RUGENIUS at Banksy’s Cans Festival- 05.07.08
NOTCOT Note: Yes, Justine (aka RUGenius) was really there. And i’m envious. Although i did get to go to the incredible painted elephant LA Banksy-fest… this one looked like quite the mob scene in a london tunnel! About 30,000 people showed up over the 3 day period, and over 600 artist took part in covering the walls! Apologies for taking so long to sort through her hundreds of photos… SO, without further ado take a look at her MANY awesome pictures on the next page as well as in the Gallery, and here is Justine’s account of the festivities:
Over 28 thousand people turned up to Leake Street, effectively an underpass within sight of the London Eye and moments away from Waterloo. And yes, I was among them. We all know I can’t resist a good stencil. So how could I possibly miss a stencil only event, just a train hop away? Not to mention, the Cans Festival was the kind of event that brought in the A-list of street artists like Bsas Stencil, Run Don’t Walk, James Dodd (dlux), Tom Civil (civilian), Vexta, Prism, Daniel Melim, Altocontraste, Bandit, Roadsworth, 3D Del Naja, Artiste-Ouvrier. Blek, Sten, Sadhu, C215, Lucamaleonte, Lex, Orticancvoodles, Kaagman, Dolk, Pobel, M-City, Vhils, Btoy, Coolture, Schhh, Borbo, Sam3, Faile, Eine, John Grider, Logan Hicks, Pure Evil, Dot masters, Dan, Eelus and Banksy.
Starting with the art… The space within the tunnel was itself a hodgepodge of mock classical sculptures, trashed and stenciled cars, vans, even a playground. There were rugs, couches, and even a piano, all of course adorned with the patina only a tunnel could bestow. The combinations pushed the boundaries of the bizarre and the contrasting styles of the artists clashed as often as they complimented, yet somehow it all worked. It was as if everyone just suspended belief for a moment to soak it all in and it was particularly surreal as the sun was setting.
I couldn’t get away from work until late Monday evening, and made my way down to Waterloo just an hour and a half before the whole event wrapped up. I was surprised to run into other clueless wanderers looking for this seemingly random street. I thought it was a lucky coincidence, but as we approached it became clear that we were not alone! The cue was unexpectedly massive, but flowed well and the security (donning with reflective “POLITE” vests) did a great job of keeping the crowd (and mainly themselves) with their loudspeaker antics. A great deal of pocket scrounging turned up enough change to get us a program, which provided much needed entertainment during the cue.
The space itself opened with powder blue billboard with “GENTRIFY THIS” painted aggressively in black, which a mother explained to her young daughter behind me in line was “delightfully ironic”, a phrase that applied just as well to the work within and its interaction with the crowd. The audience was incredibly diverse and indeed, I think it was the crowd that I found the most interesting. We had the entire age range, there more than a few grandmothers admiring the walls and strollers and children marveling. And of course there were more than our fair share of hipster types. The range of cameras was equally impressive. I lost count of the number of cellphone cameras (and yes, iphones were disproportionately represented), but there were lots of semi and professional photographers on the scene, and even a good number of videocams and tripods. And an equally diverse range of camera styles, flybys, the sit and wait type, etc. The need to document and capture the art seemed as pressing as the need to get in to see it! And of course, there were stencils of photographers that needed photographing…
The highlight, was of course, the walls. There were some absolutely stunning pieces and I have too many favorites to list them all. I hope the pictures capture some of the stunning stencilry. By the time we’d gotten there, most of the walls were well decorated, but there was still quite a bit of action on the walls, particularly in the last section. My favorite was the family who helped hold and shake a stencil for their son. And I think that’s what this event was all about, getting everyone there together, working together and involved in something truly impressive, not only in individual, but collective creativity. And what a collection it was.
[NOTCOT Note: I think this one sums up the war on street art perfectly]
even MORE in the Gallery (there were so many, i couldn’t fit them all here).