Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Paste-up street art from Costa Rica

Check out the interview below with Jairo Miranda, paste-up-artist from Costa Rica.

How come that you're into Street Art?
>> Everything began like a valve for escape: like a form of personal expression, a visual outcry – but silent. I had to say something on the walls of San José. The first “paste up” I did in the city showed a cricket – an insect that usually makes a lot of noise and therefore catches attention. In these times (2004) you couldn`t see much “paste up” in Costa Rica. There was already a strong graffiti movement at the surroundings of the University of Costa Rica, in central San José and in various neighborhoods – but I still hadn`t seen street art as posters bonded on walls. Inspired by city, society and nature and with the access to technological tools (such as computer, printer, scanner, digital cameras and so on) I went on experimenting with digital images that then would become fragmented prints which I stuck on the walls of the city. I’m glad to see that other Costa Rican artists adopted this technique and made their own paste ups so that today it’s quite common to see all types of posters, photographs and designs stuck on the walls.

Please describe your own style in a few words.
>> I stick photographs and designs on the surfaces of the city. I digitalize small objects, insects, birds and extracts of newspapers and magazines. I take digital photos of places, things and persons. I then edit these photos with the help of edition software and finally print them on paper. Finally, the action of sticking it on a wall takes place at a spot that fits. Ephemerality is the concept of my work. I document both the process of setting up the art piece as well as its own erosion, caused by time and the forces of nature.

What is your perception of the Street Art - scene in the city where you're living?
>> There are many talented artists in Costa Rica – not only in the capital but also in the provinces. The problem is that there is much individualism: nothing unites the different disciplines and initiatives of street art as a strong movement of popular expression. There’s a lack of interest by the media, not much online visibility and missing support by local governments and sponsors. The situation is not all that bad, but could be way better. There are urban festivals in different parts of the country, melting music, dance, acrobatics, graffiti, paste up, and many more – some of them supported by the public sector, others by private companies. That type of art is very attractive for the youth because it offers them a way of saying something, of expressing themselves through art as a medium. It’s a very good way of creating a channel of communication with them.

Are there artists who had (or still have) influence on your art?
>> During childhood, my main source of inspiration was TV: observing that flow of images and sounds on the screen made me feel a fascination with picture that I still have today. I also remember the sculptures and paintings that illustrated an old bible of my family. Up to today, internet has a strong influence on my work. Prehistoric art with his cave murals, naïve art, renaissance, the impressionists, abstract expressionism, pop art, surrealism, Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Pollock, Warhol, Da Vinci, Rodin, Tapiez, Mondrian, Banksy. The Costa Rican artists Francisco Amiguetti and the sculptor José Sancho. Out of cinema: Fellini and Pedro Almodovar. Out of literature: Gabriel García Marquez, Ernesto Sabato and many others.

What meaning does Urban Art have for you?
>> Liberty! For me, that’s its purest meaning. Urban art is public, direct, deeply democratic, hyperactive and surprisingly versatile. It made disappear the historic barriers between art and its observer, opposing elite thinking. Urban art escapes from museums, curators and gallery owners. It’s a horizontal art that does not commercialize itself: it neither gets sold nor bought. It finishes up with the idea of art as a commercial luxury object, it is subversive by definition. Because of that, it originates a debate which invites dialogue, participation and reflection, thereby avoiding the aseptic monologue offered by museums and swanky exhibitions. By integrating its elements in highly-frequented public spaces, it surprises its observers. It usually has a striking, seductive message that criticizes society with irony and sarcasm, inviting class struggle, political criticism or simply reflection.

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