Things are heating up in Paris and, with the sunshine, spending the weekend outside is mandatory. Taking my own advice, I went along to the Graffiti All Starz for Japan, a two-day graffiti project organised as part of the Quinzaine du Hiphop event happening all over Paris and suburbs.
The old bus depot at 121 rue Menilmontant has been given a new life (if only temporary; the city council have decided to demolish it soon.) Street artists from across the world met in one of Paris’ less-known arrondissements to raise money for Japan by turning the depot into a piece of contemporay art.
Walking around the huge building, there were at least 40 artists painting in broad daylight, sipping beers on their ladders, chatting to passers-by. It was great to have access to this normally-underground community of artists. Some chose to address current political issues, whereas others showed off their skills in portrait and imagination.
Arriving around midday, some of the pieces were in their early stages. The process of watching a mural take shape was part of the experience, and part of the art itself. Being able to share the creation of an image with the artist is rare, but fitting for this form of expression.
Normally completed under cover of darkness, graffiti is gaining credibility as a legitimate art-form, an anti-establishment statement on the freedom to be creative. I am not condoning the “tags” on beautiful architecture, signatures stamped across homes and shops; either declarations of ownership or a finger to the state. I am, however, supporting an art from my own generation; a loud, in the street, people’s art.
The Quinzaine de Hiphop has other events running until July 4th, such as Wednesday’s conference on Rap as a means of expressing societal discord for (and from) communities often ostracised by political regimes. Have a look at the website for more concerts, conferences and events happening around the city.