A follow-up to his series focused on the glow of LED-lit greenhouses, Tom Hegen’s new collection peers down on the landscape of Spain’s Almería peninsula. The German photographer is broadly interested in our impact on the earth and gears his practice toward the aerial, offering perspectives that illuminate the immense scale of human activity.
In The Greenhouse Series II, Hegen captures the abstract topographies of the world’s largest agricultural production center of its kind, which stretches across 360-square kilometers of rugged, mountainous terrain in the southern part of the country. The sun-trapping structures house plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and watermelons that provide fresh produce to much of Europe year-round.
While 30 times more productive than typical farmland in the region, the facilities also function at a cost to the local ecosystems. “Groundwater is being polluted with fertilisers and pesticides. Some 30,000 tons of plastic waste are created each year,” Hegen tells Colossal, noting that the greenhouses are made almost entirely of plastic foil, which is shredded and discarded nearby once it’s no longer useful. “From there, wind and erosion transport it to the (Mediterranean Sea).”
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Beating the heat in the town of Alhaurín de la Torre, in Malaga is an art, literally. A massive patchwork of crocheted squares now blankets the main shopping corridor thanks to local crochet teacher Eva Pacheco and more than one dozen students. Three years ago, the city council’s Department of the Environment decided to swap a large plastic tarp with a more eco-friendly and colorful solution. The textile tarp features geometric patterns, organic shapes that radiate like stepping stones, and other symbols and colors selected by the students. Pacheco and the group of women have expanded the canopy, and it now covers an area of nearly 500 square meters. A similar canopy can be found in the Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción. (via Core77, #WOMENSART)
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The beginning of Escif’s Instagram post reads, “Yesterday the meditator’s body was burned. With it many things were burned. 4 tons of wood were burned. A year of intense and wonderful work was burned.” Attached to a darkened image of glowing flames, his words are simultaneously reflective, accepting, and hopeful.
The Spanish artist is referring to his large-scale project “This Too Shall Pass,” which was scheduled to be part of Valencia’s Las Fallas Festival. Each year, the outdoor celebration sees massive projects created by artists—like Okuda San Miguel in 2018 and PichiAvo in 2019—that are set on fire and eventually consumed by flames. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 event that would have featured Escif’s work was postponed. Despite its lack of spectators, though, the Spanish city decided to proceed with part of the traditional ceremony, lighting just the bottom half of Escif’s wooden sculpture on fire.
This is a familiar story. Creatives, businesses, and institutions around the world are struggling with the loss of revenue as exhibitions and shows have been pushed to a later date or canceled altogether. They’re also dealing with the more emotional impact of projects unrealized, something Escif has been sharing candidly.
This is not the end we expected. Neither are the circumstances. The magnitude of this figure can never be. Perhaps another woman, perhaps a part of it, perhaps only the memory, perhaps only her absence… The meditating woman tells us that everything is impermanent. Nothing is forever. We will overcome the emptiness of these failures.
Topping 20 meters tall, the artist’s wooden figure is dressed in a white button-up with dark pants. She sits in the lotus position with closed eyes and a straight back and represents quiet, thoughtfulness, and moments of peace. “From this woman’s ashes, live flowers will be born. And little insects will scatter its seeds. Seeds of conscience, of peace, of humanity. Seeds of light that help us face the new world that is being born these days,” Escif writes.
Although her bottom half has been burned, the figure’s head and shoulders will remain in Valencia Public Square until the crisis ends. To fit the current moment, the artist outfitted her with a surgical mask that covers her nose and mouth. “Meditating is the exercise of training our consciousness in the acceptance of impermanence,” the artist said. “Reality is changing and ephemeral. We are living in an uncertain moment that we do not know where it will take us. Let’s listen to what this meditating woman tells us. This too shall pass.”
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Ink and Movement have partnered with the Spanish disabilities rights association Laborvalía to promote the integration of people with disabilities into society and the workplace through collaborative mural-making. The cultural project, Titanes, will bring 14 street artists including Okuda San Miguel (previously), Fintan Magee (previously), and Nychos (previously) to Spanish municipalities. Massive murals will transform old silos in Calzada de Calatrava, Ciudad Real, Corral de Calatrava, Herencia, La Solana, Manzanares, Malagón, Porzuna and Villanueva de los Infantes.
