each artists was given full control over how to approach their space. Red Bull might have only been doing it to market their product, but they helped create something beautiful in the process.

More on the Pop Up Gallery event here.

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Casacuberta

Casacuberta is a quiet residential passageway in the Parque Patricios. Earlier last year the residents of Casacuberta reached out to stencil artists from the Hollywood in Cambodia gallery with an offer – they would provide all the materials, tea, biscuits and buena onda they could, if the artists would consider painting their homes.

The offer was accepted, and several houses have been completely covered in intricate stencil art from bs.as.stncl, rundontwalk & Stencil Land. Casacuberta has become the stencil counterpart to Calle Lanin (a passageway in Barracas where the houses are covered in colourful mosaics) and another great example of a project made possible through the mutual respect between artists and the wider community.

More photos from Casacuberta here

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Fuera de la Línea

We loved the Fuera de la Línea exhibition. Curators Lucas Zambrano & Soledad Zambrano took over the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Rosario (more commonly known as the MACRO), and put on an extraordinary exhibition of paintings, murals and installations from a broad selection of artists from Argentina & Brazil.

It would have been easy for this exhibition to have labelled itself as an exhibition of street art. Street art is media friendly and currently falls under the global spotlight of “things that are cool”. The participating artists were all well known for their urban art and shared a long history working in the streets. But instead of focussing on the physical context in which the artists paint, the exhibition focussed on something else the artists have in common – they had all consistently pushed the boundaries with their art.

Street art draws much of it’s impact from its context, but once you get over the fact that there’s art in the streets, you’re left with the much more interesting question about what the act of its creation implies. Once you started to look beyond the walls themselves, you can explore the different methods of expression and the way context has shaped and refined techniques.

We loved this exhibition because it wasn’t about celebrating the fact that art had been painted in the streets. It celebrated the work of  artists who challenged conventions, broke rules and worked outside the lines.

Read more about the exhibition here.

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Garibaldi Pum urban regenration project

A two block passageway between Boca Juniors football stadium and the tourist hotspot Caminito was mainly used as a toilet for local dogs and dumping ground for rubbish. This changed thanks to an ambitious project called Garibaldi Pum organised by Fundacion X La Boca.

A group of artists were invited to work together to transform the passageway, and in doing so help regenerate a small part of La Boca outside of the heavily policed tourist zone. Over the course of a week, artist from different background with very different techniques transformed the forgotten passageway and made it into an outdoor art gallery.

Garibaldi Pum showed how art can be used to regenerate an area. An ugly forgotten part of La Boca was made beautiful, and attractive for tourists and residents alike.

Read more about Garibaldi Pum here

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Street Arte BA 2011

Two great events from Street Arte BA this year.

The first was a repeat of the excellent intervention they staged last year at La Oxygena. A large and eclectic group of artists came together to transform both the outside walls and inside spaces in a disused Oxygen factory in Once, turning a disused industrial space into a fairly spectacular art installation.

They later returned to the space for their recent exhibition graffiti en canvas brought together a diverse group of artists together for an exhibition of murals and framed pieces.

We have lots of images from the first painting session here, and a post on the recent exhibition here.

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Tecnópolis

Argentina’s sprawling arts and technology fair was the setting for some of the more impressive pieces painted this year. The sheer scale of the site and the size of the warehouses offered a number of artists huge concrete canvasses on which to work.

More info on tecnopolis here, plus you can see a full set of images on our flickr here

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Meeting of Styles Buenos Aires

The Meeting of Styles urban art festival revitalised tired walls and transformed public spaces throughout the city. The three day event saw graffiti writers and street artists fly in from all over the world to collaborate with local artist in transforming the walls and public spaces of the city.

Buenos Aires enjoys an incredible reputation for street art. It is a city full of walls waiting to be painted, with a strong spirit of collaboration between artists, and public which supports expression and creativity. The event built upon the reputation Buenos Aires enjoys, and brought together artists from a wide variety of backgrounds to create some exceptional work.

More about the Meeting of Styles festival here

2011 was a great year. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2012 brings.