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Rome pays tribute to street art’s revolution with a collective exhibition

by Andrea Carli

Curator Paolo Lucas von Vacano’s words could be a starting point, a helpful starting point. According to his words, “the street watches and the street governs. Choosing creativity instead of crime is a stance that encourages art, music and sports. The revolution occurs when the street enters the museum and the museum becomes the street. Those who survive the streets, rule the world.” The exhibition “Cross the Streets”, on display at the MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome until October 1, seeks to immerse the visitor in the street art’s creative universe.

Street art is a unique avant-garde that unifies youth, minorities, and the marginalized in an era of globalization. In its various forms, from graffiti writing to mural painting, this kind of art has a deep impact on collective imagination. Originating as an underground movement of youthful protest, street art has positively invaded advertising, and the global fashion, film, and music industries.

Cross the Streets presents a comprehensive introspection on street art through a kaleidoscope of urban art movements, including graffiti, stencil art, pop-surrealism, photography, and film. The exhibition, which includes 200 works, aims to express the power of this complex and fascinating movement, highlighting its pioneers and its influence on daily life. The show will also examine street art’s role in inspiring fashion trends and the history of Roman graffiti.

A section of the exhibition called “Street Art Stories” details the birth and evolution of street art through a display of different artists who have contributed to the show with their styles and mediums. Entering the area, visitors are welcomed by a 14-meter site-specific installation by the French-American artist WK Interact, whose investigation of the urban lifestyle in his art has given life to a post futuristic scene. Viewers also encounter walls “conquered” by the mosaics of Invader, the French street artist whose iconic, pixelated work is inspired by 8-bit video games. The artist invaded Rome’s streets in 2010.

The enormous Middle East Mural (over 10 meters) produced by Shephard Fairey aka Obey the Giant— the American street artist best known for his Obama Hope poster— will be shown for the first time in Europe, alongside a diverse selection of thirty of his works, selected from different stages in his career.

Another section of the show, Keith Haring Deleted presents a series of photographs by Stefano Fontebasso De Martino, from the MACRO – CRDAV collection. These photos are a testament to the murals painted by Keith Haring on the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome (1984) which were later whitewashed for political reasons.

Street art icons will create site-specific works (5 x10 meters per artist) on the museum walls for the exhibition.

Produced specifically for the occasion of Cross the Streets, each work characterizes its author’s style through the artistic medium of their choice, from dripping to stencil and poster to canvas.

Artists invited to create works hail from all over the globe. To name a few: Daim - the German street artist who revolutionized graffiti writing and is known as the King of 3D painting; Chaz Bojorquez - the tattoo idol known as the godfather of Cholo Writing, a form of West Coast calligraphy-style graffiti, and Evol – famous for his miniature and elaborate urban landscapes.

Among the Roman artists there are, Diamond, known for his distinct style— a cross between Art Nouveau and old school tattooing—Lucamaleonte, master of stencil, and JBRock, who is presenting a collection of posters originating from his street interventions.

(“Cross the streets”, MACRO, Museum of contemporary art in Rome, through October 1)