Art as a Weapon

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Jeff Durkin’s new work is a documentary about the intersection of human rights, Buddhism and art as a weapon for peace in Burma. With only three more days to collect funds on KICKSTARTER, here’s their statement and teaser for you:

“Art as a weapon” will look at the connection between street Art, Buddhism and the struggle for Democracy by using the closed country of Burma as a case study. The film will follow a Buddhist monk poet who’s building a library, artist Shepard Fairey painting a 30′ tall mural, and a elementary school art class learning how to use spray paint- giving the audience a peek into the the lives of artists and how art has the power to move people. Interviews include Shepard Fairey and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Why we need to tell this story

Art has the power to shift paradigms, and images have the power to change the way people think about things. I believe in the power of film to do that, and to help shed a positive light on the country of Burma, a country that has been defined so much by it’s problems. With the non-violent spirit of A Nobel Peace Prize winner, the philosophy of the Buddhist monks, and the background of a country devastated by war, the film will show the beauty and fragility of life. Our goal is to create and Academy Award quality film about the roots of raw creativity, in one of the most censored and closed off countries on earth. This is more than just a movie, it’s a movement that will help MILLIONS of people…..and be seen by MILLIONS of people worldwide. 

Visit their KICKSTARTER page and donate anything beginning from $1. This is how it all began:

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don’t walk on the pavements

by Samyuktha PC

The story of Zeuxis and Parrhasius might be well-known to us as a localized tale in maybe a Tinkle comic. Born in southern Italy around 464 BC, no work of art survives to talk of how Zeuxis painted. The Naturalis Historia, however, prints the story of his defeat into history.  Once, he arrogantly challenged his contemporary, Parrhasius, to a painting competition. Zeuxis worked all night and unveiled a painting of grapes, so convincing that many birds flew down trying to peck at them. Parrhasius then led him to a curtain. Zeuxis tried hard to pull back the curtains, only to realize that Parrhasius had indeed painted curtains. He is rumored to have said, “I have deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.”

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein (1533)

Later in the Baroque period, this perspective illusionism in art assumed the name ‘trompe l’oeil’, which means deceive the eye in French. Many artists have since tried to share the physical space of their work with the audience as an extension of explorations in realism and surrealism. In Italy, the I Madonnari, a group of nomadic artists, painted their work on the huge cathedrals, but were always in need of other sources of living once the cathedrals were done. They painted replications of their work with crude materials on the pavements waiting for pedestrians to throw coins for them. As pavement art developed, trompe l’oeil and anamorphosis were combined to create temporary masterpieces of chalk art.

Beneath Every Street by Julian Beever unearths the mechanics behind the luxuries the Western world takes for granted every day

Robert Charles Guillemin, pseudonymed as Sidewalk Sam, is a Boston-based artist, who is probably the first known pavement artist in the United States. He first took the streets in the summer of 1973, just like the I Madonnari, painting famous artworks on swarming sidewalks waiting for passersby to fill a bucket with change. In the early 1980s, he found some sponsors and shifted to more permanent paints. But it was his 30 feet fall from the roof of his home in 1994 that paralyzed him chest down that changed his life and work. His motto became, ‘Entertain, Inspire, Empower and Unite’. Ever since, in association with government agencies, cultural and community organizations, corporations, non-profits and individual art enthusiasts, he has organized art festivals, cultural events and participatory community projects that bring people together in extraordinary ways.

Protesters display posters, as they pose on a 380 square meter 3D farm artwork by world-famous pavement artist Kurt Wenner in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Thursday Dec. 9 2010

Other well-known anamorphic pavement artists are Kurt Wenner and Julian Beever. The former’s association with Green Peace in their campaign against genetic modification of crops in 2010 collected over a million signatures. The latter dubbed as the ‘Pavement Picasso’ uses the projection technique to create three-dimensional illusions first designed on paper, then painted on the streets. Once the work is over, a camera is placed at a certain angle and distance for one to view the illusion.

Coca Cola by Julian Beever

Pavement art, and especially collage and anamorphic interpretations, have been incorporated heavily into advertising and marketing. It has even proved to be one of the most successful, effective and innovative ways to sell your products. Though the pavements continue to deceive you, are they not the perfect canvas for dialogue?.

“Thousands are held prisoners for their beliefs in places worse than this. Write until you free them all.” Amnesty International. (Advertising Agency: TBWA, Warsaw, Poland) 


Update from the Collective: We at Chai Kadai chose the internet as our first medium because we understand it as a public space. Dialogues start in a public space, where it is most needed. If you know of any artiste or issue relating to dialogue, art and public space please write to us in not more than 500 words and send it to chaikadai[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wide Open Walls

(source: the neorevivalist)

The ‘We Are Antennas’ piece, which was painted in the center of the village, with an empty speech bubble left for the residents to use as a bulletin board for messages, notes, secrets and hopes.

Wide open Walls was an idea to bring in artists to a village in The Gambia with the goal of hopefully increasing tourism in the area. In October the artists traveled to The Gambia for two weeks, staying at Mandina River Lodge at Makasutu Culture Forest and creating marvelous pieces throughout their stay.

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