By Margherita Sica (reporting from London) and Rory O’Keeffe (contributing editor)
Last week Drago descended on ‘Lo Lo Land’ for the 10th edition of the Moniker art fair to bring to urban art enthusiasts three strong women who are currently dominating the streets. From South Africa to the United Kingdom, these three artists – FAITH XLVII (SA), Hera (DE) and Carrie Reichardt (UK) – tackle the theme of censorship in the world of Street Art in a single panel discussion led by Nuart team.
Each of Moniker’s fairs are thematic, presenting an overarching vision, cause or message in a united effort via all of the artists, galleries, installations and expanded arts programs that participate. For the 10th edition, Moniker in partnership with Urban Nation Museum present UNCENSORED, a wholly unfiltered and unrestricted celebration of the revolutionary elements of urban contemporary art. Humanity has been failed on a fundamental level by those in power: a loss of ecological moralities; the embracement of corporate greed; inequalities rife between gender, race and social class. Traditionally, urban contemporary art has acted as a powerful voice in an attempt to highlight these crimes and enact societal change, but as the scene have been embraced by the public, inevitable commoditization has strangled those initial intentions.
FAITH XLVII presents at this year’s art fair EX ANIMO, a book realized with DRAGO PUBLISHER, which covers the work she has been producing in the past seven years of her career. Its title, which in Latin means “From the heart”, beautifully summarizes FAITH XLVII’s work which, as she herself states, “truly comes from that space.” Growing up surrounded by suffering, economic and racial struggles on a daily basis, the artist developed a conflicted view of her position in the world which she “processes” through her art. This empathy and awareness of the hardships around her led FAITH XLVII to produce paintings that resonate, through symbols and imagery, with the audience’s fragility. The interaction of humans with nature is another key theme of the artist’s work. Feeling deep connections to her Pagan roots, FAITH XLVII recreates beasts in an attempt to speak out against one of the most urgent threats to our world today: environmental unsustainability. By placing her art in cities, amidst the most urban of settings, this reconnection to nature becomes an even more powerful reminder to the people.
Hera is a young artist from a German/Pakistani background who is best known for her collaboration with artist Akut in the duo Herakut. Originally known as Jasmin, the artist felt the need to break away from this small, fragile flower that reflected her timid personality; she created her alter ego Hera, the goddess of women. Incarnating this figure of power, Hera represents strength, a strength which the artist needed in order to create colossal murals that inspire young girls across the globe. Hera’s work has two central strands: on the one hand, she paints powerful political messages that are sugar-coated by the tenderness of her drawings, yet on the other, she spends a lot of her time in refugee camps painting alongside children in the hope that art may help them as much as it helped her to come out of their shell.
Since her teenage years, artist Carrie Reichardt has been a social activist fighting against injustice. Her anarchic nature seeps through her art which she produces in the form of sculptures, films, performance and mosaics. The latter is what the artist is best known for: ceramics with provocative images and text. Despite her unrestricted artwork, however, Carrie Reichardt is displayed in numerous venues of significant importance such as the Liverpool Museum and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Raising awareness of cruelty and overlooked communities, Carrie’s work has stretched out as far as South America, always producing poignant art regardless of public opinion.
Despite these artists’ very different approaches to art, censorship is a recurring theme in their lives. All three of these strong women claim to self-censor their work albeit to different degrees. Often the cause of self-censorship is the regard for people that will then see the work in their daily lives – for example asking the host of the local country if the artwork would be appropriate. Occasionally, however, the artists are censored by others. Mosaics chiseled out and murals painted over are a frequent occurrence, yet this attempt to conceal their views often renders their art even more powerful as they “obnoxiously take up space”, as FAITH XLVII puts it.