For street artists, the urban landscape is an infinite canvas. Whether wheat pasted, sprayed, or layered with brushes, vibrant compositions revitalize public spaces and provide an ever-evolving barometer of the political climate and current affairs. The genre has been historically dominated by men, but a new book by journalist Alessandra Mattanza and Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art founder Stephanie Utz shifts the dial.
Women Street Artists spotlights the diverse practices of 24 graffiti and mural artists hailing from around the globe who work in a variety of styles, from large-scale public projects like Camilla Falsini’s vibrant pavement composition in Milan to striking interventions like Olek’s pink, crocheted coverlet for “Charging Bull,” Wall Street’s masculine bronze sculpture. Each finds walls, sidewalks, demolished structures, prison cells, grain silos, and other nontraditional surfaces to express ideas around feminism and empowerment, body imagery, racism, the climate crisis, and other critical issues.
You can find a copy of Women Street Artists on Bookshop.org, available now in the U.K. and scheduled for release in the U.S. on December 6.
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Abundance, repetition, and a tinge of irony accompany a cast of humans and animals through uncanny scenarios in Japanese artist Yuko Shimizu’s illustrations. Her whimsical subjects are often playful and humorous, like a pet dog in a sweater with red stripes that matches its youthful owner’s swimming suit, the pair flanked by numerous balloons in the shape of lifebuoys. In contrast, a more grave undertone emerges in “Me Too,” a reference to the #MeToo movement, as a woman stands on a mountain of eyes and attempts to brush countless more off of her body.
Drawing inspiration from myriad sources, including Japanese culture and current events, Shimizu’s compositions are characterized by a sense of action and obscure narrative. You can follow more of her work on Instagram.
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Banksy (previously) has been traveling through the battle-scarred streets of Ukraine, producing a slew of works directly confronting Russia’s unwarranted and unjust aggression. The elusive street artist’s signature stencils have been spotted among the rubble of bombed buildings and barricades in Borodyanka and Gorenka, both in the Bucha Region, while others are just outside the capital city of Kyiv. Each centers on the strength and resiliency of the Ukrainian people.
The works broadly criticize the ongoing war and its disastrous effects on the everyday lives of citizens, depicting a woman outfitted with hair rollers, a bathrobe, and a gas mask grasping a fire extinguisher, a bearded man scrubbing his back in an open-air bathtub, and silhouettes of young children teeter-tottering on a left-behind hunk of steel. Perhaps the most pointed piece is that of a young boy slamming Russian President Vladimir Putin to the ground during a judo match—according to the BBC, Putin has projected an interest in the sport.
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From a black-and-white portrait of a reclined James Baldwin to a candid shot of a father and daughter on a Harlem park bench, a new archive from Getty grants open access to thousands of images devoted to Black history and culture. The massive collection—which was developed with historians and educators Dr. Deborah Willis, Jina DuVernay, Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, Dr. Mark Sealy MBE, and Renée Mussai—comprises 30,000 photographs taken in the U.S. and U.K. that are available for free non-commercial, educational use. Applications for access are open now.
Organized by decade from the 1800s to the 2020s, the Black History & Culture Collection offers a broad, varied look at the people, events, and undeniably influential movements that continue to shape life today. The collection is further searchable by type and subject matter, which encompasses everything from art and entertainment to politics and sports. You can find a curated selection of images from the multimedia platform Black Archives, which partnered with Getty to shine light on specific moments from the collection. (via Peta Pixel)
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Boxing gloves typically evoke associations with masculinity, competition, and aggression, but Zoë Buckman punches back with her series of mixed-media sculptures and embroidered textile pieces. Sometimes draped like bunches of dried flowers and other times balanced delicately on top of one another, they “question whether they are holding each other up or tearing each other down,” says a statement. Taking a feminist and activist approach to challenging preconceptions about gender, trauma, and safety, she became interested in the symbolic dualities of the gloves, both in the way they are made and used.
For the last few years, the glove sculptures have formed a focal point for a number of bodies of work that explore the relationship between strength and vulnerability. Buckman encases each form in fabrics like tablecloths, dish rags, or dresses, then suspends them in groups from ribbons affixed to metal chains. Installed at the height of a punching bag, they provoke tension between feelings of hostility and support, highlighting connections and contrasts between places where people exert intense energy and force, such as gyms, and places associated with calm and security, like home.
Constructed of cotton batting or polyurethane foam and covered in leather, traditional boxing gloves are malleable, yet the finished form is a solid instrument for force and protection. By wrapping each piece in fabric associated with womenswear or domestic settings, the artist challenges the notion of gendered spaces, such as the home being feminine or the boxing ring masculine. Through her use of materials, she also dissects gendered associations of fabric and textile.
Buckman has strongly advocated for women’s rights to abortion and bodily autonomy. In her most recent series Bloodwork, vintage handkerchiefs, doilies, and upholstery remnants provide the canvas for embroidered statements conveying responses to experiences of domestic abuse, illness, and hardship. As a revolt against negativity or oppression, figures of women—many of whom she knows personally—are portrayed in scenes of celebration or repose. The text and figures sewn into the fabric also appear unfinished with dangling threads and raw, asymmetrical edges in an ongoing state of transformation and becoming.
Buckman is exhibiting in We Flew Over the Wild Winds of Wild Fires at MOTHER Gallery in Beacon, New York, until September 18. She will also be presenting a solo show at London’s Pippy Houldsworth Gallery opening on September 2. You can find more information on the artist’s website and on Instagram.
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Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, British artist Mark Neville moved to Kyiv, a city he traveled to frequently from his home in London since beginning Stop Tanks with Books in 2016. The project, which culminates in a new 180-page volume edited by David Company and published by Nazraeli Press, involved documenting life in the country through portraits of passersby on the street, families lounging at the beach, and others dancing among energetic nightclub crowds.
Each photograph tethers a human face to the entirely inhumane atrocities of war and “(weaponizes) the medium to effect change.” The images are intimate and profound, showing a young girl screaming into a toy phone following shelling in 2016 or a father and son cradling goats in their home in Decyatny.
Neville’s intention for the project has always been twofold. He hoped to inspire broad, international support for Ukraine’s independence in Donbas and Crimea and to offer a necessary corrective to the stereotypical information and images disseminated by the Kremlin, which he saw Western media sources often redistributing without context. “Stop Tanks With Books was my attempt to fight Russian aggression,” Neville says.
Eighty of his portraits are positioned alongside research from the Centre of Eastern European Studies in Berlin about the 2.5 million people who had already been displaced by 2018, in addition to short stories by Ukrainian poet and novelist Lyuba Yakimchuk that detail life under Russian occupation in Donbas.
The pairings lead to a call to action written in both Ukrainian and English, one made more urgent by the full-scale assault on the nation that’s taken thousands of civilian lives alone in the last three months. “I wonder what the international response would be if Stockholm, London, Paris, or New York were threatened with an unprovoked and imminent invasion by Russia? Our book is a prayer and a necessary plea to the international community,” Neville wrote before the war officially began, when he also sent copies of the book to 750 policymakers, ambassadors, media members, and those involved in peace talks. He hoped to raise awareness about the immediate threat the people of Ukraine faced.
There are a few copies of Stop Tanks with Books available from Setanta Books, although a second edition with a new foreword by Neville is in progress. You can find much more of the photographer’s activist-centered work, in addition to more images from the series, on his site. (via Lens Culture)
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