Tuesday, 4 November 2014
The book contains a collection of outdoor works done over the last 25 years, from the early stage of graffiti, purely based on lettering, to logo painting, stencils and stickers. It contains a variety of works done in different countries, some isolated pieces and others being part of bigger projects executed while travelling. After several features in many street art books, this is the first book by #CODEFC .
It s a limited edition of 200, signed and numbered.
Friday, 18 July 2014
During my travels I have been overwhelmed by both the beauty and cruelty of the world. This beauty and cruelty is the battery that often powers my work.
After several visits to South East Asia I have become increasingly more shocked at the depth of despair that some of these people have had to endure. It also has been difficult to digest that in my lifetime hundreds of thousands of people had needlessly lost their lives in these stunning parts of the world or lived their lives under tight regimes that should not exist.
I use my work to raise awareness of certain socio-political situations that the majority of people do not consider much or at all and I ended up in countries still scarred by war.
I ‘ve been planning a trip to Burma for a while and I will definitely have to go back as this was just an introduction to Burma, its changing situation and just the beginning of my project.
In 1962, a military coup lead by General Ne Win saw Burma, an isolated Buddhist country in South-East Asia, come under the power of one of the world's most brutal regimes. For the past five decades, thousands of people have been arrested, tortured and given long prison sentences for openly expressing their beliefs. More than 2,000 political prisoners including monks, students, journalists, lawyers, elected Members of Parliament and over 300 members of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, The National League for Democracy, were and some still are incarcerated in horrendous conditions in Burma's notorious prisons.
I wanted to come up with something simple but powerful and give voice to all those people who are still in prison or have been there for reasons that are, to people like us, nothing less than absurd.
Graffiti visually represented my issues when I was younger and I did it writing my name so I thought it would have been nice to write other peoples name for a change, people who suffered or are still suffering conditions we can only imagine.
The photography project by James Mackay really helped in choosing my images for the project. Former political prisoners and high profile supporters are photographed standing with their right hand raised, palm out-turned facing the camera, the name of a current political prisoner is shown written on their hand. The sacred Buddhist gesture of Abhaya, 'Fear Not', is not only an act of silent protest, but also one of remembrance and fearlessness. There are different ways of joining a cause and this has been my way of doing it. I made a few stencils and went to Yangon, but have not been able to get to the Karen state where the Karen National Union have been fighting for their independence since 1949.
The first time I went to Cambodia was in 2006 to do some filming. I was still very much into projections and filming and I wanted to capture images that a great majority of people would haven not seen and possibly would never see . I always tried to use images that would make people think about different socio-political situations in which other less fortunate people live.
I predominantly work with stencils, I spend days researching imagery and cutting them out. Inspired by history, I feel some of the most dramatic art has come from the most desperate times. From the abstract art of Pablo Picasso, to the reportage photos of Al Rockoff, I have always felt that art has had a part to play in keeping the memory and lessons of the past in the present.
In 2008 I went back to Cambodia, and visited again the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Before this trip I had created a stencil that I called “stuDIED” which I put up on some walls inside the S-21. This image was designed to highlight the dramatic change that the Chao Ponhea Yat high school went through in the 70’s under the Khmer Rouge, a change in to the infamous S-21 Security Prison. Thousands got tortured and died in this prison. This was meant to be a place of education, and it’s a cruel twist that people died here. Today the site is a derelict and grim reminder of the past with areas left untouched and ex-Khmer rouge giving guided tours. It would be nice to see a more fitting tribute for those that died here. It would be more respectful to bring life back to this place and turn it back into a school. It is almost like the lasting recollection of a loved one being their funeral in opposed to the beauty of their life and legacy being remembered.
Street Art has always given rise to debate, this project has been aimed at highlighting the awful attempts at social engineering that happened in Cambodia. Graffiti has been branded as anti-social, vandalism.. but if anyone views my work in this way I feel sorry for these people as the probably see my work with negative eyes, but if it made one person research and understand the horror and sorrow then my intentions have been achieved.
In 2010 Scott Battford and a group of fellow IT workers in Cambodia decided that my paintings, out of all the writing that can be found in the prison / museum, were outrageous and started a campaing aganist me which got some unwanted attention some insults and a few death threaths. I did spend some weeks making changes to all my online content although some stuff they posted is still there.