CHEAP Street Poster Art in Rome

CHEAP Street Poster Art in Rome

Giulia Guido · 9 months ago · Art

A few days ago the 16th edition of Short Theatre, the international festival dedicated to contemporary creation and performing arts, started in Rome. Several places in the capital will be transformed and will be the background of initiatives, installations and live performances: from Teatro Argentina to Teatro India, from Teatro del Lido di Ostia to La Pelanda – Mattatoio di Roma and many other urban spaces.
This year’s edition is entitled The Voice This Time and features CHEAP Street Poster Art, a Bologna-based collective founded in 2013 by six women as a poster art festival that has evolved over the years into a larger project. 

CHEAP inaugurated Reclaim Your Future on 6 September at la Pelanda, an installation composed of different flags made by different artists. On the occasion of their participation in Short Theatre, we were lucky enough to ask the collective a few questions about their work. Read the interview below and follow CHEAP and Short Theatre on Instagram. 

Hi, we’ve been following you for a long time and we’ve already talked about CHEAP Street Poster Art on Collater.al, but tell us how this project came about and what your background is.

CHEAP was born from the creative understanding of 6 women. In 2012, we were interested in working on the urban landscape and doing so by investigating paste-up, poster sticking and all the ways of being in the street using paper as a tool: a way of crossing public space that for us was the definition of the ephemeral, of a series of anti-monumental gestures, an idea of the contemporary that has a lot to do with temporariness – public art is not only measured in centimetres, but also in seconds.

From 2013 to 2017, for 5 editions, CHEAP worked with paper, flirted with the ephemeral, solicited contemporary narratives on the urban landscape, contributed to the discourse on public space. And it did so with the festival format: every May and for ten days, we welcomed 5 international guest artists invited to make site-specific interventions, in different neighbourhoods of the city. 

At the same time, we installed a thousand posters arrived in response to the call for artists on the notice boards of the streets of the centre; these actions were complemented by block parties in the street and a series of events within in a network of places given to independence.

CHEAP Street Poster Art

In January 2018, the end of this experience was announced. We kept the annual call for artists, a segment inherited from the festival that remained important to us because it was open and participatory. We have changed the way in which we intervene in the street: we do not announce ourselves, we do not give ourselves deadlines, we work in a more projectual and focused way, with the feeling of having escaped the meat grinder of the festival and its not exactly virtuous dynamics. Today we are a permanent laboratory, we express a more complex vision, we are in the public space with a different awareness: our action has become sharper.

What does the installation presented at Short Theatre 2021 consist of?

The installation for Short Theatre picks up the concept of an installation already realised in Bologna, in January 2020 during the ArteFiera and Art City week: we opened for four days a private space that had been empty for years, one of the many in the city centre, a historical centre that is now karstic, where unused spaces are multiplying in spite of an ever-growing real estate market that is disconnected from the real plan.

For the occasion we had covered the space with thermal blankets, often the first emergency support that migrants receive from the rescue boats in the Mediterranean that NGOs, associations and free citizens organise and finance to try to save us from this madness of rejections: blankets are an object that has entered our visual hypertext as a symbol of certain forms of welcome, solidarity and care towards those who cross the sea and arrive on the Italian coast, on the edge of Europe.

The space thus set up had become a golden, reverberating and luminous box, whose surface was ambiguous, attractive and repelling at the same time, unheimlich. Within this alienating set, we had installed flags made for the occasion by a few dozen artists*, who had been asked, as a curatorial suggestion, to attempt to short-circuit the structures of meaning of the flag, a medium usually entrusted with a narrative made up of borders, national identities and post-colonial visions: the installed flags proposed us as bodies, as bridges, never as walls, in the physical space of the temporary that already replicated an imaginary of border crossings, perhaps even of borders as projections, therefore of projections to be deconstructed.

