Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Painting the world over: graffiti goes global

The Baron from Burning Candy crew discusses his new film, which documents their creations across the continents

Ever seen a big set of teeth gnarling on a canal? Or how about a giant monkey with a shiny gold chain chilling on a shop shutter? These iconic images are the work of Burning Candy (BC), an ingeniously creative street art graffiti crew. Now a groundbreaking documentary is in the process of being made about them – directed by an elusive member of the crew who is know simply as The Baron.
The other members of the collective go by the names Cept, Dscreet, Mighty Mo, Cyclops, Rowdy, Sweet Toof, LL Brainwashed, Goldpeg and Tek 33.
“We are a collective of eccentric artists whose core work comes from the street but also crosses over to galleries,” The Baron told the Citizen when we met him at a secret location. “We try to think outside the boundaries and do some loose and funky stuff. We are all different ages and do different artwork but when we come together, we have a common cohesive thread where we all see the world as a big canvas.”
The Baron was quick to point out who he is and why he is best positioned to document the work of Burning Candy.
“I am a filmmaker and a graffiti artist,” he explained. “So I am combining my two passions and, as I deal with the BC members on a daily basis, the natural progression is for me to make a film about graffiti artists. As a friend, they talk to me truthfully, which they won’t do to an outsider.” Many locals will be familiar with BC’s work – and The Baron claims that it has attracted tourists to our borough.
“BC’s been good for Hackney,” he said. “Many Londoners and tourists come internationally, just to photograph the work. Certainly in preceding years the prominence of BC in Hackney was because it was a thriving artistic community and a creative place. There was cheap rent, free attitudes and dilapidated buildings – prime conditions for artists and our work. Street art thrives in transitional places, money gets pumped into an area and then saps its soul into no return. I hope that doesn’t happen to Hackney, but the soul will not be taken completely – there’s still people keeping it real”.
The Baron’s film will differ from other graffiti films. “We’re going to the most unlikely and inaccessible spots around the world to show how and why graffiti can have such a potent presence,” he told the Citizen. “It’s an expression that transcends language and cultural barriers. This is why the film is called Dots – it is the joining of all these cities that are connected through this art form. It’s gonna be action packed, hands on, visceral and tactile. We are going to the deepest darkest Siberia, Brazil, India and Australia amongst other places.
“A lot of documentaries, they just turn up and film what’s already there, but we will be creating work as we go. In Brazil you see kids who can’t afford spray cans and instead use stolen road paint, scaling the side of massive buildings trying to paint the craziest spot they can reach. It’s a rare combination of death-defying extreme sport and artful expression. That’s a big part of what sets graffiti apart.
“To be a true practitioner, you have to work in the elements – you have to work in the snow, the rain, extreme heat and avoid the authorities. It’s the challenges that make you a stronger, more intuitive artist.”

Taken from: Hackney Citizen

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