Cabaio

It’s been a busy week at the Bushwick Collective, as arists from near and far ready for its 7th Annual Block Party. Pictured above is Miami-based Dominican artist Ruben Ubiera captured at work. Several more images of new works — mostly in progress — follow:

Long Island-based Reme821 

The masterful Argentine stencil artist Cabaio at work, close-up

Holland-based Mr. June at work, close-up

Brazilian artist Sipros at work

For specific information about the Bushwick Collective’s 7th Annual Block Party, check out its Facebook page.

Photos by Tara Murray

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Born in Argentina and now based in Brooklyn, Lucia Reissig is a young photographer and artist with a deep passion for street art and documenting the streets. I met her in late spring in Bushwick when I was interviewing the Argentinian artist Cabaio, whom she had photographed at work earlier that day.  We met again last week at Exit Room, and I had the opportunity, this time, to find out a bit about her.

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When did you first become interested in photography?

I was 12 years old and living in Buenos Aires.  I had told my mother’s friend that I was interested in photography, and he gave me a camera. It was a 35 mm Canon.

And then what happened?

I didn’t know what to do with it. And so I took my new Canon to a camera store, and the shop owner installed film for me and set it on “Automatic.” He said, “Just shoot!” So that’s what I did! And I fell in love with the art form at once.

Did you ever study photography on a formal basis?

Early on, I began visiting photographers’ studios, and I started taking classes with them. The classes were informal – with no more than five students in a class.

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What — would you say — is photography’s appeal to you? What is it about this art form that so engages you?

With a camera in hand, I feel that I am somewhat in control of my environment. And it allows me to create compelling narratives. I am obsessed with paradoxes – and recording them.

What brought you to New York City?

I felt a strong need to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

How has living here affected you and your passion for photography?

I quickly found myself seeking other Spanish speakers and other immigrants. And the streets became even more important to me. I see public spaces as a reflection of society.

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And what about street art?  You’ve documented hundreds of images. When first I met you, you had just finished photographing Cabaio at work over at the Bushwick Collective and you seem to be quite involved over here at Exit Room – one of my favorite spaces. What is the appeal of street art to you?

It serves as both a mirror of society and as a perfect expression of resistance. I love the way the artists take ownership of the streets, and their work on city streets looks amazing. Street art has the power to change a city – visually and psychically. It also makes art accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise see it. It’s an always-open free museum. And documenting the art I discovered on these streets – along with its people – saved my life!

Have you any favorite artists who work on the streets?

Among my favorite ones are: Cabaio, Iena Cruz, Werc and Ever.

"Lucia Ressig"

What’s ahead for you?

Since coming to NYC, I’ve become more aware – than ever – as to the importance of community. There is a lack of community here, and there is a need for more alternative spaces where people can come together to create and to share. I am beginning an informal series of workshops on photography – similar to the ones I attended back in Buenos Aires. They are on a pay- what-you-can basis. I can be contacted at lucia.reissig@gmail.com.  And on a personal level, I am continuing a series I began earlier focusing on immigrant life here in NYC.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky. Photos by Lucia Reissig.

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"Cabaio stencil"

Argentinian stencil pioneer Cabaio recently brought his distinct aesthetic to NYC.  A few weeks back, I discovered him at work at the Bushwick Collective and was mesmerized by his stunningly intricate, brightly hued stencil work.

When and where did you first get up on a public surface?

I began in Buenos Aires in 2001.

What was your inspiration at the time?

In the midst of an economic crisis, there were too many ads in public spaces. They seemed to be everywhere. And I didn’t like looking at ads. I saw my artwork as an alternative way of using public space.  And then in 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, I was further inspired to use public space to transmit messages. The global political situation — at the time  — motivated me to make my own mark.

"Cabaio stencil"

Have you any favorite surfaces or spots?

I like rough surfaces, and I always seek the right context for a piece. I particularly like quiet spots.

Have you ever been arrested?

About seven years ago, the cops took my tools away from me.  But these days I feel free to paint just about anywhere.  Street artists have become the new pop stars!

cabaio

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

At first they thought I was too old to be doing this. Now they are proud of me.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I studied architecture for one year.

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I don’t feel it. They are both cool art forms. There shouldn’t be a divide.

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What about the movement of street art into galleries? How do you feel about that?

I have no problem with galleries, as long as the people there respect our work.

Have you shown your work in any galleries?

Yes, I’ve exhibited in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, New York City, Washington DC and in Indonesia.

What about corporations? So many seem eager to embrace the aesthetics of street art these days.

If they respect our work and use it honestly and pay us well – then it’s all good!

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Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetics?

I’ve been influenced by Argentinian culture and by Japanese comic culture.

What do you think of the role of the Internet in all of this?

It’s certainly a revolution, as it can provide us all with unlimited information.

Have you any favorite artists – stencil artists, in particular?

I like Blek Le Rat, the stencil pioneer.  I think Banksy is amazingly clever. And I love the São Paulo-based duo Alto Contraste.

Cabaio

What do you see as the future of street art?

It will only continue to get stronger.

And what about you? What’s ahead for you?

I will never allow myself to feel comfortable. My art continues to evolve with more emphasis on its aesthetic element and far less on its political one. I will continue to always challenge myself.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky. First photo — of Cabaio at work the Bushwick Collective by Lois Stavsky; all others courtesy of the artist

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