Graffiti and street art are exploding around the world, and in Bomb It 2, director Jon Reiss takes us to previous unexplored urban areas: Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Perth, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Chicago, Austin and the Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank. Reiss shot Bomb It 2 himself using a ultra compact camera and sound package, crawling through sewers and nest of red ants, scaling abandoned buildings to interview artists and capture them at work. Check out the trailer below for great live action!
Bomb It 2 features Alex Face, Ash Keating, Beejoir, Bon, Darbotz, Foma, Great Bates, Husk Mit Navn, Inspire, Killer Gerbil and Zero, Klone, Know Hope, Phibs, Mars, MIC, Sloke, Stormie Mills, Thor, Twoone, Vexta, Victor Ash, Xeme, and Zero Cents, among others.
Crowd-funded on Kickstarter, Bomb It 2 was released on DVD/VOD on August 6. Jon will be my guest on Firedoglake.com Movie Night September 9, at 5pm West Coast. In the meantime, we did an email interview with Jon for just for CARTWHEEL.
How did you track down the artists?
Some of the artists I already knew or knew of from Bomb It – such as Great Bates who we wanted to film for Bomb It but didn’t have the funds to get to Copenhagen and Victor Ash who we filmed again for Bomb It 2. But most of the artists we found by talking to friends and artists who we already knew who hooked us up in the new cities. Then people connect you to people – etc.
Graffiti is an art form that can exist for years in one place, or only days. This uncertainty, the impermanence, how does this impact the artists?
I think it is one of the aspects of the art form that excites them, the transitory/ephemeral nature. Sure they want their pieces to be up as long as possible – so they are always looking for places where pieces will live longer – generally avoiding pristine downtown/business districts that will be buffed immediately. But none are fools as to what the world is that they are operating in. They are taking space – and anyone else can take the space from them – if they have the skills.
The urges to create and make one’s mark in/on the world, to also beautify/alter the urban environment, to communicate with others through images are as old as mankind, and certainly seen in street art. Are there efforts in the cities you profile to provide walls for street artists? Or would that take away, for some, the thrill/artistic impulse?
No – not really re providing space. I think in these cities – if anything there is more apathy towards street art from the local authorities – such as in Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Bangkok, Hong Kong (not so in Singapore). In much of the developing world there are bigger issues to deal with. In Melbourne – there is a tolerance and even appreciation for it – from the local authorities, but that often changes and can change with any government on a dime.
Do any or all of these artists (hope to) have art careers beyond the street, especially with increasing profile of street art? Is that seen as selling out? (Husk Mit Navn does have a straight job as an artist–the others?)
Most of them do – and already have. It’s not seen as selling out – especially in the new territories in Bomb It 2. I think that selling out is an old concept that has is overapplied. If you stay true to your art and vision – and are able to earn a living doing it – then that’s not selling out. If you change your work to chase a $ – not only will that usually not be successful – but is what most people would view as selling out.
Stormie Mills is an Australian artist based out of Perth with a career spanning over 25 years. Mills, who is best known for his iconic character based work, has seen his art showcased around the world in Tokyo, New York, London, and Miami, among other cities. Along with fellow artists Timid, Remi/Rough, System, Juice 126 and Derm, Stormie Mills was featured in the short film Ghost Village, which documents the crew’s journey to the west coast of Scotland to transform the abandoned village of Polphail with their art.
Foma is a Tel Aviv-based street artist who was pursuing a career in fashion design prior to street art. Known for her brush painting work, Foma frequently collaborates with other Tel Aviv-based street artists, including Know Hope, Klone and Zero Cents, among others.
Darbotz is an Indonesian street artist whose art reflects the chaos of life in Jakarta. With the music of Wu Tang Clan, NWA, and A Tribe Called Quest as his inspiration, Darbotz created his most well known character: the cumi (squid). The squid represents his response to the tough demands of existence in the world’s twelfth largest city. Darbotz has collaborated with companies like Nike, Google Chrome and Density, among others.
Husk Mit Navn is a Copenhagen-based artist who daylights as a newspaper cartoonist. On the streets Husk Mit Navn is known for his quirky colorful characters, which speak to his sense of humor and serve as a natural balance to his more serious, political newspaper illustrations.
MIC: MIC is a street artist who resides in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong the commercialization of the urban landscape is overwhelming because of the population density. The public space is saturated with ads that it can be difficult to form a free thought. This is why MIC shares what is in his heart on the streets. To MIC, street art and graffiti represent a powerful statement of poetic defiance
TOP: Great Bates is a street art team based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Great’s tags dominate walls and evoke an old school style, while Bates’ individual work consists more of sharp, swooping characters. Great and Bates have been painting together since 1986 and have beautified walls around the world in Africa, England, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey and the United States, among other places.
Photos courtesy Hybrid Cinema.