Each artist will work alongside members of the Laborvalía association to make the realization of the large-scale works come to life through October 2019, and situate the region of Ciudad Real as a new art destination. The initiative marks the 15th anniversary of Urban Art, the first large-format art festival in Spain, which was founded bv Ink and Movement under their previous name Pluralform. You can learn more about the Titanes project on their website and Instagram.
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This past July and August, the Creença Art Residency hosted an ambitious, multi-artist project an hour outside of Barcelona. Initiated and curated by Void Projects, a new platform created by artist Axel Void, and organized in collaboration with Elsa Guerra, Jofre Oliveras and Charlotte Pyatt, the project hosted some 50 multidisciplinary artists from across the globe to create in situ work associated with the theme of Creença, or “belief.”
Artists were invited to present their interpretation of the subject from a personal, religious, or epistemological perspective inside Konvent, a former 19th-century convent in the town of Cal Rosal. Although once home to a bustling textile industry, the location is now practically abandoned. Despite its lack of resources, the location turns out to be the perfect setting for what organizers had in mind—a creative community living and working together under one roof.
The building’s faded hallways and bare rooms were transformed into studios and sleeping dorms for guests during the summer event. The close proximity of daily life and creation made the entire setting feel particularly motivating and inspiring, and pushed all the participants to create exceptional examples of their diverse practices. The location also provided a perfect opportunity for spontaneous collaboration, which occurred both on-site with paintings, sculptures, and drawings, and with installations within the ruins of a crumbling textile factory next door.
After hosting local and national artists for two months, Konvent opened its doors to the public for a three-day exhibition. The show was a mix between a massive group exhibition and an open studio event, which provided guests insight into the process behind the varied works. To celebrate the collaborative spirit nurtured during the residency, a sister exhibition opened at Montana Gallery in Barcelona early last month. You can learn more about Konvent and its recent collaborative projects on their website and Instagram. All photos by Vinny Cornelli unless otherwise noted.
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Earlier this month in the city of Valencia, Spain, the annual five-day Falles Festival hosted the construction and burning of some 400 sculptures in neighborhoods across the city amidst fireworks, parades, and enormous bubbling skillets of paella. The festival is so large it requires year-round preparation. Neighborhoods raise money to hire artisans to build each falla, and plans are made for eardrum shattering pyrotechnic displays called Mascletà that occur daily at 2pm.
For 2018, the Falles Festival invited Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel (previously) to build the Falla Mayor, the largest and last falla to be burnt during the celebration. With the help of renowned falla designers Pepe Latorre and Gabriel Sanz, as well as a monumental effort from his team at Ink and Movement, the team submitted a winning design that incorporates the artist’s trademark colorful geometric style. Okuda says the 25 meter (82 foot) piece loosely addresses the relationship between people and animals, while incorporating various symbols the local community might find familiar.
“I’m inspired most by surrealist Salvador Dali and by Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights,” Okuda shared with Colossal. “I mostly describe my work as surrealism.” In an interesting twist, Dali designed and built a falla during the festival in 1954. Instead of indulging in surrealism’s darker side, Okuda’s work seems to shine a bright, happy light on the creatures and figures who populate his multicolor murals and canvases.
The festival may date back to as far as the Middle Ages when carpenters and woodworkers burnt wood scraps at the end of winter to celebrate the spring equinox, though it is now generally known as a celebration of Saint Joseph. In its present day form, the trash heaps have morphed into elaborate artworks that feature celebrities, various current events, and even abstract conceptual sculptures. Caricatures of political figures like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong-un appeared frequently this year. Two years ago the event was designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
During the festival Okuda also opened a large retrospective of work titled “The Multicolored Equilibrium Between Humans and Animals” at the Centre de El Carme in Valencia. The expansive exhibition gathers paintings, sculptures, photos, and video works from the last 20 years. The show is free, open to the public, and runs through May 27, 2018. You can follow Okuda on Instagram, and pickup some of his original works in the Ink and Movement Shop. Video courtesy Chop Em Down Films.
The annual Las Fallas Festival ends with a grand display of fireworks and the burning of hundreds of elaborate sculptures in neighborhoods all over Valencia. Okuda’s Falla in front of city hall was the last to go up in flames after midnight to the cheers of a huge crowd that had waited in the street for hours. Swipe for fire photo. Thanx to @diegobarrachina16 and crew for the best balcony view! @okudart @inkandmovement #streetart #fallas2018 @instagrafite #lacrema
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