Notes on Street Art Night in Dubai

When you grow up in Boston and then live in New York City (or any number of urban centers where graff rules everything around you), you get spoiled. I sometimes forget that “street art,” in general, is not always part of everyone’s everyday experience. Heck, ART (in general) is not always part of everyone’s everyday experience. I won’t go so far as to say “art” is a new thing happening here in the UAE–that’s just ignorant–but I will say this: Street Art is a new happening. Those of us here to witness have the extremely unique opportunity to watch it develop: how, why, when, where, etc. (I’m sure I will write an essay or two about it when I have time to reflect.) So when The National announced that Maria Urrutia was organizing “Street Art Night” to “appeal to people who don’t normally go to galleries and museums and get them interested in art” and to “promote the cause of street art to the people and the authorities”…I literally jumped up and down.

Consider this: “The project hopes to one day persuade authorities to open up whole swaths of the industrial zone, including factories, labour camps and other buildings, for street artists to freely use as a canvas.”

In the wake of the whitewashing of 5Pointz, for me anyway, the idea that community organizers here in the Emirates are working to create spaces for street artists is particularly poignant. And fascinating. And curios. Street Art Night was an event that brought artists of all kinds together to foster appreciation and build a temporary community around a love for public arts. Alongside the Deep Crates Cartel (Dubai’s pre-eminent hip hop crew), there were kids painting at a pop up studio hosted by the jamjar, canvas artists using oil, acrylics, markers, and stencils…to paint on buses and temporary wooden boards. There were also b-boys breakin’ to the best of oldschool hip hop beats (a personal highlight of the evening). We had a great time and hope to see more events just like it! Here are some snapshots:

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Ruby Bridges Walks, a Public Art Series by Miss163 in the Bronx.

Just thought you outta know about Miss163’s latest project, funded by the DOT’s Urban Arts Program. You can peep it on Hunts Point ave, passing the Bruckner Expressway. 

I’ve been working with the image of Ruby Bridges because I feel that communities of color  need to analyze and take note of how she was used as a community organizing tool. She was a young black girl, who knew nothing about this grand plot to desegregate the South; she was a tool for this amazing life and nation changing event. She could not be a “he” because a black man is not “easy” on the eye. By that I mean, a girl had to be the one to desegregate the South because it had to be as smooth of a transition as possible and women (as objects of desire) are the perfect choice. If communities of color learn about the civil rights movement from a feminist perspective, I think that we would have stronger women of color but most importantly stronger communities. It is important to understand dynamics and learn from them. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we don’t learn our history in that matter, I believe the way we are taught empowerment, organizing, and the beauty (or lack there of) is very intentional.  

I wanted to place Ruby in Hunts Point because I want her in a place where they the community could celebrate their ability to keep walking, surviving, and thriving…

even when the odds are not on their favor.

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More Sneak Previews of Production on YAS island

Just a little update if anyone is paying attention. Facebook is a magical thing with lots of photos. It seems there is a team of writers (because the wall is GIANT), one of whom is ZEDZ from the Netherlands. Armed with 5500 cans here are some more process shots found on Facebook. Photos courtesy of RS Visuals and Karski Mooiemuur. More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/rsvisuals.nl

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