CHEAP Street Poster Art

Today we are resuming this conversation that began in January 2020, a dialogue made intermittent by the pestilence we experienced immediately afterwards: we are bringing the same concept to Rome for Short Theatre, with a set adapted to the context that hosts us and we are asked to haunt.

We change the flags that this time have been selected among the works of some* artists* who participated in the annual call for artists organized by CHEAP, an invitation that we have been addressing for years to international visual artists* to create posters that we select and put up in the streets of Bologna: The posters, adapted as flags for the occasion, are by Angie Russo, Bbraio, Carol, Giorgia Lancellotti, Infinite, La Catrina, Laura Berdusco, Noe Gamma, Pamela Rotondi, Pride Off, Rita Colosimo, Valeria Quadri.

Can we define RECLAIM YOUR FUTURE as a space for sharing? Does art need more experiences of aggregation?

We cannot say whether art should be asked to aggregate. We relate with the artistic medium also to open dialogues, given the specificity of our context of intervention: we work in public space, a space in which citizenship is expressed, projected, performed; a space that is empty if those who cross it and inhabit it are missing, sharing is the conditio sine qua non of our action.

Is public art such as CHEAP’s one of the latest forms of activism?

CHEAP also acts out activism. In our common sense, art (contemporary or not) can also do this: question the status quo, express conflict, share visions.

Our practice also has a political dimension: CHEAP acts a re-appropriation of public space and does so by infesting the walls with posters, redefining new contemporary visual languages, generating unexpected dialogues with those who cross and inhabit the urban environment.

Feminist energies, decolonial desires and counter-hegemonic strategies flow through our project: where the city puts up barriers on the basis of gender, class and race, CHEAP practices a symbolic conflict by making public art (also) a place of struggle.

CHEAP Street Poster Art
CHEAP Street Poster Art
CHEAP Street Poster Art

PH: Claudia Pajewksi

CHEAP Street Poster Art in Rome
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CHEAP Street Poster Art in Rome
CHEAP Street Poster Art in Rome
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“Okja” in ten frames

“Okja” in ten frames

Giulia Guido · 2 weeks ago · Art

Okja” is a 2017 film directed by Bong Joon-ho. Although it did not rake in awards like the subsequent “Parasite“, “Okja” ranks among the South Korean director’s best works and features an ensemble cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The film tells the story of a young girl who for most of her life has raised a genetically modified “super pig,” building a bond of mutual affection with him. But their lives are set to change drastically as the industry that actually created the animal must take it back to begin the slaughtering process.
This is an exposing film against the mistreatment of animals within the meat industry that manages to deal with the topic by focusing on empathy and friendship. For this very reason in 2019 it was named one of the most influential films of the decade by the New York Times. 

In “Okja,” the state of mind of the protagonist and her animal are reflected in the colors of the sets and the choices related to the cinematography, curated by Darius Khondji (Seven, Midnight in Paris, Uncut Gems), which manage to completely capture the viewer. 

Okja
Okja
Okja
Okja
Okja
Okja
“Okja” in ten frames
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“Okja” in ten frames
“Okja” in ten frames
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The illusion of calm in the illustrations of Kento IIDA

The illusion of calm in the illustrations of Kento IIDA

Tommaso Berra · 2 weeks ago · Art

You know the sky on certain summer days, when you couldn’t find a cloud miles away and everything above our heads is a delicate blue, the color of the sweetest of spun sugars? Illustrator Kento IIDA finds in this atmosphere of calm the inspiration for his works, images of tranquil landscapes but leaving an atmosphere of suspicion, as if something unforeseen will happen soon, or as if something unforeseen has just happened, far from the eyes of possible witnesses.
In these vignettes there are always elements or signs that suggest a movement that breaks the calm, sometimes the movement has already happened or is in progress, as in the case of cars launching from bridges or space missiles lifting angular clouds to the sky like marble sculptures.

