Art doesn’t just exist on the canvas. The sprawling urban cityscapes of the world’s metropolises hold artistic elements in almost every building, brick and skyscraper. And that’s exactly the focus of URB 13, a Helsinki art festival taking place from August 2 through 11 that explores many different facets of the urban art culture. From lectures to skateboards and everything in between, we picked out some of the highlights to catch during the festival’s run.
Brad Downey creates art by walking along the sidewalk, peeling up the pavement and displacing the brickwork. While others might use a city landscape as a canvas, Downey employs lampposts, trash cans and more to create true urban art. While Downey’s art will be on display at Kiasma’s Seminar room throughout the festival, the opening reception for his exhibition entitled “The Spat Upon” at SIC, (a warehouse transformed into an art gallery) will take place on August 2 from 6 to 8 p.m.
A dull and dreary underground parking garage gets a breath of life from Other Spaces Group with “Car Park” (August 2 through 4, various times). The performance artists will guide you into the heart and soul of being an automobile by figuratively transforming themselves into car people. Join the process from production line (outside of the garage), parking (moving into the garage), waiting (studying the garage from a car’s point of view), amusement (different forms of being a car person) and, finally, being a human again with the culmination of the video of the car exhibition.
Enter a boardroom, a courthouse and a neighborhood association meeting with Sarah Vanhee’s “A Lecture For Every One” (Kiasma Theatre, August 7, 7 p.m.). The show questions if a fragmented society can be collectively addressed through the spoken language in Vanhee’s unannounced English lectures (and Elina Perinen’s Finnish ones) at various public gatherings.
If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat, Stoa Cultural Centre hosts three Finnish dance performances on August 6 and 7: the young attendees of the URB summer camp will put on a contemporary number in “One Life, Same Suburb”; Free Time’s “Tomi’s Going To Leave His Girlfriend Tonight” invites you to spend your afternoon with a titular boy and his friends as they kill time by street dancing before the break-up occurs; “Rhythmitis” pays homage to Matt Mattox, the late jazz dance legend by building improvisational choreography around pre-arranged material.
On the more extreme side of the art, “Sloap” sees BMX riders, parkourists, skateboarders and street dancers engaging with five Helsinki artists and Australia’s Branch Nebula duo in order to demonstrate how bodies and bikes can challenge cultural conventions through performance, dance and design in a way that defies categorization. Performances take place on August 8, 9 and 10 at Makasiini L3, in Jätkäsaari.
Photos Courtesy of Till Bovermann, Filipe Braga and Paula Tella