The topic of unaffordable housing and the rapid, unwanted changes persistent within many of our most culturally rich cities has become a redundant and tiring conversation.
It’s the any major city U.S.A. story, where the headlines regularly read “Housing Crisis.” Occupants of many of these cities continue to be pushed further out of the core and into more suburban areas or often out of the city altogether. While options for individuals faced with these unfortunate scenarios is limited, perhaps unconventional solutions should be adopted. Consider the idea of squatting to fill all those vacant properties that are currently serving no purpose. It’s an extreme approach and obviously not for all, but existence in a rent-free world sounds ideal, right?
While Swampy is best known for his iconic images of an unidentifiable skull-tusked creature that adorn various surfaces in North American cities, on railcars and obscure places everywhere in between, his real talent lies behind a camera with the North American landscape in his sight. Through his years of aimlessly zigzagging across the country photographing, Swampy had to become well-versed in the tactical art of squatting, which is the subject matter of his newest publication Your House is My House, co-published by The Flopbox and SFAQ Projects. This limited edition, full color, and oversized newsprint zine will be comprised of new photographs from the artist’s squatting experiences, along with drawings, ephemera and mixed media. Perhaps Your House is My House can serve as a reference point or source of inspiration for potential squatting aspirations? We caught up with the elusive artist in an insightful interview that gives some context and reveals some tricks of the trade.
“What camera you using right now?” is the last thing I recall Edwin De La Rosa saying to me when we saw each other at Max Fish a few months back.
I pulled out the same model of camera I have been shooting with for nearly 10 years and he responded with a grin, pulling up his pant leg to show me a tattoo of the same camera. Without a doubt, Edwin has a love for photography and he’s always where he needs be to get the best photos: in the streets. My initial encounter with his work was from a zine I found at a shop we both used to frequent and the place we met. I later realized that he had access to a world others did not when I saw his action photos of both Adek and Lewy, two prolific and elusive graffiti writers. Over the last few years Edwin has begun to show his work in various galleries and garnish attention online, but he had already amassed a huge following as a highly influential BMX rider. He was named number 9 most influential rider in the last 20 years by Ride BMX magazine and the legitimacy of that status has been backed by others I know who ride. For the occasion of the 2016 Los Angeles Art Book Fair, The Flopbox will be releasing a new zine entitled Private Property featuring the photography of Edwin De La Rosa. Today we caught up with Edwin while he’s on the road and most likely in the streets, wherever that is.
“Dunks” by Eric Elms published by AndPress
We’ll be sharing a booth with SFAQ at this years Los Angeles Art Book Fair, February 12-14. We will have a bunch of new releases so come say hi at booth G11.
Waking to a leaky nose and struggling to resist involuntarily shivering as the sun rose over the metal beam of a deep-dish grainer, I realized that this uncomfortable situation could have easily been much worse.
The night before, as I was drunkenly trying to gather my bag and other provisions for an impromptu overnight joyride on a freight train, Sluto, who I had only met a few days prior, suggested that I borrow his sleeping mat for the outing so I wouldn’t freeze sleeping on the raw metal. I assume that besides a sleeping bag, this was the closest thing to a mattress he owned and his innate kindness provoked him to offer it up. I hesitated on his advice due to its bulkiness, but he pressed, expressing its importance. The loan of the mat was undoubtedly a savior in disguise; a simple act of selflessness that has resonated with me long-term.
I haven’t been able to keep up with Sluto’s whereabouts since then. He is a permanent tourist in his own country with no city to call home. Early this year he was as far north as Alaska and just a month ago he was as far south as Atlanta. Through his travels one facet of his life stays consistent, he continuously paints abnormal scenes on the side of North American railcars or in overlooked spots out of view from regular commuters, never repeating the same imagery. And on the rare occasion that he does find a place of solitude to focus and gather his thoughts, he attempts to make work that’s not on other people’s property, which is sort of the excuse for doing this interview all together. Not Even, published by The FlopBox and set to be released at the 2016 Los Angeles Art Book Fair on February 12, is a collection of illustrations, paintings, doodles and anecdotes from Planet Sluto.
For a kid, something as simple as a sticker can play a significant role in defining identity.
Commonly, it begins with sticking them to a locker, trapper keeper, binder, skateboard, bicycle, guitar and so on, inevitably graduating to public application without permission. PEZ began hand drawing his own stickers at the age of 12 and has continued applying them everywhere he roams or rides. He’s created a distinct and instantly recognizable style. They are playful and welcoming, and well, doesn’t everyone like stickers?
I initially became familiar with PEZ through his prolific sticker street presence. Years later I would stumble on a zine of his, revealing that he was also a photographer who created playful, childlike art on an eclectic mix of found objects. Our paths would eventually cross through a mutual friend and when PEZ first visited my house he bestowed a staggering archival collection of zines made over the years to my possession that would leave a lasting impression of inspiration for years to come. PEZ is reserved and quiet and the last one to boast about past or present accomplishments, true to a fitting title PEZ uses for many of his projects, “Shyness is Nice.”
I was lost and wondering around the basement of Tom Sachs’s studio when I came across some ceramic tablets printed with photographs of flying pigeons resting on one of the work tables.
A few minutes passed and a bottle of Scotch that was part of one of Sachs’s sculptures caught my eye…after a few gulps my focus turned back towards the tablets…I started to lean over one when a stern voice piped up from behind me, “Hey, can I help you?” I didn’t blame him, as my light blue Oxford collared shirt had a large rip in the shoulder from a bicycle accident earlier that evening and my shorts where covered in bicycle grease. “Sorry, I got separated from the group,” I managed to say, wiping the excess liquor out of my beard. “Hey, these are great!” I motioned towards the tablets. “Does Tom know you’re down here drinking?,” he snapped at me. I then mentioned a few projects he might recognize and his demeanor changed. “Nice to meet you,” he replied, “Yeah those are mine.” He gestured for the bottle I was still holding and took a few swigs.
A few days later we were climbing the ladder to his roof in Bushwick where he keeps and flies his pigeons—a practice which has become a conceptual life/work extension. Although Pat’s sculptures are aesthetically pleasing, they are also shelters that have to maintain functionality. It’s a fascinating relationship because instead of the work becoming inundated with artspeak and exhibited strictly in a white cube setting, it constantly has to change to serve its utilitarian purpose and survive the elements. Does this make the work more successful than retinal art? Is it too easy to call it a form of relational aesthetics? Yes, because it actually serves a purpose where most relational aesthetic art practices are full of holes.
Pat doesn’t have any kind of social media or online presence. Besides this culturally responsible gesture, it’s because the kid is hustling at double speed. He is a scene. It’s refreshing to work with a younger artist that doesn’t have a preoccupation with the market which can lead to an unhealthy obsession and an incorrect definition of success. –Andrew McClintock