Kento IIDA (who is based in Tokyo) incorporates elements of Japanese tradition in his illustrations, thus traditional buildings and views of snow-capped peaks that hint at Mount Fuji appear in these ambiguous scenes, as well as baseball players, a national sport in Japan and probably the artist’s favorite.
There are not only clear skies in the views, however; poetry is also provided by clouds, often single and isolated, or by gloomy skies that sound like an omen, in an increasingly suspended and uncertain time.

Kento IIDA | Collater.al
Kento IIDA | Collater.al
Kento IIDA | Collater.al
Kento IIDA | Collater.al
Kento IIDA | Collater.al
Kento IIDA | Collater.al
Kento IIDA | Collater.al
The illusion of calm in the illustrations of Kento IIDA
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The illusion of calm in the illustrations of Kento IIDA
The illusion of calm in the illustrations of Kento IIDA
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Vickie Vainionpää’s code-generated works

Vickie Vainionpää’s code-generated works

Tommaso Berra · 2 weeks ago · Art

Artistic expression is now no longer bound only to manual gesture, and in some cases not even to the artist’s choice. Vickie Vainionpää‘s works in fact follow that artistic strand in which works are the result of codes, of an algorithm that creates unpredictable solutions by reworking basic information. The Montreal-based artist creates his works through a generative code, which traces a certain number of points placed in a Cartesian plane.
The result is that of twisted shapes like guts or extraterrestrial organic creatures, in which even the color and shades are dictated by the generative code.

The forms are then the basis for oil paintings on canvas, in which the digital forms acquire a presence and matter through the texture of the support, the shadows and the layering of color. Some of these canvases are recently on display in New York at The Hole NYC gallery for the artist’s solo exhibition entitled “Software.”
In Vickie Vainionpää’s works, the relationship between man and machine merges, the physical and virtual experience become interconnected to the point of blurring the genesis of everything. Who creates? Who is created by whom? A series of questions that help read and complicate the present.

Vickie Vainionpää | Collater.al
Vickie Vainionpää | Collater.al
Vickie Vainionpää | Collater.al
Vickie Vainionpää | Collater.al
Vickie Vainionpää | Collater.al

Vickie Vainionpää’s code-generated works
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Vickie Vainionpää’s code-generated works
Vickie Vainionpää’s code-generated works
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Stefano Vitale trusted folk art

Stefano Vitale trusted folk art

Tommaso Berra · 1 week ago · Art

Arriving in the United States, in Los Angeles, to study at the University of Southern California, Stefano Vitale sought a way to express his hitherto unexpressed ideas using the skills he had at his disposal. Art began to figure as the most precise and sincere tool through which to do so, so he began a path that led him to a career as an established artist, thanks to his colorful and metaphysical illustrations, evocative of magical worlds in which nature dialogues with man, in which figures are suspended in mid-air in starry skies and under the hot Sicilian sun.

In the early years of his career, Stefano Vitale insists on a recurring subject, a one-eyed Madonna, a subject certainly influenced by the sacred iconography he studied and explored throughout his travels in Mexico and Central America. “I have always trusted popular art more than official art,” Vitale explains.
His look toward an elemental art is reflected in the style that uses simple lines, leaving the decorative component to color. The subjects are celebrations of joy or primal bonds such as that between mother and child or man and nature. Plants and leaves are superimposed on faces, while the sky is always a central subject of the compositions, signaled by the presence of bright stars or moons that make magical nights and sunsets.
Stefano Vitale’s work has then been linked for more than two decades by his collaboration with Donnafugata. For the Sicilian winery, the artist illustrates bottle labels, visually representing an imagery of flavors and smells that originates in Sicily, finds its inspiration from music and the Leopard, and seeps into sensory memory. Below are some of the labels created by Vitale for Donnafugata.

Stefano Vitale | Collater.al
Stefano Vitale | Collater.al
Stefano Vitale | Collater.al
Stefano Vitale trusted folk art
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Stefano Vitale trusted folk art
Stefano Vitale trusted folk art
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