It’s just great to bring new people into the mix. New people bring new energy to the group and share new stories that will inspire both old and new participants.
The loudest, hard-to-ignore new participants of IBUG Festival 2018 were the self-proclaimed Latin Mafia gang.
As soon as they arrived, they claimed their rooms by hanging Mexican and Brazilian flags on the broken windows of the abandoned factory. Shortly after, buckets filled with ice and beers have appeared next to the ones with paint and Latin rap music has gained ground through the empty rooms of the former factory.
During Latin Mafia’s night ridings, an Argentinian, two Greeks, an artist from the Independent Republic of Canary Islands and an Italian (me) were recruited.
With their unmistakable tone of voice -which turned out to be impossible to subdue, for the joy of our German hosts- the Latin Mafia conquered the abandoned factory, eventually painting a big collaborative piece at its entrance as a sign of victory.
Realized by Los Metzican and Axolotl Collective, this colourful mural depicts the “Masks of the Three Faces”. According to Aztec culture, the universe consisted of three layers: the sky, the earth and the underworld. Here they are represented by a skull, which is the God of the underworld, a Jaguar mask, which symbolises a warrior, and the mask of the King of Maya.
In this collaborative mural, as well as in their respective rooms inside the abandoned factory, the influence of the pre-Hispanic culture on their art is strong and bold.
Both crews are proud of their roots and travel around the world to spread their ancestral culture, one bright colourful mural at a time.
Another proud member of the Latin Mafia is the Argentinian Spidertag, who defines himself as a neon minimalist super-hero. Like a spider, he built his three-dimensional nets made of flexible light cable inside a dark room at the first floor and then one more as part of the Latin Mafia massive collab at the entrance of the factory. His abstract figures are suspended in the air and can be seen only at night, which is when every super-hero operates.
Still among the founders of the Latin Mafia is the Brazilian graffiti artist Galo.
He painted a main anthropomorphic piece depicting a fish that eats the skyline of the city outside the window, but in my opinion his best pieces are those he painted after that, when the performance anxiety for his main piece was gone and he began painting more spontaneously wherever the felt inspired, occasionally collaborating with other artists –as in the best of IBUG traditions.
Besides dotting the post-industrial site with his iconic characters, Galo is also determined to teach Brazilian words to all the 200 people currently living inside the abandoned factory by making us constantly practicing the pronunciation of several words.
Although reluctant, another member of the Latin Mafia is Feo Flip, who painted a large-scale mural on the facade overlooking the courtyard.
This large wall was originally assigned to the German graffiti legend Tasso –who, by the way, is the artistic director of IBUG festival– but Tasso abdicated in order to allowing Feo Flip to paint his radioactive babies. Feo Flip told me that he wanted to paint his radioactive babies since long time, but it is hard to find urban art festivals -like IBUG- that don’t ask sketches and leave the artists free to paint whatever they want.
After completing this large-scale mural, Feo Flip painted some smaller pieces inside the abandoned factory. I especially like the one depicting a sewing robot, because it is inspired by the history of the factory that hosts us.
We tried to recruit also some French artists into the Latin Mafia, but they did everything they could to keep out of it.
There were several French artists at IBUG Festival this year, among whom Arthur-Louis Ignoré (ALI), who painted one of his iconic street carpets on a lower roof of the abandoned factory and then a second, stunning piece inside a small room at the second floor.
ALI is know for painting mandala-style patterns and ornaments on the streets and in public spaces. He only paints with black or white because his main focus is the line itself. His art isn’t an act of force predominating over the wall by covering its original colour or texture; ALI just wants to kindly add some ornaments to it. I found his way of painting very similar to the way he behaved within the group: not much of a talker, calm and shy, he often sat in a corner quietly, just looking at the rest of the group with his deep, sweet eyes.
Another French artist who attended IBUG 2018 is the eco-friendly sculptor Elparo, known for his large-scale installations made from all recycled materials. Here at the former NAPLAFA he collected many windows and doors to build a cloud that breaks into the room.
Entering his room feels like walking through a dense forest. Elparo always creates artworks that interact with the space by giving a sense of movement, often preferring wave-shaped sculptures that he builds piece after piece without following a scheme. He loves to get surprised himself by the final result as much as he loves to astound the viewers.
One more artist that we couldn’t get into the Latin Mafia is the “astronomical” street artist The Orion. Originally from Romania, The Orion wants to bring people closer to all the space related facts and major discoveries by painting majestically executed murals depicting the universe and its constellations.
What I like about his room at IBUG Festival 2018 is that it’s split in half: the actual room is separated from the galaxy by an invisible yet sharp border.
At IBUG 2018 there were also some new entries coming from Germany, such as the Berlin based urban artist duo Various & Gould, which I met on my first night at the factory. Eclectic and hard to label, they work on various material and styles constantly reinventing themselves.
Here at IBUG 2018 they smashed several windows that they found around the abandoned factory and then used these broken panes as stencils, painting the beauty of their accidental shapes onto three huge canvas.
Still from Germany is the illustrator Robert Deutsch, who embarked on his second mural ever here at IBUG Festival 2018. He painted his iconic “Bobby Feucht”, the antihero who is the protagonist of his comics. Together with his girlfriend, here Bobby Feucht is chasing a Nazi soldier.
Not only from Germany, but actually from Chemnitz, is half of the duo Doppeldenk. He was a graffiti legend in Chemnitz in the ’80s, before moving to Leipzig where he met the other half of the duo back in 2007. Here at the abandoned factory, they claimed the former furnace of the factory and imagined it in its old glory –and so with flames, coal, soot and extremely high temperatures.
It looked like the preamble to hell, which in German is “holle”; a word that sounds like “hohle”, which means “cave”. And so, although Doppeldenk are known for their bright coloured shapes, here in the former furnace of NAPLAFA factory they did something completely different from their usual style: they carved the whole room with a screw, inspired by the prehistoric art of the cavemen.
All around the room, and up to the ceilings, they carved rockets, atomic bombs and guns, since during WW2 this factory –like all the factories in Germany- was producing weapons.
It’s a big change from their usual work, but they look really satisfied with the final result. “When they will discover this place 3000 years from now, our piece will be the only one still visible” they told me “all the other pieces made with paint will be gone”.
I couldn’t help thinking about my exploration, one year later, of the factory that hosted IBUG 2017. The murals were a bit faded, but mostly intact. I guess I should go back in 2999 years to find the actual “decay” effect the Doppeldenk are talking about ;)
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IBUG Festival 2018 will be open from the 24th to the 26th of August and from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September.
“VEB Kombinat Textima”, Waplerstraße 1
Friday: 3pm to 10pm
Saturday: 10am to 10pm
Sunday: 10am to 8pm
Day ticket 9 Euro, 5 Euro reduced price
Family ticket 20 Euro
Festival ticket 15 Euro